Four Corners Quilters create Carnegie quilt

By Willa Wick in Arts & Music, Community, Places, Events, & History

It all started on a whim, but after fourteen years the Four Corners Quilters’ Guild has proven to be an active and productive organization.
Grace Copeland operated a fabric store in Mount Forest. Newcomers to town would visit her store and ask how to meet people. That spawned the idea of a sewing and quilting, club. A meeting place was secured at Birmingham Lodge (now Birmingham Retirement Community), provided free in exchange for allowing lodge residents to take part. Tuesday nights were selected and that has remained constant through the years.
During that first meeting in March, 1998, 22 ladies enrolled and they were able to choose a secretary, treasurer, and program director. By June they had a full slate of officers for the non-profit organization. There are now 50 members registered from teenagers to spry seniors. Still coming to most monthly meetings are 15 of the original charter members, one of whom is 90-year-old Margaret Gillies of Mount Forest.
Careful thought went into the naming of the group. Nearly everything has four corners (piecings, blocks, quilts) plus four was a good representation of the local member townships (Minto, Normanby, Egremont and Arthur). Thus the “Four Corners Quilters’ Guild” was formed.
Everything they quilt as a group is donated. The guild stays aware of local community requirements and many items have been donated where needed, including sewing supplies and quilts to fire victims; comfort quilts for those with prolonged illnesses, and a number of baby quilts to the hospitals in Palmerston and Mount Forest. Wall-hangings have been placed in both the Mount Forest Medical Centre and the Hospital in honor of cancer services.
As a non-profit organization, the quilters don’t sell their work. Outside groups can however, approach them to make a wall hanging or quilt to be used as a raffle prize for a fund raiser. Many of these raffles and proceeds have been geared towards cancer research or other debilitating diseases.
The regular meetings are fun, as well as educational. Participants are constantly learning through workshops and outside speakers. They are always open to new ideas, methods, and easier ways of doing things. For example, Grace Copeland was completing a ‘Double Wedding Ring’ that an elderly lady had started years ago. Grace made the comment that it was a real challenge because the pieces had been cut out with scissors. To the uninformed the response would be, “well, what else would you use?” The answer of course is “rotary cutters.” Cutters have been vastly improved since they first appeared on the market and are now the preferred tool for quilters.
Each meeting includes a “Show and Tell” session, in which members display and describe what they have been working on or have completed since the last gathering. Occasionally, there is a “Trunk Show” where all their personal favorite quilted items are presented.
Every finished quilted project has a label on the back, and a full label will include: name of quilt; who made it; date; any special materials, embellishments or theme; and who quilted it.
Quilters try to promote Canadian pattern designers because they have a hard time getting recognized. They also like to use Canadian manufactured materials. Northcott, a Toronto factory makes exceptionally good cotton. One hundred per cent cotton (washed first to pre shrink and set colors) is easier to work with, more forgiving, and is soft.
The guild is looking forward to community appreciation and support during the two-day Quilt Show to be held May 3 and 4, 2013 in the Mount Forest Sports Complex. They try to have a major show for the public every five years.
Wall hangings have been donated to libraries in Dundalk and Mount Forest. The latest on their list was a beautiful 4’x4′ hanging which is proudly displayed just inside the front door of the newly renovated Harriston Carnegie Library.
The idea was initiated at their September, 2011 meeting. Kits were ready by Thanksgiving weekend (each kit contained the different fabric and patterns needed to make one complete block). The finished blocks were handed back at the January 2012 meeting. Ellie Adams of Holstein did all the embellishments (silk ribbon embroidery etc). Following that, was a work-bee at which the blocks were set in order and put together (at the Mount Forest Fire Hall where monthly meetings are currently held). The quilting frames were set up at the home of June Carter and over the next few weeks individuals or small groups would go in and sew until the quilting was finished. In April, Wendy Walsh of Harriston put on the binding while Pat Graham of Conn designed the label from information supplied by Brooke McLean, Harriston Branch Supervisor of the Wellington County Library System.
This “Historical Village” quilt (pattern designer Janet Miller) will be a reminder of the way the community pulled together in 1899 to form the first free public library at the Harriston Town Hall. By 1911, the Carnegie Library building was erected and contained 56 adult books, 37 for juveniles, 17 juvenile non-fiction, and 23 magazines. In 1940 only two books were allowed per card. In 1987 Harriston joined the Wellington County Library System, and as one of 14 branches has access to over 145,000 titles. The complete information as provided by McLean, along with a picture of the old library, is printed on a cloth label on the reverse of the wall hanging, but has also been reproduced, framed and displayed along with the quilt.
Today Harriston is proud to have a brand new three-storey addition to the library with an elevator running to the top floor which houses the Harriston Historical Society and the Minto Arts Council.
The wall hanging was one of the featured acknowledgements during the Grand Opening of the Wellington County Harriston Library on Thursday, June 28.
Quilting – it’s not just about bedding, but rather a sisterhood enjoying camaraderie and providing a community service.