Six women, $50,000 plus in equipment, 476 quilts
What do Alzheimer's, math, sewing machines and fabric have in common? According to the women in the intermediate quilting class that meets weekly at the Faith Sellers Senior Center, the latter three ward off the first.
Equipped with rulers, patterns, cutters, and a plethora of brightly colored, intricately patterned, often tiny pieces of fabric, these ladies create fabulous works of art. American folk art. An art, they say, that is in danger of dying out.
Taught by a master quilter, Linda Knutson, the group is working on a single pattern – a 1930s style sampler quilt – that, when finished, will give each of them another quilt to add to their collections.
The women hail from all over – Rose Owens, Summerville by way of Saipan, Thelma Johnson of Harleyville, Pam Hudson and Bonnie Seymour, of Summerville, Sandy Rader of Goose Creek and Courtney Wilson of Summerville.
What they have in common is a love for quilting and their friendship.
Quilting isn't just about a needle and thread and little squares of fabric. It is heavy on math and, says Knutson, really good for the brain strengthening memory and, they all say, warding off Alzheimer's and dementia.
“Every week we learn something new,” the women say. Each block or “square” is different – color, design and the math involved.
“Each week it is a different puzzle,” explains Knutson. “Sometimes they finish the week's block in class and sometimes they take it home to finish as homework.”
So what draws them to quilting?
“It's very rewarding,” says Seymour.
“It's addicting!” adds Hudson. “Once you do it you just keep going…and we love to shop for fabric.”
This statement elicits resounding agreement from the group,
“We will spend hours [three] all crammed into a car,” Hudson continues, “to go to Gastonia, NC….”
“To buy fabric! At MaryJo's Cloth Shop [Store]! A supermarket of fabric!” they add in a collective cacophony of enthusiasm.
“We also shop at PPQ [People, Places & Quilts] and Sew and Sew, both in Summerville,” they add.
“We go everywhere,” says Hudson.
“Whenever we travel, we always Google where we are going to find quilt and fabric stores,” says Knutson.
The ladies are so serious about their craft that most have invested heavily into commercial grade Viking sewing machines that average between $7,000 and $10,000 each, they say.