A group of quilters in Port Alberni has created an incredible piece of artwork during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Saturday Morning Quilting Group recently completed a quilt while in isolation. The quilt is now hanging up at the Rollin Art Centre in Port Alberni and will be raffled off later this year to raise funds for the arts community.
The Saturday Morning Quilting Group has been running for about 20 years, said quilter Lauralee Edgell. The group started out quilting at the former Pincushion on Third Avenue, then eventually moved to fellow quilter Claire Cauduro’s home. After the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in 2020, the group was forced to halt their meetings.
Edgell explained that she came up with the idea for the COVID quilt after one of the group’s members lost her husband to COVID-19.
“Because of the isolation, we couldn’t get together,” she said. “We had to keep everything isolated, but we also wanted people to stay in contact through COVID. How could we quilt when we couldn’t see each other?”
She decided to hold a “quilting bee” without physical contact.
Communicating with the group by email, Edgell designed the pattern for the quilt to reflect the beauty of the Alberni Valley: with a shoreline, forests, snow-capped mountains and a gray and blue sky. The quilters gathered loads of fabric scraps and Cauduro offered her home as a drop-off and pick-up zone for the duration of the process.
The fabric was sorted into little bags and a miniature pattern for the quilt was placed inside each bag. The quilters came and went, picking up a bag from the doorway (always staying two metres apart). Quilters cut and sewed their assigned row, then came back for another until all the rows were sewn.
Marian Anaka picked up the basket of finished rows and sewed them all together. Edgell said there were a few “glitches,” such as an extra square or a strange-looking section. But after some fixes, binding was attached to the edges, the quilt was stitched and completed.
The group has donated quilts to many other charity organizations, said Edgell, such as the Ty Watson House hospice. But with the COVID quilt, the group wanted to donate to a group that hadn’t seen as much support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The arts was one of the things that was deemed not essential,” said Edgell. “The group decided that we would hang and raffle this as a charity quilt and that all proceeds would go to the Rollin Art Centre in Port Alberni to support the arts in our community during this very trying time.”
The entire process was challenging, but fun, said Edgell.
“Most importantly, it kept our little group connected,” she said. “We were still connected spiritually, even though we couldn’t be connected physically. Everyone felt a real sense of accomplishment that this was done during COVID for a charity.”
Edgell hopes that whoever wins the quilt will keep it as a treasured historical piece.
The draw date for the raffle is Nov. 15 at 3:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the Rollin Art Centre (corner of Eighth Avenue and Argyle Street) for $2 each or three for $5.
The Saturday Morning Quilting Group is made up of Clare Cauduro, Kathy Toms, Rosemary Ronalds, Deb Barr, Heather Lawson, Cheryl Deaton, Marian Anaka, Zana Nesbitt, Joan Hall, Lauralee Edgell, Bonnie Brandner, Marie Swain, Erica Schubart and Diana Smith.