After being part of a presentation of several lap quilts this summer to residents of one of the Valley seniors homes, recently we had the opportunity to attend a working session of the “Forest Quilters” club of Port Alberni—a group of 50 members that meets monthly at the the Alberni Valley Rescue Squad Hall (AVRS) on Tebo Ave.
As soon as we entered the hall, we realized how much activity is happening in that area with such a big group of people working together on projects or carrying out individual projects, and all done in a social and welcoming atmosphere.
Surrounded by sewing machines, colourful pieces of fabric, bobbins, cutters, quilting pins, needles and thread, the hall provides an amazing look and a great environment to dozens of enthusiastic quilters.
The Rainforest Quilters club began operating in Port Alberni about seven years ago when Fran Smith, who was a member of the Sunshine Quilters and the Parksville Quilters, decided to form a local group right here in Port Alberni.
“We agreed to rent this hall, large enough for our members, and work on this hobby,” she said.
Smith and members Marie Swain and Lynn Brugger (in charge of the newsletter) are part of the organizing committee.
“Our main purpose is to gather ideas about quilting and ways to learn more about this craft,” said Swain. She also added that the membership is constantly sharing experiences. The sharing and the exchanging of experiences among the members provides a learning tool, a social environment and fellowship to the sessions.
“We share patterns and passion!” one of the ladies added.
An important aspect of the group’s purpose is to make and donate lap quilts for various local organizations. Every so often they work on projects aimed to give enjoyment to some Valley citizens.
“We’ve presented our quilts to members of the Transition House, Abbeyfield Seniors Home, Ty Watson House, Kackaamin Family Development Centre and St. Vincent de Paul School,” said Swain.
When asked about the material used to make quilts, they say that they only use 100 percent cotton fabric for their work. At this point, two of the members immediately show us samples of several quilted knee laps (ready to be presented to a seniors’ group).
“Some of the lap quilt material we make for charity comes from donations,” said a member.
It is also interesting to point out that the members of the Rainforest Quilters enjoy yearly outings. Twice a year they hold retreats at Mount Washington and partake in social activities while sharing the techniques of the craft.
They also meet with another group of quilters in Courtenay, where the two groups exchange ideas, experiences and enthusiasm.
Quilting, which is done “to create bed spreads, art quilt hangings, clothing and a variety of textile products,” has become a hobby with an increased number of enthusiastic practitioners in various communities in our province and beyond.
For more information on how to join the quilters, please contact members of the organizing committee at their monthly meeting: the second Thursday of the month at the Alberni Valley Rescue Squad Hall.