Use It, Wear It, We’ll Make You Another

Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild gathers weekly to quilt and enjoy friendship

 

by Rebecca Hazen - January 6, 2016

The cold is finally reaching Wellsboro, but it is as warm as ever at the Gmeiner Art and Cultural Center on Mondays thanks to the Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild open sew gatherings.

Every Monday, members of the Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild get together from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to work on projects, and to enjoy each other’s fellowship.

“It is more than just quilting, it is sharing life,” Guild President Kate Means said. The first few minutes of the open sew consisted of everyone sharing what projects they were working on, and taking suggestions from others on which direction to go next.

Peggi Yacovissi is the one using the sewing machine.
Peggi Yacovissi is the one using the sewing machine.

Nancy Cooledge showed the women a baby quilt covered with dinosaurs that she had been working on over the holidays, and said that it was for her newly adopted grandson from South Korea. Anya Tyson shared her “ugly” quilt. “When you are a new quilter, you take every opportunity to get free fabric, even if it is fabric you don’t necessarily like,” Tyson explained. She had a lot of that fabric left over, and she was determined to use it! “It is ugly, but I am okay with that,” Tyson said. “But I think it is lovely,” member Susan McConnell interjected. “Someone will be happy to have it.” The members also joked about how they all have “PHDs” or projects half done.

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Kate Means is in the red sweatshirt cutting the floral fabric.

After a couple of minutes of chatter, everyone got down to work. Means, who has been the president of the guild since September 2014, said, “It is for whatever people want and need to do. Sometimes you’ll hear the sewing machines running the whole time, and other times it is just all hand sewing.” The Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild has been together for 17 years. There are over 140 members total in the guild, with a lot of members located in New York. Many people remain members even though they move away, because they want to “stay in touch and know what everyone is working on,” Means said.

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Anya Tyson is hand sewing the quilt.

The guild keeps busy: the guild holds meetings every third Monday of the month at 7 p.m., most of which usually have a program in which the guild hosts a speaker. The fourth Monday of the month is used for outreach sewing, which is when the women work on quilts for those in need. Every other year, the guild hosts a quilt exhibit. All of the meetings and events take place in the Gmeiner Art and Cultural Center. Even Anna Wales, the director of the Gmeiner, recently joined the guild, and is now working on a quilt as a graduation present for her sister in law. “I was inspired after the September 2015 Modern Quilt Exhibit,” Wales said. “I thought it was impossible to quilt, but they talked me through it and now it is addicting.”

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Like the different pieces and patterns of a quilt, the members all joined for a number of reasons, and when they are all at the open sewings, they all fit together nicely.

“I joined about 15 years ago. The first quilt I made was a quilt for my granddaughter, and I was hooked. I wanted to be around other quilters to keep learning,” McConnell said.

“I’ve sewn since forever and have always loved fabric,” Tyson said. “I was always intrigued by quilts. When my husband retired, we moved here. I saw flyers about a new quilt guild starting up, and I joined right at the beginning.” Peggi Yacovissi is a charter member of the Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild. “It is calming and relaxing for me. It is a creative outlet,” Yacovissi said.

Yacovissi is always reminding herself and others to say, “Use it, wear it out and I’ll make you another one,” when giving a quilt as a gift. Something that takes that much effort and time should not be displayed on a shelf. Yacovissi said that what she finds interesting was that, back in the day, even though quilts were necessary to stay warm during the winter, the pioneer women still took the time to make the quilts beautiful.

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Susan McConnell is in the dark red sweater with scarf cutting fabric.

The guild members make their quilts beautiful, but they still make them to stay warm too. “My granddaughter needed a top quilt for her bed. She said she wanted it to look like the ocean, and I am able to do that for her,” Yacovissi said. “I started to quilt when I retired,” Cooledge said. “Peggi helped me with my first quilt. Anything you need, you can just ask somebody. We share knowledge as much as quilts.”

“It is also a way to share love.”

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