MethowBy Joanna Bastian

Each year, I like to highlight a wonderful group of quilters in Methow. Their beautiful creations brighten the days of residents at Harmony House in Brewster, Heritage Nursing Home in Chelan, newborns at Three Rivers Hospital, and continue to stretch across the globe to children in Ukraine, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Haiti, Myanmar and Kenya.

Since 2004, the women of Quilts of Love in Methow have gathered each week to combine their small stitches and colorful bits of fabric in an effort to uplift spirits around the world. Taza Keene, Betty Hagenbuch, Denise Steffens, and Sue Simmons are the “elves on duty” this year.

When I first interviewed the group in 2011, Taza said something I will never forget: “In the spirit of working together to do something for others, you feel uplifted.” And I truly believe that when people receive these beautiful quilts they can feel the warmth and comfort that the Methow ladies stitch into their handiwork.

In 2005, the women of Quilts of Love completed their first shipment of 40 quilts to an orphanage in Ukraine, affiliated with Orphan’s Hope of Leavenworth. The shipping costs for the quilts were covered by the Brewster Kiwanis club.

This year marks the third year the ladies of Quilts of Love joined www.VillageProjectAfrica.org to provide twin-size quilts for the girls’ dormitory in Makutano, Kenya. All recipients get to take the quilts home at the end of the school year.

Village Project Africa is a safe home for widows and children in western Kenya. Children come from surrounding villages to live at the dorms during the school year. The organization provides schooling, meals and shelter for children who would not otherwise receive these basics at home. For women, Village Project Africa offers jobs, new homes and wells and training in literacy, farming, health and more.

When the ladies of Quilts of Love first started meeting almost a decade ago, they dutifully hauled quilting supplies and tools between different meeting places each week. The Methow Community Church generously offered a room in their sunlit basement for the ladies to permanently store supplies and work on their quilts each week. Measuring boards, sewing machines and quilting tools fill the room on several tables. Fabric neatly folded and stacked by color occupies every nook and cranny, including under tables and in shelves along the wall.

Quilts of Love depends on fabric donations and money from the quilts that are sold to pay for supplies and shipping. Any clean, used bedding can be used. Blankets are repurposed as batting and solid color sheets make excellent backing, while patterned fabrics are used to create the tops. If you would like to support the efforts of Quilts of Love or get involved, call Taza Keene at (509) 923-2790.

The National Weather Service is still looking for a volunteer (aka “WeatherNut”) who lives within five miles of Methow to provide daily observations. More information on the program can be viewed here: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/coop/. Contact Mark Turner at mark.turner@noaa.gov, or at (509) 244-0110, extension 225, if you are interested.