By Peggy Moody
For two years I followed my dream of living deep in the Marion County woods near the Buffalo National River in a garage and studio I built myself for quilting. I was finally ready to seek out some company and make some new friends, quilting friends. I had heard about local quilters and joined the Crooked Creek Guild in Yellville. This small group provided a warm venue for sharing and learning from each other. Several of them were also members of the Hill ‘N Hollow Quilters Guild. I was interested in that guild’s projects and its mission to “preserve, promote and share the art of quilting,” but I knew they had more than 100, and I was afraid it would be hard to make new friends. I was intimidated by the skill level I saw at their 2013 show, and I thought I’d be invisible to them.
Creativity takes risk. I wanted to improve my skills beyond the Hawaiian quilting I had done for the show Quilt Hawaii. I wanted another exciting chance to see something I created hanging amidst other quilts of high calibre. I was so impressed with the quality of the traditional and art quilts in the Hill ‘N Hollow Guild that I got up the courage to attend a meeting last February. My first surprise was being greeted by a cadre of friendly faces. I was encouraged to wear a name tag that would make me eligible for door prizes. All newcomers were invited to stand and introduce themselves. Far from invisible, I was welcomed and even recruited to give a program on Hawaiian quilting!
During that first meeting, President Mary Hazel asked for someone to step up and take on the responsibilities of being communication chair. I had been writing brief newspaper articles to raise awareness of the Crooked Creek Guild.
“I could do that,” I thought, and I spoke up. The risk I felt to represent such a large group unknown to me was mitigated immediately by the warm appreciation for volunteering my time.
I made it a point to get to know this group that started in January of 1984 with 8 charter and 29 members. It now had a whopping 147 members, and I was on their board of directors representing five other members responsible for photography, the website, and a newsletter.
I gave my time and effort, and I got nothing but support and encouragement. I took one step in leadership and the next thing I knew I was helping with the website and public relations. The articles I wrote leading up to the quilt show helped me see the generous efforts of this guild’s members.
Quilting Connects People
I learned firsthand this year just how true it is that quilting connects people and purposes. Many of my fellow quilters touched my life in meaningful ways this past year. When my computer crashed, I was offered the use of Margaret Wilburn’s two laptops. Most significant to me, when I stepped in to help maintain the guild’s website, the 10-year web maven, Mary Carlson, generously guided me and continues as sage from her new home in the Southwest.
My first thoughts that this guild would be too big and impersonal were proved wrong in a heartbeat. I found a bubbling warmth in the way meetings and projects are run. Leaders step up, social purpose is presented, and quilters rally to those causes. Most importantly, quilters love to have fun together. That’s what I wanted my retirement to include!
Quilting, like writing, is a quiet task, but it can also be richly social. Deep in the woods, I found meaningful friendships blossom in proportion to the time I gave willingly. Appreciation for my efforts overflowed, making the challenging tasks I’d taken on worthwhile. Far from being unapproachable, this group shined a light on me because I gave what I could do and was open to learning from them. I was certainly not invisible! Friendships, like quilts, are stitched together lovingly by threads that connect layers of humanity. M! December 2015/January 2016
Hill ’N Hollow Quilters Guild Generous efforts
The Raffle Quilt: Several members each year make a Raffle Quilt that helps raise funds and awareness for the guild. This year’s quilt was made by Annie Wager, Margie Dotson, Joyce Linhoff, and Jinny Truzinski (machine quilted by Joyce). Jo Ann Moore headed the effort to take this quilt to festivals in the area, like the Cotter Trout Festival and Bull Shoals Chili Cook Off. Guild member volunteers are in charge of ticket sales. Jo Ann also volunteers her time to coordinate Community Quilts given to 10 organizations like the Women & Newborn Care Center at Baxter Regional Medical Center, Serenity Inc., and Marion County Health Center. At each guild meeting, quilters present their donation quilts. Seeing 15 or more of these quilts each month confirms the generous nature of these quilters.
Hopes and Dreams Quilt Challenge for ALS: This past year, the guild responded to a challenge to raise awareness for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease). The guild held 12 classes to teach 14 different quilting projects, and finished 136 quilted items for donation to the Hopes and Dreams Quilt Challenge for ALS. Seventy members signed up for classes that ranged from making fabric-covered journals to miniature quilts. Guild members who volunteered their time and talent to teach the classes were Judy Jensen, Diana Arikan, Connie Randall, Joyce Linhoff, Barbara Magnuson, Barbara Jaeger, JoAnn Moore, Sue Schaufler, Sandy Allenbaugh, Sharon Crozier, Annie Wagar, and Carol Lewis. The guild won the 2015 Sew Creative Category, receiving $500 worth of prizes.
Bras for the Cause — Whimsical Foundations: Each show year, a subgroup of the guild called Renegades takes on fundraising efforts for a community organization. In 2009, the bra project began as Bras for the Cause (subsequently changed to Whimsical Foundations) to raise money for the Peitz Cancer Support House. In 2013, the Renegades made aprons to auction in support of the North Central Arkansas Food Bank. This year, they supported the Twin Lakes Literacy Council. The Renegades challenged the guild at large to make bags for the volunteers at the council. Diana Arikan won People’s Choice at this year’s show for her bag, “Imagination.”
National Quilt Association Quilt Show: Vicki Kauth, a former guild president, took her quilts to the National Quilt Association Quilt Show in Little Rock this year. She took classes on learning how to judge quilts and shared these tips with the guild. She said entering a show stretches one’s talents because of the many levels of competition. As Vicki encouraged, “You can’t win if you don’t enter!” Indeed, she won Judge’s Choice and six other ribbons at the Hill ‘N Hollow Quilters Guild Show in guild challenges and traditional pieced quilting. I plan to hang around this winner!
Art and Innovative Applique and Mixed Techniques: I was touched by the guild’s willingness to honor a 24-year member, Betty Pulver, by giving her exhibit space for her quilts entitled, “Twelve Postcards from Japan.” Betty told me she was drawn to Asian culture, creativity, and its peaceful beauty. Betty’s talents won her multiple ribbons at our recent show for Art and Innovative Applique and Mixed Techniques. I’m glad to now count Betty as a new friend and sensei (teacher).
Quilts of Valor: Mary Hazel is also an active leader with the local chapter of Quilts of Valor, a separate organization that gives quilts “to honor and comfort those touched by war.” Though not a guild-sponsored activity, nine members of our guild have donated 14 quilts to this cause.