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Stitched with love: The Keepsake Quilt Guild

by Alanna Martella, Multimedia Journalist

AUSTIN, Minn. (KTTC) — Though the weather is warming up, there’s nothing better than a cozy quilt on a cold winter night in Minnesota.

Quilting is a hobby that’s stood the test of time, and one group of women in Austin is carrying on this timeless tradition.

For an outsider looking in, quilting might seem like just a hobby; You stitch together pieces of fabric and layers of padding to create a beautiful blanket or wall decoration.

But, what I learned from the women of The Keepsake Quilt Guild, a quilting group in Austin, is what goes into a quilt might be even more beautiful than the end product.

Just as fabric in a quilt is stitched together to form a whole, for Priscilla Golly, quilting has stitched together the pieces of her life.

“You start off with the basics. And you just build on them,” said Golly, as she makes an analogy for life in relation to her favorite hobby.

Golly started quilting about 20 years ago, when she and her husband went to a seminar on retirement.

“They said, ‘Retirement is fine, but you still need to have something to do. What would you like to do?’,” said Golly.

She continued, “They had us write it down and then they had us say, ‘What steps would you take to do this?’ So I said, ‘I would have to take a class’, and that’s how I got involved.”

Golly said her first teacher was a wonderful woman in Austin, who taught many others how to quilt, Margaret Elsworth.

Golly has carried her love of making quilts through the good times.

“When my daughter was getting married, I wanted to make a quilt for them. And I made one for my son and his wife,” said Golly.

She’s also had quilting during the hard times.

“My mother had colon cancer. And while she was taking her treatments, my daughter and my daughter-in-law, and she and I made these flowers,” said Golly.

Quilting proved to be somewhat of a therapy for her, and her mother.

“Even when she was sick doing her chemotherapy, she would say, ‘I need another bag of hexagons’,” said Golly.

Though she finds making quilts mostly therapeutic, Golly did say sometimes it’s a headache: it can be frustrating if something doesn’t turn out correctly and you have to re-do it all.

While at her home, Golly attempted to pass her knowledge of quilting down to me, to not much avail.

From my five minute lesson I learned that not only does it take time and patience to make a quilt, but it definitely is not as easy as it looks.

Despite taking time, patience, and skill, I did manage to make my first 9-patch square, which was pretty exciting.

Golly said she has made many friends through her favorite hobby, most notably the ladies of her quilting group: The Keepsake Quilt Guild in Austin.

“We have a quilt guild here in Austin. And we get together once a month. And we have what’s called show-and-tell at the end of our business meeting and everybody shows what they’ve been working on and shows it. They explain what it’s for and a lot of times it’s for a child’s wedding or a baby that’s coming, or something like that,” explained Golly.

“The group here, they’re all very nice ladies,” said Judy Gerlach, a member of the guild.

“Coming to the quilt guild has given me a lot more ideas and stuff. So it’s been good,” Gerlach added.

As in the pieces of a quilt, the ladies making up the guild have their own unique talents and stories to bring to the sewing machine, and their own reasons behind it.

Harriet Ivers said she enjoys comforting others.

“Hopefully it will fill a need for somebody else. So I do more for charity, than I do for our family,” said Ivers.

Gerlach said she does it for enjoyment.

“It’s just very rewarding. I find being at the, being at the sewing machine is my relaxing. And so umm, I like to do that,” said Gerlach.

Colleen Tebay said for her, quilting is more sentimental.

“I’m carrying on a tradition that my grandma started. And remembering her is very important to me. So that’s the best part about my quilting,” said Tebay.

Gerlach added that quilting is also generational in her family.

“My grandmother did this, my mother did this, so I’m just carrying on. I finished my grandmother’s projects, I finished by mother’s projects, so it’s been kind of a family thing,” Gerlach said.

The family tradition continues with her grandchildren.

“I have two granddaughters and they were in 4-H and they did quilting and they started with very simple ones, and one of them ended up getting champion at the state fair,” said Gerlach.

Members of the Keepsake Quilt Guild might have different things bringing them to the table, but, as in life (and quilting), it’s variety that makes things beautiful.

“Even things you don’t think go together end up going very well together,” said Golly.

Embracing differences and stitching them together piece by piece, with a whole lot of love.

“I guess it’s just a really good hobby. Because you have something to show for it when you’re done,” said Golly.

The beauty about quilting as a hobby is just as Golly said: you’ll have something to show for once you’re finished.

If you wish to take up quilting, Golly recommended going to your local quilt shop, and they will set you up with all the needed tools and instruction on how to get started.

The Minnesota Quilters 39th Annual Quilt Show & Conference will be Thursday, June 8th until Saturday, June 10th in Duluth.

For more information on The Keepsake Quilt Guild in Austin, you can head over to Facebook and type “Keepsake Quilt Guild in Austin, Minnesota” into the search box.

For more information on the Minnesota Quilters event and other quilting events in the state, you can visit the group’s website at the following link:


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