Quilters of yesterday were bound together of necessity, pieced in place by a pattern of provident living.
Today's quilters choose to hone their craft through times of plenty.But regardless of economic circumstances, quilters of many generations share a creative involvement with fabric, food and friendliness.
Consider Debbie Tyler, for example.
Tyler escaped with a lean inheritance in quilting skills but collected a generous endowment of recipes and conversational patterns from her mother.
Claiming two of three essential characteristics, Tyler organized her neighbors in pursuit of the third.
Quilting could be learned, as long as you could cook and talk.
"Have we ever gossiped in this group? Never!" Tyler laughed, as her cohorts stitched through the intricate pieced parts of a quilt.
"Pieced" describes real life in Tyler's 1980-neighborhood.
"We'd all been friends," she explained, "then some people started moving away. We were separated. Not by far, but far enough that we didn't see each other often enough. That's really why we started quilting - to keep in touch and have time to talk."
Quilting club bylaws include lunch. Not only does the hostess put a quilt on, but she feeds the quilters.
"We talk a long time," Tyler mused. "We'd get a lot more done if we didn't talk . . . and eat."
Chris Jones disagreed.
"I've finished four quilts since I started with this group, and I've found some of my favorite recipes."
Recipes are recycled like a patchwork pattern.
"We've tried all those recipes that everyone has - the ones that storm through the valley. Remember the dry Jell-O that you mix with cottage cheese and fruit?" Tyler asked.
"Or that spinach salad with cottage and Swiss cheese and red onions?" recalled Kathy Dorius. "We had that at quilting, and then it was every place."
Chicken Wonton Salad was another well-circulated recipe shared by the quilters.
"We've thought about compiling our luncheon recipes. One year we even set a rule that you had to have copies of the recipe, but it's too hard to get everything done. By the time you get the quilt on and the lunch fixed and your house cleaned, you forget recipe copies," explained Susan Boyer.
Or you forget dessert.
Kari Cannon found herself so overwhelmed by the details of her hostessing assignment, she completely forgot to serve dessert.
"I finally remembered, late in the afternoon," she recalled, "so I served it on paper plates and delivered it to each quilter's house."
Quilting together not only delivered recipes, but examined patterns of life, intricately pieced through the years of camaraderie.
"We've raised our kids over these quilts," said Jones. "We remember how long we've been together by who was pregnant when. And we used to have all these preschoolers. In the beginning, one mom had to tend so the others could quilt."
Quilting was such an escape, recalledPam York - an escape eagerly anticipated.
"Remember the day we went to the mall. We tied a baby quilt, finished early and went shopping. We didn't go back to pick up our kids until the regular time. That tending mom didn't ever know we sneaked over to the mall."
Time carried the quilters from preschool to college, with birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and graduations in between.
Carolyn Gilbert created a memory quilt for her parent's golden wedding. Pam York fashioned four baby quilts and three bedspreads during her tenure as a stitcher. Chris Jones made a quilt for a son going away to college.
Shared experiences of a lifetime lie between the stitches of the quilts.
Kathy Dorius recalled the quilt prepared for another member's child who suffered a serious accident.
"This little boy was hospitalized in a coma for weeks. We covered him with our quilt, and gratefully, he eventually recovered completely. It made us feel like we could help, when there was so little anyone could really do."
Little things add up, and after 11 years, closets and cupboards are filled with quilts of many patterns and colors.
Creations bound by the patterns of a lifetime.
Librarian's note: Please see microfilm for complete recipe
Silverglade Spinach Salad
Chicken Bisque Soup
Chocolate Sin Raspberry Truffle Brownies