An itch to stitch

Quilters head to Soldotna for annual festival

A mother and daughter will show off a five-year project made of silk from Thailand.


A Soldotna woman's brown, purple and rust-colored experiment in designing all the way through a traditional border will be on display.

A Kenai business-owner who makes a living finishing other people's work has one she painted hanging up.

It's the 18th annual Quilting on the Kenai and quilters from all over the Kenai Peninsula will spend the next three days showing off their work, demonstrating various techniques, shopping with local vendors and selecting a Viewer's Choice award-winner from the more than 100 quilts on display at the Cook Inlet Academy in Soldotna.

Each quilt has a story that took hours to sew into existence.

"My son had been to Thailand a few years ago and he brought back many yards of silk and we made him a silk bed quilt," said Sandy Hawkins, a Soldotna woman who quilts with her daughter Joanie Hawkins.

Sandy said the project took several years to complete because it was difficult to find a pattern that works with silk.

"It frays real easily so we didn't want to cut it in real small pieces," Sandy said.  "It's about any color you can imagine because when he bought, he bought a yard of each color. He wanted a sunrise so the next trip he made he had to bring back a few more pieces in yellows and reds so we could do this sunrise for him on the quilt."

Helena Moses, of Soldotna, made what she called a "kind of strange" pattern that continues into the border.

"It's just one that I've always wanted to do," she said.

The 12-year quilter said she loves to work with color and put her own spin on a design.

One of her wilder designs includes a quilt in the shape of a moose head for her son's California office.

"I didn't have a real moose head to put in his office so I made him one," she said.

Cindy Rainey's Kenai business "Quilted With Love" allows the long-arm quilter to get paid to do what she enjoys.

"Not many people can say that," she said.

Rainey has several quilts on display, two that she produced herself and a couple that she quilted for other people after they'd laid out the patterns.

Rainey said the long arm on her quilting machine allowed her to work faster than she could when she started quilting 20 years ago.

"I've come a long way since my first quilt," Rainey said. "It changes style and speed and it saved my neck."

Rainey's inspiration for her painted quilt came from a class she took with a woman who colored her quilts with colored pencils.

"I just loved it," Rainey said. "So I took a class with her and I just like it. It's fun."

All three quilters said they enjoyed getting together to see what other quilters in the area have been working on.

"Just in this community there are so many quilters, there's a lot of ladies that come down from Anchorage for this," Rainey said. "There's something comforting in a quilt. We've all layed under them and there's a lot of love that's put into them."

In addition to the contributed quilts, a display by Ann-Lillian B.C. Schell, a Kasilof woman, will showcase "The Life of a Quilter," including several of her designs and wearable art.

It's a bittersweet year for organizer and sponsor Pat Reese who started the annual festival and has decided that this year will be her last.

"It's my favorite thing to do, I love to do it, I think it's a wonderful event in the community," Reese said. "But, I'm 67 and I guess it's time.

"I have four children, eight grandchildren and I want to teach them to quilt; I want to spend some time with them."

Reese said she's not sure if the festival will continue and it's an emotional subject for the longtime Soldotna shop owner, but she is resolute.

"I want to take classes and learn how to use my machine better," she said. "I don't want to quit, I want to change my step; go in a little bit of a different direction."

    The Quilting on the Kenai 18th Annual Quilt Extravaganza will run Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. through 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Cook Inlet Academy on Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna.
    Admission is $7 a day or $15 for a three-day pass.


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