There are many different kinds of silence: that awkward silence after a terrible joke falls flat or the eager silence as people hold their breath hoping for a tie-breaking goal, for example. At the Botha Seniors’ Hall, the silence was that of contented industry, as the Botha Quilting Club stitched away at their projects.
For $60 a year, the club offers members a place to work on their quilts away from their homes, in the companionship of other quilters, on the second and fourth Monday of the month. Anyone is welcome to join so long as they understand the basics of quilting, as the group is formed around people who already know how to quilt, rather than teaching people new to the craft.
The club has been up and running for about 15 years, with Barb Nims and her mother, Audrey Hauck, having been part of the group since the start. The two live in the rural Botha area, just outside the small village, and both love to quilt.
“I only work (on my quilts) while at quilting club,” Nims said. Nims is one of the only quilters in the area to have a long-arm quilting machine, the machine that attaches the ornate and complex quilt front to the batting and back.
“That means when I’m at home, I’m working on other people’s quilts,” she explained.
Quilting Club allows her to escape that machine and the heaps of quilts other people need the backs attached to so she can work on her own project. The club’s day runs from 9:30 a.m. until about 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon, so it’s a full day of quilting.
“Sometimes, no one will say anything all day long, just work on their quilts,” she said. Except for the ocassional frustrated outburst from someone who realizes a mistake has been made and delicate work must be undone, the group works in contented, relatively quiet camaraderie.
One thing everyone had in common, however, was a singular thought about quilting: It’s addictive.
“It’s so very addicting,” Nims said. “And sometimes you think you’re escaping it and then you see the colours and go, ‘Oh, that’s so pretty’.”
Nims was working on her double-dutch, queen-size quilt, of which she’s about one-third of the way through. Her mother was in the last parts of her quilt, working on the pieces to make up the border.
Rita Foot travels to Botha twice a month from Red Willow to work on her quilt. She’s only been part of the club for a few years and considers herself a “newbie.”
“I love sewing, so I thought I’d try quilting,” she said. Like Nims, Foot quickly became addicted to the delicate and often complex quilting.
She was working on a queen-size sunflower quilt, a graduation present for her son — who picked the pattern and colour himself.
“I was kind of surprised at the sunflowers, but the colours are very bold,” she said.
Foot became involved in the Botha club because one of her friends, Peggy, is a member. Plus, Red Willow isn’t that far from Botha, so it’s not a long jaunt.
Another club “newbie,” Vicki Savage, comes out from Stettler to sew. She became involved in the club because her sister-in-law was a member. She was working on a lap quilt she started last May.
“It’s a mystery quilt,” she explained. Every few weeks, she can go into the shop where she got the pattern to pick up the next piece, so she actually has little idea of what the end result will look like. Each step has her working on part of the quilt, and eventually the plans will come that will put it together.
“It’s really neat, not knowing what the end result will look like.”
Savage figures she’s about 90 per cent done. After she finished the small squares she was working on, she’ll be putting the pieces together.
“After that, I’ll start on another,” she said. “I only do lap quilts — queen-size ones take too long, and I get bored.”
Though Savage said she sometimes finds the many small steps of quilting frustrating, the “very beautiful” results make it worth it.
“Once you start you just can’t stop,” she said, referring to the addictive nature of the craft. “You can definitely waste a full day on it.”