Lessons Learned From a Quilt

FORT MYERS, FL (April 11, 1999) – By Lynn Schneider

If I were forced to take a lie-detector test someday, there is one question I would surely fail: “Are you a patient person?” Beeeeep! In truth, I would have to say, no, I am not a patient person. It is a bad habit and one I continually try to break. That’s why I attended the recent Quilt Show at Shell Point with an attitude of wonder and amazement. All those little pieces of fabric, all those tiny stitches, all that patience!

Evidently I was not the only one impressed by the display. Marilyn Mayers, a resident at Shell Point, recently sought out the individual who has been bringing quilting to Shell Point through a series of classes held in the Resident Activity Center. “I had frequently seen announcements about a quilting class taught by Vera Graham, a resident here,” said Mayers. “I was anxious to meet this lady who makes thousands of hand stitches on a single quilt – the more stitches per inch, the more valuable the quilt.”

“When I walked into Vera’s home, I saw finished quilts on the walls and baskets on the floor with the starts of different quilts yet to be completed. She has a half dozen quilts started at any given time so she can select one to work on, in keeping with her mood. Vera loves quilting and likes getting others hooked on it too.”

According to Mayers, Vera attended quilting sessions with her mother while she was growing up and watched the ladies work, but she never took to it at that time. She had, however, been interested in crafts all her life – her mother was a weaver and her father a carpenter – and she enjoyed working with them. It was only later, when her grandchildren came along and she decided to make a baby quilt for each one, that she really began to enjoy it.

She took up the quilting of classic designs such as the interlinked rings of the wedding ring quilt, and later began to branch out on her own and create her own patterns. One wall hanging in her home is made from batik material from Asia. Another is a stylized “plant” that is remarkable for its simplicity and striking balance. She is a master craftsperson and loves every aspect of her work.

Vera started quilting on a large frame but now does lap quilting. Even though true quilting demands many hours of sitting and making tiny stitches, she avoids using a sewing machine, although it is becoming popular to do so today by time-conscious younger women. According to Vera, it is possible to complete a quilt in one day using a sewing machine, so maybe there is some hope for the impatient!

Vera held her first quilting class in 1985 and has continued to teach new and experienced quilters each year. Many quilted items too numerous to count (quilts, wall hangings, Christmas tree skirts, runners, to name a few) have emerged under her patient guidance. Families and friends enjoy the cherished quilted items that have been made by the students Vera has guided through the years. When Vera is not quilting, you can often find her in the library where she serves on the library selections committee, schedules the volunteers, and works at the check-out desk. She stays busy at Shell Point and enjoys spending time with her friends and neighbors.

Vera moved to Shell Point about 16 years ago and has seen many positive changes take place. She enjoys sharing her gift and through her patient teaching and guidance is pleased to help as many people as possible enjoy their own quilting experience.

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