TRAVERSE CITY — Books and quilts have at least three things in common. They’re colorful, often tell a story and can be an art form.
They also can be comforting, especially in the hands of the Pine Needlers Quilt Guild.
The 40 to 50 guild members exhibit their work at Horizon Books twice a year, once in December and again in July during the National Cherry Festival.
About 30 of their quilts are on exhibit there through the end of this month, then many of them will go to three nonprofit organizations the Guild helps support – Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center, Headstart and Child and Family Services. The agencies distribute them to clients and sometimes use them for fundraisers.
Guild members also make flannel patchwork doll blankets that they wrap around small stuffed toy animals for young children, including babies in the neo-natal unit at Munson Medical Center.
“Our goal is to make 150 quilts a year,’’ said Carol Loucks, a Guild member for about 25 years.
The group was founded in 1983 and its members, mostly retired women, range in age from early 20s to 85.
“Many are teachers and nurses,” said Loucks, a retired Suttons Bay food service worker.
By early December, the Guild already had given away 94 standard- and twin-size quilts. Individual members also make quilts for veterans in nursing care facilities and families that have been burned out of their homes or faced other catastrophes. Both the local American Red Cross and Cherryland Humane Society have in past years auctioned donated Pine Needler quilts to raise funds.
Some of the members come from quilting or sewing families. Others, like Loucks, learned quilting it from ground zero. Her mother didn’t sew, but her grandma did and it inspired her. After retirement, Loucks began taking quilting classes.
“It’s something I always wanted to do,” she said. “Now, it’s a passion with me and I can’t get enough of it. Historically, quilting is social. It’s a fun thing to do. Everybody works better with someone else, get new ideas and learn new techniques.”