It’s an eight-year endeavor, so far.
Betty Kendrick can finish a quilt in a month if she works straight through, though that’s rarely how it goes, what with juggling multiple projects and the vagaries of the creative process. Her longest-term effort, however, falls well outside her usual timeline.
The quilt, in a pattern called Pineapple Log Cabin, comprises nearly 2,500 tiny strips of fabric — 97 pieces to a block in 25 blocks — each cut from a scrap left over from another project. Some pieces are from comfort quilts made for firefighters to give to children after a disaster, others from Quilts of Valor created for area veterans.
“There’s a lot of history behind every single piece,” Kendrick said.
History, creativity, skill — all will be on display Saturday and Sunday, April 23-24, at the 37th annual Seaport Quilters Guild show at Clarkston High School, where Kendrick will be the featured quilter.
Anybody can submit work to the annual, nonjuried show, Kendrick said. This year’s event includes roughly 200 quilts from about 100 people.
The hope, she said, is to expose anyone, of any age, to the craft the Seaport quilters love. Creating quilts, she said, is exactly that: an act of love. She uses the phrase “heart to hand” to describe the process of conceiving a project and bringing it to fruition, letting what’s in her heart flow through the work of her hands.
“Maybe that’s what passion is,” she said.
That passion for creating, then sharing the results leads guild members to give away about 300 quilts yearly, including to nursing homes, fire stations and police departments.
Besides, keeping all the finished products wouldn’t be practical.
“You can only have so many quilts in your life,” Kendrick said.
Some members make Quilts of Valor to be given to veterans, and a small offshoot of that group makes quilts for graduates of the veterans drug treatment court.
“It’s really a special program for us,” Kendrick said, of the work she and guild member Samy Owen do for the court graduates. “It’s an incredible program that these guys have to go through, and there are no free passes. It’s a second chance.”
Kendrick was about 10 years old when her mother taught her to sew, later taking up a number of needlework crafts, including cross stitch, needlepoint and knitting. She started quilting in the ’90s, graduating from hand quilting to a domestic machine. She never moved to a longarm machine like some quilters use, preferring to work one section at a time.
“For the most part, this is all freehand,” she said of her machine-quilted work.
The window in the sewing room of her Lewiston home looks out on a koi pond — a project of her husband’s — and fields stretching to the east, where a small herd of deer lazed on a recent day.
It’s an idyllic-seeming setting to engage in the artistry she’s passionate about, but it’s not the only place her creativity blossoms.
“Quilt camps,” where quilters gather for several days at various retreats to “basically sew your brains out” were a big reason Kendrick joined the guild. The generosity of experienced quilters who share their expertise, materials and “spirit” continues to amaze her.
“All these women, all this talent,” she said, describing them as “so generous, to a fault.”
Many service organizations have seen flagging membership in recent years, but the quilt guild remains robust. Though the pandemic put a dent in the number of people at its monthly meetings, the club still totals about 125 members. About 40 attend each time — down from 80 or so.
This weekend's show offers a bit of rejuvenation, Kendrick said, with its reconnections to the community, including Clarkston High School ROTC students helping set up the quilt display frames, as they have in past years.
Kendrick retired eight years ago from Nimiipuu Health in Lapwai, where she worked as a nurse practitioner. It has given her more time to quilt — and to collect fabric.
Like most anything, fabric can be purchased online, but area quilters know the shops — from Rather-Be’s in Pomeroy to B Creative Fabrics outside Kooskia — where they can find just the right materials in person.
A while back, Kendrick said, she announced she was “going on a diet,” not buying any fabric for a year. With plenty on hand for different projects, she made it through — then immediately went shopping.
Stone (she/her) can be reached at inland360.com.
If You Go
What: Seaport Quilters Guild 37th annual show
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 23 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 24.
Where: Clarkston High School, 401 Chestnut St.
Of note: Quilts by featured member Betty Kendrick will be among the approximately 200 quilts on display.