Friendly Circle

Quilters share love of craft, build bonds of friendship

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times On Monday, Barbara Robinson, 68, of Devola, shares the friendship star quilt she was given when she joined the Friendly Circle Quilt Club in 1993.

More than 100 years and millions of hand stitches have bound together a friendship spanning generations.

“My mother-in-law’s mother was a charter member,” said Connie Huck, 74, of Waterford. “She could remember riding on horseback to the club with her mother in the 1920s and 1930s. It’s the longest continuous running quilt group in Ohio.”

Members of the Friendly Circle Quilt Club date the beginning of the monthly meeting of quilters to sometime in 1917 when seven women from Washington and Morgan counties convened to quilt and enjoy each other’s company.

“You learn a lot about (the art and techniques of) quilting when you get together that way,” said Rosemary Heiss, 86, of Waterford Township. “Mother taught me to quilt and there are all kinds of patterns and blocks of the month we do. We have a good time working together and you tell jokes and stories. You learn more than just quilting from each other.”

Heiss said she joined the club in 1970 and at her first meeting was gifted the blocks of friendship stars.

Photo submitted by Barbara Robinson Current members of the Friendly Circle Quilt Club are front: Charlotte Robe, Sharon Harper, Jennie Farnsworth and Connie Huck. Second Row: Rosemary Heiss, Marilyn Schilling, Barbara Robinson and Betty Dodds. Third Row: Zona Gant, JoLinda Polluck, Joyce Morganstern, Karen Kutscherenko, Sue Hart, Judy Stewart and Marie Schilling. Back Row: Bonnie Witten, Angie Bullock and Sue Trotter.

The blocks, eight pointed stars with hand-embroidered signatures in the center, signify who was a part of the group when a newcomer joined.

“Everyone stitches a block for you,” explained Barbara Robinson, 68, of Devola. “It’s special, and there are ladies that have been around for a really long time, long enough that those who were on their friendship quilt aren’t alive anymore so they ask for one with the new names.”

Huck said she picked up quilting from her mother-in-law after a lifelong love of sewing.

“I always liked to sew even when I was very young,” she explained, noting when her brother was born she was 10 years old and sewed him a shirt. “It’s fun and good work to do with your hands. And when I had my 50th anniversary three years ago the ladies made me gold and cranberry red blocks–that was just beautiful.”

That’s not uncommon, as the ladies gather on the third week every month in one of the member’s homes to sit around a frame and hand quilt together.

Forty-eight hand-embroidered state birds are displayed in a historic quilt shown during the January meeting of the Friendly Circle Quilt Club hosted by Sharon Harper in Beverly. Photo submitted by Barbara Robinson

They make a whole day of it, from around 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., sharing a meal, and both kinds of stitches–laughter and thread.

“Of course the word quilt itself means to bind three layers,” explained Huck, speaking of the camaraderie the women share through the creative outlet.

“There are all kinds of patterns and we just have so much fun,” said Heiss. “And we share what others have made, we have all ages.”

At the last meeting in January the group met at member Sharon Harper’s house in Beverly and showed off a quilt made of old sack feed bags and another with hand-embroidered birds of 48 states.

“That one was made before the last two were added,” said Robinson as she went through the photos.

Photo submitted by Barbara Robinson Members of the Friendly Circle Quilt Club gather last month around a quilt frame and stitch together a quilt in the home of Sharon Harper in Beverly.

The group keeps its membership at 20 hosting members, with a few honorary members that have long been part of the crowd.

“Keeping it around 20 lets us have everyone entertain once every two years and then we always take October off to go on a trip together somewhere,” said Huck.

“And in December we hold our Christmas party,” added Robinson.

They can’t quite recall how many quilts they have made individually and as a group over the years, with additions like birth quilts, those for graduations and weddings for their grandchildren.

“I often wish I had kept track of the number,” said Huck. “I’d counted at one point it was a hundred, but now I’m probably around 200 or more.”

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times Barbara Robinson hand-quilts an intricate design on a quilting frame Monday.

At a glance

¯ The Friendly Circle Quilt Club can trace its origins to 1917.

¯ Founding members were women from Washington and Morgan counties.

¯ The club is the longest running quilt club in Ohio.

¯ Now its members hail from Washington, Morgan and Muskingum counties.

¯ The membership hovers around 20 in order to have each member host once every two years.

Current members include: Charlotte Robe, Sharon Harper, Jennie Farnsworth, Connie Huck, Rosemary Heiss, Marilyn Schilling, Barbara Robinson, Betty Dodds, Zona Gant, JoLinda Polluc, Joyce Morganstern, Karen Kutscherenko, Sue Hart, Judy Stewart, Marie Schilling, Bonnie Witten, Angie Bullock. Sue Trotter.

Source: Barbara Robinson.


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