Joanne Lynk worked on a masterful quilt for 35 years without even knowing it.

When she retired from her job as a dietary manager at Tri-County Health Care in Wadena after about 35 years, she decided a fitting retirement gift to herself would be creating an artwork showing off all those years within the patchwork of a quilt. Little by little, Lynk cut out tiny rectangles from the sturdy portions of her old smocks and began piecing them together.

She was told she couldn't possibly stitch the queen-size quilt together using her 1970s sewing machine. But with the determination that kept her in her job all those years, she tightly wrapped the quilt up and began swirling a pattern, connecting the pieces to the layers of the quilt. Eventually the process yielded a quilt ready for show. Maybe not as crisp as others, but a work that demonstrates the stories behind what many only see as an object of warmth.

A gentle reminder was shared to keep visitors from getting too cozy with the warm quilts that filled the nooks and crannies of the Depot.
Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal
A gentle reminder was shared to keep visitors from getting too cozy with the warm quilts that filled the nooks and crannies of the Depot. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

Many attending the annual Homespun Quilt Club show Saturday, Sept. 21 at the Wadena Depot saw more than just a bed covering. This along with about 160 other quilts were a form of often underappreciated art on display for all to see.

Event organizer LeAnn Evans said about 15 quilters shared their work for the show. Some dug into the treasure troves to bring as many as 20 quilts, which ranged in size from a small bowl to a king-size bed covering.

Among those in attendance was Pegge Ament, a regular quilter, who had about 15 quilts on display. Her quilts showed the hands of an artist who took great pains to combine traditional quilting and modern techniques to create quilts that had viewers fascinated. Many of her quilts were kits that provide the needed colors, leaving the quilter to do the cutting and piecing. Ament said a kit is a less expensive way of making a quilt that has so many colors. One boasted 150 colors, which could cost a small fortune if purchased piece by piece.

"Third Weekend in October" by Pegge Ament.
Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal
"Third Weekend in October" by Pegge Ament. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

"It's something I just have a passion for," Ament said. She said she would like to start designing her own quilts soon. "But I don't think I'm good enough yet."

While she had some very technical quilts, she showed off one that perhaps was more about her memories. That quilt, like many others, had a story behind it. She made the quilt and she encouraged her grand daughters to make one similar, but with their own style. She encouraged them to be different, but do the best job they could do. Their efforts earned them each a grand champion award at the state fair.

The moments she was able to spend with her grand kids, Sara and Hannah, making those quilts, were precious memories. She recalls a fair amount of instruction without touching a single stitch.

"My husband thought I was too hard on them," Ament said with a laugh. "Well if you make a mistake, if you want it to be state fair quality, you might have to rip it out and redo it."

She continues to stack up the quilts that will one day go out to the grand kids. They are something to remember her by.

Cheryl Kellen tells a story about her son, Paul, who visited Japan and brought her back fabric, which she in turn used to make a quilt reminding her of the occasion.
Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal
Cheryl Kellen tells a story about her son, Paul, who visited Japan and brought her back fabric, which she in turn used to make a quilt reminding her of the occasion. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

Another quilter on the scene was Cheryl Kellen who spoke about her favorite quilt. Its colors did not jump out in the crowded Depot building, but the unusual Japanese fans told a story of her son's trip to Japan. While on that trip, he bought some fabric to pack home to give to his mom. His thoughtfulness was not lost on her.

The quilt club members don't just make these quilts to be stored away for good. As Ament explained she might have one for show, but in some cases, she's made four more just like it that she's given away. That's a lesser known part of the club. The Homespun Quilt Club enjoys coming together to work on various quilt projects including community service projects like Quilts of Valor, quilts for new arrivals, hospital decor, fire victims and more.

If you're interested in joining the club, they meet on the second Thursday of each month at 5:30 p.m. For more info reach out to Barb Thoennes at 218-631-2589 or Evans at 218-430-0094.