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August 8, 2014





Strong threads run through guild of St. Anne’s quilters
by Dr. Maureen Jones-Ryan


      Strong is the thread running through the history of the oldest continuously functioning hand‑quilting guild in North America. Since 1872, when Sister Portia Robinson Owen founded the Women's Guild at St. Anne's Anglican Church on Campobello Island, generations of Campobello girls and womyn have been united by the ancient art of hand-quilting. While much of the world appears to be intent on the rending, for the past 142 years the womyn of St. Anne's Guild have steadfastly focused on "a time to sew." Every week -- come rain, snow or the winds of Arthur C anywhere from five to 10 Campobello artists gather to create masterpieces with thread, fabric and friendship. In addition to quilting, their hours together are filled with a patch‑work of lively discussions of books, films, words, world news, politics, friends, families and current events. The traditional three o'clock tea break is prepared and shared by guild members who may or may not quilt but, nonetheless, stop by regularly to nourish the quilters with tea, treats, laughter and good company.
     Prior to the 1899 construction of the church hall -- often referred to as the loveliest church hall in all of North America -- the womyn met in each others' homes. For the past 115 years, however, the womyn gather around a single, large wooden frame and, as in centuries past, work together on one quilt in front of the hall's magnificent stained glass window that bears a dedication to the guild's founder, Sister Portia. Whether the quilt be one custom designed by one or more of the guild members, repair of an antique sent from any point on the globe, a top to be completed for a busy owner, or a custom quilt commissioned by a quilt lover, each receives the same loving, precise and impeccable hand stitching honed by generations of artists. It is appropriate that quilting day is Wednesday, the day named for the Norse god of art and culture.
     Commissioned by one of FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt's great-granddaughters, the most recently completed quilt is a spectacular, multi‑patterned chef‑d'oeuvre designed and created by members of the guild. This masterpiece, along with approximately 40 other quilts, will be on public display at the 10th biennial quilt show and tea in St. Anne's Church and Hall on Thursday and Friday, August 7 and 8.
     The womyn of St. Anne's Quilting Guild are working diligently to preserve the art of hand quilting which dates back to Ancient Egypt and was, for many centuries, reserved for male artists only. Those interested in learning more about this ancient art may contact Anna at 506‑752‑1081.

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