Avid quilters study every detail of the 1,400 quilts displayed in Sisters on Quilt Show day. photo by Gary Miller
By Jodi Schneider McNamee
Beginning at the break of dawn on Saturday, 500 volunteers hung over 1,400 quilts transforming Sisters into the largest outdoor quilt show in the world.
"Storytellers" was the theme for the 42nd annual quilt show, and the 2017 poster created by Sisters artist Dan Rickards. And over a thousand handcrafted vibrant quilts that blanketed Sisters, all a colorful exploration of patterned artistry pieced together, told a story.
Rickards' poster features an oversized open storybook of colorful quilts resting on a table with Sisters' stunning scenery in the background.
"Every quilt tells a story," said Rickards. "And I took it very literal when I came up with the idea to create an 18th-century-looking storybook of quilts."
The storybook depicted in his original artwork came to life as a three-by-four-foot leather-bound book that Rickards designed.
The giant book featuring actual quilts that "spin a yarn" was created by selected artists.
Folks stepped up to the huge book displayed on a custom handcrafted wooden stand on Saturday in the courtyard of The Open Door and watched SOQS board member Jan Tetzlaff turn the pages carefully so spectators could see each unique quilt with its story told in calligraphy on the opposite page.
Men have been participating in Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show for more than 10 years. And the exhibit "Made by Men" displayed 27 quilts by male quilters.
Mike Denton, a quilter from Redmond, was on hand to talk about his love of quilting.
"I now have a long-arm business in Redmond sewing other people's quilts," Denton said.
He began quilting in 2009, the year he retired.
"I took my first two classes at the Stitchin' Post and took to quilting like a duck to water," he said.
Denton has made many quilts for charitable causes.
Ellen Olson, a quilter from Ontario, Canada and her two friends, also from Canada, were having the time of their lives looking over every quilt they could possibly find.
"This is our first time in Sisters, and we love it. This show was on my bucket list," Olsen said laughing. "We've been here since yesterday and are trying to see everything in two days."
The weather was perfect - if hot - for the thousands of people that came from all 50 states and 27 foreign countries to see the spectacular display of quilts and as they meandered up and down the streets there were distractions of the musical kind.
The Silverado Quartet drew a crowd while harmonizing in front of the entryway to Sisters Drug & Gift.
"We're trying to raise money to go to Northwest Harmony College in Washington," singer Hope Bridges from Redmond told The Nugget. "We love singing music in the barbershop genre."
The quartet has been around since 2008 and sings for any occasion all around Central Oregon.
"Next Saturday we're singing for the Vietnam vets at a veteran's banquet," she added.
Quilter Ann Martin hosted the Quilting Activity Area in Melvin's Fir Street Market parking lot.
"The SOQS supplies us all the fabric blocks so the kids get to sew bean bags," Martin said.
Martin's daughter, Jill Martin, a 15-year-old student at Ridgeview High School in Redmond comes from a family of quilters and has been quilting for 11 years.
Jill had two quilts on display.
"I saw a Wizard of Oz quilt last year and decided to quilt one," she said. "I designed the pattern myself, and it wasn't easy."
Jill doesn't keep most of her quilts. She donates quilts for fundraisers or gives them away to friends. Her brother Christopher quilts, and their dad cuts all the treads for the quilts.
Cascade Avenue was hopping with folks going in every direction while Sisters High School students Riley Reece and Julia Bowe strummed their ukuleles for anyone who'd listen.
"We love to play," said Reece. "We don't belong to any group, we just figure it out ourselves."
Many folks bought tickets for the 2017 Raffle Quilt, "A Story of Stars," designed and pieced by Susan Cobb and quilted by Laurie Simmons.
Cobb took her first and second quilting class in 2009 at the Stitchin' Post from Lawry Thorne.
"In those two classes I learned everything I needed to know as far as making a quilt." Cobb said. "And in every class after that I have learned many new techniques."
Cobb is eclectic in her style: "I have a color sense that people recognize, and I am constantly inspired."
Cobb made sketches of her ideas for the raffle quilt for Jean Wells that would tell a story to go with the theme.
"I decided to piece together vintage stars from 12 different states. We picked out the fabric together from boutiques using Dan's base colors in his poster."
Cobb has donated quilts to many charities, such as Habitat for Humanity.
"I like to donate a quilt to a family when they move into their new home," she said.
Jerry Lindstrom from Redmond has been volunteering for SOQS for four years. She sells raffle tickets, walks the town to deliver posters and drives around town to deliver sponsor quilts to different businesses. Then during quilt-show day she hangs quilts and works as a hostess to make sure all the quilts stay safe in high winds, hand out brochures, and answer questions that people might have.
She is also a quilter and a member of High Desert Quilt Guild (Redmond) and Mountain Meadows Quilt Guild (Sunriver.)
"I do all kinds of sewing. I do garment sewing and craft sewing. If it can be done with a sewing machine and thread, I do it," said Lindstrom.
Lindstrom has been quilting for 20 years.
One of the highlights of the show was the Lion King traveling quilt exhibit hosted by SOQS board member Jeff Omodt. It took place in the Community Hall at Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire House. The show was presented by Cherrywood Hand Dyed Fabric and participants from all over the world were challenged to design a quilt based on the Broadway musical "The Lion King."