Connecting Through Quilting
Against all odds, Sheri Hodge loves to quilt. The main reason this retired nurse never expected to get into quilting is that she's really not an expert at sewing. In fact, when she was a young girl going to Catholic school, she took a sewing class that was supposed to be an easy elective and it ended up keeping her off the honor roll all year.
Now Sheri's house is full of quilts she has made; they hang from the walls, drape over beds, and fill a display case stacked to the top with patch-worked colors and patterns.
Like many modern women who simultaneously work and raise a family, Sheri found that she needed a new hobby after she retired. Her mother recommended a quilting class, and despite some doubts at the start-not to mention the fact that she's the only person she knows who had to take beginning quilting twice-this time-honored art became a creative new beginning for Sheri. The more she quilted, the more she came to appreciate all the work that goes into this craft, as well as the subtleties of color, pattern and texture that are considered when designing a quilt.
"Some people are constructionists," explained Sheri. "They make beautiful things and they get their satisfaction from the technical construction of quilts. But I got hooked on it for the creativity and the connection I feel with our foremothers."
She talks passionately about the American women of times past who first began stitching together rags and scraps to create blankets that were as functional as they were aesthetically pleasing.
"To me, quilting history is women's history," said Sheri. "They had no lights, no rulers, and they didn't have the luxuries of time that we have nowadays. They had to work so hard, and the quilting bees were one of their only social outlets besides church. I appreciate knowing that as a woman in the time they lived, this was one of the only ways they could express themselves."
Though the tools and methods have changed, that spirit of what Sheri calls "connectivity" remains the same for women who quilt. Sheri, who was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, came to live in Sun City a year ago and found that not only were there plenty of like-minded quilters, but that the community as a whole was friendly, caring and open. Shortly after making the move, she suffered two knee injuries that left her largely incapacitated for months at a time; and since her husband was still in Kentucky working, this meant that Sheri was left to her own devices.
"As a registered nurse, I'm used to taking care of people, not being down," said Sheri. "It was very hard for me, and if it wasn't for my friends here, I don't know if I would have gotten through it. I realized how important these people are to me."
The Sun City residents who brought her food, walked her dogs, watered her flowers and visited her while she was recuperating epitomize the spirit of a community she has grown to love. And of course, the strongest bonds of friendship she has formed are the ones reinforced by needle and thread.
Hometown: Louisville, KY Family includes: husband, Ken; sons Ken Jr. and David and daughter Kandace, plus 6 grandkids Name of her quilting group: the Sew and Sews Number of quilts she's made: over 100 What she does with all those quilts: gives them to kids, grandkids, special friends, and charity groups Why the quilts are her babies: "Each one is an extension of my self. It's a period of my life and it reflects what I was doing at that time. Each quilt has memories for me." Favorite quilt: one she made for her mother's 75th birthday; each block is signed by a friend or family member.