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Clackamas County woman spreads comfort with her quilts

Betty Prible has donated thousands of blankets to charity


by: CLACKAMAS UCC - Betty Prible has donated thousands of quilts to her churchs outreach ministries such as the Madonna Center, the Celilo Indian Village and the Christmas Giving Tree.Betty Prible has finished sewing her more than 6,000 quilts for charity. That’s not a typo.

When asked what motivates her, she simply said, “It’s a strong desire to help others and to keep busy. This is what keeps me going.”

Prible, who turns 90 this month, started sewing around the age of 6 or 7, continuing on through eight years of 4H Club. Initially, her mother taught her how to cut and sew strips of burlap bags together to create door mats. Back then she used a manual treadle machine — pumping her feet up and down to give it power — a world away from the high-end Janome machine she uses.

Over the years, Prible’s legs have become weak and now would never hold up to a typical sewing machine. The Janome allows her to use only hand controls for sewing, with no foot pedals. This has enabled her to keep sewing for many years.

In the 1990s in Tulare, Calif., Prible retired from teaching quilt-making. At the urging of friends, she then started a local quilting group. The son of one of the members was a local deputy sheriff. One cold and rainy night, the deputy pulled over someone to make an arrest. Sadly, there were young children in the car who were scared and terribly cold. The deputy wished he had something to give the kids to keep them warm and to calm their fears. Thus began the first of Prible’s quilting for charity — quilts for the sheriff’s cars.

When she and her husband, Frank, moved to Happy Valley, she became involved in providing quilts for the Clackamas County Abused Children’s Program, which then evolved into making quilts for both children and adults. She has distributed many of her quilts through her home church Clackamas United Church of Christ’s outreach ministries like the Madonna Center, the Celilo Indian Village and the Christmas Giving Tree.

When asked how she designs each quilt and whether she has a favorite, Prible said, “When I look at the material it speaks to me, and I design from there. Every quilt is a favorite, and since I made each one, they are like my babies.”

Prible wakes up at 5 a.m. every day, says hello to her cat, Misty, then heads to her work room to start another day that includes six to eight hours of sewing. She sews daily. “Why should I stop even for a day?” she said, “I love doing this.”

Prible recently acquired a night job as well. She read about a group of women in Gladstone who were crocheting sleeping mats for the homeless. The mats are made out of plastic grocery bags and thinking this was a grand idea for recycling and for helping those less fortunate, Prible started collecting plastic bags. She began by crocheting the bags, but soon asked her 90-year-old neighbor if he could make her a type of loom or wood frame that would allow her to weave the bags together instead of crocheting. The mats repel water and insects, are lightweight but heavy-duty, and last much longer than cloth blankets — they’re also surprisingly soft and durable. To date, she has made 12 of the adult-size sleeping mats. When asked what a perfect day is like for her, Prible said, “Well, just getting up is a great start, and if I can complete three quilts in one day, that would be my perfect day.” For more information, check out c-ucc.org.




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