Oswego Quilters throw themselves a wonderful, well-deserved party

by: CLIFF NEWELL - Lori Friedman, right, points to the figures depicting herself and the quilt's maker, Jeannie Pickens, left. This beautiful work sums up what Oswego Quilters is all about.The first reunion of the Oswego Quilters was intended for all the ladies who have been coming to this group over the past 55 years.

But a visitor to the party held on Aug. 6 was immediately wrapped in warmth. An outsider quickly became an insider as OQ members greeted them so warmly and never stopped making them feel welcome. Alice Greene’s backyard was covered with quilts hanging from fences and railings, there were garden flowers everywhere, a tea and coffee table, scrapbooks holding decades of memories stacked on a little table, and the lunch buffet, all of it homemade, was enough to make a hungry person faint. by: CLIFF NEWELL - Alice Greene makes her home the haven for the Oswego Quilters. They meet every Tuesday for quilting, food and friendship.

It seemed as if Paradise is a quilting club. One past member, upon entering the scene, placed her hand over her heart and said, “This is candy for my soul.”

Everyone there was feeling the same way. The Oswego Quilters were formed in 1958 by Helen Grigg, a pillar of the Lake Oswego community and a great quilter, and it has been going strong ever since. A mega reunion seemed to be far overdue. The idea to have one was like a snowball rolling down a hill and getting larger and larger. The ideas kept coming and getting bigger.

“We all did it together,” said Lori Friedman, club historian. “We hadn’t seen so many of our past members in a long time and we missed them. It is so inspiring to see all of them here today.”

Greene’s backyard was filled with Oswego Quilters past, present and future. The oldest member there was 94-year-old Janet Hoffmann. Emmylou Johnson is the member who has been with the club the longest. The next generation of Oswego Quilters was already on hand with 8-year-old Libby Hull, who was the guest of her grandmother Carol Hull. Libby wants to learn how to sew, but another big incentive was the many cakes covering the buffet table.

Of course, there were many stories of how these women became members of Oswego Quilters, and they revealed just why this club has been able to last 55 years. There is often understandable trepidation about joining an organization of incredible quilters, including world class quilt maker Ann Johnston. But the club members immediately open their arms to newcomers. Literally no quilting skill is required. Joining Oswego Quilters seems to immediately transform the quality of life for new members.

“I had just moved here in 1999,” Friedman said, “Somebody told me, ‘You should really go to Lake Oswego Quilters. There is so much love there.’ I was worried that my quilting skills were not good enough, but I went and everyone welcomed me anyway.”

Besides getting lots of love, Friedman said, “My quilting technique has improved.” In addition, as club historian Friedman has a happy facility for never missing anything. by: CLIFF NEWELL - At 37 years, Emmylou Johnson has been with Oswego Quilters longer than anyone active in the group. Her mother and grandmother were also club members.

Carol Hull’s story is typical. She moved to Lake Oswego in 2009 and was wondering how to break in socially. An invitation to Oswego Quilters was all she needed.

“I was new to town and I was thrilled to come,” Hull said. “I have lots of friends. Most of them are quilters.” by: CLIFF NEWELL - Carol Hull and her granddaughter, Libby Hull, are dazzled by the display of cakes at the reunion luncheon. Club members have long known that one cannot live by quilting alone.

Naturally, there is a quilt that best symbolizes what the club is all about. It is a masterpiece by Jeannie Pickens, and ringing around the edges of the quilt in a circle are little figures of all the members, all of them holding hands in happy quilting sisterhood. In the middle there are patches of cloth contributed by everybody.

And there’s more. Pickens embroidered a history of the club and also a roll call of members past, which hang right next to the quilt.

But Oswego Quilters is about much more than making quilts into works of art, eating a delicious lunch, and even friendship. The quilters have been meeting every Tuesday since 1958 to make quilts to raise money for charitable organizations, including the Salvation Army and many local churches.

“In many different ways we’ve left a legacy,” Friedman said.

More legacy is on the way.

“Our next quilt will be our 600th,” said Jackie Aden, who is in charge of “keeping it going.”

There seems to be no reason why the Oswego Quilters cannot keep going another 55 years. As Friedman said, “Quilting is contagious.”

For information about Oswego Quilters, call Lori Friedman at 503 699-8944. Newcomers can join in the quilting or bring their own quilt to show. Typically, from 14 to 25 quilters show up every Tuesday.

by: CLIFF NEWELL - Jane Johnson peeks out from behind the quilt she designed that shows the history of her family.

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