Shortly after the Gulf War started in August of 1990, a group of ladies in Ronan, Jessie Merwin, Pat Anderson and Peggy Olson, got together to create a quilt of flags to honor those fighting in Desert Storm. As it turned out, the war was over in early 1991 before the quilt was finished. The ladies, having enjoyed working together on this ‘project with a purpose’, were inspired to begin what is now known as the Mission Mountain Quilt Guild. From its inception, the group has worked to create quilts for donation and also has put on an annual quilt show where members of the guild display their individual quilts.
The MMQG meets once per month to work on quilts that they donate to various causes. They try to have 10-15 quilts on hand for gifting when individuals or communities face disasters. They have given many quilts to families who have lost their homes to fires and they donated quilts after Hurricane Katrina. They also have donated numerous lap quilts to St. Luke’s. Recently they also worked with kids from the Christian Academy to create a quilt out of Sea Hawks’ fabrics which was sold to raise money for the school.
The Quilt Show was also begun in 1991 and although the timing of the show has remained consistent—the last weekend of July, the location of the annual event bounced around a bit before finally settling at the K. William Harvey Elementary School. The first show of the MMQG was held at St. Luke’s Extended Care and then it moved to the Ronan Community Center for a few years and then to Ronan High School before finding its home at the elementary school Most years the show coincides with the Lake County Fair—as it does this year--and that event brings in many people from all over the Mission Valley. Quilt Guild members view this as a positive as many fair-goers take a break to cross Old Hwy 93 and enjoy the beautiful quilts displayed within the cool confines of the school.
Each year, the quilt show features one or more members of the guild. This year’s featured quilter is Deleen Winters of Ronan. Although Deleen began sewing as a young adult, she did not become a “real” quilter until after she retired. She learned later that she had been something of an “accidental quilter” for years as she had made blankets that she pieced together, but she had never considered herself a quilter. That changed when she took a class in Arlee where she thought she was going to make cookies, ornaments and other Christmas decorations, but instead learned how to quilt.
Deleen’s first quilt made in that Arlee adult ed. Class was a ‘Star quilt’ which is now the prized possession of her grandson. Another early influence on her quilting journey was her Aunt, Verda Eckley, a well-known, energetic and involved member of the Ronan community for decades. Apparently Verda threw out the idea of a few of them getting together to make a quilt and next thing Deleen knew, she and friends were working on quilts.
One of the things Deleen loves about quilting is that there are so many different techniques to learn and try. She continues to take classes and is always working on those new techniques. Some of her favorites are ‘Quilt Art’, thread painting, tied quilts, paper piecing, and embroidery quilts. One of the things that Deleen enjoys most about quilting is that when she is working on a quilt, she is completely absorbed in the activity. She loses track of time and whatever else is going on and is focused only on the quilting—and what her next project will be.
Deleen will have several quilts on display at the 26th Annual MMQG Quilt show being held on July 28th and 29th. She will have 14 quilts entered in various categories including this year’s theme of “Love of Quilting Through Curves” and additionally she will have 20-25 quilts that she will show as the featured quilter. In addition to Deleen many other quilters will also be displaying some of their handiwork and K. William elementary will be filled with scores of beautiful pieces of functional art. Look for the show across from the Lake County Fair.