Sewing the Fabric of a Community

The Pine Needlers Quilt Group brings the community together and gives back during the Lowell Quilt Show

Story and photos by Craig Reed

Members of Pine Needlers Quilt Group display the queen-size quilt that will be raffled off at the Lowell Quilt Show. From left are Diane Stephens, Joyce Weaver, Chris Daniels, Lisa Bee Wilson and Virginia Galvin. Photo by Craig Reed

Creative designs and myriad colors are displayed on quilt after quilt.

About 125 of the beautiful, homemade, fabric creations are expected to grace the Lowell High School gym during the Lowell Quilt Show Saturday, July 16, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, July 17, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The 18th annual quilt show is coordinated by Pine Needlers Quilt Group. This year’s show, titled “Windows of Hope,” will feature entries from quilters throughout Lane County.

There is no admission fee. A $5 fee per quilt entry helps with operating expenses for the show.

“I’m thrilled that this little group has pulled this show off year after year,” says Lisa Bee-Wilson, a charter member of Pine Needlers and lead organizer for the quilt show. “Each year, the show has been more professional and lovely. You can’t make this event without a team, so it’s cool that the group’s members have maintained their enthusiasm and drive for the show.”

Lisa says the show is a wonderful way to show off the unique art form. Each quilter incorporates different designs and colors into their creations.

Members of Pine Needlers Quilt Group gather to work on quilting projects and plan for the upcoming Lowell Quilt Show. From left are Joyce Weaver, Chris Daniels, Diane Stephens and Lisa Bee-Wilson.

The centerpiece this year will be a queen-size quilt that features black-and-white blocks of different designs. Members of Pine Needlers each created several blocks before assembling them into the quilt.

That quilt will be the Pine Needlers’ annual raffle prize. Members are selling tickets.

“The raffle quilt is a culmination of all of our talents,” says Joyce Weaver. “We’re a very eclectic group, but very supportive of each other. A unifying factor is creating the raffle quilt together to support the community. It’s been wonderfully received.”

In recent years, the quilt raffle has raised $3,000 to $4,000. The group has made donations to Lowell Fire Department, the town’s library, Lowell Grange, the local food bank, Lowell Fall Creek Education Fund and local schools to buy student supplies.

“Quilt raffles are a great way to make money for projects in the community,” says quilter Chris Daniels.

Lisa says she enjoys supporting the community, and it is easy to do through quilting—an activity she loves.

Virginia Galvin works on her latest quilting projects with fellow members of Pine Needlers Quilt Group.

Lisa initiated both Pine Needlers and the quilt show. She moved to the Lowell area in 2003. When she attended the town’s annual Blackberry Jam Festival that year, she thought a quilt show would be a nice addition to that weekend event in late July.

She had attended other quilt shows and saw them as an opportunity to highlight another type of art for the community.

Lisa attended a festival meeting, and there was no hesitation in giving her the go-ahead to organize a show.

Because there was no local quilters’ group and she was new to the area, Lisa recruited help from Teri Harter, a longtime quilter from Fall Creek who knew other quilters.

The two organized the first Lowell Quilt Show in 2005. It featured close to 100 quilts.

“That first show was held in the Lowell Grange Hall,” Lisa says. “The response was great. The community seemed to love it. We decided to continue with the show.”

The Pine Needlers group then formed, and the 12 to 20 members have organized the show since.

Most members are in their 60s and 70s, although the group is trying to attract younger members. They are eager to share their quilting expertise.

“Making quilts is a challenge, but the women in this group share,” Joyce says. “If you come in and say, ‘I need borders,’ you get opinions from everyone. They give you ideas. They share fabrics. You learn from each other.”

The show eventually outgrew Grange Hall and was moved to the Lundy Middle School gym and then to the high school gym. In 2020, because of COVID-19 restrictions, the show was a one-day, drive-thru event with the quilts on display in the Lowell Library parking lot.

Joyce works on her latest quilting projects with fellow members of Pine Needlers Quilt Group.

“We felt the community really needed to see some color and positivity,” Lisa says. “It was beautiful with the sun coming through the quilts. We got a really good reception.”

The show returned to the high school gym last year.

The Lowell Quilt Show is only for the display of quilts. There is no professional judging.

“It’s not so much a competition, but rather a display of a quilter’s talent and skills and creative expression,” Joyce says. “It’s interesting to see the impact of quilts and how they move people.”

While most of the quilts will be display only, a few will be available for sale.

Those interested in entering a quilt in this year’s show can visit the Blackberry Jam Quilt Show website for an entry form. The entry deadline is June 30.