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'Definitely a pickup with the hobby': More Albertans take up quilting during the pandemic

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Alberta has a rich history with the art of quilting – from a way to keep warm in the province’s harsh climates when settlers first arrived, to a meditative hobby during a global pandemic.

“It definitely is just so calming once you get in a rhythm,” said Carolyn Playdon, president of the Edmonton Modern Quilt Guild.

While she’s only been quilting herself for four years, Playdon has noticed a definite uptick in interest in the hobby since the pandemic began.

“People were stuck at home,” she said. “You couldn’t go anywhere.”

“But YouTube, Pinterest, just the library with books you could get (on quilting)…definitely an uptick with the hobby.”

Others needed a little more of a helping hand kicking off their quilts.

“I went to a fabric store, bought a ton of fabric,” quilter Brett Lewis said. “Signed up for a beginner’s quilting class.”

He now designs his own fabrics, inspired by his work in the agriculture sector.

Lucie Heins wrote the book on Alberta quilting, and works with historic quilts in her job as curator of the Royal Alberta Museum.

“From far away they almost look like a painting – or even a photograph,” she said. “They are so detailed and just really beautiful.”

Heins has also noticed the uptick in the number of people interested in quilting – and how they’re communicating about it. The pandemic has made quilting collaboration online more commonplace.

“It’s really changed how quilters meet and communicate with each other, just in a short period of time,” Heins said.

In her research, Heins reported the average age of quilters in Alberta was in their 60s – but the mantle is being carried on by younger quilters like Playdon and Lewis, ensuring Alberta’s history with quilting continues for many years to come. 

With files from Carlyle Fiset 

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