The comfort of quilts

In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, Busy Bee Quilters are sending 32 quilts to New York

By Leslie Moriarty

Herald Writer

SNOHOMISH — Quilts are comforting. Just ask any of the members of the Busy Bee Quilters.

"They are comfort, whether to a victim or to the person who is making one," said Judy Pedersen, a member of the group.

And that’s part of the reason the group decided to make quilts after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Those quilts, 32 in all, are going to be sent this Thanksgiving week to family members of those who served and died in Fire Department of New York’s Ladder Company 4, Engine 54.

"They took a very big hit," quilter Brenda Norris said. "They lost a number of their crew."

The quilt-making therapy began as the idea of member Laurie Giddings, whose husband, John, is a local firefighter. Their friend, Andy Speier, also a local firefighter, was originally from New York and worked in the Ladder Company 4 before coming here.

Speier went to New York shortly after the attacks to help with rescue efforts and returned with information about the 14 firefighters of Ladder Company 4, Engine 54 who died in the aftermath of the attack.

At about the same time, local quilters were talking among themselves about what they could do to help the victims of the attacks and their families. Of course, they decided to make quilts.

"We sent around the telephone tree and the e-mail tree, telling everyone to make quilt blocks for quilts to send to New York," Norris said. "Within the first week we had so many blocks."

When they heard about Ladder Company 4, they decided they wanted to make personal contact with that company and give the quilts to the families who lost their loved ones.

So the 185-plus members of the quilting club began sewing and sewing, and two months later they’ve put together 32 quilts.

Some of them are red, white and blue and carry patriotic themes. Others are a hodge-podge of bright colors.

And among the quilts is a special one made by Sultan member Scott Hansen. He actually made the quilt several years ago while grieving the loss of his younger brother, Ty, whose death at age 24 hit Hansen hard.

So Hansen, a full-time working father, took up quilting as a way to comfort himself. The quilt, in deep blues, reds, greens and browns, depicts the cabin where the brothers liked to spend time.

Hansen has since made a label telling of the quilt’s history. On it he wrote, "My hope is that this quilt will comfort you in your loss as it has comforted me."

The group wants it to be given to a woman who lost several members of her family who served in Ladder Company 4.

The club members found that keeping their hands busy making quilts comforted them, too.

"Doing this helps you connect to what the victims and their families are going through," Pederson said. "After the attack happened, I couldn’t watch the news. I went in a room and began quilting."

Member Kelly Milbauer said, "I felt like everything was out of control. There was nothing I could do there (New York). But I wanted to take some action."

Norris said the quilts show that someone took the time to care.

"Quilts are something tangible that you can keep forever," she said. "They are more personal than writing a check, although we all did that, too."

You can call Herald Writer Leslie Moriarty at 425-339-3436

or send e-mail to moriarty@heraldnet.com.

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