I am so glad the folks at Vista Middle School in Ferndale told me about their new quilting club. I don’t quilt, but I had a blast writing about this new club.
I pasted the story below this sentence.
Principal Mary Kanikeberg flits among students in a classroom at Vista Middle School on a recent Thursday, showing one how to thread a Bernina sewing machine and another how to iron flat a border that he will sew onto his quilt.
It’s the last remaining days of the first session of a new quilting club that Kanikeberg started this fall at the request of a young student who, while admiring the principal’s creations in her office, said, “I wish you would teach us how to quilt.”
So Kanikeberg put out a signup list to gauge other students’ interests at the Ferndale school. Thirty-six kids wanted to be in the club.
“Who knew?” said Kanikeberg, an avid quilter. “It’s got a life of its own. It’s kind of a hoot how excited they are.”
Each session lasts about eight weeks and has space for 12 students.
Eleven volunteers who are themselves quilters are helping the students make quilts that are either 11 rows by 11 rows, or 9 rows by 9 rows.
Among them this day was Keena Hudson, a junior at Ferndale High School, whose grandmother taught her how to sew and quilt.
“It’s great that they’re starting now,” said Hudson, who wished there had been a quilting club when she was in middle school.
The club was made possible through Kanikeberg’s energy, and contributions from volunteers and businesses.
Kanikeberg and her friends have supplied fabric for the quilts, and assembled kits that include 150 squares of fabric. She found sewing machines for the club in storage at Ferndale High School. She interviewed students to find out what kind of theme they wanted for their quilts, and what colors they liked.
And she told the school’s boys about famed male quilters, such as Kaffe Fasset and Ricky Tims.
“They’re like the quintessential quilters in the male world,” Kanikeberg said. “I wanted boys to know that it’s also good healthy stuff for them to be doing and to be creative.”
Kanikeberg has been impressed by the support the club received from the community.
“It’s been a lot of donations, and time donated, and a lot of adults working with the kids,” she said. “It’s amazing, the outpouring.”
That includes discounts from Fourth Corner Quilts and Two Thimbles Quilt Shop, as well as discounts and donated fabric from Fabric Etc.
Meanwhile, Quality Sewing & Vacuum in Bellingham has donated the servicing on all 13 of Vista Quilt Club’s sewing machines. Servicing one machine usually costs about $100.
That assistance has helped stretch the new club’s budget.
“Everything’s running on a shoestring,” Kanikeberg said.
The club is providing a creative outlet for students like seventh-grader Sarah Barker, an athlete who was learning how to tie her quilt — the last stage — under the watchful eye of volunteer Cherie Thomas, a Ferndale resident who recently retired after 32 years at Ferndale High School.
“Do you want to put your knots on corners, or in the middle?” she asked Barker, who said the club was fun and that she was making hers as a “present for someone special.”
Thomas taught business education before retiring.
Meanwhile, seventh-grader Noah Souriall was ironing the border for his quilt — which featured an outdoors theme with bears, deer, evergreen trees and a cabin nestled in the snow — under Kanikeberg’s direction.
“My mom said that it would help me with my math skills,” Souriall said when asked why he joined the club. “It turned out to be a lot more fun than I thought it would be.”
Those skills include measuring, geometry and algebra, school officials said.
The quilting lessons also are open to adults, who use their own machines. One of them was Bryan Milliren, a seventh-grade teacher at Vista, who planned to surprise his wife on Christmas with the quilt he was making.
“I’m having so much fun. It’s total stress relief,” Milliren said. “It’s so fun to be a learner with the kids.”