Quilters holding sale to support their community work

Mike Munzenrider Muriel Anderson, a member of the Roseville Lutheran Church Quilters, cut the bunting for a quilt that will be sold in the group’s upcoming sale the weekend of Nov. 9-11. The quilters meet weekly at the church and donate their work to local organizations.

Mike Munzenrider photos From right, quilters Dorothy Tostengard, an 80-year-old Roseville resident, Gail Van Horn, a 67-year-old New Brighton resident and Ruth Toty, an 81-year-old from Roseville, measured to size the backing for a quilt. Van Horn isn’t a congregant at Roseville Lutheran — members say the quilting group is open to anybody who can tie a knot.

Coffee time during the Roseville Lutheran Church Quilters weekly Wednesday meetings is when decisions for the group are made. Members, many of whom are widows, also use the time to catch up with each other and say its a “good therapy group” during tough times.

A bell rings and its coffee time for the Roseville Lutheran Church Quilters during one of their recent weekly Wednesday meetings.

The all-woman group launches into a well-practiced prayer prior to passing around trays of cake and cookies; the coffee and tea's already been served.

Quilting group members use coffee time for catching up and making group decisions. The time's full of "Lutheran jokes" and plenty of other quips.

"Lutherans are a quiet bunch but you wouldn't know it from this group," says one of the ladies during the rapid-fire conversation held in Roseville Lutheran's original church basement.

"We have a mission and it's to keep people warm," explains Muriel Anderson, an 85-year-old Roseville resident who's been a congregant at the church and with the group since the early 1970s. She's the longest-serving quilter there and also the designated spokesperson for the morning.

Group quilting began at Roseville Lutheran during World War II, says Anderson. Because of the war there were no quilting materials available at the time to purchase, so those early church quilters would cut up suit jackets and pants to make their wares, which in those early years were sent to Lutheran World Relief for distribution. Nowadays the quilters donate locally.

"We live in Minnesota and it's pretty cold up here and we're going to support people in our area," says Anderson, pointing out the group donates quilts to area organizations such as Bridging, the United Hospital nursery and the Rose of Sharon Manor nursing home, among others.

Last year, the women made and donated some 350 quilts, though at this particular meeting they're finalizing plans and quilts for their first quilt sale in seven years, which will happen Nov. 9-11 at the church, where they'll have an offering of another 140 handmade quilts of various sizes.


Group therapy

Though they're no longer cutting up clothing for quilts — the women have no shortage of donated sheets and fabric that fill a closet at the church, with the overflow at Anderson's home — the sale supports their biggest expense, the synthetic and quick-drying bunting that fills their work.

Anderson says they buy 12 big rolls of it annually at a cost of about $1,000 per dozen.

Ardis Zanlek, an 88-year-old Roseville resident, is the only sewer on hand this Wednesday. "This is the end of the line" for the quilts, she says — once they're sewn, they're ready for the world.

Zanlek says she made her way to Roseville Lutheran 17 years ago after her husband passed away, and, already having some quilting know-how, joined the group around the same time she joined the congregation. She's not alone as a widow among other group members.

"It really is a good therapy group," she says, a point that's echoed by others. The group got her out of the house with a purpose — "That's what you really need at that time."

For group member Virginia Cronin, a 79-year-old who lives in Little Canada, the group is fulfillment of her post-retirement plans.

"I'd promised myself when I quit teaching I would take up quilting," she says, saying she taught up north before landing in the metro 20 years ago, going on to join the church, its choir and the quilting group all at once.

Though most of the quilts the women make stay in-state, Cronin says a dozen made their way to Iraq some years ago, sent to her daughter who was in the Texas National Guard and deployed in the Middle East. 

It gets surprisingly cold at night in the Mesopotamian desert, she says the soldiers learned. Her daughter left her quilt overseas to be used by others, but other soldiers kept theirs, said Cronin.


Come and quilt

Quilters give various reasons for why they keep coming back each Wednesday — "dedication," "getting something done," "fellowship," "we feel a real need."

For Anderson and her 45-or-so years with the group, it's because of "dedication and sociability and its good support."

She says the group's been as big as 26 in her time. There are around 15 at this Wednesday morning meeting and a couple more women working from home. 

Anderson says the group can always use more members — it's open to all, Roseville Lutheran congregant or not, and not just women ("A man came once; he never came back" jokes one member). The work is divided amongst groups. There are people who specialize in making tops, those who sew, "the rippers" and more,  and Anderson assures anyone can be put to work if "you can tie a knot."

"We're just happy to have anybody join us," she says. "There's usually a table that will take them under their wing."

The group meets Wednesdays 8:30 a.m. to noon, save for the month of December, at Roseville Lutheran Church, 1215 Roselawn Ave. W. Those interested in learning more information about the group can call the church office at 651-487-7752.

As coffee time wraps, Anderson is complimented on an almond bar she'd brought, though she admits it came from the grocery store, for efficiency's sake.

Says Anderson, "I spend my time quilting, not cooking."


–Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813. 

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