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THE STITCHING LIFE: Holding the quilt she gave to friend Kathy Goodman, Union's Barbara Tyler looks forward to sharing quilting metaphors with those attending the Quilt Quester's show in Cove. (The Observer/T.L. PETERSEN).
THE STITCHING LIFE: Holding the quilt she gave to friend Kathy Goodman, Union's Barbara Tyler looks forward to sharing quilting metaphors with those attending the Quilt Quester's show in Cove. (The Observer/T.L. PETERSEN).

By T.L. Petersen

Observer Staff Writer

Quilting and quilts are a reflection of life. From a distance, most are beautiful. Up close, not all the corners are exact, the seams aren't all straight, and things aren't all neat and tidy.

COVE — Barbara Tyler of Union loves to quilt, and loves to collect thoughts on quilts and quilting, and life.

As the featured quilter Friday and Saturday at the 12th Annual Quilt Questers Quilt Club Show in the Cove High School gymnasium, Tyler denies having any great message to deliver.

She's thinking she'll spend her time at the show doing more of a question-and-answer format, talking with visitors about the 30 quilts she'll have at the show, about some newer techniques for quilting and generally having a good time.

"I don't have a thing I'm presenting," Tyler says. "I'm kind of a generalist."

She is thinking, though, that she'll have a book set out where people can write thoughts about quilting as a metaphor for life.

"When my last child left home, I found I had extra time," Tyler says, explaining that she had once quilted years before and decided to return to the hobby.

"It's led me to wonderful people," Tyler stresses. "Quilting's a metaphor for life."

Quilters, she adds, are good people, as illustrated by a quilt shop owner in a distant state who had no problem accepting a check from Tyler. The shop owner said she'd never had a bad check from a quilter.

Tyler says she's a quilter who generally has as many as seven quilts under construction at any time. She's made quilts using various techniques, from patchwork to applique, and started quilting by getting a book and figuring it out. She's also hand-quilted the tops of her pieces, given them to others to quilt and machine-quilted the tops.

"I don't have a clue," why the Quilt Questers chose her as the show's featured quilter, she says, but the fact that she often has a quilt to stitch on in her office at the Center for Human Development, that she often gives quilts to family and friends, and that's she's willing to try just about any technique, from the newest rotary cutters to traditional stitching, may have something to do with her selection.

High on her list of the best parts of quilting, Tyler said, is choosing the colors and fabrics.

She saw a woman quilting back in 1997, loved the quilt, and got the pattern, she says.

"I really like working with the colors, and I experiment a lot. I've been quilting ever since," she said.

For the mother of six grown children, quilting seems to provide Tyler with the variety she craves — mixing colors, fabrics, techniques and experimentation.

Usually, Tyler makes full-size bed quilts "I'm called Barbara the tent-maker," she jokes.

And she likes to use modern techniques that speed up the quilt-making process.

"Quilt-making used to be a lot more tedious," she explains. "Now it goes so much faster."

But how does she make so many quilts and work full-time?

"Because I'm highly distractable, I seldom have less than seven going at once," she explains.

Depending on her mood and what's happening around her, Tyler may do one quilt in a couple of weeks or finish up five within a month. Others may get picked up and put down for months.

Tyler hints that looking at her quilts closely can tell you things about her. Her love of surprise is an example. Take a look at her quilt made of various Asian fabrics. Mixed in, somewhere, is one Christmas fabric.

"I may not, by any means, be up to the standards of some quilters," Tyler adds, "but I get better with each one.

The Quilt Questers Show hours at the Cove gym will be from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday during the Cove Cherry Fair.

A quilt raffle, and voting for a Viewer's Choice award will take place, and quilting supply vendors are expected to be on hand. Admission is $3 for adults and $2 for seniors and those under 12.

Reach T.L. Petersen at:

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