Marie Labine

THURSDAY SPOTLIGHT: Parksville Qualicum Beach quilters honour generations

Show set for Oceanside Place Arena in Parksville from May 29-31

Marie Labine and her daughter Wendy Parker practically beam as they show off the family quilts.

There are plenty of samples to look at, too. Dozens of pieces hang on the walls and sit stacked on shelves. Some work made by Labine’s great-grandmother rests neatly folded on the table.

“One of those things about a quilting family is we all have beautiful beds,” said Parker, opening the bedroom door to show off more handiwork.

“It (quilting) is an addiction,” said Labine with a laugh. “The bug must have caught.”

There is reason for their current madness, however. The Qualicum Beach mother and daughter team are getting ready to enter several pieces into the Parksville Quilt House Quilters Guild tri-annual show later this month. It’s a particularly unique moment as Parker and Labine are the embodiment of the theme for this year’s event: “generation to generation.”

“We wanted to celebrate quilting and celebrate how far we’ve come,” said Lola Denesyk, a past president of the guild and team leader of the upcoming show.

Denesyk said the show will contain work from three distinct groups: those aged 18 years and under in junior fibre arts, those aged in their late 20s to late 70s — who make up the guild’s regular membership — and those no longer with us in the heritage section.

“(We’re) able to celebrate all generations,” she said. “Everything is under one roof.”

According to Barb Wilson, one of the co-chairs for the event, around 400-450 quilts in 10 different categories and a variety of styles, sizes and levels of craftsmanship will be displayed in the main room.

“It looks quite nice,” she said. “Very colourful.”

The work was created by 150 guild members, who submitted between one and six quilts each, said Fran Henney, one of two people in charge of entries.

“We have spectacular quilts,” she said, adding that she believes every quilt is beautiful and deserves to be shown. “We want to represent as many members as we can.”

While this is not an official juried show, the quilters are vying for the past-presidents’ prize, a ribbon for best in show as voted by the public and a top-three ranking chosen by the membership.

“The competition is fierce,” said Labine, though she adds it’s all well-natured.

The heritage section, on the other hand, will be placed together with the junior fibre arts in a room separate from the main competition.

Labine said she plans to submit one of her mother’s quilts, a piece featured in the first Parksville Quilt House Quilters Quilt Show. Some of the other works set to enter the heritage section even predate the guild, which Denesyk said was founded in 1979 and incorporated in 1981. Donna McAskile, a guild past-president and one of the show’s PR co-ordinators, said she will submit a quilt made out of embroidered panels her grandmother and mother had stitched on old Robin Hood flour sacks.

“It’s really inspiring,” McAskile said of the family connections in the necessity-turned-art form that is quilt making. “It’s a really important part of quilting.”

McAskile said the guild has seen a number of mother-daughter teams like Labine and Parker over the years, as well as many more lone members who were introduced to the art form by their relatives.

Not everybody has that familial push, however, and Wilson said she hopes this show will also help promote an interest in quilting to everyone.

“We’re passing on a heritage to the generations behind us,” said McAskile.

The upcoming event will also act as a fundraiser Parksville Quilt House Quilters Guild. While some of the proceeds will help run the organization for the next three years, the main purpose of the show is to raise funds for their Comfort Quilt charity program, said Denesyk. This arm of the guild makes quilts for care homes and hospitals in the mid-Island. Helen Green, chair of the Comfort Quilts, estimated the group has donated $25,000 worth of goods since June 2014.

“(There is) always someone who needs a quilt,” said Parker.

Of course, the upcoming show isn’t just for the benefit of the participants. There will also be a boutique, a raffle, door prizes and plenty of vendors selling quilting/sewing supplies for those who attend.

“It’ll be wonderful,” said Henney of the event. “They’re always wonderful.”

The Parksville Quilt House Quilters Guild tri-annual show will run May 29-31 at the Oceanside Place Arena in Parksville. Hours on Fri. and Sat. run from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., and 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Sun. Admission at the door is $8 per day, or $15 for a three-day pass.

For more information, visit parksvillequilthousequilters.com

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