By Starrla Cray
DASSEL, MN Quilting is a little bit like life sometimes it takes awhile to see how all the pieces will fit together.
Linda Poirier of Dassel has experienced this. She’s been a quilter for decades, and the hobby has spilled over into opportunities for jobs, friendships, and serving others.
“A lot of my quilts kind of have stories with them,” Poirier said.
In January, she was a featured quilter at the Sewing for Sight Quilt Show in New Ulm. Of the 250 quilts featured, 50 were created by Poirier.
“This was the seventh year,” Poirier said of the event, which raises money for eye care in San Lucas-Toliman, Guatemala.
One of the quilts Poirier brought to the show depicts owls, butterflies, and foxes a pattern she found two years ago while visiting her dad in Florida.
“It rained eight of the 10 days. So, what do you do? You visit quilt shops,” she recalled.
Poirier joked that when she and her husband, Dale, are traveling, he likes to put “blinders” on her.
“If I see a quilt shop, we have to stop,” she laughed.
Three days a week, Poirier works at Gone to Pieces Quilt Shop in Kimball. There, she gets to assist other quilters and sew samples for display.
“There are always new patterns, techniques, and equipment,” she said.
One of Poirier’s goals is to learn English paper piecing, a technique that involves wrapping paper templates around fabric to create intricate designs.
At any given time, Poirier has 10 quilting projects in various stages of completion.
“I try not to start a new one until I finish one of the 10 but sometimes I cheat,” she said.
For some quilts, Poirier starts with the pattern and finds the fabric later, and for others it’s the opposite.
One quilt in particular took more than 12 years to finish from the time Poirier bought the fabric. She saw the colorful leaf fabric while at a quilting retreat in De Soto, WI, and said it “jumped out” at her.
“It reminded me of a Matisse painting,” she said.
Poirier knew she wanted the fabric, but didn’t yet have a plan for how the quilt would be created. She bought all that was left at the shop 2.5 yards and took it home.
“It sat there for many years, because I didn’t know what to do with it,” Poirier said.
Eventually, the perfect pattern came along, incorporating large squares from the leaf fabric with smaller squares of coordinating colors. Poirier searched several quilt shops for the exact right colors to match, and the quilt finally came together.
Many of Poirier’s quilts have a vibrant, cheerful vibe, and she also enjoys working with traditional fabrics and color combinations.
“I am really eclectic,” she said. “. . . I’m not a fan of the color orange, but so many of my quilts have orange in them [as an accent color].”
Love at first stitch
Poirier’s first quilting memories are from when she was 10 years old doing piecework for her dolls.
“I would go into my mother’s sewing stash,” Poirier recalled, explaining that she’s always loved activities like quilting, knitting, crocheting, and cross-stitch.
In junior high, Poirier took sewing lessons at Dayton’s near her home in Minneapolis. She continued learning while attending college at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, studying home economics with a focus on clothing and textiles.
Poirier taught home economics for several years in Clarissa, and later owned Stepping Stone Gallery in Hutchinson. After she closed that business, she opened Stepping Stone Cottage in Baxter, where she hosted quilting retreats.
Now, Poirier enjoys attending these types of retreats, which usually have eight to 10 quilters participating.
“You get to know them and what they’re working on,” Poirier said. “It’s inspiring and encouraging.”
Poirier also participates in a quilting group at St. John’s Catholic Church in Darwin, and is a member of the Dassel-Cokato Sew Friendly Quilt Guild in Cokato.
For a list of quilting groups in Minnesota, follow the link at www.dasselcokato.com.