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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, November 10, 2011

On display at the Altamont library
Train Station Quilters complete complex samplers, each in her own way

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

ALTAMONT — A riot of color will greet visitors to the Altamont Free Library for the next few weeks. Beautiful handcrafted quilts made by 20 women, members of the Train Station Quilters, will be displayed at the Masonic Hall on Maple Avenue, the library’s temporary quarters as it waits for renovations to its new home — the historic train station.

Ruth Dickinson, the group’s founder, and Leda Kim thought it would be good to have the quilters learn something new. They liked a quilt in McCall’s Quilting magazine made up of blocks that each had a different pattern, sort of like a quilt sampler.

“I tried to get the pattern,” recalled Dickinson, but, since it was from England, she was unsuccessful, so she went straight to the source and phoned McCall’s. She was thrilled when the magazine’s editor in chief, Beth Hayes, answered the phone.

“She said, ‘Beth Hayes speaking,’” and I said, ‘Oh, my God,’” recalled Dickinson. “She said, ‘You can copy the pattern if you send a picture when you’re done.”

To that end, local photographer Ron Ginsburg, whose wife, Lois, is a member of the Train Station Quilters, took a picture of the women unfurling their quilts from the deck of Irene Peck’s home. He also took individual pictures of each quilt.

“Each block was a different challenge,” said Dickinson, who taught the newer quilters the patterns, block by block. “One girl wasn’t going to do it,” related Dickinson. But when she was finished, she said, “I learned so much.”

Kris Zimmer of Berne quilted all of the finished tops on her long-arm machine.

Each quilt is made up of 16 blocks. They look entirely different from quilt to quilt, depending on the colors of material the women selected.

Some of the patterns are Friendship Star, Family Tree, Log Cabin, House Block, and The Basket.

Two of the most challenging blocks have nautical names — Ocean Waves and The Fish.

Describing the range of expertise in the group, Dickinson said, “Some have just started and some have quilted for a long time.”

So some of the quilts were completed in two months and others took two years; the project was started in 2009. “Margie turned hers out in a couple of months,” said Dickinson of Margie Jordan. “I took a long time, teaching each block….There are still a few who have not finished.”

The Train Station Quilters started in 2005 when Judith Wines, the library’s director, asked Dickinson to teach a two-week class on quilting. “It just kept growing,” said Dickinson. The group now meets at the village hall on Main Street every Tuesday from 10 a.m. till noon. “Then we go to lunch,” said Dickinson, noting the group frequents local eateries.

The Train Station Quilters welcomes new members. “You don’t have to be a quilter to join us,” said Dickinson. Some come to knit and some just to chat. “It’s an extraordinary group of women, incredibly supportive,” concluded Dickinson.

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