Barbara Healy shows off one of the aprons she sews for gifts. “I’ve got everybody in my family trained to wear them,” she said. Photo: Ted Olinger, KP News

A group of loosely affiliated but like-minded artisans keep their sewing skills sharp and creative wits sharper with biweekly meetings at the Key Center library. Embroidery, quilting, beading and other sewing arts are practiced by members who come to hone their skills, learn new ones, and help others with their projects.

They call themselves the Key Peninsula Quilters, but that’s as far as formal structure goes. “We’re not organized with officers and dues; we’re totally against that,” said longtime member Barbara Healy. She joined the group in its early days in 1992 after retiring. “I’m the last of the first,” she said.

“I didn’t start it, I was just one of the first who showed up,” Healy said. “There was a posting in the library. I’d never quilted in my life, and I’d just retired so I thought I’d go down and see what it was all about. We had a master quilter with us for a while, and she showed us a lot.”

Kit Ellis joined 10 years ago and has recently been working on placemats and quilt patterns. “It’s really a good learning group,” she said.

One newcomer joined at the first August meeting. Susan Lauzon had been embroidering for years, she said, but “I just wanted a group to do it with. We’re relatively new here, and I was just interested in the companionship.” Lauzon and her husband bought property on the KP five years ago and retired here full-time in June.

Everyone works on her own project. “We all help each other,” Healy said. “We steal each other’s ideas, borrow each other’s supplies. We occasionally have a day where we bash husbands. It’s just a good outlet.”

“If somebody gets into trouble there’s usually at least one of us who might know what the next step might be,” Ellis said.

Award-winning quilter Carolyn Wiley specializes in elaborately designed quilts that take a long time to complete. “But it goes faster during football season because you just sew through the replays,” she said.

“There were probably about 10 of us to start. Some have dropped out, some have passed away,” said Healy. “We could use a couple or three more people to join us, but we do not encourage people to join us who have little children. Not with sewing machines and all the stuff we have that could hurt them.”

Asked whether husband bashing was a prerequisite to joining, member Deb Worley said, “Not so much.”

The Key Peninsula Quilters meet next from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 12 and 19.

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