Anchorage Log Cabin Quilters
"Aura Dance" by Deb Hardman. Photo courtesy of Deb Hardman.
"Mountains and Anchorage" by Marie Fujimura. Photo courtesy of Deb Hardman.
Anchorage Log Cabin Quilters member Kay Fiero displays her quilt, "Up a Creek Without a Paddle.” Photo courtesy of Deb Hardman.
People who live in places that do not have long, dark winters or lots of gloomy, overcast days may not realize that there is a recognized health disorder that can negatively influence those who do not get enough sunshine.
It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder—or SAD for short. Many refer to it simply as “the winter blues.” In older times, hospitals included a sunroom or solarium so that folks could alleviate their depression with a “light bath.” In this more mobile day and age, those from Northern climes often flee to sunny areas during cold months for a dose of heliotherapy (Helios was what the Greeks called their sun god).
A group of quilters in Anchorage, Alaska, however, have found their own brand of healing. “We don’t suffer from SAD,” says Pat Schroder, spokeswoman for the Anchorage Log Cabin Quilters. “We quilt. That’s our light!”
The Anchorage Log Cabin Quilters formed in 1979. Its original membership of 42 has grown to almost 200, drawing not only from the city of Anchorage proper, but also from surrounding communities. The group has both daytime and evening meetings, invites outside speakers for lectures and workshops, sponsors a quilt retreat for members, and holds an annual quilt show.
As is true for many quilt guilds, the Anchorage group participates in a number of community service projects. For the past seven years, they’ve held a Teddy Bear Tea, at which doll-sized quilts are paired with donated teddy bears (and “teddy bear wannabes” i.e., other plush animals) and given to various children’s service agencies.
One of the Anchorage Log Cabin Quilters’ most popular projects is called “Comfort Quilts.” These are bed-sized quilts that are given to a variety of community agencies. They can be tied or quilted by hand or longarm, as some of the group’s longarming members use the quilts to perfect their skills with the machines. Some of the quilts are made from recycled projects, donated fabrics, or unwanted tops. Nothing goes to waste. To raise money for supplies for the Comfort Quilt project, a silent auction of 2’ x 2’ quilts made especially for the purpose is held each year during the group’s quilt show.
As befits the U.S.’s largest and northernmost state, certain “Alaskana” themes are especially popular with the guild’s quilters. “Moose,” laughs Pat. “We see a lot of moose in our quilts. And also fish, mountains, and fireweed!” Designers have responded to state pride and tourist demand by producing a series of Alaska-specific fabric designs, which can be purchased at three local quilt shops: Seams Like Home Quilt Shoppe, Quilt Tree, and The Quilted Raven.
“Being from Alaska sort of makes you an instant celebrity when you travel to the Lower 48,” says Pat. “But we’re no different from quilters any place else. Any place you go that there are quilters, you have an instant family. It’s like we all have a secret handshake.”
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