West Sound Quilters stitch together a community | Column

“To Kill a Mockingbird” ranks as one of my son and daughter’s favorite books. Right up there with “Les Miserables” for depictions of kind-hearted, benevolent souls making socially just choices in an unjust world. At least that’s what my kids told me, as they recited their favorite lines from ““To Kill a Mockingbird.”

“To Kill a Mockingbird” ranks as one of my son and daughter’s favorite books.

Right up there with “Les Miserables” for depictions of kind-hearted, benevolent souls making socially just choices in an unjust world.

At least that’s what my kids told me, as they recited their favorite lines from ““To Kill a Mockingbird.”

I’ve never read the book myself. The world was not nearly as racially tolerant when I was in junior high, and suffice it to say I wasn’t exactly allowed to read it.

So when I discovered that the Kitsap Regional Library was hosting a One Book/One Community reading of “To Kill a Mockingbird” with read-a-thons, community discussions and events galore, I thought – here’s my chance.

I could read right along with everyone and maybe even write about the process. How fun.

Better yet, the library had received a grant to pass out free copies.

Hence, I could possibly own a book that had been banned in my childhood. Wouldn’t that be cool?

Not so cool after all. My call to the local Port Orchard library branch was quickly forwarded to the PR department of the main branch in East Bremerton, where to my dismay, I was told that one had to be an “important person,” to receive a free book.

Posters would be made, they told me, of these “important people” reading the book and would inspire others, like me, to then read.

I could, of course, borrow a copy, but then I would have to pay down my library fines first.

Enough said.

Ah well. I’ve given up trying to decipher what constitutes an “important person.” I believe that people are always, always more than what they appear, and some might even say that this is what “To Kill a Mockingbird” is all about.

So it is with Georgia Ovestrud. When I first caught sight of her, she sat demurely behind the table at the West Sound Quilters Guild booth at the Olalla Bluegrass Festival, with her hands folded in her lap, looking like the perfect, sweet little grandmother.

She’d glance up shyly, her eyes concealed under her lashes as people around her asked and answered questions.

I didn’t doubt for a moment, though, that there was more to her than what could be seen on the surface, especially not when they explained her Sin Bonnet Sue controversy.

“She’s a riot,” Karen Minard told me when asked.

“It’s the way her mind works,” Meg Shellenberger, a past vice president of the Guild, explained. “I like it. Her sense of humor always takes unexpected turns, with surprising and delightful twists.”

Delightful? Or shocking?

Well, it depends on one’s point of view. As Meg explained further, “Georgia likes to have fun with her quilts.”

So it shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows her that she’d take the old Sun Bonnet Sue pattern — you know, the one with the little girl hidden by a sun bonnet bigger than her head? — and twist it.

The result – Sin Bonnet Sue in a variety of, shall we say, compromising and altogether mischievous situations.

Having Sin Bonnet Sue in stripes sitting in jail or blowing up illegal fireworks, throwing rocks at a school or walking through the streets as a “lady of the night,” didn’t sit well with members of a Sun Bonnet Sue Quilting Guild.

They found the quilt on display at an annual West Sound Quilters Quilt Shows held each year at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds and cried foul.

That outcry drew enough attention that the quilt won the daily viewers’ choice award several days in a row winning “Viewers’ Choice Best of Show.”

By way of explanation, Georgia said, “I tried to be good, but I got bored.”

“Fortunately,” members of the Guild said, “there are no quilt police.”

Good news for someone like me, a novice quilter, who is trying to finish a quilt for my daughter, constantly fearing I will make mistakes.

“Come to a meeting,” the ladies volunteer, “there are lots of us to help you.”

That may be an understatement. Quilters come from far and wide across the Peninsula and beyond to attend the monthly first Wednesday of the month meetings (except in January and July) held at 7 p.m. at the Givens Community Center in Port Orchard.

Sixty people would be a small turnout. Instead, they fill the large Kitsap Room, welcoming newcomers interested in this beautiful and wholly functional art form.

Each meeting features a speaker and break out sessions, where people group in “mini-groups” and tackle different quilting techniques and a variety of community projects.

“Quilting for others is something that all quilters do,” Meg said. “So some of the mini-groups will be working together on special projects.”

These projects include Becky Evans’ “Quilts for Veterans,” which places quilts in the arms and on the beds of “veterans from past wars and present.”

Two years ago, her mini-group was escorted by Combat Veterans International as they delivered 40 quilts to the Seattle Veterans Administration Hospital in Seattle.

Speaking as a proud husband of 39 years, Drake Evans, vice president of Combat Veterans International described the reactions of the VA hospital staff.

“They were overjoyed with the magnificent quilts, each with a patriotic theme,” he said. “They said that these were some of the finest quilts they had ever seen. They were amazed at how high the quality. My wife is a master quilter, with a heart of gold. I am so proud of her.”

Becky is at work gathering quilts for another delivery.

Mini-groups tackle other projects, like producing quilts for Project Linus, which gives quilts to victims of tragedy. The Guild is also crafting quilts for a new women and children’s shelter, the Turning Point, which just opened in Mason County.

They’ll have 25 quilts to deliver in November.

Every year Guild members produce dozens of quilts for children graduating from the foster care system.

Often these are “community build a block” projects, whereby people can lay fabric pieces together in a block and members of the Guild will stitch the blocks up, making a quilt totally community designed.

All these quilts and more will be on display, more than 250, this weekend for the West Sound Quilters Annual Quilt Show held again at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds.

For a $5 entry fee, visitors can learn the history of quilting, see antique quilts, “Quilts for Veterans,” participate in a community build-a-block, see wearable art and technique demonstrations and purchase raffle tickets for the “Sea of Inspiration” quilt.

Pat Rosenthal serves as the featured artist, the quilter who “most exemplifies the love of quilting and demonstrates outstanding creativity and workmanship.”

The show, scheduled for today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will also feature a light lunch bar with soups and sandwiches, pies and coffee.

The theme “threads of inspiration” fits the work of these accomplished individuals and mini-groups.

Two special auctions will be held with half the proceeds going to South Kitsap Helpline, letting us all know that people are always more than what they seem.

Like Mr. Evans said, these quilters have “hearts of gold.”

Mary Colborn is a Port Orchard resident.