Two women — a former business owner and a retired teacher — have found fellowship over fabric.
Kris Lovetro and Lori Ohmart are both members of the Strawberry Patchers, which presented its 23rd Annual Quilt Show June 7 and 8 at the cultural hall of the Pine-Strawberry Community Center.
The Strawberry Patchers is a chapter of the Arizona Quilters Guild and was organized in February 1994.
There are about 40 members in the group, which has regular meetings at 9:30 a.m., the first and third Thursdays of each month in the library activity room at the P-S Community Center.
Lovetro has been a member of the group for 15 years, while Ohmart joined five years ago. Lovetro started quilting as a child and Ohmart took it up about 17 years ago.
They both love quilting, but they say the thing they enjoy most about the Strawberry Patchers is the friendships they have made, the support they have received from other members and all they have learned.
Ohmart is the outgoing chapter chair of the group. She said, “I have learned so much from the others. They are kind and patient and tremendously generous with their knowledge.”
Lovetro has found the group to be a great way to give back to the community that supported her business for so long — she is the former owner of Moose Mountain Gifts and Antiques in Pine. It has provided a way to make a lot of friends and meet new people.
“They have helped me navigate through life,” she said.
Ohmart’s entry into the 2019 Strawberry Patchers Quilt Show is only the second time she has participated. Her entry won three awards: ribbons sponsored by The Randall House and the Pine Strawberry Farmers Market, along with a Viewers’ Choice honor.
Her husband Rod, who won a novice award, joined her in the show. He works as an emergency room doctor in the Valley and has only been quilting for a year as a way to decompress.
Ohmart explained she does not actually “quilt” her projects — she selects her design and chooses the fabrics, cuts the material to the pattern and pieces the “topper” together and binds it, she then has another member put the layers together: the topper, the filling and the backing.
Over the course of the 17 years she’s been quilting, Ohmart said she has made 40 quilts. She started by making them for their home in Pine and has since made them as gifts. She likes to do embroidery and appliqué on her quilts.
Lovetro had three entries in the show and won multiple awards. Her “Cathedral Windows” won a total of 11 ribbons, including the Arizona Quilters Hall of Fame Award; the Leap of Faith Award; and the Strawberry Patchers Award.
The quilt took Lovetro five years to make and has 25 yards of fabric. The edging/binding is hand crocheted lace Lovetro made for the project, which she dedicated to her quilting teacher, Jinny Kost.
Unlike most quilts it has no “filling” — it is just a top and a back, so when it is held up to the light the “window panes” of fabric light up.
Lovetro explained several sections of the quilt feature stories in the fabrics that were given her by loved ones for the project. There is a group with fish images; a section with initials; another showing University of Arizona images; and another with pickles honoring a family member who loved to make pickles.
Lovetro is very involved in a couple of the Strawberry Patchers’ special projects. She coordinates the group’s comfort quilt program. Special quilts are made to donate to those who have been touched by traumatic events — both victims and their families; and they are also given to other groups for fundraising efforts. She said about 30 quilts were given away in 2018.
She also oversees the group’s “A Beautiful Quilt Auction,” which is one of its major projects to raise funds. The auction features opportunities to acquire quilts through paying the asking price; make an offer; silent and live bidding.
The Strawberry Patchers donated $7,000 to a variety of charitable groups serving the residents of Pine and Strawberry last year.
Lovetro offered some tips for those interested in learning to quilt: start by visiting quilt shows; put away some money because the fabrics and paraphernalia needed for quilting are not cheap; find someone willing to teach you about quilting and how to choose the right fabrics for quilting; and, “Just start. Don’t be afraid,” she said.