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Sew good: Local quilter shares talent with others

A skill she learned from her mother has allowed Geraldine Lowe to share her talents with her family, her friends and even strangers – one stitch at a time.
“I learned to quilt from my mother about 60 years ago,” Lowe recently told The Erwin Record. “She taught me the old-timey way.”
Lowe and her son, J.L. Lowe, said the ‘old-timey way’ of quilting used a frame and the quilt in progress was put in the frame and stretched.
“As you quilted you would roll one side up so you could reach it,” J.L. said. “Then you would roll it until you get to the other end.”
Lowe said this process allowed her to quilt from both sides. She also said the ‘old-timey way’ is easier than how she quilts these days – on her lap.
Lowe said she makes three different sizes of quilts – twin, regular and queen. She is often working on several different quilts at a time.
“I get tired of working on one and a go to another,” she said with a laugh. “I can usually finish a quilt in three to five months. That’s working on maybe three at a time.”
“That’s a lot of little threads,” J.L. added.
While many people would find quilting frustrating because of its complexity, Lowe is the opposite.
“It settles me down,” she said.
Lowe told The Erwin Record that she has made close to 100 quilts in her many decades of quilting.
“She knits and crochets, too,” J.L. said. “She does it all.”
Many of her quilts have been given to family members and friends over the years. Last year, Lowe made 21 quilts for homeless veterans. She started the quilts in the middle of summer 2014.
J.L. said he is a member of the Rolling Thunder. As part of this affiliation with that organization, he has worked with Manna House, a homeless shelter in Johnson City.
“There are 21 men in it right now,” he said. “She wanted to help do something, so she made them all a twin quilt for Christmas.”
The quilts were made without a pattern, Lowe said.
“I just made them up as I went,” she added.
Of course, one had an American flag in the center, which really touched one of the homeless.
“He told me he would treasure it forever,” Lowe said.
Lowe’s quilts have been sold and found homes in places as far away as Italy, J.L. said.
Just like many quilters, Lowe has her favorite patterns. As a youngster her favorite was “Ocean Wave.” Now, her favorite pattern, which she has quilted, features a large rose with applique.
Lowe hasn’t kept the skill of quilting to herself. She has taught her children and grandchildren, including Christy Vance, to quilt.
“I have a quilt (Christy) made me when she was just little,” Lowe said. “She made it for me and her grandfather.”
As challenging and time-consuming as quilting can be, Lowe said she still enjoys seeing her finished product.
“I look at a finished quilt and think, gee, did I do that?” she added. “All those stitches – it just gives you a good feeling.”