Monday, September 18, 2000

Quilter's work getting noticed

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ERLANGER — Quilting is not just for grannies any more.

        Fifteen years ago, computer programmer Julie Yaeger Lambert decided she wanted to make a quilt.

        “I've always sewn clothes, and I thought I should make a quilt,” the now 47-year-old Erlanger woman recalled. “I did the first one myself from a book. Then I decided I needed a few classes.”

        The classes stretched over the years, and Mrs. Lambert, who was living in California at the time, began teaching quilting on the side.

        Flash forward 15 years.

        Mrs. Lambert has been named one of 350 finalists in the International Quilt Association's annual judged show, Nov. 2-5, in Houston. Two of her entries will be among the 507 vying for $69,500 in cash prizes for six Master Awards, 17 categories and a Viewers' Choice.

        Last year, Mrs. Lambert received a third-place award and $300 for her efforts.

        “It's the largest annual quilt show in the world, and The Houston Business Journal ranked it the No. 1 convention in the city,” said Bob Ruggiero, a spokesman for the International Quilt Association. “Last year, we had 54,000 people who came to the four-day show to look at the quilts and to shop.”

        Popular in the early 20th century, quilting all but disappeared from the 1940s to the 1960s, only to experience a resurgence after the nation's bicentennial,

        Mr. Ruggiero said.

        “With all the interest in tradition, that's when modern quilting started,” Mr. Ruggiero said. “It's not just Grandma on the back porch. There are 90-year-old women quilting. But there are also a lot of 20- and 30-year-old women doing it. A lot of these younger women learned quilting from their mothers.”

        In Mrs. Lambert's case, none of her family members passed down the quilting tradition. She simply discovered it in 1985, after trying sewing, crocheting, knitting and all manner of other crafts.

        With 20 finished quilts at home, she currently is juggling another five or six unfinished projects while teaching quilting classes at shops in Anderson Township, Dry Ridge and Burlington.

        In January, Mrs. Lambert became a full-time quilting teacher after being laid off from her job as a computer programmer.

        “The money's not as good, but it keeps me in fabric.”


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