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FACES: Quilting long a big part of Helen Farrell's life

LARIMORE, N.D. -- Big and little, bold- and pastel-colored, Helen Farrell has sewn an array of quilts during the past 50 years or so. She uses some of the wall hangings and table runner quilts to decorate her home, has given full-sized quilts to ...

Helen Farrell
Helen Farrell learned to sew in 4-H. Quilting was something that her grandmother, Pearl Georgeson, enjoyed. Photo by John Brose
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LARIMORE, N.D. -- Big and little, bold- and pastel-colored, Helen Farrell has sewn an array of quilts during the past 50 years or so.

She uses some of the wall hangings and table runner quilts to decorate her home, has given full-sized quilts to her children and grandchildren and sold a combination of the three types at craft shows and through private sales.

On Oct. 15 and Oct. 16, six of Farrell's quilts will be at the Quilting on the Red Show in the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. The North Star Quilters Guild, made up more 150 quilters from across the area, is hosting the show.

The North Star Quilters Guild was formed in 1981 to share ideas and knowledge about quilting, inspire enthusiasm, develop skills, maintain ideas and standards and promote interest in and appreciation for quilting, according to the organization.

Farrell joined the guild during its first year. She also belongs to the Whip Stitchers, a group of about 40 quilters who meet in Larimore.

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Longtime quilter

"I always have sewn, probably since I was about 10 years old," she said.

She learned to sew in 4-H. Quilting was something that her grandmother, Pearl Georgeson, enjoyed.

"My grandmother quilted every day of her life," she said. "She made quilts for all of us (grandchildren)." Her grandmother hand-sewed all of her quilts, Farrell said.

Farrell began quilting in the 1960s, but didn't have a lot of time to spend on it while her seven children were at home, she said. She began quilting in earnest during the 1980s.

She does a combination of hand-sewing and machine sewing. She tries to find time to quilt every day, much preferring it over watching television.

"I cannot watch TV. I hate it."

Three of Farrell's prize quilts will be on display at the Quilting on the Red Show and three will be entered in competition at the show. She won't be disappointed if she doesn't win, though, she said.

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Pleasant hobby

"I don't quilt to win. I quilt for my own satisfaction." Farrell likes not only sewing and creating the artwork, but also challenging herself to improve. There is an endless supply of new products available and different techniques to learn, Farrell said.

"I am usually taking a class or getting together with a group." She also teaches quilting classes and has passed on the skill to her four daughters and a daughter-in-law.

Each winter Farrell and her daughters and daughter-in-law spend three days together quilting. Getting together with other quilters and visiting is one of the things she most enjoys about her hobby, Farrell said.

"That's one of the parts, we've gotten to know all of the people involved," she said. The quilters vary in age from 20 to 86.

"One of the things that's good about quilting is it involves all ages."

The North Star Quilters Guild's Quilting on the Red Show will be held from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 15 and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Alerus Center. The show will feature more than 200 quilts and includes venders, a silent auction and a quilt and craft boutique. Admission is $5.

Reach Bailey at (701) 787-6753; (800) 477-6572, ext. 753; or send email to abailey@gfherald.com .

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