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E. Hampton woman finds passion in quilting

Myrna Weiss shows off some of her quilt

Myrna Weiss shows off some of her quilt creations in her East Hampton home. (March 6, 2011) Photo Credit: Erin Geismar

Myrna Weiss was opening closet doors and pulling out drawers in her East Hampton home, all stocked with neatly folded quilts.

She was looking for the first quilt she ever made when she took up the hobby in 1983.

“I think this is it,” she said as she started to pull one from the closet, but then changed her mind.

“No, it was the first one I showed you,” she said, referring to a large off-white quilt with red and blue details.

Weiss, 68, a retired teacher in the South County School District, said she started quilting to keep her occupied while on a leave of absence from school with an injury. The tediousness of the activity kept her busy, and the craftiness of it satisfied her creativity.

“I’m attracted to fabrics,” she said, which is evident in her home, which is largely decorated with animal and other prints.

As much as quilting can be a solitary activity, Weiss has also found it to be social. A love of quilting has kept her tied to old friends from the years before she lived in East Hampton, and introduced her to new friends. Weiss sometimes quilts with a group of women from Southold, and she’s looking for quilters who would like to join a quilting circle in East Hampton.

Last year, Weiss also helped to start a group of quilters -- both veterans and those brand new to quilting -- at the Jewish Center of the Hamptons in order to make quilts for veterans and the wheelchair-bound. The group made 15 lap quilts that it is preparing to donate.

Weiss said she’s motivated to keep making quilts by the fabrics, the patterns and the colors.

“That’s actually what I’m known for,” she said. “Putting together different patterns and colors in ways that aren’t typical.”

Though Weiss said anyone can learn to quilt, it takes patience. The process begins with a pattern, and after the fabric is cut into small squares and other shapes, each one is pieced together, either by hand or by machine, and then the top quilt is sewn onto a backing, and batting is stuffed between the two layers. The finishing touch are the “teeny, tiny stitches” sewn through the quilt.

“Every stitch is mine,” Weiss said, running her hands over a queen-size quilt that is draped over a sofa in her living room. Each quilt takes Weiss, on average, two months, she said.

Weiss lives -- along with her husband Stan -- among the fabric that she hand-picks, cuts up and sews back together. She has quilts hanging from the walls, draped over couches, chair backs and stair banisters, as well as tucked away in drawers and closets. She has no idea how many she has made in the years since she learned, and in fact, they aren’t even that important to her.

“It’s never the end product,” she said. “It’s the process. When it’s done, it’s done, I don’t care. I just love making them.”
 

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