Excerpted from:
Quilters' fervor blankets the region
(Original publication: May 4, 2007)
Cary Lou Canfield, president of the Village Squares Quilters, works on a quilt in her home in White Plains
                               Ricky Flores/The Journal News
Cary Lou Canfield, president of the Village Squares Quilters,
works on a quilt in her home in White Plains

Our great-grandmothers' homemade quilts were practical creations made of old clothes or flour sacks.

Today's handmade quilts are works of art made of fabrics from all over the world.

Quilting is undergoing a renaissance in the Lower Hudson Valley, in part because quilters - like book lovers - are joining guilds, or clubs, to enjoy the craft together, and also because improved technology has made the craft easier and more accessible. Magazines and Web sites devoted to quilting are further helping to fuel interest.

Guilds offer members a chance to socialize, learn techniques and provide time for communal stitching.

Some quilts are destined for walls, as art. Others are created for people in need.

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Maria Tamaoka, owner of Pinwheels in Croton-on-Hudson, which sells specialty quilting fabrics, has been in business since 1991. She's had to move several times to enlarge and keep up with demand. Her current shop is on Albany Post Road in the location that for years was occupied by a beloved fiber-arts shop, the Niddy Noddy.

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Quilts can also be created to mark a community's or school's special occasions. These are often cooperative projects that depict people or scenes. There are also quilts that celebrate ethnicity.

Shows are a good way for quilters to learn about new techniques, which are bringing newcomers to the craft, and enticing others to return.

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Lorraine Caravetta, the owner of the Happy Quilter in Valley Cottage, says quilting is therapeutic, too.

"I have many customers that are handicapped or have physical ailments (myself included) and quilting has helped them a lot. It's extremely relaxing."

Pat Julian of Scarsdale agrees.

"I particularly like hand-quilting - I find it very restful," she says.

Julian quilts with the Village Square Quilters in White Plains. She says members enjoy the group so much that some arrive early to share social time and lunch.

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