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Rambling River Center sewing group gathers to do good

Austa Harmer, Mickey Sayers and Marge Slavicek work on lap robes during a recent session at Rambling River Center. Last year the group made 98 of the quilts for veteran's homes and nursing homes.

Their fingers aren't as quick as they used to be, and they have a little more trouble threading a needle, but there's little question the members of Rambling River Center's lap robe group still have their hearts in the right place.

For four or five years now, the group has gathered monthly to make lap robes for veteran's home and for nursing home residents. Last year alone they made 98 of the blankets, which are intended for people in wheelchairs.

For the members, the weekly gatherings are a chance to get together with friends.

The lap robe project is part of a full day of activity that starts with sit 'n stitch in the morning - the women joke that their husbands use a different word for the second part of that name - then lunch, then lap robes in the afternoon.

The seven women all graduated from Farmington High School, and most have roots in Eureka Township. Anyone is welcome, though, and the lap robes have turned into something of a community project.

The fabric for the blankets comes from a number of sources, not all of them known to the women in the group.

"It just shows up at my doorstep sometimes, or it'll show up (at Rambling River Center) with my name on it," said Beve Preece, one of the group's members. "It's amazing what people will do when they find out you're doing something like this."

Preece and group member Betty Steege usually take the fabric home to create the blankets, then the women gather to finish them.

"A couple of the original members have died, which happens at this age," Steege said. "So, we recruit."

They sit, and they sew and they talk about whatever comes up. They solve the world's problems, they say.

"It's sort of like the old quilting bee," said Mickey Sayers, the group's newest member. Sayers recently returned to Farmington after more than 40 years living in New York. She got involved in the group after getting nosey, she said, and sticking her head into the room to see what was going on.

Most of the women learned to sew in their youth. They did sewing projects for 4-H. Preece said she made a deal with her parents when she was growing up. They offered to buy her an Angus steer to raise as a 4-H project as long as she also did a sewing project.

Skill with a needle and thread isn't a requirement for joining the group, though.

"Anybody's welcome that knows how to tie a knot," said group member Peggy Webster.

"And if you don't know, we'll teach you," Preece added.

The days can get a little long with three activities one after the other, but nobody seems to mind. The company and the cause are both good.

"The most important thing is we have fun together," Preece said.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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