Like most avid quilters, Mona Benson has enough fabric stashed away to last a lifetime.
She’s apt to make a dent in her piles of material, though, since she’s now retired and has the time to quilt to her heart’s content.
Benson, of Whitefish, is the featured quilter for the Teakettle Quilt Guild’s annual show Saturday, April 21. She’s just putting the finishing touches on an intricate show quilt that’s a variation of the traditional log cabin design. Typically she gives all of her quilts away, but not this time.
“This one is mine,” she said with a smile. “I’m keeping it.”
Many of her quilts will be on display at the show.
Benson started sewing as a young girl while growing up on a ranch south of Livingston. Of the four girls in her family, she’s the only one who followed in her mother’s seamstress footsteps.
And she kept sewing. When her husband Bob, a tall guy with long arms, needed work shirts that fit right, she sewed them. When her daughter Ashlee and son Andy were growing up, she sewed for them, too.
The quilting bug bit in 1987 when Benson took a quilting class in Livingston. She embraced the craft and has been honing her skills ever since.
The family moved to Whitefish in 1988 after the railroad sold its southern line and Bob had to relocate his railroad job to either Havre or Whitefish. They chose Whitefish, and Benson, a registered nurse, went to work at the Family Physicians Clinic, which later became Glacier Medical Associates. She was Dr. John Kalbfleisch’s nurse for 25 years and worked at the clinic for 30 years before retiring a year and a half ago.
“I still fill in a tiny bit,” she said.
After Benson had polished her quilting skills, it was inevitable that she needed to find homes for her handiwork. Each of her four siblings has gotten a quilt for their 60th birthday. She has two albums filled with quilts she’s given away to co-workers through the years as gifts for their grandchildren or for other special events.
Her “albums of love” contain not only the photographs of her quilts, but the many thank-you notes she’s received in return.
“I love to give one-of-a-kind gifts,” she said. “I try not to make any two quilts alike.”
Benson favors the traditional pieced quilts, and many of her quilts on display at the show will feature those classic designs.
She’s been involved with the Teakettle Quilt Guild for a dozen years or so, and along with co-quilter Janet Masten helps organize the guild’s annual fall retreat.
When Benson’s husband built his dream garage a few years ago, she made sure she got a sewing room out of the deal. That’s her sanctuary these days, the peaceful place where she can lose track of time as her kaleidoscopes of color take shape.
Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or firstname.lastname@example.org