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‘This makes it feel more normal’: Coquitlam quilters find pandemic respite in theatre parking lot

Group shares latest projects, as well as smiles

The screens may be dark at Coquitlam’s Silver City because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the parking lot at the theatre complex has become a weekly ray of light for the Blue Mountain Quilters Guild.

Shut out of their usual monthly gatherings at a church hall in Port Coquitlam after it closed due to the public health crisis, the group moved its meetings outdoors in mid-April, with the demand for more social interaction prompting them to up their game to weekly sessions.

Guild president Bonnie Rozander said the initial meetings included only a handful of members, but a recent sunny, warm day brought out more than 20 quilters, lawn chairs arranged in a giant, separated circle, bags of their latest handiwork placed carefully at their feet.

One-by-one, each member was then invited to the centre of the circle to show off their quilts, bags, placemats and table runners they’ve created, often to the admiring “oohs,” “aahs” and even applause of their sewing sisters.

Lyn King said it’s an escape from the daily anxieties of the pandemic.

“It’s something to take your mind off the furor of the news,” she said, adding she only recently joined the parking lot gatherings.

“I was overwhelmed to be able to see people who weren’t part of my bubble,” she said. “This makes it feel more normal.”

Suzy Madsen said quilters are naturally social, so the need to find a way to get together despite the pandemic was imperative.

“Anywhere you travel, you can meet a quilter,” she said.

The sessions aren’t just social, though. Non-perishable items like canned food, paper towels, and toothbrushes are collected for the food bank, and a brown manila envelope is passed around for cash donations to the same cause. So far the women have donated more than $1,100.

Quilters are generous that way, Kari Larson said.

That’s because their passion for their craft can be so strong, they can’t possibly keep all the items they create. Small quilts are donated to the neonatal intensive care unit at Royal Columbian Hospital, and placemats are made for Meals On Wheels.

“We’re all quilting up a storm,” Larson said.

So much so, even a real storm doesn’t deter the quilters’ quorum. They just head to another nearby parking lot that offers shelter from the rain.

And when the movies start playing again, as they may in the next few weeks, the quilters said they’ll be undeterred.

“The shows don’t start until the afternoon,” said one slyly.