Vi McMurty, lifetime quilter

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By Deborah Lucas Angel

When Vi McMurtry was 6 years old, her grandmother taught her how to quilt the old fashioned way: embroidering every single stitch by hand. Thus began a lifelong love of creating quilts with her own hands. Today, though carpel tunnel syndrome has robbed her of the ability to do hand stitching, she still creates cozy quilts on her sewing machine.

McMurtry said she believes she has made 93 quilts in her lifetime. The majority of her creations are given away as baby gifts, shower gifts, wedding and graduation gifts. She has only sold one of those 93 quilts.

She loves showing off her handiwork and in July, her creations were on exhibit at the Grant County Tourism Office.

Coming from a line of quilters, McMurtry’s mother quilted until the day she died. Because her grandmother could no longer stitch quilts, that original one was completed by literally tying little knots around the quilt blocks.

Over the years and due to the carpel tunnel, McMurtry has moved from her original embroidery into appliqué. Appliqué is the method in which you attach shaped pieces of fabric onto a square and then sew the square into the quilt pattern. Patterns seem to be the quilters themes; “bento box, yellow brick road, card trick (and) charm twist” are some of the myriad patterns. Lately, McMurtry has made several of the Yellow Brick Road genre.

Originally from Plymouth, Michigan just outside of Detroit, McMurtry now lives in Dry Ridge with her husband, William, or better known around his native Grant County as “Goodloe.”

Although she loves the occupation, McMurtry admits “quilting is an expensive hobby. Fabric can cost $8 to $10 dollars a yard; batting $10.95 a yard and then there’s the backing (cost),” she said.

Recently, she went on a “shop hop” around Kentucky, ending up as far as Elizabethtown. McMurtry enjoys a “shop hop” where quilters visit “seven to eight quilt shops” and “buy a block from each shop” of coordinated fabrics. The blocks can then be sewn together in a sampler.

McMurtry retired from Ford Motor Company in Michigan. Now, she and Goodloe spend summers in Kentucky and winters in Florida. She still quilts no matter where she may be and despite carpel tunnel syndrome, doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.