Opinion

Quilts of Valor

Lynn Scoby of Coupeville pieces her concern for injured veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan into colorful quilts.

Her efforts aren’t a political statement. The quilts are intended to honor vets and provide them comfort, she said.

“I’m doing this in a non-political way. It has nothing to do with the war or the president. It’s strictly for the soldiers,” she said.

She hails from a family that has demonstrated its patriotism.

Scoby’s father Patrick Kelly was in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Her father-in law Donald Scoby served in the Army during WWII.

She and husband Donald have two grown children. If her own offspring were serving in the current conflicts, she said she hopes the country would show appreciation for their sacrifice.

It’s so easy to be complacent and while the war continues into a fifth year, she said.

“It’s only if you turn on the TV are you aware we are still at war,” she said.

Official statistics show the number of military killed in the two conflicts between November 2001 and Feb. 7, 2006, totaled 2,513. During the same period, 676 U.S. military personnel were wounded in Afghanistan and 16,420 in Iraq.

Scoby said she doesn’t have any family or friends currently in the military, but felt she wanted to do something to help the veterans returning from overseas, many scarred mentally and physically for life.

An avid quilter, Scoby read about a nationwide movement called “Quilts of Valor” in quilting magazines last fall. For more information visit the Web site created for the project at www.quiltsforsoldiers.com.

Here is how it works: Volunteers sew pieces of fabric in patriotic colors into quilt tops, which are “lap” size and not bed size. Scoby chose a pattern called Rail Fence Variation because it works well with donated fabric cut into strips.

The pieced quilt tops are sent off to volunteers who specialize in quilting using a longarm sewing machine that rapidly stitches back and forth across the quilt top. The stitched quilt tops are then returned to the original volunteers for finishing before sending off for distribution to veterans at hospitals and nursing homes across the nation.

Given the multi-state involvement in making these quilts, it is fair to say, “they are stitched from sea to sea,” she said.

The veteran’s common reaction is “I didn’t know anyone cared,” according to the Web site for the project.

Scoby has held work parties at her home where other quilters have pitched in with the work. Fabric donations have been dropped off at the Sundown Quilt Shop in Coupeville.

So far, 16 completed quilts have gone off to veterans, another five are in the hands of quilters and two or three are in the piecing process.

Scoby is getting a little weary now as she’s put in hundreds of hours on the quilts. She said she’s ready to hand responsibility for this quilt-making project to someone else who could work independently.

She teaches at the Sundown Quilt Shop. Some of her quilted hangings are displayed in the shop in its new location on Coveland Street.

“Lynn is a wonderful person,” said Joni Cartwright, store owner.

Cartwright said Scoby teaches quilting classes at the store and is tied into the network of quilters on Whidbey and Fidalgo islands, which enabled getting the word out about the nationwide quilt project at various meetings.

Scoby is a member of Quilters on the rock, Fidalgo Island Quilters and an informal Coupeville neighborhood group. Since she started quilting 13 years ago, she has created about 50 quilts in both traditional and contemporary styles.

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