Lida Letey of Delta has a fascination with fiber — yarns and fabrics — and is attracted by colors in the fibers and the creations she can imagine and produce using those colors.
She learned to crochet as a child and had enjoyed that skill for years.
She and her husband, Cal, lived in Glenwood Springs prior to Cal being transferred to Delta as postmaster in 1989.
While in Glenwood Springs, Lida knitted a lot by hand, knitting a variety of styles of sweaters and caps for Lollypop Knits owner Carolyn Hayes out of Aspen. Hayes ordered Scandinavian ski sweaters and golf sweaters. Lida knitted with both wool and silk yarn. One sweater on which was knitted "The Friendly Elk," a mating elk, became a favorite with sweater wearers around the world. Lida and a fellow knitter had trouble keeping up with the orders from Lollypop Knits.
Actress Jill St. John, who had a home in Aspen, approached Lida about knitting sweaters for her. Using hand-knitting, Lida could not keep up with Ms. St. John's orders, so the actress proposed buying a knitting machine for Lida, and in payment, Lida would knit garments for Ms. St. John. Lida switched from hand-knitting to machine knitting and increased her production substantially.
Lida continued to knit for the Aspen market for about a year after she and Cal moved to Delta.
It was Michelle Clubb who introduced Lida to quilting. At the time they were across-the-alley neighbors, Michelle living on Leon Street and Lida on Hastings Street. Michelle invited Lida in to see her quilts and invited her to a quilting meeting.
Quilting is very popular in Delta and Montrose counties and many expert quilters belong to one or more of the several quilting guilds in the two counties.
Lida had had an earlier experience with quilting. She took a course in Sewing Quilts at Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs, taught by Emmy Neil.
In the 1970s Lida created a basic quilt for her and Cal and a basic quilt for each of their three daughters and their one son. They were made of polyester material, which was the material available in those years. The Letey family calls those 1970s quilts "road kill" quilts and each of the five Letey families has one in the trunk of their car. They are used to sit on for picnics and similar outings.
Lida says, "You cannot destroy them. You can spill things on them. You can sit on them on rough surfaces without getting holes in them, you can accidentally run over them with a car wheel, but they remain intact. They are 'road-kill,' non-destructible."
When Michelle Clubb introduced Lida to the more sophisticated art of quilting, Lida found quilting a diversion from knitting. And she has found being a part of the quilting community in Delta and Montrose counties to be a very rewarding and productive experience.
On a recent July morning, Lida and three fellow members of the S & B Quilters — Cheryl King, Barbara Rogers and Carol Lamm-Mog — met at Lida's house. S & B Quilters has 98 paid members from Hotchkiss, Delta, Paonia, Crawford and Cedaredge. Quilters from Grand Junction and Parachute sometimes attend their meetings also. S & B Quilters take turns meeting in all the Delta County towns. They have a sister group in Australia.
The goal of the S & B Quilters is educating about quilting, promoting quilting and providing "caring quilts" to people who have suffered loss or for whom a quilt will meet a need.
The goal is to provide tangible comfort to people who have suffered trauma.
The S & B Quilters reach out to veterans with gifts of caring quilts to any veteran in the Denver Veterans Hospital who is suffering from PTSD. They recently took over 200 caring quilts to Snowmass for veterans who had recently returned from combat and were attending a rehabilitation program. The veterans were encouraged to choose a caring quilt for himself or herself, a spouse, their children, a family member. They had caring quilts for dogs. The quilters noted that if the dog sat on the quilt before the veteran chose it, the dog would like the quilt better.
S & B members create caring quilts for cancer patients and their family members, and for people suffering after the loss of a spouse. They give caring quilts to the women's shelter and, if the woman wants to take the caring quilt with her when she is able to leave the shelter, S & B replaces the caring quilt. They gave eight baby caring quilts to Pregnancy Resource Center. The Quilters prepare "suitcase" gifts for use by the Victims' Advocate in the Sheriff's Department containing caring quilts, stuffed animals and personal hygiene items. In 2012 they made bags containing caring quilts and stuffed animals for the North Fork Christmas Party.
Recently S & B members provided caring quilts to a family whose house burned down and to a woman who suffered the loss of her house by fire.
The quilters invest a great amount of time creating these three-part quilts — a beautiful top, batting in between, and the back of the quilt. They describe that time as "as much time as we're willing to give to it." Through their time and creative efforts they are rewarded with "great friendships and great camaraderie," they say with enthusiasm.
Lida says, "The hugs and smiles you get from an entire family for the gifts of caring quilts when they have lost everything in their burned-out home make it all worthwhile. Making something you feel proud of and finding that someone else likes it, that's the reward."
Lida also makes doll clothes for American Girl dolls, quilted wallets for girls with all the compartments in them, quilted snap purses for girls, mini duffle bags for boys and girls and professionally-styled carry-on bags for adults. She makes chatelaines for sewers to put around their necks which hold all their sewing accessories handy at their fingertips. She has made matching dresses for her granddaughters and their dolls.
Although Lida has no intention of leaving her friends in quilting and the satisfactions of creating such works of art, and the act of providing caring quits to those who benefit from them, she is feeling the call of knitting again. She has some silk fabric that she envisions as a future skirt and envisions just the right shades of wool and silk yarn to create a top for that skirt.
This is her next project, she says, but she plans to be obedient to her discipline motto: "Don't start anything new until you finish at least six UFOs (unfinished objects)."
Lida also has a completely new interest: ink drawings called Zentangles. She took a class on Zentangles and is having fun drawing Zentangles.
"I think it would be fun to do one in fabric," she says, and lays down an example of Zentangles sketched on a quilt square.
Lida and Cal's family are Coleen Lowance and her husband Jessie and their eight-year-old daughter Shaleigh; Cathleen Samuelson and her 20-year-old daughter Zoe Grillos; Theresa McIntyre and her husband Mike and their children, Calvin, age 6, and Ella, age 9; and their son George and his wife Darlene and their three children, Mary Imelda, 10, John, 8, and Mary Veronica, 3.blog comments powered by Disqus