Joyce Barrett has been stitching together a group of quilters and fiber artists each Monday at the Frances Steube Community Center since 2005.

Joyce Barrett has been stitching together a group of quilters and fiber artists each Monday at the Frances Steube Community Center since 2005.

“I started the group because I had a desire to teach a sewing class here, but I had a vision of a room filled with women who needed friendship and fellowship,” Barrett said. “So at first, I was doing a lot of teaching, but I’ve seen it take on a life of its own, with these women sharing knowledge and everything else as they quilt.”

Every Monday that the community center is open, Quilters on the Canal, the 22-member senior women’s quilting group, start coming in at 9 a.m. and continue with their handwork and sewing throughout the day. Currently, on two Mondays a month, they work until noon. On the other Mondays, they continue working until 4 p.m., according to Barrett. Beginning in January, the group hopes to have full-day sessions every Monday.

“This is my favorite day of the week because of the learning process and the camaraderie,” quilter Emma Wagner said.

Carol Lowe agreed.

“I make it through to about Wednesday or Thursday until I start counting the hours to Monday,” she said. “Joyce is a wonderful person who leads us with so much love in her heart.”

According to Barrett, members of the group come and go, and some have been lost to age and illness over the years. The death of Judy Belshe this year left many of the quilters missing a good friend, but the group is now using Belshe’s sewing tools and supplies, as well as fabric.

“She donated all of the fabric she’d collected over the years,” Barrett said. “We collected funds to buy a cabinet for the center to keep all of the donated items in. Thanks to Judy’s generosity, we could really use another cabinet, too.”

Belshe’s husband, Jim, gave the group its a name, Barrett said.

“Sharing is everything to this group, and fabric-sharing is very important,” quilter Darnell Patrick said.

Patrick hadn’t sewn in 50 years prior to joining the group but now calls it her obsession.

The women take regular field trips to quilting events around the state and go on fabric-shopping trips.

“We don’t just get together here and quilt, and sometimes we don’t get a lot of sewing done because we’re socializing — but who cares?” Barrett said. “Dec. 5 is our Christmas party, and everyone will bring a dish to pass. The thing about quilters is that they are all good cooks, too.”

Quilters on the Canal hosted their third annual quilting show during the Canal Winchester Labor Day Festival this year with 80 different pieces on display, and plan to hold another next year. Barrett said the group is an open sewing group and anyone is welcome to come and learn — they just have to show up.

“In 2005, I saw the group and thought I wasn’t old enough for this,” Jane Bäby said. “Then I came in to make a donation to the center this year and saw Joyce. Our kids went to high school together, so I realized I could give it a try.

“It has been such a great experience. We’re just like a family.”

Those interested in joining Quilters on the Canal should call the Frances Steube Community Center, 22 S. Trine St., at 614-837-8276.