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Published September 02, 2013, 02:49 PM

Late Gov. Link's neckties turned into quilts

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Sisters in Stitches, a group of 10 Bismarck quilters, have compiled the late Gov. Arthur Link's collection of 99 neckties into a series of 17 decorative quilts. The group plans to present the quilts to each of Link's 17 grandchildren, who will be coming together for a family reunion to celebrate the 95th birthday of his widow Grace Link.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Sisters in Stitches, a group of 10 Bismarck quilters, have compiled the late Gov. Arthur Link's collection of 99 neckties into a series of 17 decorative quilts. The group plans to present the quilts to each of Link's 17 grandchildren, who will be coming together for a family reunion to celebrate the 95th birthday of his widow Grace Link.

Gov. Link died June 1, 2010, at the age of 96.

The project arose from a typical activity of the friends: quilting. The group meets once a month at Valley View Heights Assisted Living Home, where Grace Link lives, to spend their afternoon quilting and chatting with the residents, The Bismarck Tribune reported.

One afternoon, Grace Link brought up the subject of her late husband's large assortment of neckties, Diane Bullinger, a member of the Sisters in Stitches, said. The quilting group ran with the idea of creating keepsakes out of the governor's belongings.

"It's been a piecemeal project since then," she said. "With everyone (in the group) involved in one way or another, working on the quilts when we can."

The women of Sisters in Stitches admit quilters maintain a tradition of recycling. "Old-time quilters" have always reused old fabric and clothes as quilting raw material, Pat Conrad, the "ring leader" of the project, said, cutting out the stains or torn edges and piecing together the presentable sections in the finished product.

The project involving Gov. Arthur Link's 99 ties proved true to this quilting tradition.

"Many of the ties were well-loved and used," Conrad said.

The quilters took care to remove the stains and tears, and to use all they could of Link's neckties. They will turn over his "well-loved" collection to the care of his 17 grandchildren.

The group found the opportunity to work with the late governor's ties a "fascinating" experience. Conrad says the ties demonstrate who the governor was, where he'd been, and even what he stood for.

A Democrat, several of his ties sport mini donkeys. A few show his patriotism with the grand eagle of the Seal of the United States stamped on one, another displaying stars and stripes, and a third with a commemoration of the American revolution bicentennial. Proud of his home state, several ties showed off a few bison, the great beasts of the prairie.

The quilters said most of the time put into the summer-long project was spent designing the pieces and preparing the ties for the quilts. Each quilt will use a wedge from 32 different ties, with no repeats. Conrad admits the design process necessitated a little more math than the average quilting project.

Sisters in Stitches have been quilting together for 10 years. While the group was formed for the purposes of the members' own quilting endeavors, the quilters take on quite a few service projects making quilts for various raffles and regularly for the Mandan School District.

"We get together to do our own quilts and end up helping others," Conrad said.

While the band of quilters have enjoyed the project, they all agree they won't miss the sight of neckties for some time.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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