Kansas quilter gifts blankets to Hutchinson hospice centers
Hutchinson — Pamela Yoder’s winter hobby has become wrapping people in squares of love.
Yoder, of rural Reno County, has been sewing and distributing lap blankets to a pair of Hutchinson hospice services for use by their clients and families.
Though primarily self-taught, Yoder, 55, inherited a love of sewing — and yards upon yards of material — from her mother, a lifetime quilter.
Before Christmas, a friend shared a Facebook post from Hospice and Homecare of Reno County about the need for lap blankets, so she started cranking them out.
“Christmas was my mom’s favorite holiday, so I made them for Christmas,” Yoder said. “Then I kept going.”
So far this winter, she’s donated close to 100 blankets of various sizes, the Hutchinson News reported.
When the hospices have enough, Yoder said, she’ll likely make children’s quilts to donate to agencies assisting youth.
“If anyone knows of someone, such as a group or children’s needs, let me know,” Yoder said.
Yoder works part-time in the day at Buhler High cafeteria. Most evenings she retires to a sewing room in her home on North Kent Road where folded quilts made by her mother surround the space, hanging from floor racks. Even the curtain in the small room is quilted.
After her mother died in 2012, Yoder said, she brought mounds of cloth and blankets back from her mother’s home in Texas, which now overflow from densely packed shelves in her bedroom closet or sit in stacks of cut squares in the sewing room.
Many of the clothes carry memories, whether patterns she recalls from clothing she wore as a child or that her children received in clothing or quilts.
Initially, she used blankets she brought up from Texas as the insulating material for the lap quilts. She’s used it up, however, and is having to buy batting. Her last trip for batting, naturally led to her buying even more cloth, taking advantage of sales.
“I did learn to sew from my mother,” Yoder said. “She didn’t (directly) teach me. It was more from watching.”
Her grandmother was also a quilter, who passed on some uncompleted works to her daughter, which Yoder has now inherited and plans to complete and then pass on to her daughter, who is unable to quit.
She usually sews from about 8 to 10 p.m., producing several blankets a night. Other nights she cuts and matches material, designing her creations.
It’s not traditional quilting, she explained, but more piecing together blankets. Occasionally she does add quilt stitching and panels for special pieces,
“It’s kind of my winter therapy,” Yoder said. “My husband says I can’t be still, that I have to be doing something. But I don’t sew in summer. I do it all winter, but in summer I’m out in the yard until dark.”
She also operates a small bed and breakfast on the property.
Besides Hospice and Homecare, Yoder recently dropped off 40 blankets at Kindred Hospice.
At Hospice and Homecare, they have many people who donate gifts and craft items that they very much appreciate, said Latina Hada, an agency registered nurse.
For example, Lainey Penrose, an 8-year-old Buhler Grade School pupil, spearheaded a collection at her school for the holiday and donated 28 fleece blankets to the agency.
Yoder, however, has been one of the most prolific, she said.
“We give them to our patients,” Hada said of the blankets. “Sometimes, depending on the situation, we send them home with a patient if they’re able to go back to their home. Sometimes we send them with the family.”
Others they launder and reuse, she said.
“It’s nice to have something extra on the bed, other than a bedspread, which is the same as the ones they use in a hospital,” Hada said. “It’s more special for patients.”
Yoder’s donations come in various sizes and themes.
“They’re all so different and unique,” Hada said.
“At Christmas, she made one that had cardinals and a Christmas theme we gave to the wife of a patient here, and it just meant so much,” Hada said. “It was so beautiful and really an act of love.”