Sue Hoehnle spends hours every day inside the cozy quarters of her quilting room, working on her latest project: a quilt for her granddaughter.
"It was supposed to be a wedding gift, but I didn't have time to do it, so now it's a wedding memory gift," Hoehnle said.
Most of the quilts that Hoehnle has made have been for family members. A mother of five and a grandmother of 10, the Estevan resident has had a lot of reasons to quilt over the years.
Three of her children are married, and for each wedding, Hoehnle created a quilt. Another quilt was made for her oldest son when he reached an important milestone in his life.
Each of her grandchildren received a baby quilt when they were born. Those who have embarked on post-secondary studies were given a dorm quilt.
And now that the first grandchild is married, Hoehnle is creating the wedding memories quilt. Hoehnle expects that it will be finished in time for her granddaughter's second wedding anniversary, which is in March.
"It has her wedding colours on it, which were black, white and teal," Hoehnle said. "She likes black and white anyways. Inside of each of the bigger squares I've quilted in something from the wedding. Instead of regular shoes, they wore Converse runners, so I stitched in Converse runners."
The groom's mother surprised the couple at the reception by giving them goldfish, so goldfish are incorporated into one of the squares. Other images include a bride and groom, a cross with two hearts, and M&Ms, which were served at the reception.
It's also a very large quilt, as it will cover a queen-sized bed.
This is the first time that she has opted for a memories theme for a wedding quilt. Other quilts have had different images. One of Hoehnle's daughters is fond of ducks, so Hoehnle incorporated waterfowl images into the quilt that was created for the wedding.
A couple of quilts carry special significance for Hoehnle. The first is a family quilt that she created in honour of her mother's 90th birthday.
"I had a square for each of her children, her grandchildren and her great grandchildren," said Hoehnle. "Those of us who were there signed it. I think on that one I had some flower images for … her children, and teddy bears for the great grandchildren."
When her mother passed away, that quilt was turned was turned over to one of Hoehnle's nieces, who had served as a caregiver.
The other quilt with special meaning is currently in the South Korean metropolis of Seoul. Hoehnle's son married a Korean woman. Korean people are often very generous, Hoehnle said, and Hoehnle's son's mother-in-law loved to give flowers to the Hoehnle family.
Koreans believe that people should offer gifts that they can afford, so Hoenhle decided to create a quilt for their son's mother-in-law. Butterflies were incorporated into the design, since the Korean woman is very fond of the colourful insects.
Each quilt requires a lot of time, Hoehnle said. She works alone, since she enjoys the isolation and the solitude associated with the craft.
"Someone once said to me 'You should sell your quilts,'" Hoehnle recalled. "And I said 'No, I can't afford to sell them.' To get from them, even close to the time that I put into them, nobody could afford them. So when I make a quilt, I give them away."
Hoehnle will spend five or six hours a day on a quilt. She estimates that she has put in over 100 hours already on her granddaughter's quilt, and she expects that she'll need many more hours to finish the project.
"When I'm quilting, I'm not doing much else," she said. "For one thing, once your fingers get tough, you don't want to get them wet, because then you're going to mess with your callus, and you need your callus to quilt."
Her husband, Fred, often takes care of many of the household chores, so that she can quilt throughout the day.
Hoehnle's grandmother was an avid quilter, but Hoehnle didn't find her passion for quilting until she and Fred were missionaries, working at a church in Stony Rapids, Manitoba. She was in a ladies group, and they created quilts that were sent to missionaries overseas.
"My grandmother was a quilter, but my mother was not," said Hoehnle. "I enjoyed looking at them. I enjoyed watching things come together on them, watching how you choose fabrics to make a pattern, and watching the patterns emerge."
The introduction to quilting more than 30 years ago has served her very well, and it has created a passion that has lasted for decades.