Athletes have the Olympics. Actors have the Academy Awards. Musicians have the Grammys, and quilters have Paducah.
Each April thousands of quilters travel to Paducah, Ky., for the American Society of Quilters Quilt Week and Show.
Last month, Spokane quilter Terry Engleman won second place in the 1st ASQ Show Entry, Bed Quilts category for her Japanese Flower Garden quilt. Her win came with a $1,000 award.
“I couldn’t believe it when they called my name,” Engleman said. “Just being accepted is a big deal!”
Indeed, the 2013 show featured 401 quilts in 15 categories. “There were 43 quilts in my category,” Engleman said. Quilters from Japan, Korea, Sweden and across the U.S. traveled to attend the event.
Her love of quilting stems from childhood. She made her first quilt at 5 with her grandmother. She didn’t take up quilting in earnest until the early ’90s. Engleman smiled. “When I retired six years ago, it really took off.”
Evidence of her handiwork abounds in her North Side sewing room. Quilts hang from the walls, peek from a glass-fronted cabinet, spill from baskets and drape over a quilt rack. A large longarm quilting machine dominates one end of the room. Engleman operates a professional quilting business, Kokopelli Quilting. “When I retired I was worried I wouldn’t have anything to do,” she said. “The longarm quilting machine was a retirement gift to myself.”
In addition to her professional work, Engleman quilts for a variety of charities. “I’ve given away an average of 40 quilts a year since 2006,” she said.
Her Paducah prize-winning quilt is a wonder of meticulous detail. The dominant border colors of green and black sparkle with flecks of gold throughout, and the central floral blocks are framed in purple. The Karen Kay Buckley design features 2,000 appliqué leaves. “I like really detailed appliqué,” Engleman said. “I like the handwork – hand embroidering, hand appliqué.”
She spent two years working on the Japanese Flower Garden quilt. “It’s fun,” she said. “It’s a release for me.”
Engleman is no stranger to winning. The walls in her sewing room are dotted with rows of colorful ribbons. “I like the competition,” she said. Then grinning, she added, “I like winning.”
She plans to enter the Japanese Flower Garden at shows in Idaho and Texas next. But the thrill of her first-time win at Paducah won’t fade anytime soon. Engleman said, “If you ever win at Paducah, you’ve won at the Olympics of quilting.”