Marianne Bridges Wahrmann, East Stroudsburg, has loved crafting all her life. Her mother was a knitter but "That was too slow for me." She started sewing when she was about 10 years old and did cross-stitching. When she was 13, she went with her sister-in-law's mother to a quilting circle called the Friendly Quilters. She was hooked. They asked her to join them and she's been a quilter ever since.
It was while pregnant with the first of her two sons, Randy (Davin is her second son,) she cross-stitched blocks for her very own first quilt.
She sewed her own clothes and made quilts while raising her family and working as a cashier for the East Stroudsburg School District where she worked her way up to become the Food Service Director.
She retired last year after 25 years.
She is now where she has always wanted to befree to quilt to her heart's content.
Marianne admits she would rather have someone else piece a quilt together because she enjoys the actually quilting more.
"I love to hand-quilt and there are few quilters left who do. Many quilts are now machine quilted."
She and her husband, Paul, own a motorhome. Paul loves to travel and Marianne, well, she says she is a homebody. But at least with a motorhome, it's "Have Quilt Will Travel" for Marianne because she takes her sewing machine with her and can while away the miles stitching away on her latest quilt.
Marianne likes to have the windows open when traveling and one time a piece of fabric for the quilt she was working on flew out the window. She screamed for Paul to stop but he told her he couldn't pull over and besides, she'd never find that little scrap of fabric anyway.
"We often laugh about that," she says.
She says that many of today's younger generation quilters are basting their quilts first because they work on them on their laps using sewing hoops.
"I prefer to do mine on the quilting frame."
She belongs to two quilting guilds-the Pocono Mountain Quilt Guild and the Mt. Laurel Quilt Guild, of which she is a founding member. The Guilds meet once a month and the Friendly Quilters meet once a week.
The quilters do more than just quilt. They make dresses for little girls in Africa, little quilts and pillow cases for homeless shelters and nursing homes, bears for the State Police and the local hospitals, sleeping bags for the homeless and quilts for fundraisers.
Her involvement with the Guilds has offered challenges and inspiration.
For her French Connection quilt, Marianne and other members of her guild corresponded with a quilting guild in France. Each gal had a French partner with whom they exchanged fabric. Marianne's fabric pen pal sent her 50 tiny triangles and Marianne pieced a quilt out of them.
Another international quilting experience was when they contacted quilting guilds in other countries.
"We sent them quilt blocks and they'd send us quilt blocks and we put them together to make these amazing quilts," she says as she points out the various blocks from Ireland, Japan, Africa, Canada, Israel, New Zealand and Australia.
And yet another international quilt was exchanging 12 quilt blocks, one for each month, with a guild in New Zealand.
A member from Scranton brought the guild Barbizon material, the fabric women's sleepwear was made out of.
"We made 15 quilts out of this material, all done with Pearl Cotton thread," Marianne shows a beautiful silky white quilt that shows off amazingly intricate stitchwork.
The guilds offer what they call "Challenges."
"You get a set of directions and a theme. One time it was your childhood. Another time we received one color of material and were told the theme was nature. Then you design a quilt or wall-hanging around the information you are given. It is so much fun and really does challenge you to go outside the box."
Round Robins are equally as much fun and challenging. Quilters bring in a center square or block in a paper bag.
Quilters take a bag home and have to do a border for that block. When completed, they bring the bags back and other quilters pick a bag and add another border to it until it is completed. The original quilter of the center block takes it back and usually adds the final border and completes the quilt.
"It is so much fun," says Marianne.
Marianne can't begin to count all the quilts she has made over the years, some of which include 1930s reproduction fabric and one of an original 1930s tablecloth.
Currently she's working on a quilt entirely made of yo-yos.
"Have you ever heard of a Baltimore Album Quilt? In the 1800s, women in Baltimore made quilt blocks that gave voice to who they were. It was before women earned the right to vote and it was a way to express themselves. Well, I'm making a Pennsylvania Album Quilt," says Marianne. The quilt has blocks that show a patriotic theme as well as records of the people and dates that are important to her, all of it expressing her voice.
What does her voice of her quilt say?
"I'm crazy!" she laughs.
But when asked what quilting means to her, she says "I relate it to a little girl who comes to our guild with a basket full of fabric squares. She just sits there and touches them. I love to touch fabric. I like the outcome, of seeing something from start to finish."
Marianne recently completed a Civil War Soldier Patch quilt, using reproduction Civil War fabric she purchased in Gettysburg. It will be a featured quilt at the Polk Township's Annual Quilt Show, "Stitches in Tyme."
Betty Kunkle, coordinator of the event invites everyone to come view the beautiful quilts made by Marianne, one of the featured quilters at this year's show on Sunday, June 12 from 1-4 p.m. at the Polk Township Vol. Fire Co. on Rt. 209, Kresgeville.
Shelba Haydt Sheffner is the other featured quilter but there will be many other quilts, wall hangings, stitchwork, by others, on display, along with demonstrations, raffles and refreshments.