On September 14, Lynn (Cole) Witzenburg held a Quilt Trunk Show at Homestead Assisted Living where her mother, Sylvia Cole lives.
Lynn is a Master Machine Quilter and just recently received Best Home Machine Quilt and first place in its category for her Diamonds of Batik quilt and third place and honorable mention on two other projects at the Des Moines Area Quilters Guild Annual Show in October 2016 at the Iowa Events Center.
Witzenburg was always interested in quilting, so she quit her computer programing work in 1992 because she literally couldn’t do anything because of the pain in her arms. Through her illness she learned she could use her hands doing applique work on quilts that didn’t require using her arms.
In 1995 she started quilting with a sewing machine, when traditional quilters and quilt shows disparagingly acknowledged the craftsmanship and artistry. After attending classes and assisting some with quilting projects, Witzenburg started getting requests to teach others about her craft.
At first Witzenburg taught others how to sew for no pay, but then decided she would start asking for payment.
“I went from $8 an hour to $18 an hour, working for customers who sent me their completed quilt tops. I sent back a quilted quilt,” Witzenburg said. “Eventually I became a professional since I was receiving more and more requests.”
Because of her reputation and results Lynn was asked to write an illustrated book, “Machine Quilting: basics and beyond,” which was published in 2008 and is available on Amazon.com.
“I was invited to write the book part-time, but that’s just not who I am. During this time my youngest son bonded with my mother because she was with me during her recovery period for knee surgery,” Witzenburg said. “She was not only a great editor but she greatly assisted me during this time.”
In 2010 Lynn took a turn for the worst and entirely had to stop all work. Through a friend she found a nutritionist and learned that she had inflammation in her stomach that ran havoc with her body. The medication Witzenburg had to take made her crave sugar and carbs.
“I resolved my pain by changing my eating habits and exercise. By working with my nutritionist I lost weight and I re-educated myself as to what I should and should not eat,” Witzenburg said. “I learned that empty carbs have no nutritional value, so I stopped eating them and sugar. I learned that every bite counts and have been without pain for over four years.”
Today, Witzenburg quilts for fun. She combines stories and humor while exhibiting her beautiful quilts at her trunk shows. Those attending the September 14 Trunk Show were impressed with her artistry and enjoyed her stories.
Witzenburg shared that she learned some differences between Japanese and American quilters with the president of the Des Moines Area Quilter’s Guild.
“We tend to study under many, and they stay with one teacher. We are in a hurry for quantity and they seem to be only concerned with quality and precision,” Witzenburg said. “It makes for an interesting comparison of quilts.”