Mystery, one stitch at a time

They’re all the same pattern but with very different interpretations. Mystery quilts from the class led by Karen Parsons (above) are now on display at the Arts & Heritage Center through October. (Lori Nickel Photo)

It’s no mystery as to why you’d want to check out the beauty, design and handiwork that went into the making of the several quilts now at the Arts & Heritage Center. The “mystery” quilts on display were cut, pieced and sewn through a community education course that keeps the quilters guessing the final design.   

The class is led by Karen Parsons, Montgomery, who has been guiding quilters through the clues for 10 years. She said she first chooses a quilt pattern and then divides the directions into weekly steps, or clues. In the first week she tells them how much fabric they will need, whether or not the fabric should be light or dark, but leaves the color choices to the quilters. In the following weeks she reveals a clue per week, giving them another piece in the puzzle to work on. They work for eight to 10 weeks throughout the winter until the entire quilt pattern is revealed. Then come spring, the quilters attend a reveal party to see how everyone else interpreted the clues. Each quilter is unique, which shines through in the creativity and artistry that each quilt contains. 

“I’m so amazed at the quilters. They are so good,” Parsons commented.

The inspiration for this class came from one of Parson’s good friends who passed away 15 years ago. When she was asked to go through her friend’s sewing room, she came upon a packet labeled “Mystery Quilt”. She thought it sounded fun, but since she wasn’t really a quilter, she put it aside. Years later she was approached by Mary Simon about leading a winter class for community ed.  when she remembered the mystery quilt idea and went with it. She’s now entering her eleventh year organizing the mystery quilt and her love for the pass time has grown each year since. And so has the interest in the class. 

Parsons said she had about 60 quilters this past year, and led the class in six communities –– the TCU school district, Belle Plaine, Le Sueur, Shakopee, Jordan and Prior Lake. When quilters run into problems, she said even though she spends her winters in Texas, she’s very accessible and ready to help out. She invites anyone interested in quilting to join in, and said it is not just for women.

“My next mystery class will be in the winter TCU Community Ed. booklets,” she said. “And you don’t have to be in the district to join the class. I think everyone should come in and see the beautiful job the quilters do.”

The mystery quilts will be on display at the Arts & Heritage Center throughout the month of October. They are open Thursdays and Fridays from 2 to 5 p.m., and Saturday 9 a.m to noon.