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Stitching away the time: Quilt projects fill hours for 93-year-old Bob Shore

FNS Photo by Beth Rickers Bob Shore of Worthington, Minn., — who turned 93 earlier this week — is both a creator and keeper of quilts.

WORTHINGTON, Minn. — One by one, Bob Shore carries the quilts into the living room, spreading them out on the floor to display.

The first ones are recent creations, made from fabric panels featuring wildlife or farm scenes.

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Next come some quilts with a little bit of history: Blocks pieced together by his first wife, Vivian, that he found after her death in 1999 and assembled into a quilt. A lavender bed cover was cross-stitched by second wife Dot (Vivian’s sister) during winter trips to Texas. There’s also one embroidered with every state flower, stitched by his aunt and put together by Dot.

Finally, there’s a quilt with a lot of history that Bob found in the bottom of a cedar chest. Each block has a woman’s name embroidered on it, along with other embellishments.

“It’s from the Okabena club,” a women’s Extension group, he explained. “It was formed in 1913, I think. Sometime in the later years, they made some quilts. Everybody made a block, and then they passed them around. I think it was made in 1935.”

Bob — who turned 93 earlier this week — is both creator and keeper of quilts. The longtime farmer and trucker began stitching up his creations in recent years as a way to fill the time while he cares for wife Dot.

“Her health problems caught up with us, so I needed something to do,” Bob said. “I had to stay close by.”

This past Christmas, Bob gave away 27 of his handmade quilts. He has four children, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren; and Dot had five children — three still living — and he doesn’t know how many grandchildren.

“All my kids, all her kids, nieces and nephews, got one,” he said about the quilt distribution.

When he first started making quilts, Bob only had a sewing machine with which to do the stitching, and he relied on someone else to do the final quilting process. Eventually, he decided to get his own quilting machine.

Bob has several go-to places where he finds the fabrics for his quilts. He is drawn to those that reflect the landscape of his rural Worthington home. The wildlife-themed ones include deer, eagles and fox.

When he begins work on a new quilt, Bob lays out the materials on the living room floor, arranging the panels and other fabric pieces to achieve a pleasing design. Most of them end up being the right size for a queen-sized bed.

Depending on how often he gets interrupted, Bob can put together a quilt in about a week — but often it takes longer. He’s still figuring out the quilting machine and hasn’t yet been brave enough to put a quilt together on it without pinning it first.

When each quilt is finished, Bob “signs” the work with a simple “Bob” stitched in the corner.

Since he’s taught himself the art of quilting, there have been a few mishaps made along the way, Bob admitted. His quilts aren’t perfect, but they are unique and warm.

“The guy who never made a mistake probably never did a helluva lot,” he quipped.