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The Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club


Shipshewana, Indiana

Emma Yoder’s hands shook as a single thought popped into her head.What if I fail?

She eased into a chair at the kitchen table and drank from her cup of chamomile tea, hoping it would calm her jangled nerves. When she glanced at the battery-operated clock on the far wall and realized it was 9:45 a.m., her stomach tightened. Half an hour from now she would begin teaching her first quilting class—and to folks she had never met. Some she’d spoken to on the phone, but a few of the reservations had been made by relatives of those who’d be attending.

Emma had made many quilted items to sell on consignment at one of the local quilt shops and had taught several of her family members how to quilt. But teaching strangers would be different. Those who’d signed up for her six-week class could be from all walks of life. Would they understand everything she taught them? Would her instructions be clear enough? When the classes were complete, would she be able to find more students? All these questions swam around in her head, but she refused to let doubt take over.

The back door opened, bringing Emma’s thoughts to a halt. Her daughter, Mary, who’d recently turned thirty-two, stepped into the room and sniffed the air. “Umm. . . Do I smell peanut butter cookies?” Mary asked, pulling out the chair beside Emma and taking a seat.

Emma nodded. “I baked a few dozen this morning. I’m just waiting on the last batch.” She motioned to the cooling racks, filled with fresh cookies. “I’m planning to serve them to my quilting class, but feel free to have a couple if you like.”

“No thanks. I’m still full from breakfast.” Mary’s brow wrinkled. “Are you sure you really want to do this, Mom?”

In an effort to keep Mary from knowing how apprehensive she felt, Emma smiled and said, “Jah, I’m very sure. Learning to quilt will give my students an opportunity to create something beautiful and lasting.” She took another sip of tea, letting the smooth taste of chamomile roll around on her tongue and then settle her uneasy stomach. “Perhaps after my students learn the basics of quilting and make a small wall hanging, they might want to try something larger.” Emma felt more optimistic as she talked. The thought of sharing her love for quilting gave her a sense of excitement and purpose.

Mary opened her mouth to say something more, but a knock on the front door interrupted them.

Emma jumped, nearly knocking over her cup of tea. “That must be one of my students. Surely none of our friends or relatives would use the front door.”

“Would you like me to answer it?” Mary asked.

“Jah, please do. Show them into my sewing room, and as soon as I take the cookies from the oven, I’ll be right in.”

Mary, looking a bit hesitant, pushed her chair away from the table and hurried from the room.

Emma opened the oven door and took a peek. The cookies were a nice golden brown, perfectly shaped, and smelled as good as they looked. She slipped on her oven mitt, lifted the baking sheet from the oven, and quickly transferred the cookies to a cooling rack.

As she stepped out of the kitchen, she nearly collided with Mary. “Are my students here?” Emma asked.

“Jah, but Mom, are you truly certain you want to teach this quilting class?” Mary’s face was flushed, and her dark eyes reflected obvious concern. “I mean, you might reconsider when you see how—”

“Of course I want to teach the class.” Emma gave Mary’s arm a gentle pat. “Now go on home to your family. I’ll talk to you later and tell you how it all went.”

“But, I—I really think you should know that—”

“Don’t worry, Mary. I’ll be just fine.”

Mary hesitated but gave Emma a hug. “Come and get me if you need any help,” she called as she scooted out the back door.

Drawing in a quick breath, Emma entered her sewing room and halted. A man and a woman who appeared to be in their midthirties sat in two of the folding chairs, scowling at each other. To the couple’s left sat a middle-aged African-American woman with short, curly hair. On their right, a pleasant-looking Hispanic man held a baby girl on his lap.

Sitting across from this group of people was a young woman wearing a black sweatshirt with the hood pulled over her head. A look of defiance showed clearly in her dark eyes, accentuated by her heavy black makeup. On the young woman’s left sat a big burly man with several tattoos and a black biker’s bandana on his head.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed, Emma grabbed the edge of her sewing machine to steady herself. Ach, my! No wonder Mary looked so flustered.Such a variety of unexpected people have come here today! What in the worldhave I gotten myself into?

The Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club
by by Wanda E. Brunstetter