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Presbyterian Manor residents keep their hands busy with needlework

National Thread the Needle Day is July 25, and we’re celebrating the obscure holiday by highlighting some of the talented needleworkers in the Wichita Presbyterian Manor Community.

Independent living residents Ida L. Coombs, Barbara Dravis and Liz Hicks all enjoy the satisfaction of completing projects, either with a needle and thread or a crochet hook.

Barbara has been a needleworker for “a good 50 years,” she said. Her mother taught her to crochet when she was a child, but she didn’t really get interested in it until after she was married.

She often crochets afghans while listening to music.

“It keeps my hands busy,” Barbara said.

Ida Coombs became interested in quilting in her mid-20s, when her mother made a quilt as a wedding gift for Ida’s brother.

That inspired Ida to order a quilt pattern from a newspaper ad. But she didn’t begin quilting in earnest until she was in her 40s.

“I basically became addicted to that kind of sewing,” she said.

Ida was so passionate that she worked at Hen Feathers, a quilt shop in east Wichita. She spent 30 years making a hand-stitched quilt that she only worked on while on vacation.

“It was something that went into the suitcase so I would have something to keep my hands busy,” she said.

Ida is still “addicted” to her hobby, and she enjoys attending one of the weekly quilting groups that meets at First United Methodist Church.

Like Barbara, Liz mostly sticks to crocheting, but she experimented with a lot of different forms of needlework.

“When I was a young adult, I did a lot of various kinds,” she said. She particularly liked crewel embroidery, but she didn’t much care for cross-stitch.

Several years ago, she found a pattern for crocheted reusable grocery bags, and she has made some for her neighbors.  

All three women have enjoyed making special blankets and other items for family and friends. Barbara gives away most of the afghans she makes. She chooses the colors she uses based on the preference of the recipient.

Ida has made a quilt as a wedding gift for each of her nieces and nephews. She chose a cathedral window pattern for a quilt she’s working on in advance of a nephew’s upcoming wedding.

A few years ago, Ida heard that Wesley Hospital was looking for volunteers to make dolls for children in the pediatric unit. She made more than 600 and delivered them to the hospital, 12 at a time.

Liz has crocheted caps and lap-sized afghans, AKA “lapghans,” for Victory in the Valley, a nonprofit organization that supports cancer patients.

All three women enjoy the feeling of accomplishment their hobbies bring.

“If I can keep my fingers busy, I feel as though I’ve accomplished something,” Liz said.

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