Just Sew Story: How Jo Brayton Got Her New Quilt
Members of the North Pomfret Ladies Circle finish a quilt by removing the basting threads during one of their meetings in February. From left are Betty Stetson, of North Pomfret, her sister Marian Whitaker, of East Barnard, and Vivian Moore, of Sharon. Knitting at right is Margaret Flad, of Pomfret. Dues for the group, founded in 1893, are 25 cents a year. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »
Betty Stetson, of North Pomfret, removes basting threads from a quilt that the North Pomfret Ladies Circle will raffle off. Stetson has been a member of the group since the 1980s. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »
Chris Holmes, of South Royalton, laughs while showing off the material she bought for her next quilting project. At left is Elaine Chase, who made lunch for the group at her home on North Pomfret. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »
Elaine Chase passes a bowl of seafood bisque to Chris Holmes. Chase made two soups for lunch — the other was hamburger vegetable — and a dessert made from local blueberries that she had frozen last summer. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »
Members of the North Pomfret Ladies Circle say grace before lunch. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »
Millie Cole, of Woodstock, holds the quilt that members of the North Pomfret Ladies Circle made for Josephine “Jo” Brayton, right, at Brayton’s home in Pomfret. Vivian Moore, of Sharon, is at left. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »
Marian Whitaker, of East Barnard, laughs with Lysle Chase before the other members of the North Pomfret Ladies Circle arrive at his home in North Pomfret. Chase’s wife, Elaine, hosted the meeting. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »
North Pomfret — Cozy in a rocking chair, a stack of magazines by her side, Josephine “Jo” Brayton, 93, wasn’t expecting visitors on that dreary afternoon. Especially visitors bearing a bright, handmade gift in her favorite colors.
But in they came, three members of the North Pomfret Ladies Circle, with a blue and yellow quilt. Circle member Millie Cole, who helps Brayton at her home a few days a week, had suggested they make the quilt. During the visit last month, she placed it across Brayton’s lap.
“Oh my. Gracious me,” Brayton said, admiring the colors. “It’s overwhelming. I can’t thank you enough.”
“It’s made to use and not put away,” circle member Elaine Chase said.
But Brayton already had a plan. The house sits high on a ridge, and her room gets a little cold when the wind blows, she said. The new quilt would make a good replacement for a “scruffy old” one.
“It’s all frayed,” she said. “It’s just, well, uninteresting.”
The women laughed with her, and an hour slipped away as their conversation zigzagged from houseplants to a recent snowstorm to memories of old blankets that eventually made their way to the rag man.
The circle makes and gives away several quilts a year. The group’s creations have found homes with flood victims and local organizations, including the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in White River Junction. Every year, the members raffle off a quilt to fund a college scholarship for a Pomfret graduate.
The group formed in 1893 to sew aprons and other items for students at Kurn Hattin, a home and school in Westminster, Vt., that serves at-risk youth, said Betty Stetson, of North Pomfret. Later, they made cloth slings for a doctor’s office in Woodstock.
Those days are long gone, but the practice of reaching out with crafts to the local community and beyond lives on.
Aimee Caruso can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3210.