For Margaret’s Birthday, Another Kind of Bee

by 
Betsy Teutsch, for the Shuttle
Ann Mintz photo
Margaret Guthrie, center, with Moya Kinnealy, left, Betsy Teutsch, and The Quilt.

Who’s up for a quilting bee? “Little House on the Prairie” will meet The Mercantile on Sunday, Sept. 24, from noon to 5 p.m., for the culmination of a Weavers Way Dining for Women project envisioned, launched and implemented by Margaret Guthrie.

Margaret, a founder of our first Dining for Women chapter, shared an intriguing idea last year. If she designed a quilt, supplied the materials and tutored volunteers as necessary to hand-stitch the components, would people join her to create a quilt in honor of her 80th birthday? The resulting creation would be raffled off as a national fundraiser to support global women’s empowerment — the mission of Dining for Women.

A dozen willing stitchers came forward. Some hadn’t picked up a needle for decades; others were serious quilters. Our first meeting was hosted at the Co-op, post-election. We threw our collective energy into this positive project. One by one, 12 border patches were completed while Margaret appliquéd the center.

Margaret pieced it all together and, along with Brighid Blake, began the actual multi-layer quilting. This process will be completed at the Sept. 24 quilting bee. All are invited — it will be an especially delightful opportunity for kids to experience. Margaret encourages musicians to come too, adding an aural element to this unique gathering. Fiddlers, we need you!

Growing up in Chestnut Hill back in the day, Margaret learned to sew at Miss Catherina Zara’s School for Girls. School was dismissed at 1 p.m. on Fridays, and students could sign up to stay for sewing classes from Mlle. Lambert, the French teacher. Along with teaching stitching techniques, the instructor read the girls French novels. Balzac, perhaps?

Later, Margaret used those sewing skills to teach herself quilting. While living in Madison, WI, after attending Pembroke College (now Brown University), she became a journalist. She often shares stories of the earlier feminist movement and the challenges women faced, which gave her special empathy for the discrimination women face in other patriarchal societies. Not that, as Margaret is quick to point out, things are all hunky-dory for women in the USA in 2017.

Active in Madison’s Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Margaret created a quilt to be raffled. The winning bidder donated it to the national organization, where it was auctioned off for a substantial amount. Hopefully, history will repeat itself.

Margaret is also a cookbook author, an exceptional cook, mother of three and an accomplished gardener. She is a past board member of Food Moxie. Always concerned about local food insecurity, she encourages each of our three Dining for Women chapters to bring food to our events, which she then delivers to St. Vincent’s food pantry in Germantown. Through Food Moxie, she has nurtured a relationship with Stenton Family Manor, a local shelter for families experiencing homelessness.

The volunteer quilters liked doing this so much, we’ve talked Margaret into a return engagement. The next quilt will raise funds for Food Moxie, affording us many more evenings to “stitch and bitch.”

Happy birthday to Margaret, a community treasure!

Betsy Teutsch is a Weavers Way working member. For info on Weavers Way’s Dining for Women chapters, contact her at betsy@betsyteutsch.com.