Quilting at Home

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“Quilting at Home,” Ensign, Oct. 1995, 69

Quilting at Home

When LaRue Matney of the Lafayette Ward, Oakland California Stake, started noticing increasing numbers of homeless families in the San Francisco Bay area, she decided she wanted to help them. But she needed to do something that would allow her to work at home in Walnut Creek, where she could be with her husband, Kent, a retired dentist.

Reasoning that everyone needs a blanket to keep warm, especially on the streets, LaRue has become a one-woman quilt factory. Using long, ball-ended pins that are easy to see and work with, she pins her quilts on a king-sized bed rather than on a quilt frame. Working on a single quilt from start to finish, she ties it with yarn while she socializes with her husband. Each quilt takes six to eight hours to finish, and when completed they lie perfectly flat, without a ripple.

LaRue learned to sew and quilt during the 1920s from her two grandmothers while she was growing up in River Heights, Utah, a suburb of Logan. After graduating from Utah State University in 1939, she became a milliner buyer for a Salt Lake City department store and later managed fur stores in Salt Lake City and Oakland. She spent forty years managing her husband’s Lafayette, California, dental practice and raised her brother’s son and four children of her own.

Most of LaRue’s quilts are donated to the nearby Pittsburg Family Shelter, where staff members give one to each member of families who complete the shelter’s program. Inspired by Sister Matney’s dedication, the Lafayette Ward youth get into the act each Christmas, gathering gifts for the shelter and delivering them along with carols, games, and holiday goodies.—Richard H. Harris Jr., San Francisco, California