Whitewater resident quilts for charity, enjoyment

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Andrea Anderson
Saturday, March 8, 2014

WHITEWATER--Hazel Tellefson made 95 quilts in 2013.

The year before she made 110.

Since Jan. 1, she's made 16 more and had six in progress as of the end of February.

All the quilts she makes are donated to groups and organizations.

What she does is “nothing special,” Tellefson, 95, said of her volunteered time and gifts.

As part of St. Patrick's Catholic Church of Whitewater's 160th anniversary, the church made a goal of gathering 160 blankets to be donated to children living in the Andes Mountains in Peru.

So far, Tellefson has made and donated 72 quilts for the trip, she said.

Each quilt is about 4 feet by 4.5 feet. The patterns vary from floral to color blocks.

“I like colors, and I like to mix things up,” Tellefson said as she laid out a bright orange and floral quilt.

Some of her blankets have gone to Haiti, where they are used for children to lay on. The ones going to Peru will be used as blankets to keep warm.

She has made blankets for the terminally ill and newborns, and she sewed 171 walker bags for patients at the hospital in Fort Atkinson.

All the threading, sewing and planning takes place in Tellefson's apartment at Fairhaven Senior Services, Whitewater.

Next to her bed is her worktable littered with spools of thread, a pincushion, a sewing machine and a cup of water to keep her hydrated. Draped across a chair are strips of cotton fabric, and in the far corner is wadding used to stuff the quilts. She pays for all the material herself.

On average, Tellefson makes two quilts a week, working off and on during the day.

“(It) depends upon how I feel,” Tellefson said. “A lot of mornings I get up and sew before breakfast, I don't watch much TV in the daytime.”

Tellefson doesn't remember when she learned to quilt, but it was sometime between living in Fort Atkinson in the 1980s and moving to Fairhaven in 2008. She and a group of ladies did quilting for a church.

“I got to keep busy,” Tellefson said. “What I do is not incredible … I enjoy it.”

The Rev. Steven Forrest of St. Patrick's Catholic Church appreciates the time and services Tellefson has donated in making the quilts. He called her work “priceless.”

“We have never had anyone donate that many quilts, and we feel very blessed by her ministry,” Forrest said in an email. “I am hoping that she can continue to do more as we would give them to people as prayer quilts.”

Tellefson doesn't have a goal for the number of quilts to be made this year. She makes as many as she can, Tellefson said.

“I get tired, now, so I don't know how much longer I can keep it up,” Tellefson said.

Tellefson keeps busy in other ways as well. She plays cards in the common room and on her laptop. She keeps tabs on her children and grandchildren by phone and email.

“I can respond to a few messages now,” Tellefson said with a smile.

Last updated: 10:00 am Saturday, March 8, 2014

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