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Quilting, crafting through the pain

Edna Lind’s hands are rarely idle.

The Richville woman is often crocheting, embroidering, cutting quilting squares or finishing a quilt by tying or hand sewing it.

She’s given 101 of her handmade quilts to others, crocheted 15 baby blankets for Cameroon orphans and has made quilts for church members and family.

“It keeps me out of mischief,” she says of all the activity.

And it helped her a couple of years ago as she dealt with severe pain.

Lind was reluctant to go to the doctor with her painful hip.

“I’d just seen him for an ulcer,” she said. “I didn’t want to visit him again and say that now my hip was hurting.”

Eventually she did seek medical help only to have a surgeon tell her to go home and live with the pain.

Doctors admitted her to a Rochester hospital, but Lind didn’t want painkillers. Instead, she turned to her crafts. Nurses would often see her working her quilts and crocheting in the wee hours of the morning.

“It kept my mind busy,” she said.

Early in her hospital stay, Lind suffered from fevers and low hemoglobin. She received two pints of blood and one pint of iron every other day. Surgeons discovered a softball-sized tumor in front of her pelvis and another three times larger behind her hip. Lind was suffering from pleomorphic sarcoma.

Doctors, during a 15 and a half hour surgery, removed part of her hip and a leg. It was one of three of the Mayos toughest surgeries, she said. Lind spent six months – from March 5 to Sept. 2, 2012 – in three hospitals and five nursing homes.

She’s not a cripple, Lind says. She is handicapped. Using her wheelchair, Lind maneuvers easily around the 1898 farm home where she lives with her son, Russell. The doorways are no problem for her as she easily traverses from room to room moving from the kitchen to bedrooms and dining room where her quilting supplies are placed.

As she sets out her quilting supplies, Lind is quickly joined by her cats, Rocky, Frisky and Miss Marble. They check out her stitches and equipment, she said.

Her finished work takes on many forms. She has 50 quilts upstairs. Some are queen and others king bed lengths. Others, smaller ones, she’s hung on her walls.

The works of art are scenes she’s replicated. One, a log cabin-type design, has a panel depicting their farm, complete with the Basswood Baptist Church located across the highway where she attends church.

Another quilt in her bedroom is a replica of pictures she saw in a Minnesota Conservationist magazine. Each panel represents scenes from the state, including a picture of the state flower, the ladyslipper; another of a loon; and one of a butterfly.

The pictures are nearly perfect and are first drawn on paper. Lind has the ability to see a picture or pattern and replicate it in the quilts and embroidery she creates.

Her creative abilities started at an early age. She recalls her older sister and her baby moving in with her family during World War II. The baby had a blackboard on one side of the room decorated with animal pictures, while Lind had a plain board. She was 3 at the time but would walk over to the decorated board, touch the animal pictures, then draw them on her own board.

She would sit with her sister under her mom’s quilting frame, watching her mother work on the quilts. Soon she was making her own.

Lind grew up in West Concord and moved with her family to Rochester. After high school, she moved to Minneapolis and worked at the Ebenezer Nursing Home for 38 years. She didn’t spend much time with her hobbies, Lind said. Her schedule with busy between her job and her seven children. But her family always had time for a trip to Otter Tail County to camp, fish and swim.

She always wanted to move north and four years ago made it a reality when she retired.

Lind purchased the farm site more for the storage it offered than the house. It needs work, she said, but she was also intrigued by its historic significance. It was built by a Richville banker and was a stagecoach stop that offered travelers a place to stay. The traditional quilt designs, from the wedding ring quilts to log cabin design, fit right in with the home’s history.

Lind moves quickly from room to room showing quilts and embroidered designs she’s made.

Some of the pieces have special significance. They are projects she worked on during her long hospital stay.

“Sometimes you will get started on a quilt and you will wonder if you will ever complete it,” said Lind who hand stitches or ties the quilts using no machines including the meandered stitching. “But you keep going until you finally get to that last panel. It’s like life. You take it one day at a time.”

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