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Shelby quilt is best in show

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Linda Sanford sweeps quilting classes

By Lisa King

When it comes to creative endeavors such as painting, photography, and being handy with a needle, Shelby County residents shone at the Kentucky State Fair this year.

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From Brenda Lee in Waddy (knitting) to Donna Owen (painting china) and Patrice Payton (needlepoint) in Simpsonville, to Karen Collins (knitting) in Shelbyville, all earned several ribbons.

And Linda Sanford of Shelbyville stood above the crowd in the quilting competition.

Since making her first quilt at the age of 12, Sanford has been hooked on quilting. But her creations are for much more than just cuddling up on a cold, snowy day. Since 2006 she’s earned dozens of ribbons at the state fair.

And this year, along with several blue ribbons, Sanford’s quilt was named Best of Show.

That quilt – star burst – is her personal favorite, and she said she learned to make it at a class she took last year sponsored by the Kentucky Heritage Quilt Society.

“That’s where I got the pattern,” she said, adding that the star burst was the most complicated pattern she has worked on to date, and it took her several months to complete.

But not all of her designs come from classes and books, she also creates many of her own.

“I do them for my friends. I’ve done a lot of them for my daughter’s children. I even made one for my chiropractor’s baby,” she said.

“Come on down to my quilting studio; at least what I call it,” she said with a giggle.

Sanford’s “studio” in the basement of her home on La Grange Road may not be a professional setup, but it’s not far from it with a 12-foot-long LongArm Quilter sewing machine that’s big enough to work on quilting projects of substantial size.

“Barry [her husband] says I stay down here too much, but when I ask him if he wants to help, he says, ‘no way!’” she said with a grin.

One quilt bears the delicate face of a woman with long flowing hair wearing a pearl necklace, so life-like, it’s breathtaking.

“I couldn’t believe I did that; I could not stop looking at it,” she said. “But now that I know I can do it, I might try to do another one with a grandchild.”

Sanford even won the quilt sweepstakes, which goes to the winner of the most points in a class.

Sanford doesn’t do bed quilts, but rather, decorative ones.

She said the main reason she loves to make quilts is therapeutic.

“It’s relaxing, calming,” she said. “It’s a way to express yourself.”

 She chuckled when asked how much time she spends per day making quilts.

“If I can quilt for fifteen minutes a day, I’m happy; if I can quilt for eight hours a day, I am really excited.”

Barry Sanford said that even though he teases his wife about her “obsession” with quilting, he is really very proud of her.

“She’s very talented,” he said, glancing at the quilts hanging on the walls in wooden frames. “She says she’s making one for me, but I haven’t seen it yet and it’s been five years.”

“That’s because I’m putting a lot of love into it,” she said with a smile.