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Quilter makes “lasting hugs” possible

Vancouver | Longview | March 3, 2021
Beth's cat, Jasmine, cuddles under the table laid out with Beth's next quilt top.
Vancouver resident makes and shares hundreds of quilts with patients at PeaceHealth in Longview and Vancouver.

“We’re in the silly zone,” Beth Skoll likes to tell her kids when talking about her generous and prolific hobby. But making comfort quilts makes her happy.

And it brings happiness to others as well—in often dark and lonely times of their lives.

In 2020, the Vancouver resident made 730 lap quilts to share with people in hospice and cancer centers as well as the COVID-19 units at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington, and PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center in Longview.

Make others smile

Michelle Todd, lead chaplain at PeaceHealth Southwest, shares that the quilts are given to patients on comfort care, survivors of COVID-19 and others who are struggling.

Beth says, “My goal is to make sure that some part of every quilt makes others smile.” Patients and families who are going through tough times need distraction from their pain. “I always try to make the quilts perky.”

She started quilting in the early 1970s. Her grandmother had quilted, but Beth’s quilting skills are totally self-taught. And when her kids were little, she quilted to earn extra income.

She doesn’t do it for money anymore.Beth's quilt supplies set up for next stage

Now she does it for love…love for the hobby, love for using her time to bless others and love for making a difference.

I want it to be perfect

“When I know in advance I’m making a quilt for someone who is passing, I want it to be perfect—I want it to be as special as possible,” she says. “It’s the last thing that gives comfort to someone in their final hours and it then becomes the last thing a family can hold on to after their loved one is gone.”

She shares how one widower said the quilt Beth gave to his wife to use during her chemo treatment is the only thing that helps him get a good night’s sleep.

All of Beth’s quilts are lap-sized, using six-inch blocks. “I don’t use a fancy pattern—just blocks, diagonals or chevron slices,” she says, “99% of the world makes the fabric fit into the pattern. I Iet the fabric make the pattern.”

It’s not unusual for Beth to make upwards of two dozen quilts a week. A retired administrative consultant, she has her production process down to a science—from bargain hunting and buying supplies to cutting and sorting to laying out and sewing tops and finishing them out.a few comfort quilts

“The FedEX and UPS guys know me by name,” she laughs, as they make dozens of deliveries of fabric and batting.

No two alike

While her process functions like an assembly line there are no two quilts alike. And they’re all made to last.

“Every quilt I drop off at PeaceHealth, I know will last over 50 years,” she says.

That bold statement is backed up by the fact that the very first quilt she made in 1970 has stood up to being repeatedly run through the washing machine. The stitching “still holds up like iron.”

shelves of fabricKnowing that her gifts won’t fall apart after a few washings makes her feel good, especially since these quilts can mean so much to those who receive them. “Quilts are like one last hug.”

Michelle notes how grateful patients and families are for Beth’s generosity and “the love and care she communicates with her quilts.”

Surrounded by yards of fabric, rolls of batting and piles of quilts—finished or otherwise—Beth knows in her heart there’s nothing silly about making others’ lives a little brighter.

Photos provided courtesy of Beth Skoll and Michelle Todd

Top:  Jasmine, Beth's helper, cuddles under the table with a quilt top ready to be sewn.
Second:  Beth likes to quiz friends with this little brain teaser:  Guess how many quilts are staged in this photo. (Answer: 167)
Third:  A few of Beth’s bright and perky quilts are ready to comfort someone at PeaceHealth.
Bottom: Beth has fabric blocks cut and ready to sew into quilt tops in her quilting room.

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