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A sunny quilt for Nicki

Eight months ago, on Dec. 22, 2005 -- right before Christmas -- 30-year-old Nicole Ziegler was tragically killed in a car-train accident near Detroit Lakes.

The rural Frazee woman left behind a husband and three young children.

A friend of the family, Becky Mallow, decided that she wanted to do something to help. So she came up with the idea of asking her fellow Lakes Area Quilters (LAQ) members to help create a special quilt, to be raffled off as a fund raiser to establish a trust fund for Nicki and Jason Ziegler's three children: Tyler, Cassidy and Paige.

Nicki's mother, Kathy Ohman, was a member of LAQ herself, and "I just wanted to find a way to show our support," Mallow said.

So Mallow began putting together ideas for the quilt.

"Nicki absolutely loved sunflowers," she said. "So I started dreaming (about designs), and I found a pattern on the computer, from an artist in Canada."

Once a pattern had been found, she brought the idea to her fellow quilters, and they agreed, so she went and picked out fabric colors.

During one of their regular monthly meetings at Emmanuel, each of the group's members created a quilt block with a sunflower as its central pattern.

"There are 25 sunflowers in all, and not one of them is exactly the same," Mallow said. "Because every sunflower in the world is different, we wanted each quilt square to be unique."

And so they are. Each of the 25 sunflowers in the quilt has variations in color and petal design. Kathy Ohman's block is in the center.

"Kathy and I got together one afternoon and put (the blocks) together," Mallow said. "I never was a sunflower person -- but after doing this quilt, I absolutely love them.

"This quilt is a wonderful work of art, but by the time you're done, you realize it's really a work of heart. There was so much effort put into it, it just touches you."

When the squares had been assembled, Mallow brought the quilt top to The Cotton Hive Machine Quilting in Rochert to finish the backing on a professional quilting machine.

A total of 3,000 raffle tickets were printed for the project, to be sold between now and Dec. 7, when the drawing will be held. More than 1,000 of the 3,000 tickets have been sold already, Mallow said.

"We hope to sell them all," she said, noting that the proceeds would go toward the Ziegler children's trust fund.

Tickets are now available for $1 each at The Marquee, Back Porch Quilts and Midwest Printing in Detroit Lakes; The Cotton Hive Machine Quilting in Rochert; and the Bay Window Quilt Shop in Perham, as well as from LAQ members.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454