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Kragnes showcases quilt at Pioneer Days

This hummingbird-inspired quilt will be on display during Pioneer Days this weekend at Bonanzaville in West Fargo. Carrie Snyder/The Pioneer

Each year for the past several, the North Dakota Quilter's Guild has raffled off a homemade quilt created by a local artisan, with proceeds supporting their organization as well as Bonanzaville, USA.

Peggy Kragnes, who farms with her husband, David, near Felton, Minn., is this year's elite designer who will be previewing her original 'whole cloth' quilt titled "Hummingbird Hideaway," during the annual Pioneer Days review set for Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 21 and 22, at Bonanzaville, in West Fargo.

A member of the Quilter's Guild for 15 years, Peggy is thrilled about the honor that recognizes her seasoned quilt making prowess. "It is a volunteer thing and fundraiser. The person in charge asked me last September if I would do the quilt. I had just purchased a long arm quilt machine a year ago in June, so when they asked me I had to think about it a bit. Then I realized that I really do like to challenge myself to do new things. I had always wanted to do a whole cloth, so I said 'yes,' and it ended up being a fun, learning experience."

A whole cloth quilt is just what the name implies. "There's no piecing, it's a solid piece of fabric on both the front and the back," Peggy explained. "It is the quilting pattern than makes the design."

She chose hummingbirds as her theme simply because she "likes them a lot. I have a few feeders here and enjoy them "humming" around!"

Peggy began by purchasing a paper pattern by Sue Schmieden, then altering it a bit to feature some of her own original designs. Since the fabric she selected as the base for both sides was a light colored off-white, Peggy was able to see through it and consequently was able to trace the design right on the fabric.

She said she totally enjoyed the whole cloth experience and will definitely do it again, likening the process to being a surrogate mother. "I planned and executed the project, and it was mine for a short amount of time, before I had to give it away."

No matter what the quilting endeavor, Peggy said "Once you start, you're addicted, not many people quilt just a little. Part of the fascination is seeing what you can create - sometimes you like it, sometimes you don't. But no matter what the outcome, it has become a passion and I've also met some great people in the process. There really is a bond between quilters. I can go to shows and start visiting with someone there and we always have something in common."

She is quick to point out that she is not in it for the money. Most of the quilts she makes are basically a labor of love that she ends up giving away. "I don't sell my quilts but give them as gifts. The hours you invest are tremendous. In the end, it really is a great feeling to be able to make something special for someone. The recipients don't always realize that you are thinking about them every step of the way."

In fact, the day we spoke, Peggy was preparing another 'gift' - a quilt that will be assembled and presented to one of her granddaughters for her birthday.

Peggy's husband wholeheartedly supports her quilting endeavors as do the rest of her family members, including their four grown children, five grandchildren and another grandchild soon on the way. "It would be hard to be as involved without the whole family's support," Peggy said. "I didn't get my own kids quilting but I'm sure going to work on their little ones. My granddaughter and I made a quilt last year and we will be doing another this year."

Peggy's Hummingbird Hideaway is on display at Bonanzaville in the Main Museum for everyone to see. It will also be available for viewing at a variety of other fundraising events throughout the year. Tickets for the raffle can be purchased at a cost of $1 each. The drawing will be held Dec. 6, at 2 p.m. at Bonanzaville.

For a complete schedule of activities for this year's Pioneer Days celebration Saturday and Sunday, turn to the special section inserted in this week's West Fargo Pioneer and News.