A group of unemployed iron workers from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania have taken first place in the annual International Quilting Bee held this year in Lexington, Kentucky. Quilters from all over the world competed for this year's grand trophy.
The iron workers, calling themselves the "Iron Maidens" won the title with a lovely, yet manly 'Jacob's Ladder' pattern made entirely from various camouflage-patterned squares. One stitcher, by the name of Big Al said, after winning the coveted award, "I'd just like to thank my mother and Aunt Sissy, who taught me how to sew at a very early age." Big Al actually formed the group that would go on to win top honors at the quilting bee. And he claims it wasn't easy convincing a bunch of burly iron workers to sit around a table and sew.
Many participants were stunned that the Iron Maidens took first place at all, not because they were men so much as the fact that the Jacob's Ladder design they used was such a simple design and wasn't all that pretty to look at. Mary-Bethe Comfort of Missoula, Mississippi, second-place winner with her 'Cairo Calico' Quilt, agreed.
"The danged thing looked like something you'd hang over a deer blind for cover. The fact that they used poplin material mixed with duck cloth and a polyester blend just threw the whole scheme off, in my opinion."
In fact, the Iron Maidens claim that using it for warmth in their deer blind is exactly what they intended to do with the quilt once they got back home. "There's a method to our madness," said Doug deGrave, a 46-year old father of three, who claims that being out of work for over two years does something to a man's psyche. "All of a sudden," he said, "you start to feel less and less like a man, but like everything else in life, you learn to cope and sewing together little scraps of material into a quilt helped me to cope." He then challenged Mary-Bethe to an arm wrestling match, seeing as her quilting arm was as big, if not bigger than his.
When asked if the Iron Maidens will enter any more quilts in future bees, the men all agreed that once was enough. "We took a lot of ribbing from the guys down at the union hall," claims Big Al. "But just wait till we show them this lovely crystal trophy. We'll see who has the last laugh," he said.