Diamonds of Africa quilt
Barbara Wilke's "Diamonds of Africa" quilt is a semifinalist in the QuiltWeek show in Lancaster. (AQS)

Barbara Wilke of Springettsbury Township is adamant on one point.

"Quilting is not an old, dying custom," says the Central York high school art teacher, 57. "There are thousands of people quilting today."

Among those thousands, Wilke is one of just 82 semifinalists with a homemade machined wall quilt in the American Quilter's Society's QuiltWeek show next week in Lancaster.

She earned her quilting stripes early, when her mother's passion for sewing meant finding something to entertain her 5-year-old daughter while she worked.

"I have quilts that I made that we traced off of my coloring books," she says. "I did the embroidered blocks, and she made the quilts."

The quilt: For the QuiltWeek juried show, Wilke submitted "Diamonds of Africa," a quilt she made for the 2012 McCall's Quilt Design Star competition, in which she was a finalist. An image on the photo-sharing site Pinterest provided inspiration for the design.

"The theme was opposites attract, so I used opposite colors of the color wheel, and the diamonds reflect on each other," she says. "The diamonds represent the aristocracy that runs the diamond mines and the basket shapes on the edges represent the workers."

The Design Star competition had a five-week deadline, giving Wilke some labor-intensive weekends.

"I sewed for 36 hours over Labor Day weekend to do the top," she says.

The next two weekends were devoted to quilting and beading the piece, with a little televised company courtesy of Netflix.

"I went through all of 'Breaking Bad' while I did that quilt," she says.

The show: "Diamonds of Africa" is Wilke's first quilt chosen for an American Quilter's Society show. Semifinalist quilts will be on display during the show, with winners selected at the show. The top three quilts in each category as well as some show-wide winners will receive cash prizes.

Amish Summer Afternoon Between Friends
Janet Shank's "Amish Summer Afternoon Between Friends" quilt is a semifinalist in the QuiltWeek show in Lancaster. (AQS)

The competition includes another York countian, Janet Shank of West Manchester Township, whose "Amish Summer Afternoon Between Friends" is in the same home machine quilted wall quilt category.

"I'm very pleased," Wilke says. "Like the Oscars, it's an honor to be nominated."

Going to the show

The American Quilter's Society QuiltWeek show runs March 13-16 at the Lancaster County Convention Center, 25 S. Queen St. in Lancaster.

The show is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, through Friday, March 15, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 16.

QuiltWeek features exhibits of contest quilts, "Beneath the Southern Sky" Australian quilts and the Tentmakers of Cairo men's quilts as well as seminars, classes, vendors and more.

Tickets are $14 per day general admission or $11 for AQS members. Discounted multi-day passes are available.

For more information, visit

- Reach Mel Barber at