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Patchwork quilt a wonder of geometryThe blanket will be raffled off to support a charity.

"Viewing the Welcome Wagon quilt to be raffled on the Fourth of July, one may not be surprised to learn that it was designed by a mathematician. The overall bold pattern, comprised of a wealth of detail, is a geometric wonder.I started with grid paper, quilt designer Linda Johnston said. I chose lighthouses and water because of where we live. That Johnston has no art background is more surprising.Everything about the design of the quilt looks right, from the strong central image - a map of the whole Puget Sound region - to the realistic renditions of six area lighthouses; from the hand-sewn rope design between the images, to the selection of fabric in prints that correspond to the larger design. The Bainbridge map, for example, is sewn in green material printed in tiny trees. There are other original touches as well - the locations of the lighthouses are marked on the quilted map by tiny carved icons. The small squares between the larger images of the lighthouses are cross-stitched or embroidered images of shells, whales or birds. There are even real nautical knots worked in rope affixed to the quilt.What is also striking is the unity of the whole, considering how many hands have contributed to it. Twenty women - about a third of the Welcome Wagon membership - took squares home to sew or came together once a week to quilt, and chat about food, children and husbands. We are largely a social group, Johnston said. The quilt is what we do to give back to the community each year.An international organization, Welcome Wagon has made itself welcome on Bainbridge since 1964. Although the group no longer turns up on the doorstep of new Bainbridge residents, Welcome Wagon members still believe their mandate is to make newcomers welcome.Willmann moved to Bainbridge from Texas in 1971 and Johnston came to the island from New Jersey. Both found Welcome Wagon waiting to greet them.We are a great jumping-off place for new islanders to learn about their community, founding member Deanie Willmann said, and the friendships made here tend to be deep and long-lasting.Welcome Wagon has evolved, in 37 years, to meet the needs of a variety of island populations. The group now schedules night events to accommodate working people, and has Kids' Time meetings for parents with young children. These days, more and more islanders arrive here from other parts of the country, Willmann and Johnston said. The early days in a new place can be lonely, and the need to put down roots and feel part of a community, strong. Welcome Wagon, they say, can help both newcomers and more established island residents feel at home. Proceeds from this year's raffle will go - as they have every year since 1976 - to support an island charity. The group has contributed about $35,000 to causes as diverse as Bainbridge Performing Arts, PAWS, Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers, the Teen Center and Bainbridge Youth Services.For information about Welcome Wagon or to purchase raffle tickets, call 780-2232 or 842-5991. "

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