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Eight siblings help create quilts that will be on display this week at the Clackamas County Fair

A Canby family with eight kids — four girls and four boys — began a quilting project in 1997 and didn't stop until they'd made nine quilts. The oldest daughter, Connie Austen, came up with the idea.

Each sibling was given a 12" by 12" quilt square to place a photo or design onto, whatever the sibling chose. The family, actually the four daughters, would then get together to pin and sew the quilt together, Austen said.

Once Christmas arrived, each sister and brother drew a Christmas card to determine which one received the quilt. Inside the card, one sibling would find the words "Quilt Winner."

"I came up with the idea in 1997," said Austen. "Each of us chose a design of their own square to assemble the quilt. We each would pick from generic family photos or photos of us snow skiing. Our brothers were just as excited to get them as our sisters."

Each year, one of the siblings would take on the duty of hosting and coordinating the quilt for that year.

That person would also choose the border color and layout of the quilt. All of the designs were related to family activities. As the years went by and the family grew into eight families, the size of the quilt grew too.

With each new marriage another quilt square was added. As the family matured, each quilt told more stories and "painted a beautiful picture of our lives," said Gerri Pottratz.

"Mine has my grandmother's hankie and my sister-in-law Sharon Pettit wrote something on hers," Austen told the Herald.

A Canby family's quilting legacy will be on display at the Clackamas County Fair this week.

"We'd get together in the fall and pass out squares. By the end of October, we'd assemble the quilt. It was my adult sisters and their daughters that put the quilts together. Some of us used the quilts for wall hangings and other put theirs at the foot of their beds. Everyone appreciated the effort," Austen said.

The project lasted for eight years, then they added a ninth quilt in 2005. The ninth quilt was made for the siblings' mom. Pictures on the quilt were taken from family photos that year. She even had several years to enjoy the quilt before she passed away in 2013.

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