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Quilter on wheels keeps rolling

By: Dave Baxter

Posted: 03/24/2019 9:45 AM

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Shirley Penner, a long-haul semi-truck driver for Steinbach-based Penner International Inc. has transformed the living area in her truck into her very own quilting and sewing station on wheels.

DAVE BAXTER | THE CARILLON Enlarge Image

Shirley Penner, a long-haul semi-truck driver for Steinbach-based Penner International Inc. has transformed the living area in her truck into her very own quilting and sewing station on wheels.

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Shirley Penner doesn’t let downtime out on the road leave her feeling bored, as her very own quilting studio on wheels is allowing her to spend that time doing what she loves, while also lending a helping hand to those in need.

"There can be a lot of downtime when you’re out on the road," Penner, the long-haul semi-truck driver for Penner International said, while sitting in her truck in Steinbach on Tuesday afternoon.

"There’s downtime when you’re sitting at a shipper and receiver, or on some days you can drive 11 hours but if you’re done early you can stop driving by about seven or eight at night, so again there is a lot of free time."

Over the last few months Penner has transformed her living area in her truck into her very own quilting and sewing station on wheels, and she said she can spend hours working on her sewing and quilting when she’s not behind the wheel.

"The bottom bed turns into a table so I just decided one day I would pull the mattress out, set it all up and set the sewing machine up on the table. When I first told my husband what I was planning to do he just said ‘you’re crazy,’" she said with a laugh.

She added that while many of her trucker colleagues set up satellite dishes so they can watch TV when they aren’t driving or spend time on their phones and tablets or playing video games, she knew the best way for her to fight boredom was to find a way to be creative and do what she loves.

Quilting is more than just a hobby for Penner as she quilts with the Steinbach-based group Heartland Quilters, a group of quilters that donate hundreds of their quilts to organizations that can put them to good use.

Penner said she and the other Heartland Quilters are currently donating quilts to Siloam Mission in Winnipeg, Quilts of Valour which donates quilts to veterans, and the Linus Project which donates quilts to children in hospital.

She said while she is out on the road and quilting it gives her a good feeling to know the work she is doing is helping others, and she added it motivates her to work harder at her craft.

"It just makes me feel good to know what I am doing back here can be used to help someone," Penner said.

Penner also got a whole lot of quilting done last week when a massive snowstorm stranded her in North Dakota for 24 hours, and she spent most of that time on her sewing and quilting.

"I just quilted for the most part, and I got a lot done," Penner said. "I made a whole quilt top in one day, it’s a lot better than sitting around with nothing to do."

As a lifelong quilter Penner said now that she is working out on the road she is more productive than she has ever been.

"I’ve never been able to get this much done," she said. "It’s been a great thing."

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