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THREADS OF SERVICE: Former assistant police chief transforms life lessons into quilting artistry

Kristine Petersen weaves life lessons and community dedication into each stitch of her quilts to be showcased in LaBelle gallery exhibit
Posted at 9:39 PM, Jan 31, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-31 21:39:00-05

LABELLE, Fla. — A former assistant police chief is weaving a blend of her life experiences together for an exhibit at the Barron Park House Gallery in LaBelle. Kristine Petersen, now a dedicated quilt-maker, intertwines her law enforcement career and community service into every fabric of her work.

Fox 4 visited her studio in Clewiston, where you could see fabric getting stitched as the hum of her sewing machine filled her textile-covered room.

Petersen reflected on her journey into quilt-making, which began 25 years ago. She said the inspiration for her craft came from her mother, who she saw making a quilt after her parents moved in with her. "They were at the end stage of their life and needed to be in the warmer weather. So, when she came she was working on a quilt called a Cathedral Window - and she did it by hand. It was very intricate and beautiful…And she didn’t finish it," Petersen recalled.

In her mother's memory, Petersen said she and her sister completed the quilt, igniting a lifelong passion. Petersen found that quilt-making taught her invaluable life lessons. "It gives you that patience. You get a sense of peace. In law enforcement, that was needed. You need to make sure you’re paying attention to the small things," she explained.

Petersen served as the assistant police chief in Clewiston from 2003 to 2013. Despite a demanding schedule, Petersen says she’s been teaching a criminal justice course at Clewiston High School part-time since 1998, then going full-time after she retired from policing. Petersen said learning that her quilts often turned out different than she planned, like life, reflects in her teaching.

"I learned to understand that everyone had that different learning modality - that it wasn’t just one way. It really clarified it. And quilting was right side by side so I understood that," she said.

Quilting, for Petersen, is also a means of giving back. She says she crafts them as gifts for friends, family, and notably donates most of them to veterans and those in need. "If one quilt at a time I can let those people know that we love you, and we support you, and thank you for what you did - then, that’s what I’m gonna’ do," Petersen stated passionately.

Petersen’s quilts, each a tapestry of her love and life experiences, will be featured in 'The Airing of the Quilts' exhibit at the Barron Park House Gallery.