This is the first in a series of stories about Calaveras County artists and how they are responding to the pandemic emergency.
Nora Carracedo Keeps busy making masks & tells us how to manage isolation
When her doctor could not get cloth masks to protect staff and patients, quilter Nora Carracedo of Valley Springs came to the rescue. After watching several mask making YouTube videos, she sat down at one of her many sewing machines and started thinking.
She designed her own version of washable masks made of all cotton material, with a pocket in the middle for a piece of material that’s breathable but still acts as a filter.
“I use my own pattern,” she said. “I made one for Sue (her daughter) and me and they worked great. Then I made some for the doctor, and they love them.” Her masks add a bit of brightness to a stressful time. “Some of them have flowers, some of them have polka dots. They’re not plain. They’re pretty,” she said.
She’s perfectly suited to this need. Nora’s been sewing and quilting for most of her life. When she was young and living in Argentina, she started sewing for a local store to make extra money. “I made pants, underwear, and shirts for men,” she said. “I had to learn to make patterns because there were not many patterns at that time.” She sewed on a pedal machine and finished the clothing by hand.
After coming to the states, she sewed clothing for her children and herself. When the grandbabies started coming, she began making quilts. Sue recollects, “I remember my mother making a little bear quilt for the first grandchild.”
Nora is still making quilts for the grandchildren, as well as quilts for community members in need. Nora and her sister lead a team of quilters at the San Andreas Senior Center to make quilts for foster children, children with cancer, and comfort care for hospice. “We also donate money for the senior center, and low cost lunches for kids.” It’s a tight knit group, but they welcome others. “We have fun and we enjoy being together,” she said.
I’m a very positive person. When something happens, I always say ‘I’m going to go up, I’m not going to go down.
While she misses the group since the stay-at-home orders made gathering impossible, Nora doesn’t let it get her down. I asked her for advice on how to manage isolation and the stress of this situation.
“I’m a very positive person,” she said. “When something happens, I always say ‘I’m going to go up, I’m not going to go down. I’m going to do everything I can for me, for my family and to keep myself busy. And I get my mind on something I like to do. Even if I don’t like it, I make myself like it. I push myself.”
Nora is not an idle person. Besides sewing masks, she makes gifts for the family, cooks, cleans, works in her garden, knits, and generally keeps busy, even while watching television.
“I never lay down on the couch,” she laughed. “I don’t even know how to do it.”
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