Region 6 Oxfordshire Regional Day, 24th September 2016 At Benson Village Hall
A bright Saturday morning; a large, flat car park; a lovely new venue; a well-stocked trader; interesting guest speakers; home-made cake; and a man to PAT test our electrical sewing equipment –what more could a group of quilters want?
Benson Village Hall in South Oxfordshire was our new venue for the Oxfordshire Regional Day and very impressive it was too. No complicated struggle to move our equipment from car to hall and once in the hall it was so spacious with plenty of room for tables, displays, trader and speakers.
On arrival we were able to book our electrical equipment in for a session with the “PAT man” –one item free for members, and subsequent items at £2. This was a brilliant idea, and big thank you to whoever suggested it. Possibly only one “failed” item was paraded in order to identify its’ owner (she is still embarrassed!)
Oxford Quilt Group displayed their work in celebration of their recent 35th Anniversary. There were some beautiful items to be enjoyed from this prolific and talented group. The quilts displayed spanned the history of the group and contained some of their 25th Anniversary work.
Next to this display were the contents of the Quilters’ Guild Traditional Suitcase collection, laid out with plenty of white gloves to hand so that we could handle, closely examine and enjoy the many varied pieces of work. Over the course of the day there was plenty of opportunity to linger over these displays and fall into discussion with old and new friends from the quilting community of Region 6.
The morning workshop was led by Hazel and Terry who work together trading as In Stitches. Hazel and Terry enjoy embellishing their work with hand stitches executed in a variety of threads, ribbons and wools, using both traditional and more inventive stitches. We were encouraged to “let your needle wander” and to “think of it as a waltz”. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience once I had got over the “freedom” aspect of the task. Looking round it seemed as if other quilters were finding the workshop as relaxing and calming as I did, although I feel I have yet to fully master the French Knot having constructed something I described as being more of a French Slug, only to be told I had completed a Barrel Stitch! This workshop has given me the confidence and inspiration to try out a bit of hand quilting/embellishment on a project in the future, and I would like to know more about the techniques.
After lunch we sat back and enjoyed Hazel and Terry telling us about their quilting journey together and showing many of their quilts which took us from traditional Welsh quilts through to modern miniature quilts and finishing with an expanded photo of Birling Gap printed on fabric and enhanced by stitching to give texture.
We heard about the new studio recently acquired and opened in Wokingham, Berkshire where you can learn to dye, print, make and stitch. Much of the fabric Hazel and Terry use now is dyed by them and their work draws inspiration from the natural world, the sea, the allotment, their favourite landscapes and anything else which appeals to them. They love to experiment with the textures that both hand and machine stitching can create on fabric and use this to embellish their dyed or printed cloth. We were also privileged to be able to take a close look at the sketchbooks which both Hazel and Terry use to develop their ideas for their stunning work which has been exhibited both nationally and internationally. Hazel showed us her quilts where free motion quilted text has been incorporated to give texture and personal meaning to the finished work she must be a very patient person.
Terry talked about her quilts depicting the bleak scenes of abandoned Cornish tin mines which I do recall seeing displayed at the Festival of Quilts a year or two ago. This was a really inspiring talk from two lovely people. I went home and found the website which I can thoroughly recommend. It’s just a shame that Wokingham is so far from West Oxfordshire............
The day finished with the raffle and an announcement that Margaret Metcalfe will be joining Lillian King in the work of regional co-ordinator for Project Linus. Hazel was kind enough to offer the use of the InStitches studio for Linus work on Mon-day and Tuesday if required.
Thanks go to the Committee for organising such an enjoyable day and finding such a good venue. As usual the standard of home-made cake was exemplary with plenty to go round and fed the 44 attendees several times. Just one tip –it’s a large hall with a very high ceiling and would benefit from the use of a radio mike if available, so that speakers don’t need to use their playground voices!
Berkshire Regional Day, March 5th 2016
By 10:00 on a cold Saturday morning the empty hall at Charvil was transformed into a welcoming hub of all things quilty.
Lovely displays of pieces completed by our region’s young quilters, tables of fabrics, patterns and notions from Juberry Fabrics, an inviting raffle table and the inspiring work of guest speaker Helen Howes transformed the hall.
4 young quilters and their helpers lead by Gill Towell were busy in the small front room and 45 members and 4 non-members completed the scene; all providing a warm buzz of companionship only present when kindred spirits engage in their chosen passion.
Helen Howes is one such lady. Her passion and commitment for modern quilting was a delight. In the morning session we were given an insight into how, over the years, she has developed a fool proof method for transforming ordinary book covers into works of art. Delving into a big box of Oakshot fabrics was a real treat and traditional paper piecing with modern designs kept us all busy until lunchtime.
During lunch there was an opportunity to view the Travelling Trunk from the Guild Museum containing samples of traditional techniques of which, two large wholecloth quilts were also on display. There was an opportunity to view the entries for the Modern Competition ‘What does modern mean to you?’ 14
After lunch Gill outlined her plans for the coming year for the young quilters. She reviewed their recent achievements and they presented their newly made furry animals, which were much admired.
Show and Tell by the grown-ups followed.
Presentations to several committee members took place next and a separate report can be read on pages 10 -11.
The afternoon talk ‘What a lot of Quilts’ was given by Helen but could just as easily been called ‘Because I can’. This phrase was a recurring theme in the account of her quilting journey, once whilst standing on a chair, and very inspiring it was too. Her quilts were a variety of shapes and sizes, many with her trademark ‘trees’ design and all displaying her considerable artistic talent. Her free hanging spiral which made me think of a DNA model I once made with my sixth formers, drew on her background in kite making to stiffen the edges with fibreglass. Truly awesome!
Tea and delicious cake is a staple of regional days and this was no exception.
Suitably refreshed the winners of the competition were announced. Sue Markham was the speaker’s choice, quite an accolade coming from such a distinguished modern quilter. The overwhelming members’ vote went to Jo? Bennison. Well done to both of them. A photo of Sue’s work is on the front cover of this issue.
All that remains is for me to thank the committee members and many other generous helpers, who quietly did all the behind scenes stuff required to pull the event together.
A good day was had by all