Spring has (nearly) sprung…

…And when Spring arrives we know it’s time for World Textile Day!!  This annual event takes place every March at our home, the Minerva Arts Centre, and is a very eagerly anticipated event.  This year it’s happening on Saturday 17th March, opening at 10am and closing at 4.30pm.  There is always lots to see and the Fair Trade market gives you the opportunity to handle and buy fabric that you can’t find anywhere else. At 11am Susan Briscoe will be giving a presentation called ‘Hand to Hand: Japanese Sashiko’ and at 2pm there will be a panel of experts discussing their most treasured textiles plus a short talk.  There is free entry on the day, and tickets for the two above mentioned sessions can be bought on the door – £3 per session or £5 for both.  Refreshments will be available, prepared and served by our local quilt group, Welsh Heritage Quilters. Don’t miss out on a wonderful day.

Our next event, also eagerly anticipated, is this year’s exhibition by Welsh Heritage Quilters (WHQ).  Opening on 24th March and running until 7th April, this exhibition, called True Colours is open from 10am until 4.30pm every day except Sundays.  These exhibitions by WHQ happen every two years and are well known for the wide range of items displayed and visitors always remark on how colourful the displays are. So this year the group decided to use this as a theme and you will find quilts and other items using the colours of poppies to mark the centenary of the Armistice; the colours of the Suffragette movement; the colours of the Welsh flag, as incorporated into the group’s logo and generally just wonderful use of colourful fabrics – both vibrant and muted.

Here are a few images to whet your appetite!!

A quilt in the colours of the suffragettes by Jackie Morley

Poppies by Pauline Sherwood

Owl by Chris Lane

See what I mean about the colourfulness!!! I’ll add more later.

In the meantime, I hope(especially if you’re in the UK) you’re enjoying the weather. Looking fprward to seeing you in beautiful Mid-Wales soon!!

Turning Twenty – quilt exhibition now open

Our twentieth annual summer exhibition in The Minerva Arts Centre is now open.  It is a magnificent display of old and new, with the best of The Quilt Association’s vintage and antique quilt collection sharing space with contemporary work by Sandra Meech and Welsh textile group Cwilt Cymru.  The exhibition is open 6 days a week, 10.30 until 4.30 with an entry fee of £4.00, (£3.50 concessions)

Members of our local quilt group, The Welsh Heritage Quilters, contributed quilts on an appropriate anniversary gift theme – China.  The added proviso was that the quilts measure 20″ by 14″, (2014) – but you know quilters!  Some have complied!!

The preview, held on Sunday July 13 was enhanced by a delicious buffet – here is what Jeni Morrison said about the food she so kindly prepared:

I was able to indulge in one of my favourite occupations last week – preparing food for a special occasion.  What has this got to do with quilting?  Well the special occasion was the preview of the Quilt Association’s 20th Summer Exhibition that is open from now until September 15th.

One of the most popular items was the pile of truffles made from a sponge cake and Fairtrade chocolate and raisins soaked in rum.  I also made some butter shortbread using stone-ground wholemeal flour, from Talgarth Mill, and Fairtrade sugar.  The only problem with those was the difficulty knowing when they were done as they were brown to start with.  Unfortunately, I over catered so the stewards at the exhibition will benefit from the biscuits and cakes.  The other left-overs have mostly been made into soup for the freezer.  I can’t guarantee there will be Fairtrade wine next year as the Namaqua wine was a bargain introductory offer.  There was none of that left over!

Exhibition April 12 – 27

Quilt and Stitch

Members of Welsh Heritage Quilters and Mid Wales Embroiderers have joined their creative forces to build an exhibition crammed with delights.  It is a cliche, but also a truism, to say that it is unmissable.  The exhibition, at The Minerva Arts Centre in Llanidloes, is open everyday, including Sundays from April 12 to April 27 2014 from 10.30 until 4.30.  Admission is £2.00.

Here is a sneak preview.



WHQ Wednesday March 13 2014

Thanks to Juliet Griffin for this post.

Thirty members of the Welsh Heritage Quilters crammed around the tables at the Minerva Arts Centre this Wednesday afternoon to hear a talk by one of the group’s members, Judith Barker.

WHQ members gathered to hear a talk by Judith Barker

Judith spoke about the concepts and ideas which have inspired her work over the years.  Her talk was amply illustrated by a large number of beautiful examples of her work, many award-winning; some bed quilts, and some pieced, but mainly wall hangings skilfully worked in various types of appliqué.  The oldest piece shown was a charming classic crazy quilt made from scraps by her grandmother as a coverlet for the dolls’ cradle made for Judith by her grandfather.

The cheery vigour of folk art is a frequent inspiration

Her influences range from folk art through cathedral interiors to archaeology and landscape.  Like many highly creative people she keeps a notebook to jot down any and every idea, and she participates fully with the groups she belongs to, joining in with “challenges” and contributing to exhibitions and charity sales.  She is also a qualified quilt show judge.

A recent work consists of a set of four hangings exploring the way that ancient civilisations have left their mark on the landscape. While Judith was developing the concept, a visit to the National Museum in Cardiff was a key “lightbulb moment” giving the inspiration for the colours of the pieces; a museum label described how in the bronze age people made important items out of bone, amber or jet. To complete the set of four colours, Judith added clay. This is “Barrow Landscape – Clay”. Judith’s exhibits in the forthcoming WHQ exhibition at the Minerva Arts Centre will further explore this theme.

After the talk, everyone descended on the pile of quilts for forensic examination and heated discussion, keen to learn as much as possible about Judith’s techniques

One of the groups Judith belongs to held an exhibition in Brecon Cathedral and challenged its member to create work inspired by the Cathedral itself.  Judith’s piece was a reflection on the tombstones embedded in the paved floor of the cathedral, many of which give the names of women along with their roles: “wife”, “mother”, “daughter”, and in one case, “widdw”.

The session was for me an eye-opening reminder of the depth of the talent and experience lurking untrumpeted behind the affable, cheery fun of the WHQ meetings.

Learn more about Judith’s work at www.judithbarkerquiltart.co.uk.

PS  There’s a custom in the group that if you have a birthday or a special celebration you bring a cake or some delicious biscuits to share round at teatime.  This week there were three – we were rolling in scrumptious biscuits!

Are you focused on the biscuits or the beautiful quilt?


WHQ Quilt Stretch

Many thanks to Juliet Griffin for this post!

Everyone’s favourite game at last Wednesday’s Welsh Heritage Quilters meeting – a quilt stretch!  This is Gerry’s beautiful “barn-raising” quilt, being expertly stretched and basted in her absence by a keen team led by Polly.

Jeni, Polly and Sheila

The stretching frame consists of four long pieces of timber with wide strips of firmly-woven fabric stapled right along their length.  The frame is made up to the correct size for the quilt by simply assembling the pieces of timber into a rectangle of the correct size and clamping the corners with extremely strong sash cramps.  The chosen backing fabric is pinned, face side down, to the fabric on the four sides of the stretching frame, followed by the wadding (batting) and the completed quilt top.  (Gerry’s quilt is being stretched the other way up, backing fabric uppermost, as her top is unusual in being a little larger than the backing.)  The clamps are adjusted so that all the layers are kept reasonably taut; this helps ensure they are all lying flat and square.  Then the three layers can be secured together.

Jeni and Polly

Polly spent a while visiting the Amish while she was in America and is enthusiastic about the methods they taught her, including the use of a large lattice of herringbone stitch to tack together the layers of a quilt before it is quilted.  Some quilters use special safety pins instead, or straight tacking stitch, but the herringbone holds the layers together a little better.  The lines of herringbone stitching run all the way along the quilt from top to bottom and all the way across from side to side, about five or six inches apart.  Polly always uses white or off-white thread, just in case the dye from a coloured thread should run and spoil a quilt.

Jeni and Sheila

The sewing always progresses from one end of the quilt to the other.  This is because human beings have arms of a limited length.  Once each line of tacking has gone as far as our arms can efficiently reach, the sash cramps holding the end bar of the frame are released and the basted section of quilt rolled carefully around it.  Then the bar is clamped back to the side bars and sewing can resume from where it left off.

Once the whole surface is basted, the quilt can be unpinned from the frame and taken away to be quilted.  The tacking will hold the layers firmly together while the sandwich is manoeuvred around, whether in a long-arm quilting machine or in a hand-quilting frame.

Rose busy threading needles

It’s a race against time to stretch and baste a quilt in the hour and a half of working time available, so we work very fast and get as many people as possible around the frame.  Two or three mighty souls sit and thread needles as fast as they can, sticking them ready in a polystyrene block.  As each sewer uses up the thread in their needle they dash across to the threading table and swap their empty needle for a full one.  This quilt was a king-size one so we started at half past twelve to get an extra hour or so.  (These photos were taking in the tea break, when most of the working team had dashed off to grab a well-earned cuppa and a biscuit.)

Rosemary taking tea – Julie is being mother today!

This is only the second quilt stretch I’ve had the chance to work on since I joined WHQ.  You’re a bit concerned the first time in case you do something wrong and spoil someone’s lovely quilt, but the more experienced members of the group are extremely encouraging and happy to show you everything you need to know so that you gain confidence very quickly.  The sewing is great fun, fast and flowing, and the frame is always surrounded by banter and gossip and laughter.

The bargain table at WHQ

Meanwhile, a selection of weird and wonderful scraps had been dumped on the neighbouring table, and WHQ members were rummaging for crazy pieces to work into their future projects.

WHQ Wednesday

One of the delights of joining a local quilt group is having help with the arduous task of basting a full sized quilt. Here is what a quilt basting looks like – a huddle of generous enthusiasts.  What you can’t see is the merry chatter – it is always a very jolly event!

Basting starts before the normal Wednesday afternoon meeting of the Welsh Heritage Quilters.  During this week’s meeting, Doreen Gough demonstrated a patchwork technique,  ‘Flip and Sew’, for joining pieces and quilting all in one fell swoop!