Good News Stories - A Quilters Tale (A 'Teams' Effort)29-July-2020
Covid-19 has presented many challenges and very often friendship and support kindled through our learning has helped make a positive difference. Our learner Lesley shares her story with us where what began as her class making quilt patches, turned into international recognition.
“I have been learning patchwork and quilting with Addysg Oedolion Cymru | Adult Learning Wales for 6 years now and over that time I’ve made many new friends through the weekly classes. We are a relaxed and friendly group and it has been lovely to be able to welcome new learners to join us over the years as well as being sad to have to say goodbye to some who have moved on. Although friendships are always valuable, I don't think any of us could have predicted quite how valuable our friendships would be having gone through the Covid-19 pandemic.
“During lockdown, our patchwork tutor Alison Chapman was a real catalyst in ensuring that we did not lose touch with each other. We immediately formed a WhatsApp group for us all to keep in touch, chat, share jokes and sometimes tears, as well as encouraging each other to continue with our patchwork.
“Initially, we met via the video chat Zoom but then moved to Microsoft Teams as part of the wider support from Addysg Oedolion Cymru | Adult Learning Wales. Facilities and support for us to use 'Teams' were quickly put in place and our weekly classes with our tutor, were able to continue.
“Our shared patchwork interest became a real lifeline through the lockdown period. Some members of the group were shielded, some self-isolating and some working in our communities to support others. We all needed our weekly opportunity to take time out from what was going on around us to relax, enjoy one another's support and company and continue to develop our learning and skills. The technology was not without its hiccups and problems but with a positive ‘can do’ attitude from Alison, our tutor, these issues were overcome and even those members of the group with fewer IT skills were enabled to participate fully in classes.
“Our tutor emailed cutting out and construction instructions for a different patchwork block each week and we could chat and ask questions as we sewed. When we started we had no particular plan for the blocks being made and the only ‘rules’ were to use white or cream as a background for the blocks and to use only ‘scraps’ - no fabric was to be bought. We were encouraged to use whatever colours we wanted according to what was available.
“Little did we know that our learning would not only help during lockdown, but it would lead on to our collective patchwork efforts being celebrated and recognised in the annual international exhibition and competition The Festival of Quilts.
“One member of the group volunteered to collect the individual blocks and sew them together, another volunteered to quilt the top on her ‘long arm machine’ and another volunteered to bind the finished quilt and to hang it in her studio. We had no idea how our individual blocks would look when combined.
“Each of us then visited our quilt one at a time in order to maintain social distancing.
“For all of us, seeing the finished quilt was an extremely emotional experience - many being moved to tears.
“The experience of lockdown has been different for each of us but this quilt represents not only our collective endeavours but also hours of collective laughter, shared sadness and concern, companionship, friendship, development of skills and above all enjoyment in the sheer creativity of the process.
“The title of the quilt, 'Daw Eto Haul Ar Fryn', is a Welsh phrase which roughly translates as ‘The Sun Will Rise Again Over the Hill’. Our quilt is, for us, a symbol of enormous joy, of hope and of trust that there will be a better tomorrow, where the creative process will be a big part of that tomorrow.
“We decided to combine our blocks into a quilt as an entry to The Festival of Quilts.
“The Festival of Quilts is an annual celebration of patchwork and quilting and as with most ‘physical’ events this year was postponed until 2021 due to Covid-19. However, as with our learning, the internet came to the rescue and new initiatives to bring the quilting community together online for a host of activities and events came to be,” (from 30th July – 2nd August 2020).
“And,” said Lesley, “Lo and behold Daw Eto Haul Ar Fryn has been shortlisted!”
The countdown for 12 noon on 30th July for the Competition Award Ceremony has begun, where this marks the festival’s virtual launch Beyond Festival of Quilts! But Lesley reflects, “We never intended for this to be an exhibition or competition entry, this will always be the outcome of our shared experience.”
Perhaps for Lesley and her co-learners, the sun is rising again. . .
Congratulations to our learners and tutor Alison Chapman - a fantastic effort and outcome for all concerned. Keep on quilting and keep on reaping the many benefits your learning is giving you . . .
Visit The Festival Of Quilts for more information and keep an eye on our learners entry!
If you are interested in learning more about our Sewing and Patchwork classes why not take a look today!
And if you have a story to share, let us know. Talk to us through your favourite social media channel Twitter, Facebook or Instagram – find us using our social media handle name “alwcymru”. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org