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The first time I cast my eyes on some quilts from a quilter living in Kenya then, I knew the quilting bug had bit me! I immediately advised myself that I was to learn this art and craft of patchwork in quilting, even if it cost an arm and a leg!
It was back in 2004 while I lived in Kijabe that Jana Mead, a member of the Kenya Quilt Guild , became my source of inspiration. I began to understand there was a sparkle of life at the end of the horizon, if I set my hands to stitch.
Later I enrolled for a course in Fashion and Design at Buru Buru Institute of Fine Arts in preparation for becoming a quilter in future. The college equipped me with much knowledge in sewing and today I run a fashion and design shop in Eastlands, the economic gateway into Kenya. My shop exhibits the excellence of my workmanship in stitching as seen in the photos.
In 2009, my dream of being a quilter started to gain shape after I was invited to the Kenya Quilt Guild meetings. I acquired much knowledge in the area of quilting as I positioned myself in the Quilt Workshop Schedules and translated much of this knowledge into quilts. I was convinced that a day would come when I would walk strong even after stumbling just like a child. I was now sure that what one settles for in life is what rules them. The main question was why settle for average stitching when one could become phenomenal?
In answer to this, I pressed on to get more education from the Kenya Quilt Guild teachers. It is at this stage that I decided to connect with Raji Syan, one of the talented and knowledgeable Kenya Quilt Guild teachers, who teaches beginners or more advanced quilt students how to do hand piecing.
As I continued to be passionate about my classes with Raji, I knew that the door to the ordinary was completely shutting and a door to the extraordinary was slowly opening. The sky was now going to be the lower limit for me!
I overcame many mental obstacles and challenges including transporting my machine to class through public means. I was, however, convinced that the endurance I practiced was the preparation to position me for greater things. Part of my dream in quilting was to create a platform where I would orchestrate quilting skills to present and future generations. I had a great desire to leave a legacy behind of imparting quilting skills to all.
To date, I have made over ten quilts, ranging from wall hangings to bed quilts. I made my first quilt, the Irish Chain, while expecting one of my daughters. It was be a gift to her. The second quilt, the Kitchen Garden was a wall hanging and many more as seen in the photos. My love for hand quilting and appliqué is passionate.
Since then I have attended many quilting classes and learned new techniques including how to make quilting bags from African bead work using a crochet hook. I source most of my beads from Masai markets, which are open-air markets that move from one venue to another across the city. I have been able to bead and sell some items like glasses, bottles, belts and pens to other parts of the world.
I have also attended several workshops with International Teachers, who have visited and taught patchwork quilting or other needle arts in Kenya. I now confidently enjoy sharing quilting techniques with all the quilters I come across knowing that what Casey Leisure said is true: “An enlightened woman will not seek to be understood, she just enjoys the company of like-minded people.”
It has been a long journey for me and a challenge for me to do better even as I hold the position of the Chairman of the Kenya Quilt Guild Exhibition Subcommittee, and have the honour to sit in the Executive Council. I extend my welcome to many who want to quilt with a warning that once you start quilting, you many never stop!
Bernina Machine EQ2C is my choice of machine which makes my work very enjoyable and produces very gorgeous blocks. The machine is well maintained and serviced by The Woman Shop at Sarit Centre in Westlands, which is the Kenya’s foremost patchwork quilting shop, selling fabrics, notions, quilt books and tools, and selling and servicing Bernina sewing machines.
In no uncertain terms, the overall excellence attained through all these trainings and experience is reflected even in the littlest of my quilt pieces. Surely I can resound that “The sky is the lower limit; those who say the sky is the limit have no imagination!”
My passion for quilting has grown over the years and I will continue to press on to a higher level.
Jim West is a multi-faceted quilt enthusiast who travels the world interacting with quilters where he goes. He is the founder of Sew Many Places and publisher of Quiltposium online magazine. He is one of the most sought after travel experts in North America and one who has traveled 76 countries around the world and explored all 7 continents! It has been a journey for Jim, who has promulgated many changes in the Quilters world. Jim had this to say on Facebook:
“ Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming – wow … what a ride!”
Jim was recently in Kenya and the Kenya Quilt Guild enjoyed saying Karibu to him in our land! Jim illuminated some of the challenges we may have in traveling to Ireland for the International Quilt Festival of Ireland to be held this year. The Kenya Quilt Guild will have six quilts on display in the Patchwork Promises exhibition at the Festival.
Listening to Jim West as he speaks with Sharon Pederson on the quilt market, in one of his video clip samplers, gives a glimpse of what he carries in his heart concerning the International Quilt Festival of Ireland. Enjoy the video clip, and join us in Ireland in June!
Jogging our minds may be quite healthy as we look back at the great event of hosting Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson in Kenya back in January 2011.
Looking at one of Ricky’s and Alex’s many video clips gives us a glimpse of how the world has gone high tech. We are glad to be connected and learn the art of cutting fabric stress free using an AccuQuilt die cutter as demonstrated.
The AccuQuilt offers quilters many fabric cutting solutions that help quilters quickly and accurately cut shapes for quilting and fabric crafts.
Preparation for accessing Quilt University is here with us! Sample online quilt classes are knocking at our doors at absolutely no cost! Use a password, given by the Dean at Quilt University, for a good preparation to access the University in the near future. For sure this is a move that elevates a person to a higher level and the merits are unmatched!
While you are there, you may want to take a look at online classes that will soon be with us. Reflections, one of Dena Crain’s most popular online quilt classes, is being offered at Quilt University, scheduled to run again on March 23, 2012. Registrations opened on 18 February 2012. Although the price for a four-lesson class is a little higher than a workshop in Kenya, you can print out all class lessons and keep them safe for the future.
Jim West, founder of Sew Many Places and Quiltposium Magazine, will arrive soon in Kenya to personally collect six round-robin quilts made by six of our members especially for the Patchwork Promises Exhibition, part of the International Quilt Festival of Ireland to be held in June of this year. We cannot show you our quilts for the Exhibition, as all are under wraps until the Festival opens.
Will YOU be there?!
For our January monthly meeting, we met on the 19th at 10:00 a.m. at Shalom House off Ngong Road just past The Junction Shopping Centre. The meeting started with our Chairman Neela Shah welcoming all members and visitors after the Christmas break.
A word of thanks was extended to Bibiana Pereira, one of our Guild members who offered her wonderful home to members to celebrate 2012 Christmas lunch.
Neela made a few administrative announcements and recognized Mercy Mungai, one of the visitors who joined the Guild the same day.
Neela informed members that the Executive Council was working hard to get a good retreat place around Naivasha or Limuru. Though Resurrection Garden in Karen, 20km from Nairobi, was floated as a good venue, it was felt that members should be in a more distant place, away from the hassles of the City. Brackenhurst Conference Center had been earlier suggested as a possible place through the Kenya Quilt Guild Face book. The decision is still to be arrived at by the Executive Council.
It was good news to hear that Village Market has given our members a discount on the rental fee for the exhibition and Neela requested members to look for sponsors from various companies. The last day for submission of quilts for the Exhibition is 19 April 2012 and there will be a charge for late entries.
Neela announced the coming Annual General Meeting to take place on 15 March 2012 and new Executive Council members are invited to come on board. This happens every two years according to our Constitution.
Dena Crain gave a practical presentation on how to access the KQG blog. Dena expressed her concern that every member should interact with the blog regularly. The practical presentation was done with a lot of clarity and professionalism that left members wiser than when they came in. Dena highlighted that sending information to be included in the blog is a form of advertising and every member was free to do so. She added that linking with other internationals expands our networks through hyperlinks and blogging. More link-up was important with those quilting groups who are like minded.
We had a wonderful show-and-tell session and members rushed to the front to exhibit their work. All in attendance enjoyed seeing and learning a few techniques from the different finished pieces.
Our Guest speaker for the January meeting was Rhonda Denney, a visiting American quilt teacher. Rhonda is an award-winning art quilt artist who has been quilting for the last four years. She owns a Quilt Gallery where some of her art quilts are available for sale.
Rhonda spoke passionately about her life through presentation of several of her photo slides. She was grateful to be in Kenya again, where she has been several times before. On a light touch she reckoned she would always look for an excuse to be in Kenya. Her gorgeous sample quilts hung on the wall including Bow Tuck bags she had made. Rhoda was to carry out workshops in the afternoon and carried 14 kits for the first members taking her classes.
After the meeting, an afternoon Workshop was held and several members stayed on to put their hands to work.
The next monthly meeting will be held on 16 February 2012, same time, same place.