There was a smaller than usual turnout in February as some members were busy with mid-term holidays and others were taking Mary Hickmott‘s embroidery class on paisley designs, organized by the Kenya Embroiderers’ Guild. Chairwoman Patty Arensen chaired the meeting and started by welcoming visitors and new members. Members were happy to welcome back Indu Shah after a long absence necessitated by her husband’s health problems, and Surinder Thethy, recently returned from three years in the UK.

All members were asked to fill in forms to update contact details and to offer their individual skills to help the Guild committee with their expertise.

Sponsorship forms for the Exhibition were distributed with a request for everyone to make an effort to bring in sponsorship money as the fee for the hall hire has risen steeply this year. The minimum donation for sponsors to be acknowledged on our posters etc is K Sh 5,000/-

At the March meeting a member of staff from FreMo, Kawangare, to whom we have recently made donations, will tell us about their work. Sheryl Fowler will show a quilting video.

The April meeting is the KQG AGM. Members are requested to be present to elect a new committee for the coming year. Patty requested nominations for two places on the Executive Committee. Please check with Patty or other Committee members if you are interested in serving. There will also be a presentation on Art Quilts.

On March 16th, Gretchen Saunders will be holding a fun class on Crazy Quilting at the Sikh Union. This will be a full day class for 1,500/- and the proceeds will be donated to charity. There are a few places left. Contact Gretchen for further details or send a message to the KQG Gmail address.

In April there will either be a fabric dyeing class held at Amani ya Juu, off Riverside Drive, or Patty will hold a class at her home on transferring photos onto quilts. More news on these later.

Members were requested to return unsold calendars, and sales money received for those they sold, to the Guild committee, so that accounts can be finalized. It is proposed that a calendar will be designed for 2017 using photos from the recent elephant quilt challenge, together with elephant note cards. These are to be ready for sale at the exhibition.

Re the exhibition, KEG have agreed to join KQG on a one third basis and they will have one third of the hall for their exhibits. It has been agreed that KQG will have no final judging, There will be two awards – Vistors’ Choice and Guild Choice (each Guild member having one vote only).

The Workshop is scheduled to open at Sheryl’s house on Lower Kabete Road on March 3rd and will be open every Thursday morning, apart from the 3rd Thursday of the month, following the opening.

Gretchen demonstrated the next stage of the Mystery Quilt in Sheryl’s absence.

The PanAfrican Friendship Quilt Challenge is underway and the quilts will shortly leave for South Africa.

We had a good selection of quilts for Show and Tell, including colourful kanga quilts from Carol Davey and a quilt made for her son’s wedding by Patty, with her own dress fabric from her wedding outfit used on the back. The door prize was won by Jasvinder Phull.

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After the coffee break we were glad to welcome Dena Crain, down from Baringo to give us a most interesting talk on Kawandi quilts from India. These distinctive quilts are made by the Siddi people, descended from Africans, who were transported to India by the Portuguese and other nations over the last four hundred years. Their quilts were brought to the attention of the art and quilting world by Professor Henry Drewal, from the Department of Art History at University of Wisconsin, Madison. He describes the making of a Kawandi quilt below:

“The quilters start at one of the corners of the sari and work their way around it, usually in a counterclockwise direction,” he says. “They fix patches made from the family’s old clothing to the sari with a running back stitch that eventually covers the entire quilt, both patchwork top and sari bottom. Some quilters create small, close-spaced stitches, others spread them further apart. The stitches exhibit a distinctive rhythm that is part of the individual quilter’s visual signature.”

All That Jazz

All That Jazz by Dena Dale Crain

Inspired by the Siddi quilts, Dena has devised her own version, of this technique, worked by machine, which she has called Quilt-As-You-Sew. Dena explained the technique as patchwork with no piecing, and showed us several beautiful samples of her quilts made in this way. She challenged members to try the method and to teach it to others in Kenya – in other words to bring the technique back to Africa.

A 2011 exhibition of Kawandi quilts can be seen at Museum of the African Diaspora.

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