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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.


There was a sizeable turnout at the January meeting.  We had three new members register and a few visitors were present. Chairperson Patty Arensen welcomed members back from the long holiday and wished everyone a Happy New Year.

Patty reminded everyone that subscriptions are due to be paid.  There is a questionnaire  for members to complete so the Committee can get a ‘feel’ for matching interests, skills and talents with needs for help this year.

It is important that we have up-to-date information on members so the address book can be current and everyone receives monthly Snippets.  We had some complaints that emails are not getting through; however, we had a lot of bounces from email, too.  This happens when members fail to notify Jharna of email address changes. Please make sure we have your current email address; thanks!

To make our meetings more sociable, we would like members to sign up to bring plates.  At present only a few members bring food for the coffee break.  We need volunteers to run audio/visual equipment. Members are encouraged to write articles about their quilting experiences for Snippets.

The Kenya Quilt Guild has a big year coming up with our patchwork quilt exhibition scheduled for the first weekend in October. We need as many quilts as possible.  The raffle quilts are underway. The Exhibition takes place 7th-8th-9th October; quilt hanging is on the Thursday beforehand.

The first Exhibition Committee meets soon after our January monthly meeting.  Again, we call on members to hang the quilts and to work during the show.

Sarah Brewin brings with her this year a group of quilting visitors. They are interested in taking classes.  The hall may be shared with the Kenya Embroiderers’ Guild, 1/3 KEG and 2/3 KQG; this is yet to be confirmed.

We have had no reply from Daphne Sheldrick about the donation of the Challenge Quilts, but we have another contact to try.

We will print raffle tickets when we receive permission from the Kenya Betting Control and Licensing Board.  Members receive two books each; each book contains 10 tickets @ Shs. 100.00 each.  It is important for these tickets to be sold as the raffle is the main fundraiser to assist in paying for rental of the hall.

Eight KQG members are participating in the PanAfrican Friendship Quilt project.  Each member received 5 fat quarters and they were to add another 5 fabrics to construct the beginnings of a wall-hanging.  Once done the piece is to be sent to their ‘twin’ in another African country and their ‘twin’ will send theirs to the KQG member.  Each in turn adds their bit and returns the quilt to the original quilter.

These quilts will be exhibited in South Africa just one week before our exhibition in October.  If anyone knows someone flying from S.A. to Kenya on Wednesday 5th October or Thursday 6th October who would be willing to bring the wall-hangings, we would appreciate the contact information on this person.  We will pay for the extra piece of luggage.  This will be a wonderful addition to our own exhibition.  Please contact either Gretchen or Patty.

We intend to sell quilt kits at the exhibition.  Once the patterns are made and the supplies organised, we need volunteers to come to the workshop on Thursday mornings to help cut them out and package them.

Patty Arensen’s 2015 projects for church wall-hangings have been completed. However, the work has worn out the presser foot on her machine.  Rohini Desai undertook to secure the part and repair her machine.  She is a trained, certified Bernina repair person and her work is reasonably priced. She also tutored Patty on the use of her machine. Use the contact form in the sidebar to ask us to put you in touch with Rohini.

We move forward with education and hope to have many classes and workshops this year. The next class scheduled is Gretchen Mwaura’s offering on Crazy Quilts on 16th March.  Spaces are limited to 15, so please sign up as soon as possible.  The charge is only Shs. 1500.00 for the full day, proceeds to be donated to charity.  Full payment must be made by the February meeting.  Patty will teach her photo transfer to raw edge appliqué class, too, but she can take only a few students.  Please contact her for more information.

Library discards were for sale at the meeting.  It costs only KES 100 to check out a book for a month.  Patty recommends ‘Art Quilts,’ which is a new book.

Most of the Kenya Quilt Guild 2016 calendars sold, but there are some members who have not either returned unsold calendars or brought in money for calendar sales.  It is quite important that we close the books on these calendars, so please return or pay for calendars immediately; thanks!

The Mystery Quilt is in full swing.  Sheryl Fowler had the instructions and the samples for the January edition.  There are some members who are in the process of making the quilts. These quilts will be displayed at the exhibition.

The Guild has made a donation of KES 20,000 to Freemo, a maternity hospital in Kenya.  They need more baby supplies and clothing.

Show and Tell:  Elizabeth Cheserem had finished her Elephant Challenge. Brij Datta made a baby applique quilt.  Gretchen Sanders Mwaura also finished her Challenge using Crazy Quilt techniques. She also had another small quilt that incorporated transparent windows filled with colourful beads.  Suzanne Waithaka had handbags, patchwork and quilted.  Lois had a table runner that was pieced and machine quilted, along with an iPad case.  Jasvinder Phull made a teddy bear baby quilt.  Raghbir made a child’s quilt with cars.  Tina Fataure hand-painted and quilted a wall-hanging.  Lakhbir Virdee showed her colourful alphabet quilt and Gill had a variety of African fabric bags that Pat had made.  Bindi won the door prize after coffee.

The program this month was “Sashing Ideas” by Gill Rebelo.  Gill showed members and visitors how to piece together blocks with plain strips of sashing. She demonstrated simple sashing, but with inserted cornerstones.  The purpose of sashing is that it focuses attention on individual blocks.  If the same fabric is used in the sashing as is used in the background, it makes the blocks ‘float’. Different fabric accentuates the blocks and lifts the quilt.  With no sashing, there is no focus and the blocks merge together.  The more ‘plain’ areas in a quilt, the more quilting is required.  Never overwhelm a quilt with too many sashings or large borders. No more than ¼ or 1/3 of any quilt should be sashing and borders combined.

Next month, Dena Crain will speak about a different method of quilting, one that involves no piecing!  The March program is yet to be organised.

The AGM takes place in April, and we elect new officers then. Think now about whether you can serve as an officer, or if you believe someone else would do the job well. We need nominations soon!

Next meeting: February 18


The April meeting commenced with the Guild welcoming its newest, youngest member, 10-year-old Wambui, who is Gretchen Sanders’ grand-daughter. Wambui came to the meeting with her first quilt – which is definitely a first for so young a first-time member! Then again, as Patty remarked, Wambui has had the benefit of learning at the feet of an expert, her grandmother!

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The Kenya Quilt Guild’s AGM was then held, during which the Chairperson, Patty Arensen, gave a succinct report of the Guild’s activities during 2014, particularly the successful exhibition held in October 2014, and thanked all the members for making it a good year, overall, for the Guild. The Treasurer, Lakhbir Virdee, also submitted the report and accounts of the Guild for 2014, which have been duly audited. Members present at the AGM duly approved these reports as well as the newly nominated Committee members.

The following were elected: Patty Arensen (Chairman), Charu Patel (Vice Chairman), Jharna Kamdar (Secretary), Lakbir Virdee (Treasurer), Karen Crumpacker and Elizabeth Cheserem (Members at Large). Standing Committee chairs were elected as follows: Dorothy Stockell (Membership), Gill Rebelo (Education), Poley Bhamra (Library), Jharna Kamdar (Newsletter), Gretchen Sanders (Exhibitions), Sheryl Fowler (Public Relations).

Rohini Desai gave a small talk containing various tips for those Guild members who use older machines. Gretchen Sanders-Mwaura reminded members that the Jewellery Sale is now on, and that the Executive Committee has decided that the proceeds from the Jewellery Sale be donated to a maternity home.

Patty reported that the Executive Committee decided Challenge Quilts should now be submitted at the September meeting, instead of the July meeting, since the latter usually has slimmer attendance. The Challenge Quilts will be voted on at the September meeting and the prizes will be Kshs. 1,500/-, Kshs. 1,000/- and Kshs. 500/- gift vouchers for The Woman Shop.

With regard to the Block-of the-Month, Patty advised members that several people who have won the BOM blocks in each month have reported that many of the blocks have been very poorly made. Members were requested to kindly ensure that they use good quality 100% cotton material when doing the BOM, and also ensure that the BOM is made on a best-efforts basis.

Poley Bhamra reported that the Library Committee posted Library rules on a wall in the Library. Members are expected to read and understand these rules before borrowing books. Patty reminded members that the Guild intends to publish a calendar for 2016.

Members are requested to bring a picture of a quilt they have in possession at the June meeting, where the quilts to be included will be chosen. The selected quilts will be professionally photographed in July, and it is hoped that the calendars will be ready for sale in October.

Patty then gave an informative and interesting demonstration on how she converts photographs into raw-edge applique for her quilts. The meeting closed with our usual show-and-tell, and we all got to admire each other’s quilting efforts!

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This month our meeting started with the business of our AGM. The Officers were elected as were the ladies that are to fill the positions of the Standing Committee. The past Committee members were congratulated on their excellent work and the new members were welcomed.

We had one visitor introduced and three of our ladies celebrate their birthdays this month.

The planning for the ‘Magical Art of Stitches 2014’ Exhibition is well under way. We have successfully obtained permission to hold the raffle and quotes have been secured for the printing of the calendar.

Members were reminded to bring along two photographs of their work for consideration for calendar illustrations: Art quilts and traditional quilts. We are in need of sponsorship and letters are available.

The Committee has agreed to continue to hold UFO workshops following each monthly meeting. Members were encouraged to bring along their current work where they can stitch independently and also have expert guidance if necessary.

Raghbir will be holding another Table Runner class on Thursday, 24th May. If anyone is interested in attending, please speak to her directly. Everyone who took the class last month recommended it.

Sheryl Fowler introduced the first Block of the Month, showing a made sample. The Guild supplied kits containing the background fabric and the block directions. For those not able to attend the meeting, more kits will be available for collection at the Woman Shop. If a kit is taken, the made block must be returned next month otherwise the next kit will not be issued.

Raji Syan spoke about the new books that have been added to the library inventory. The names of the books were listed in last month’s Snippets.

Future programs will include a demonstration on the one metre challenge and a presentation on Modern Quilts. Suzanne Waithaka performed the draw for the fat quarters and encouraged more ladies to bring their ‘pastel’ fat quarter along next month.

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Show and Tell followed with Patty Arensen sharing her half square triangle/chevron quilt. Corrine Talbot then demonstrated how she turned an old embroidered pillowcase into a small quilt and she also had her completed Mystery Quilt for everyone to see. Poley Bhamra had an elephant wallhanging and a wavy block quilt. Dorothy Stockwell finished her LaLa Salama quilt with a Katte Fassett pattern. Jasbir Jabal showed her sampler quilt which she made under Gill Rebelo’s instruction. Indu Shah made a circular mat using Raghbir’s ruler. She also had a sunflower wallhanging and a patchwork bag. Gretchen Mwaura had her granddaughter hold up the fabric that they dyed together, then Gretchen explained her three quilts which had the general theme of “Earth”. Karen Crumpacker also displayed her reversible LaLa Salama quilt. Jasvinder Phull had made a table runner and placemats and lastly Suzanne Waithaka had stitched handbags from upholstery fabric.

After coffee break, we had the video and explanation on Revolution Rulers. With these rulers you reverse the traditional order of making common quilt blocks like snowball blocks and half square triangles. First, mark cut and sew lines on big pieces of fabric. Then sew big pieces of fabric together on the straight sew lines you have marked. Cut apart and trim multiple units.

Next meeting is May 15. See you then!

 


The Annual General Meeting of the Kenya Quilt Guild was held on Thursday, April 18th, at the Simba Union Hall where we have been meeting in recent months.

 

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Chairwoman Neela Shah opened the meeting with a brief discussion about our recent exhibition at Sarit Centre.  The general feeling was that the show was a big success and that we will want to repeat the performance every year in future at the same venue. According to the foot traffic monitor, we had over 3700 visitors!  Even taking off numbers for our own people walking to and fro, this was a lot of people!  Our goal, of course, is to educate the general public about the beauty and functions of patchwork quilting and other needlework; we feel we did that very well this year at Sarit Centre.

On behalf of our general membership, Neela offered thanks to the Exhibitions Committee, under the capable guidance of Sheryl Fowler, who worked hard and tirelessly to put on such a great show.

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The thinking is that we should hold another exhibition next year at the same venue but during the school term so we can invite schools (May?) but not during Easter or any other religious celebrations.  With Easter coming at different times each year, and schools frequently altering their schedules, this may be a little difficult to organize, but our Exhibition Committee will do their best!

We are also grateful to the Kenya Embroiderers Guild for sharing the hall space with it.  Without this partnership, it is doubtful that the Kenya Quilt Guild could have afforded the space.  We will hold various challenges for our patchwork quilters to undertake during the year to increase the number of quilts made, thus making our contribution to each forthcoming show larger than the previous one.

Prizes were awarded during this exhibition for Viewers Choice and Viewers Choice Second Place.  Sarah Brewin was awarded the trophy by Kundan Pattni and the First Place prize, a lovely crystal bowl, was awarded to Sarah by Neela Shah, for her quilt Mnyama Viatu (Animal Shoes).  Natasha Khromova took Second Place for her quilt Point of No Return.

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All our members should have received the entry forms by email for the “Out Of Africa” Exhibition in London, Ontario, Canada.   It is very important that we receive those quilts as soon as possible.  Drop them at The Woman Shop at the Sarit Centre.  One suitcase will go almost immediately, the remainder will follow around the 9th of May.  In order to co-ordinate the quilts and get them packed safely, we would appreciate your co-operation.  When you drop your quilts, be ensure that they are labelled and that the entry forms are attached to each quilt securely so they do not get lost.

Election of officers was held with the following results:

  • Chairwoman:  Patty Arensen
  • Vice-Chairwoman:  Charu Patel
  • Secreary:  Sheryl Fowler
  • Treasurer:  Loise Gitagia
  • Members-at-Large:  Corinne Talbott and Suzanne Waithaka

Of course, our Immediate Past Chairwoman is Neela Shah, whose experience will be most useful and highly appreciated during the coming year.  Executive Council standing committees will be chaired as follows:

  • Education:   Gill Rebelo
  • Membership:  Kundan Pattni
  • Charity and Community Outreach:  Gretchen Sanders-Mwaura
  • Public Relations:  Jasvinder Phull
  • Library:  Raji Syan
  • Snippets Newsletters:  Margaret Atandi and Surinder Thethy
  • Exhibitions:  Sheryl Fowler (whose seat during Executive Council meetings will be filled by another member of the Committee as Sheryl already serves on Council as Secretary)

The Kenya Quilt Guild thanks those Officers and Committee Chairwomen who served for the last year for all their hard work–it paid off handsomely!–and those who have come forward to assume their new duties for the coming year.  Our gratitude and best wishes to all!

With the Election of Officers out of the way, it was time for show-and-tell:

Finally, Gill Rebelo gave a fine talk on the history of kangas, the ubiquitous brightly coloured cloths worn the length of the East African coast,  from Somalia to Zanzibar and inland, wherever Kiswahili is spoken.

Kangas derive from the Portuguese lenco, a handkerchief or headscarf which became popular in Mombasa and Zanzibar in the 1860s.  It is thought that the early designs were spotted, hence the name kanga, which means guinea fowl in Kiswahili.  Kangas are also known as lesos from the Portuguese lenco.

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Kangas always feature a border (pindo), a central panel with a design (mji) and a Kiswahili proverb or saying (jina).  The jina may give a political message or may be a health warning, against the spread of HIV for example, but often it is a more personal message and frequently one to be exchanged between husband and wife.  It might be wise to get the jina translated before gifting a kanga in case the message is not appropriate, although usually these messages are subtle and can be interpreted in different ways.  Examples of kanga jina can be enjoyed here.

The largest collection of kangas in the world is held by the Erie Art Museum in Canada, which held its first exhibition of kangas in 2008.  There is a strong cultural link between this museum and the Lamu Museum in Kenya.  The British Museum in London has recently had an exhibition of kangas amongst other textiles of eastern and southern Africa.  Barack Obama’s victory kanga, popular after his election as USA President, was one of the kangas featured!  There are plans afoot by the British Museum to make a documentary film on the kanga.  The National Museums of Kenya held a very comprehensive exhibition of kangas last year. and produced an interesting DVD to accompany the exhibition.


The Annual General Meeting of the Kenya Quilt Guild will be held on the third Thursday of April, the 18th of the month, at the Simba Union Hall off Forest Road near Limuru Road, starting promptly at 10:00 a.m.  If you wish to become a member of the Kenya Quilt Guild and to vote during this meeting, your dues for 2013 must be paid before the meeting begins.

Dues of KES 1,500/- can be paid at the meeting venue or, more conveniently, to Kundan Pattni at The Woman Shop, Sarit Centre, Westlands.

We hope to see you there in good time to participate fully in this most important meeting of the year!


During the upcoming Annual General Meeting of the Kenya Quilt Guild, to be held at the Simba Union, 10:00 a.m. on April 18th, 2013, we will consider and hopefully approve revisions to the current KQG Constitution.  The proposed revisions can be found as red text in the current document, accompanied by footnote explanations for each proposed revision.  If you have paid your 2013 KQG dues and will be voting for the election of officers and proposed amendments to the Constitution, please familiarize yourself with the new document and be prepared to discuss it:

2013 Proposed Revision of KQG Constitution

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