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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.


Patty welcomed back the members after the summer break. Quite a few ladies had their birthdays in August and they were joined by those celebrating theirs in September for a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’. The visitors were then introduced.

Gretchen collected the twenty-three Challenge Quilts. The remainder of the quilts that have not been finished will hopefully be submitted before too long.  Since the appliqué was an elephant, Gretchen is interested in encouraging members to donate their work for sale in aid of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. During the coffee break Guild members had the opportunity to view and vote for the Challenge Quilt of their choice. The winners were:  1st Prize:  Majeet, 2nd Prize: Brij and joint 3rd Prize: Jasvinder and Raghbir.

The artwork for the Kenya Quilt Guild 2016 calendar is not yet complete. The calendars should be ready for sale in the near future and ladies were positive that sales would be good this year. The money derived from the calendars will help pay for the hall rental for the 2017 Kenya Quilt Guild Exhibition at the Sarit Centre.

Gretchen reported on our charity projects. Dream Children’s Home now has no fewer than sixty-nine children. They have a vehicle and a garage, but still are in need of support. FreMo, the small maternity centre, charges KES 5,000/- per birth, but they are pressed for financial support. We have recently donated two blood pressure machines to the organisation. They are in need of baby clothes and nappies. There were embroidery threads for sale, proceeds to go to Christine Kibuka to help her purchase fabrics and to the maternity hospital.

Gill spoke about education. Unfortunately, one of our prospective overseas teachers has had to decline, however Sarah Brewin will teach in November. We had good positive feedback on her suggestion of machine appliqué of her animal shoes. Gill’s beginners’ classes resume in early October.

Gill has also received an invitation from South Africa’s SANQG for those interested in taking an online course to become a certified quilting teacher. Any applicant must make the designated sample block and pay Rand 1500. This is a twleve-month course which begins in February/March. Anyone interested, please contact Gill.

After coffee, Veena Sennik won the door prize, then Show and Tell commenced. Veena had a Ricki Timms four-by-four.  Anne Lyon finished her quilt top made from the June BOM.  Suzanne Waithaka made a small wallhanging from an oil painting the she had repurposed.  Nandan Shah showed her chevrons and Gretchen Mwaura made a pink wallhanging for her great granddaughter.  She also made a pillow case from the machine quilting that she learned from Charu.  Nirmal Jeet showed two pieces, a baby quilt with teddy bears and a sampler.  Summer in the Park, tube quilt technique, was Jasmine Morelli’s share.  Lakhbir Virdee had a bright and colourful crazy 8’s quilt. From a pattern in one of the library books, Raji Syan made a lovely quilt and she also had a table runner that was machine appliquéd. Jasvinder Phull had table mats and a chop block quilt, along with a mystery quilt that Jana Mead introduced.

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Dr. Pauline Macaulay from the UK spoke to us about the Talking Quilts Oral History project, an undertaking by The Quilter’s Guild of the British Isles. Talking Quilts was inspired by a similar project in the USA, QSOS (Quilters Save Our Stories), part of the Alliance for American Quilts.

Pauline and her committee record stories of quilts. The members preserve, record and share people’s stories to be archived.  The project also recognises quilt trends.  Pauline is a volunteer who goes around the UK and interviews people who make quilts and writes their stories.  “Talking Quilts” is linked with the “Fine Cell Work” project, a charity that teaches prisoners quilting as a form of rehabilitation, as ‘paid, skilled, creative needlework to foster hope, discipline and self esteem.”  Pauline shared a lovely story of Sylvester, a Polish prisoner from Wansworth Prison who loves quilting and how it helped him with prison life.  She shared another heartfelt story of a mother who lost her daughter, aged 15, to a motor accident.  She used all of her daughter’s clothing to make a beautiful quilt which was therapy for dealing with her loss.

The Kenya Quilt Guild meets next on October 15. If you are a quilter living in or visiting Nairobi at that time, we invite you to join us!


This month, Gill Rebelo chaired the meeting in Patty Arensen’s absence. After welcoming all of our members and guests, Gill read aloud Corinne Talbott’s article from this month’s Snippets as she felt it summed up the feelings and emotions of our members. This will be Corinne’s last meeting as she will be departing Kenya next month. Dorothy presented Corinne with a wall-hanging made up of Khanga mottos.

Gill related her conversations with overseas visiting quilters when she was commonly told that our Guild is quite the ‘sparky’ women’s group. She went on to give the meeting a brief history of the ladies who formed the KQG.

The Elephant Challenge will be judged in September. All ladies who have taken kits were encouraged to work on them and have them finished in time. This Challenge is the first of many ‘group projects’ that the Guild organizes in preparation for the 2016 KQG Exhibition.

The main raffle quilt for the KQG Exhibition will be a blue and white pinwheel. Some ladies had prepared their donation of blue cotton fabric; five 5” squares. We need a great deal more squares to complete the quilt and the members are urged to dig in their scrap drawers and cut, cut, cut for us.

The June Block of the Month was specifically chosen for a demonstration by Gill Rebelo on the correct method of sewing ¼” seams, both standard and scant. Gill also added that after she presses her blocks, she puts them under a square ruler to set the pressing, which has been very useful for her.

New books have been added to our ever-growing library. These were kindly donated by April Webb who is also leaving the country soon. There is an ongoing budget for new library books. If members have a preference, please speak to our librarian, Poley Bhamra.

The members were reminded that there is no meeting in August, as has always been the case. The Kenya Quilt Guild does not meet in August or December, apart from our annual Christmas Party.

The Executive Committee has been discussing possible donations for future fistula operations and to Sarah Brewin to sponsor the excess baggage incurred when she ships her washable sanitary pads to Kenya. This matter awaits Patty Arensen’s return.

Paramjeet Bawa has agreed to teach later this year. Communication has been difficult and we are not able, at this time, to confirm dates or class details. Unfortunately, Pam Holland is not available in the near future as she is completely booked up. Gill called on members to volunteer to teach and hold classes. We have a lot of local talent that has not been tapped.

Dorothy Stockell suggested members hold informal gatherings at their homes where ladies can come, sew their own projects and seek assistance on any problematic projects. Since traffic is a worry, it would be helpful for ladies in different areas in Nairobi to volunteer, thus making it easier for members living in their vicinity.

Sophie Standing’s exhibition at the Talisman Restaurant in Karen is well worth a visit. Members are encouraged to see Sophie’s work, which is very unusual.

Donna Pido offered a download on ‘left handed’ methods and also shared a belt made by the Hmong with reverse applique.

After Show and Tell, members were given voting papers for the calendar photos. Voting was carried out during coffee time.

A guest of Bibiana’s, who had made her first quilt, shared her work with us. She was inspired by the film, “How to Make an American Quilt.” It was wonderful to hear of her enthusiasm for patchwork/quilting.

Raghbir Syan had a quilt named “Shakespeare in the Park” which comprised of snail trail and stars. She backed her quilt with another quilt so it was reversible. The original design for “Shakespeare in the Park” was developed by Judy Martin.

Poley Bhamra showed a nine patch that was quilted by Raji Syan. Nasreen Arain shared her silk appliqué. Carol Davey had an interesting wall-hanging out of the hexagons she did with Sarah Brewin. Karen Crumpacker made another spiral table runner and beginner Shruthi had a bright sampler quilt. Rohini Desai patchworked a log cabin spiral piece.

After coffee, Charu Patel gave her talk on perfect ¼” seams. The secret of the ¼” is to be consistent!

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The Banyan Tree Project by Eleanor Viegas of Goa   Eleanor Viegas sent out a call for help in Goa. In her own words, Eleanor says,

My aim in Goa is to help keep the textile arts alive and arrange workshops in Peace Cottage to encourage women to  take up or come back to the craft of embroidery and other textile arts. In Goa the skills are dying and I am now linking the craft to the idea of meditation and a stress free life.

I don`t have funding to bring people to Goa but I do have a creative peaceful space near the beach where friends can stay. It would suit someone who was already thinking to travel for inspiration and a holiday. I stay in a very quiet part of Goa and who ever comes may like to travel around and stay in other parts of Goa or India.

The possibility of an international project which links women and embroidery/patchwork in different parts of the world interests me. One project I am currently working on is The Banyan Tree Embroidery project. I am in the process of setting up a website.

  Eleanor is eager to have quilters come to teach classes at the Peace Cottage in Goa. Find out more about Eleanor Viegas and her call for help: http://www.carpediemgoa.com/news/creative-evolution-social-fabric


The March meeting was full of exciting news on the Guild’s upcoming plans and projects.

Dena gave a talk on her upcoming workshop – Reflections, generating considerable excitement for it!

Gretchen reminded everyone about the planned jewelry sale to help raise money to buy sewing machines for the workshop. The jewelry will be on sale in the April meeting.

Patty reminded all members present that April will be the Guild’s AGM. The Notice of the same had been included in March 2015’s Snippets and the Agenda would be circulated that day.

Patty advised members that the Challenge Quilts would be due for submission at the July meeting when they would be voted on. The prizes would be Kshs. 1,500/-, Kshs. 1,000/- and Kshs. 500/- gift vouchers for The Woman Shop.

Karen showed members present some of the wonderful fabrics purchased during the Guild-arranged field trips to the River Road area.

Patty advised members that given the success of the 2015 calendars, the Guild has decided to publish a calendar for 2016, but this time, it will be done solely as a Kenya Quilt Guild project, and not together with the Kenya Embroiderers Guild.

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

 

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The Kenya Quilt Guild February meeting was centered around education – we want to become better quilters!

This past month Gill Rebelo began a new series for beginners.

 

Gill Rebelo, Education Officer for Kenya Quilt Guild

Gill Rebelo

 

Sheryl Fowler taught a strip quilt technique class in her home. Everyone had a great time and learned all about strip piecing.

 

Sheryl Fowler, Secretary of Kenya Quilt Guild

Sheryl Fowler

 

We began to sign up for next month’s 2 days class by Dena Dale Crain, “Reflections.” This class will be held at Simba Union 10:00 – 3, 25-26 March. The cost is 4000/=. You may sign up at the next meeting. To reserve your spot, you must pay in full.

 

Reflections, art quilt class by Dena Dale Crain

Revelation, a Reflections quilt by Dena Dale Crain

 

We are purchasing a sewing machine to use in our revived workshop. Gill and Sheryl have donated the proceeds from their recent classes.

We are also going to have a jewelry sale to raise money. Go through your collection of jewelry for some items that you are no longer wearing. Bring them to the March meeting and the following meeting, priced and ready for sale. We will have a sale of our jewelry and all money will go to a new Kenya Quilt Guild sewing machine!

Gretchen Sanders demonstrated how to ice dye cloth. The effect is a watery, irregular pattern. Beautiful! We hope you all found the demonstration exciting and you are eager to experiment!

 

Gretchen Sanders-Mwaura's ice dyed cloth

Gretchen Sanders-Mwaura

 

Here are Gretchen’s directions:

 

Ice Dyeing

Supplies:

  • Plastic sheet
  • Newspaper
  • An old washing up bowl
  • A wire mesh that fits over the bowl
  • A small bucket
  • A measuring jug
  • A small yogurt pot
  • Rubber gloves
  • Water
  • Magadi soda ash
  • Dyes (powders)
  • Ice cubes
  • Washed, dried and ironed fabric- americani (cotton muslin), silk

 

Method:

  1. Prepare a soda mix according to how much fabric you have. Use 50g of magadi soda ash to 2L water. Mix well with gloved hands.
  2. Add the washed, dried and ironed fabric and leave soaking for at least 10 minutes.
  3. Remove fabric from the soda mix and wring it gently to remove excess liquid.
  4. Arrange fabric onto the grid. Top with ice cubes.
  5. Gently sprinkle the powdered dyes (you need very little) onto the ice  as you want.
  6. Leave aside and wait for the ice to melt. Leaving even longer will allow the dyes to penetrate more, making them more light- and wash-fast.
  7. Rinse the dyed fabric under cold water until the water runs clear. Dry and iron the ice-dyed fabrics.
  8. Added experiments–thread, tie, knot, use wax or starch resists, etc.
  9. Keep a bag of ice cubes in the fridge- you never know when you might have the urge to dye again!

 

 

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Reflections, online art quilt class at QuiltEd Online

On March 25-26, the Kenya Quilt Guild is pleased to present the art quilt workshop Reflections, taught by our own Dena Dale Crain! This is the art quilt class for everyone, as it teaches even beginners how to use mirror-imaging to create original patchwork quilt designs.

The class format is different for this workshop, with reduced hours to avoid heavy traffic in Nairobi. The class begins each day at 10:00 a.m. and ends at 3:00 p.m. There is a surprise adjustment to compensate for the shorter time spent in class!

Full information, including the supply list, can be found on our Quilt Workshop Schedule page.

We now accept Mpesa payments, so you can register and pay by telephone. Contact us with the contact form in the sidebar at left to learn the telephone number. Otherwise, register during our regular meeting on March 19 at The Sikh Union off Forest Road in Nairobi.

 

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