Saturday, 5 August 2017

My life with the Quilters Guild 2: Northamptonshire


We moved to Northamptonshire from Oxfordshire in 1995 because I was working at the Open University in Milton Keynes and having us both commuting in opposite directions was too expensive.  (My husband always worked in London.)  The move was a bit complicated and we had to house mind for a few weeks.  While doing that there was an exhibition at Sulgrave Manor.  It was by a group called Danetree Quilters and the standard of work was extremely high.  This led to me joining a quilting group for the only time in my life.  I thought it would be a good way of meeting people.  It was, and as I quickly learned that several people were involved with City and Guilds, it gave me some support as I struggled to do Part 1, Patchwork and Quilting by distance learning.  As people in the group belonged to the Guild I began to attend regional events although I was quite passive.  Within a year of moving I was made redundant from the OU and had to return to working in London which meant four hours a day commuting.  Not good news and I had to give up on City and Guilds.  Then in 2001 I was made redundant again and decided not to get another full-time job.

That is when I really got involved with the Guild.  One of the members of Danetree Quilters was Sheila Acton who was the national PR person.  She had a committee for which she could choose the members and she persuaded me to join it.   It opened all sorts of doors for me.  I think I had a title of Exhibition Officer or similar.  A lot of the work was paperwork and telephoning but I also became involved with various shows. I met a lot of people who were involved at national level, some of whom became real friends.  I have memories of going to meetings in people’s houses including Margaret Armstrong, president when I began who had a National Collection of hellebores and Fay Alcock who took over from her.

I have a lot of catalogues for Guild exhibitions at this time although I know I did not attend them all.  Sheila and I drove up to Dean Clough one Saturday to the opening of 'Transforming Tradition' the Guild's exhibition in 2002.  It was interesting to see the inside of Dean Clough and to realise what limited space the Guild had there.

Looking at these catalogues again after more than ten years I remember who the 'big names' in quilting were at that time.  Fascinating to look back.

I also attended several Guild AGMs at this time. They were another good way of meeting people and of going to new places.  On one occasion someone hired a mini-bus and a husband drove a group of us from Region 7 to somewhere on the South Coast, possibly Eastbourne.   I remember that one of these conferences was the silver jubilee of the Guild so we were asked to wear something silver to the dinner.  I seem to remember I bought a silver-coloured top from a charity shop in Daventry. I also know I sat next to Linda Kemshall at one of the dinners.  I had already met her but this turned into a hilarious evening and she remained a friend within the quilting world.

My time in Northants was my most active time in the Guild because it was easy to get to events and I knew a lot of the people regionally.  Everything changed when we moved to Cornwall at the beginning of 2006 although I had expected it to because of geography and because about the time we moved I attended a local exhibition and realised that quilting down here had a very traditional approach.  As I was always more interested in 'slash and burn' as my husband calls it, I knew joining a group would not really be me and I soon found that the Guild had a very minor presence down here.

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