An Inspiring Day Out

Yesterday a friend and I went to the Great Northern Quilt Show at Harrogate. I had been to the show last year with friends and had decided that I wouldn’t go again this year. I think I felt so overwhelmed by the quality of the quilts on show that it completely drained me of the little confidence I had in my own ability. I freely admit that I have a very poor eye for selecting colours that work well together. However, what I have recognised recently is that the more that I see of how people use colour, the more it has improved my own ‘eye’.

This weekend I had been due to have a self-indulgent sewing-fest. I had booked to attend a sewing get-together in Harrogate and was also going to enjoy doing a sewing workshop with Unique Couture which I had won in an online competition earlier this year. Debbie Shore had arranged the weekend for members of her forum, Shortcuts to Sewing to coincide with the quilt show and was including tickets to the show as part of the package. Unfortunately, the get-together had to be cancelled but the upside was that Debbie, very generously, gave away the tickets for the Quilt Show – and I was one of the lucky recipents! [Thank you, Debbie.]

Last year my partner’s mother, Christina, introduced a group of us to patchwork and  Jacqueline took to it like a duck to water whereas I merely dabble. So it was Jacqueline and I who set off for Harrogate.

What a wonderful day we had! We decided to view the exhibition of quilts together so that we each had someone to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ with! The quilts were amazing – such a variety of styles, sizes, techniques and colours [although there was FAR too much green – can’t someone ban that dreadful colour?]. The champion quilt really was eyecatching. The colours that had been chosen included a couple that effectively ‘jumped out’ and caught the eye, without being too strident. It was a beautiful quilt but my favourite, by a long way, was an exquisite quilt made by a 76-year-old woman. It was in soft creamy yellow shades and used many different techniques. It included some bobbin lace and needlelace made by the woman who created the quilt. In her description of the quilt she explained that she had learned some new techniques whilst making it. The workmanship was simply stunning – it was beautifully neat, without losing the handcrafted appearance. A true work of art.

Also on show were some pieces by Jennie Rayment which were really interesting to study. It was the first time either of us had seen any of Jennie’s work ‘in the flesh’, so to speak, and we were fascinated by some of the ways in which she had manipulated the fabrics.

As we walked around the exhibition I was viewing the colours that people had used with a critical eye – deciding which colour combinations I like and which leave me cold. It also reaffirmed to me that, beautiful as they are, the minutely accurate quilt designs really are not to my taste. It has taken years for me to begin to appreciate patchwork and quilting and my preference is definitely for quilts that show they are handmade and have lots of character and for the whole piece quilts with intricate patterns stitched in to them.

The best part of the day, for me, was the realisation that I am no longer cowed by other people’s skills and abilities. My own skills are improving and, although they will never match some of those we saw yesterday, it doesn’t matter because I like what I do. That’s not a bad lesson to learn at the age of 56.


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