22 January 2012

Quilters' Connection workshop

Lots of activity in the lower level of St. Brigid's church.
On January 14, my quilt guild continued its wonderful tradition of Free Winter Workshops.  Members share their skills and knowledge with each other, and it's one of the reasons this guild is so special. Workshops  included  scarf making, free motion machine quilting, beading, thermofax screen printing and even a session on Ursula Kern-style paper piecing, taught by someone who'd taken Kern's workshop last year.  Organizing all of this - from eliciting workshop listings in October, to sign-up in November, to final clean-up after the event - is quite a challenge, but worth it, and not just for the free lunch also on offer.

I've fallen in love with sashiko stitching; this and a guilty feeling that I haven't contributed enough to my guild, propelled me to volunteer to teach an afternoon session on basic sashiko stitchery.  Of course, not having taught adults since 1983, when I led an inter-session quilting class at MIT, I'd forgotten how much time is takes to prepare materials, especially for a first-time class. As I stitched samples, photocopied page after page for my handouts, and made frantic emails to my sashiko supplier, I began to wonder if it was all worth it.  When surrounded by my fellow guild members, however, the answer became an emphatic "yes!"
We learn about sashiko materials.
Stitching samples and student work in progress.
 Special thanks to class participants Laura, who brought a power strip with a lengthy cord, so we could plug in our Ott lamps, and Barbara, who helped me lug all my items from my car.

We learn, but also connect, at the workshops.

My contribution to sashiko pedagogy.
We used the pre-printed hemp pattern as our class project. As the stitching sequence directions that come with Olympus patterns are a bit cryptic, I stitched a color-coded sample to delineate the optimal stitching sequence.  Participants also received a black and white line drafted pattern, which they color-coded with Sharpie pens I provided. 

Students color-code their stitching diagrams.
 I decided against making color copies of the pattern, partly due to the expense (workshop leaders are not reimbursed); additionally I hoped that students would really grasp the concepts behind the stitching pattern if they colored it in themselves. Whether or not the samplers are finished, each participant will perhaps have a better appreciation of the process involved in the creation of any sashiko stitching she may view at a show or exhibition.

Demonstrating pattern transfer onto plain fabric.
As is usually the outcome when teaching, I learned as much, if not more, from my fellow guild members, and am very grateful to them for their support and good humor.