Amy Emms bursary – continued

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Laura – A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about how and why I applied for the Guild’s Amy Emms bursary. Here, I tell a bit about what I am doing with the bursary.

The bursary is awarded to a Guild member to ‘further their knowledge of, or skills in, the traditional art of quilting’. I reckon this means quilting in general, not specifically hand-quilting or traditional patterns, but I did say in my application I wanted to improve my skills in hand-quilting.

Once I’d heard the happy news that I’d been awarded the bursary, therefore, I cheerfully trawled the internet for interesting hand-quilting courses I might do. But quite quickly I came up against a significant problem – hardly anyone wants to do hand-quilting nowadays, since machine quilting is so popular, and therefore I was having real difficulty finding an appropriate in-depth course at about the right price. I was starting to think I might have to give the money back, things were that dire …

Along came fellow blog-writer Heather to the rescue. She said she had a friend who used to teach traditional quilting. This friend happened to be at the AGM when we were both there, introductions were made, and within about ten minutes we’d arranged that I would come and stay with Jenny for a few days to trawl through her books, look at her antique quilts, and learn what she could teach me!

I was a little apprehensive on the long train journey down to Hampshire – I barely knew Jenny and did not know whether we would get on! But I need not have worried – Jenny and her husband John were fantastically welcoming and easygoing, and she was EXACTLY the person I wanted to learn from. She had in fact known Amy Emms herself and learnt from her, which we both felt to be an important and appropriate link. She’d also put a lot of thought into what might be useful for me to look at and do, without trying to dictate what I ought to be doing.

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We worked through stacks of books (only a tiny sample of Jenny’s huge library!), so that I could learn a little about Amy Emms herself and the North Country tradition she grew up in, as well as about Welsh quilting and some southern English and American examples, too. I began to get a feel for the difference between North Country and Welsh quilting: North Country has lots of cables, flowers and feathers in an open design, often with a hatched background, whereas Welsh quilting often uses compartments and more Celtic designs, with lots of fans and spirals. I particularly liked Welsh quilting and felt really inspired by it.

Jenny also had a big collection of antique quilts. We had a fun time looking at just a small selection of them and it was wonderful to be able to study, photograph and touch them.

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Jenny got me started on a feather pattern exercise. Amy Emms used feathers a lot, so this seemed like the right thing to do. It was nice to take a break from my ‘studies’ to do a bit of stitching!

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All in all I had a great time with Jenny and came away bursting with information and ideas. Now I’d like to practise a few traditional patterns and see how I get on with them and how I like them. Then it would be a good challenge to try my first wholecloth quilt!

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We both loved this quilt (above). I really liked the border pattern on the pink quilt. The red one goes on Jenny’s bed for Christmas.

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If you want to find out more about Jenny, her upcoming classes and useful links, check out Quilt with Jenny.

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