Yesterday, travelling from town, the bus and trains were jammed. The St. Paddy's Day parade had brought a cast of thousands to the area near the bus stop and there was no place to sit. Sit = handwork. Stand = read.
I have been reading Marie Bostwick's, "A Single Thread" as part of the Quilter's Book Club and these were the words I read."Since our great-great-grandmothers' time, quilters have created community. Quilting is about getting together and helping each other, sharing life, cheering one another on through good times and bad". Was that a message written for me?
As you may know, the people of Tohoku have been having a rough time. The after-effects of the earthquake and tsunami have left communities broken and disconnected. My Tokyo church has reached out to three churches in the disaster area and groups of volunteers have made trips up to Tohoku to do all kinds of service.
Now, I have been asked to do a quilting class for the women there. I am not looking for more things to fill my already overflowing schedule so have been resisting. I was not sure what end result would be expected or how and what to teach in just a few days. My language skills are really bare-bone and help will come from a non-quilter who is making arrangements.
Tuesday, the Gala quilt group got together and I ran my concerns past those wonderful women. Quilters are full of ideas and encouragement ... so I began to say "yes" to the proposal. The minute I gave a hint of yes, the person making the arrangements went to the left-overs of the flea market and picked out some clothing that could be gleaned for fabric. I told her that might be a good "Plan B".
I heard from the quilting friends that fabric shops in the States sometimes donate things to a good cause and thought Japanese shops may not have been asked to help out yet. I made a list of fabric stores in the Tokyo area, supplies we might want, and will get my husband to make some calls.
Now comes the part where I think my blogging friends might be some help....
As you may recall, in January I taught a class at the Women's Conference. The class was only an hour long. I had made up a variety of about 20 kits from my stash so what we did was very basic, Sew the triangles to the corners, mark the solid center for a quilt design, baste, quilt center and in the ditch, and turn the backing to the front for binding. There is an option to applique in the center area.
For me, this might take a little over an hour but no one was able to finish in that time. I did this also with my girls class who know how to sew, and they could not finish even in two sessions running over time. Of course, the outreach team asking me to go, is thinking of not only teaching but providing the women with a way to earn a bit of money. A similar program that donated yarn and brought knit articles to Tokyo to sell was quite successful. This is one of the concerns that caused me to drag my feet.
The Gala women suggested that things like baby quilts might take less time and be popular. Yes, but that would take more than a day of lessons and I have to start somewhere. I need something that will teach the basic skills and can be completed while I am there to help. I thought if there are people who catch on quickly, they could make more of these squares and join them to make something larger, I have taught a quilt-as-you-go class but it is divided into nine weekly lessons with lots of homework.
Another thought is place mats or table runners with an appliqued origami crane and sashiko-stitched quilting might be a good item. Our church has an "Ah Sew" group that might be convince to cut out fabric to make kits.
I have never been to a class or workshop so I don't have much of a vision as to how things are done in other places. If any of you out there have ideas I could use, your knowledge and advice will be greatly appreciated.
Needed... a project that will teach the basic skills. (The contact in Tohoku said we could limit it to those who know how to sew but I think that is too narrow and that non sewers may never had a chance to learn so the opportunity should be for all. Besides, this should also be about building community.)
.....a project that can be finished in about five hours or less.
.... a project that can be expanded upon to make something larger.
Meanwhile, I am now about half way down the third edge of the + and X quilt and I have nine wonderful ideas for my followers quilt. I love reading through that list and thinking of those friends. If you haven't left me an idea that could represent you. please do. Nine blocks is a good start but I want to wrap myself in my friends and I am much bigger than Nikko.