Monday, 3 October 2011

Dublin trip & sashiko workshops

I had a fantastic trip to Dublin to teach the Eastern Branch of the Irish Patchwork Society last week. Although I've lived in Wales since 1984 (apart from my time in Japan), somehow I'd never managed to get across the water to Dublin before. It was ultra easy from Holyhead (only 85 miles from home) and we had a smooth crossing (and late night return) with Stena Line.

I liked the pattern created by these gangways.

The approach into Dublin port is a stunning mixture of beautiful distant mountains, lighthouses and industrial architecture, so plenty to keep us interested and out on deck.

I'll add a few more separate blogposts with design inspiration photos from Dublin, lighthouses and our trip to Newgrange, to stop this post getting too long.

On Saturday, I gave the 'Sashiko and Japanese Country Textiles' talk at the Irish Patchwork Society's meeting. First I got to enjoy their show and tell - there were some really good pieces of work - here's just a handful (I didn't take the photos). There was a real friendly buzz at this meeting and I'd recommend the Society to anyone looking to join a p & q organisation in Ireland. Overall, I found Dublin a very relaxed and friendly kind of place, where everyone seemed to have a great sense of humour - just as well, because I'd somehow managed to get my wires crossed and packed the wrong sashiko workshop worksheets! I always have all the other worksheets with me, whether on the laptop or (in this case) as hard copy, so there was no problem to get enough printed off for the workshop.

The first workshop was on Sunday, at the same venue as the Saturday meeting. Lots of beautiful little samples of Shonai Sashiko were stitched.

The second workshop was hosted at Ann's house, with fantastic views over the estuary of the river Liffey.

A few couple of pieces of eye candy were brought for me to see. Gwenda had made a lovely sampler from my 'Japanese Taupe Quilt Blocks' book. She has inspired me to get on with making my own sampler quilt from these blocks!

Yet another quilt made using blocks from 'Japanese Quilt Blocks to Mix and Match'. The diagonal block arrangement works really well. I particularly liked the sashiko highlights in the centre of the 'framed' block (name escapes me at the moment!), the sashiko blocks with dark indigo thread on beige and the orange print used for the triple plum blossoms. The kimono blocks have various different prints.

One of the quilters has a Babylock Sashiko machine, which she brought along to the class. Of course, we were doing hitomezashi (one stitch sashiko) by hand, which is worked on a grid, but I am sure that some of these stitch patterns could be done on the machine, because it has independently variable stitch and gap length settings. However, you'd still need a very good knowledge of how these patterns work to be able to stitch them by machine. I guess that is one of the things I like about this machine - it doesn't take away any of the skill needed in understanding and marking the patterns, and you still need to have a lot of practice to be able to produce patterns like asanoha (hemp leaf) where the lines cross but the stitches don't. It is excellent for anything where a hand quilted big stitch effect is required and even a beginner can get great results (although Glyn didn't stitch everything on that panel lol).

I had great fun with the Irish quilters and look forward to visiting again sometime - or maybe our paths will cross again over here soon? I'm back to teach the embroidery guild in February, when we will have a full weekend of sashiko, running the same course I do for the WI at Denman College.

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