Monday, 20 February 2012

Irish Patchwork Society weekend at An Grianan

From Friday to yesterday afternoon, I was at An Grianan with quilters from the Irish Patchwork Society for a sashiko weekend. I wasn't the only tutor - Jenny Rolfe, Joke Buursma, Terri McNeill and Ann O'Rafferty were also teaching courses - and dozens of quilters had a very relaxing and creative weekend in all the workshops.

I gave a sashiko talk on Friday night and we managed to squeeze two day workshops (the Sashiko Kinchaku Bag and Sashiko Furoshiki workshops) into a day and a half, with three hours on Sunday morning and an extra hour on Saturday afternoon giving us just enough time, and the small amount of overlap in learning between the two workshops making up the rest, plus everyone worked really hard at their marking and stitching. Here's just a few of the panels.

Of course, the company and the venue both go a long way to making a residential weekend special, and the Irish quilters are a great bunch! If I was based a little further towards Holyhead, I'd be tempted to join their society and nip over on the ferry for events whenever I could. Everyone was out to have as much fun as possible and, if anyone had attended on their own, I'm sure they'd have gone home on Sunday having made a whole new group of friends who share their passion for textiles.

The venue, An Grianan, which is to the Irish Countrywomen's Association what Denman College is for the WI in the UK, is based around a stunning 18th century country house. Modern wings house various classrooms, bedroom, cookery demonstration rooms etc., and the large and airy dining room (the food was delicious and beautifully presented too).

The original house is a treasure trove of fabulous and inspiring detail in the architectural plasterwork. I'm hoping that some of the sashiko class got photos, because the ornate cornices and roses almost demand to be used as sashiko or other quilting patterns. The central lantern over the wrought iron staircase was particularly interesting.

My favourite was probably the central rose in our workroom.

Like at Denman College, the hallways were hung with numerous framed pieces of craftwork, design drawings, sketches and paintings which were also an invitation to more design inspiration.

The weekend wasn't all hard work and there was plenty of time for fun and socialising, either in the bar or at events like the show and tell held after Saturday's dinner. Show and tell was held in the cookery demonstration lecture theatre, with the audience sitting on the raked seating, so we all had a great view of the quilts, with the rather unusual backdrop of a full demo kitchen! You can get an idea of just how good it was by the piles of quilts - and I took this photo while just as many again were arriving.

There will probably be photos on the Society's website, but here are a few to whet your appetite. I am sure Moira Byrne, who organised my visit, won't mind me showing off just a few pieces of her lovely work.

There were a few items made from my books, including a handbag from 'Fabulous Fat Quarter Bags' - 'Ooooh, there's a little purse inside too!' The fabrics are so sophisticated.

This piece uses kamon crest blocks from 'Japanese Taupe Quilt Blocks' in more colourful but still tranquil colours -

I can't remember who made this quilt, but I like it very much. It's recycled fabrics and it was made to be used and loved. There's even some corduroy in the outer border.

One of the ladies in my group is making the brown/taupe version of my 'Sakata' kit from Euro Japan Links Limited. It's the first time I'd seen it made up in this colourway and it's very calming.

More chat and enthusiasm just before the little show and tell at the end of Sunday morning. Unfortunately I couldn't hang around to socialise because I needed to get back to Dublin for my ferry - it would have been nice to stay a bit longer, but needing to arrive at least an hour before the ferry left at 4p.m., and with a 3 1/2 hour ferry trip and the drive home from Holyhead, I couldn't stay. However, I hope I'll be back to Ireland sometime next year, perhaps when I visit Northern Ireland to teach in April. All in all, a very good weekend.


Ferret said...

When I came back I wanted to join up. I so wish I could have been there. It really is a fantastic event isn't it. If I wave madly at your blog do you suppose the ladies in the pictures will see me :)

Susan Briscoe said...

LOL, they just might do! I wonder if one of the reasons I enjoyed this weekend so much was partly to do with the effort of getting there - I really don't enjoy the 'public transport' element of any trip, whether it involves a ferry or a plane or anything over which I don't have direct control and therefore = potential for a disastrous delay. When everything does go according to plan, it makes the event even better. But srsly, I met some really great people this weekend, which is one of the things that makes all the quilt related travel worthwhile :-)

Moby said...

Hi Susan
We enjoyed having you at the An Grianan weekend as much as you seem to have enjoyed being there. We had a brilliant time! Thank you for sharing all those fantastic pieces of work with us but more importantly sharing your skills and enthusiasm. Look forward to seeing you again in Ireland. We'll invite you and Ferrit to join us next both should become international members of the society. Great pictures on the blog by the way from all in Ireland Moira Byrne

Susan Briscoe said...

I'd love to come back!

At the moment, I'm working up a short course based on blocks from my 'Japanese Quilt Blocks to Mix & Match' and 'Japanese Taupe Quilt Blocks' books, which could work well at An Grianan. Initially, it's going to be a 3 day residential at Bridlington, so we'll see where it goes from there.