Mindfulness and quilting

On Thursday of this week I set up my stand in readiness for the Annual Conference of the QGBI (Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles) Annual Conference and AGM.

QGBI AGM Thursday set-up.JPG

This year, the Conference and AGM were held at the Civic Centre, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which is in my region.

On Friday morning, I gave a lecture (illustrated with quilts) entitled ‘Coming to Textiles the Long Way Round’. On Friday afternoon, I taught printing techniques in a Carousel workshop where each session lasted 25 minutes and then the participants could move on to another, completing four mini-workshops in a two-hour period.

Civic Centre, Newcastle
Photo by Mark Ogden

On Saturday morning, we changed the stand with a new quilt at the back and a new outfit on the dressmaker’s dummy (and on me!).

QGBI AGM Saturday

The AGM took place that morning. On Saturday afternoon, I led a half-day (three and a half hour) workshop called ‘Inspired by Colour’. On Saturday evening I attended the Gala Dinner.

On Sunday morning I was on the stand.

IMG-20180422-WA0003

Twice during the conference, a key speaker mentioned ‘mindfulness’.  The notions of ‘Creativity, Mindfulness and Connectivity’ were referred to as characteristics of The Quilters’ Guild. These are all excellent attributes, and I am particularly interested in the idea of being ‘mindful’, especially as ‘mindfulness’ has become such a popular term recently.

This is a definition from Oxford University Press in their online dictionary. Mindful: Focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, especially as part of a therapeutic or meditative technique.

Being mindful, in terms of ‘concentrating on the present’, forms part of several faith traditions. For example, it forms a key theme in the book ‘The Practice of the Presence of God’.

The practice of the presence of God

This is a collection of teachings by Brother Lawrence, who encountered God at a time of contemplating a bare tree in winter. The experience was so powerful that he joined a convent, where he worked in the kitchen and became a mender of sandals. In spite of these lowly occupations, he learned himself, and taught others, to find the love and peace of God in the midst of his tasks – mindfulness, perhaps. Brother Lawrence lived from 1614 to 1691 – a timely reminder that this is not something new.

brother-lawrence

In my lecture at the QGBI conference, as part of my story, I attested to the benefits to me of doing patchwork and quilting during the aftermath of my daughter’s sudden death  ten years ago this month. Planning, designing, cutting out, stitching and quilting two quilts (for my twin sons to take to university) helped to still and calm my mind during an extraordinarily difficult time.

Maybe this is part of the reason for pursuing this particular micro-business route now. Many of my classes in the last few years (including online classes), and some of my patterns like ‘Clouds and Smoke’, are definitely intended for beginner and intermediate quilters. I want to bring to others, skills and knowledge that will allow them this opportunity of mindful absorption in a creative occupation. Some class participants have spontaneously remarked that as they have concentrated on their stitching, they have ceased to dwell on troublesome thoughts…

Clouds and Smoke for Craftsy
‘Clouds and Smoke’ is a beginners’ pattern for a lap quilt. You can find it here

And in other news (not unrelated to the QGBI AGM!), during my lecture I showed a large piece of Cyprus cotton canvas printed with my latest design on Spoonflower, ‘Midnight Ferns’. You can find it here.

Midnight ferns

You may also be interested in this blog post: ‘Quilting and good mental health’. You can find it here.

There is a postscript to the blog-post from a fortnight ago ‘Lydia Higginson in London’ (here): Lydia’s Crowdfunder campaign exceeded its £8,000 target.

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