‘Make your first quilt’ video class

Make Your First Quilt.jpg

A couple of months ago, I found myself seated in a pleasant cafe in a nearby town, armed with a large teapot full of tea, a china tea-cup and an A4 pad and pen. Normally, I work from home and on this occasion, being away from my desk gave me a helpful perspective. I stayed there a good two hours altogether and used the time to clarify the position of my small business as I near the end of the third year since ‘Amanda Jane Textiles’ started.  All the main activities are in place: fabric designs which are printed by Spoonflower (see link on right/below); patterns which are for sale in my Etsy shop (see link on right/below); articles and patterns for magazines and some teaching (currently one day a week).  I also jotted down on my sheet the idea of doing a video class. I enjoy teaching and particularly like to introduce complete beginners to pastimes like quilting. In my mind the video class idea was some way in the future, something I could aim for.

At some point previously I had come across a reference to the online learning platform Skillshare and I had made a note in the back of my sketchbook:


In the time since the cafe session, I saw a reference to Skillshare on another blog and with it was a link for a two-month free membership.  I thought this was a great idea and used my free membership to take a couple of business classes with Seth Godin, who is especially helpful in the way he talks about marketing for small businesses in an era of social media.

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i also watched Leah Goren’s class ‘Illustration and Inspiration: Using a sketchbook’ (such a privilege to see how other artists and designers work).

Leah Goren on Skillshare

Soon after beginning my free membership, Skillshare invited me to apply to join their one month ‘VIP Teacher Challenge’ to create a class in 30 days.This opportunity arrived rather sooner than I planned – but then it was in the plan.  I won my place and then got started on my class, choosing to do an online version of the beginners’ quilt class I am currently teaching ‘in real life’, as it were. The once a week class is 20 hours,  while the c the online course covers all the essentials for a basic quilt and is just 28 minutes long. It includes everything you need to know to make a quilt for the first time. There are two options: an oblong cot quilt size or a square lap-top shape.  The square looks like this, although in the class, each participant is encouraged to choose their own colours and make their own design:


I managed to do most of the filming myself (that’s what happens if you are a one-person business), only asking for help with the introduction, which was the most difficult one to record.

Skillshare Class, Make your first Quilt

I also had my chance to do some editing. Thanks are due to a kind and enthusiastic guest staying with us at the time who joined in with the editing task and encouraged me along. So by the 30th June deadline, ‘Make your First Quilt’ was ready.

I’d like to ‘pay it forward’ so I am including here a link for you to watch my class and have your own two free month’s of Premium Membership to Skillshare. Here it is: http://skl.sh/2tqJnEf

I will also add a comment form, so you can send me feedback if you’d like to!



Costumes and Kynren

downloadPicture source: The Northern Echo

This week, guests from Australia were staying and we took them to the 2017 premiere of ‘Kynren’, the stunning outdoor show in Bishop Auckland.

I even have a bag to prove it!


At this time of the year, the show begins at 9.30 (it starts earlier  when the days are shorter later in the year). This is what the stage looks like at dusk:


But it looks quite different at a different point in the show, once darkness has fallen.  The lighted Bishop’s Palace can be seen in the distance behind the Bishop’s Palace depicted on the set.


Our bag also contained a small torch, which was useful. The path to and from the performance site are lit by street lamps but once outside the site it was helpful to have a little light!


I travel to Bishop Auckland quite often (in fact I’m teaching a beginner’s quilt class there at the moment) and my route takes me past the performance site. Over the many months before the first show last year, I saw the site develop. You can get some idea of what this looked like by looking at this video here.

The performance area is huge: over 7 acres of land are used, including the river. With a cast of more than 500 people the performance takes place on a grand scale. There are almost 30 different scenes depicting a part-fictionalised, part-historic take on the history of England. The show concentrates specifically on the history of the North-East, hence the name ‘Kynren’ from Old English (Anglo-Saxon) word ‘cynren’ meaning ‘generation, kindred, family’, so its the ‘story of our people’ as one of the characters says.


The creative director of the show is Steve Boyd, an American live events director living in London. He did the mass choreography for the London 2012 Olympics among many other events. The sword-fights are devised by Mark Hindman Smith and the fireworks by Martin Bacon. However the cast and crew, numbering 1,500 people altogether, are all volunteers, who produce what is an entirely professional show. You can book to see it yourself here.

It’s hard to convey just what a spectacle it is. I saw the show last year, but seeing it for the second time enabled me to notice different aspects of the performance. With such a large cast, there are many performing on the stage (which is vast) at any one time. Then add to that: music, dancing, sword-fights, fireworks, video and lighting effects, water-fountains and much more. Our visitors were bowled over by what they saw.

For me, it was a special thrill in this year’s performance to hear the voice of Kevin Whateley, star of ‘Morse’ and ‘Lewis’.

images       Picture source: http://www.itv.com

The stage is not just full of people. Animals have a part to play too, for example sheep, goats, geese and donkeys. These appear in sections of the performance celebrating the farming culture of the area up until the Industrial Revolution.

19575430_1443626369037673_7093733116635770061_o Image source: Kynren by Eleven Arches Facebook page

Horses are key performers too, appearing in many different scenes, perhaps the most dramatic of which is a jousting demonstration, carried out at full gallop, just yards away from the first row of seating for the audience. Have look at this marvellous picture from an article by Charlotte Metcalf, who recounts the story of how ‘Kynren’ came to be created. Click here for more.

Kynren-Horse.jpg Picture source: Country and Townhouse

This brings me to the costumes, for the horses are dressed as beautifully as the rest of the cast. It is mind-boggling to think of the work involved in producing costumes for such a huge cast – and then doing any mending or alterations needed as the performances roll out. You can see below the costume for Charles I, just as one example.

19424078_1437090666357910_7150672668753785858_nImage source: Kynren by Eleven Arches Facebook page

One can only imagine the work entailed in making a whole series of costumes like these., whether for the Roman soldiers or their prisoners.


So a huge well done to the machinists, stitchers and embroiderers of the ‘Kynren’ costume-makers. Your work is sensational!