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Some contemporary and 'challenge' quits at the 2011 show
Some contemporary and 'challenge' quits at the 2011 show

"Quilts on the Tay" with Carole Armstrong

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Quilt shows are a pleasant way to dip into a world of creativity and craft.

Non-quilters don't always appreciate the techniques and hundreds of hours that go into many pieces. But the beauty--of color, texture and design--is delightful to behold.

The Lanark County Quilter's Guild main event for 2011 took place in early August at St John Catholic High School, in Perth, Ontario, with well over 200 entries.

Lucy Martin dropped by to soak it up and get some photos. She spoke with guild president Carole Armstrong about the show and the deep appeal of quilting.

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More images of quilts from the display:

Traditional and antique quilts at the Perth showRobin Field: The Treehouse, painted and hand-dyed cotton, machine appliqued and embroideredMadeleine Hollingsworth: Moonlight on the Tay. Machine pieced, long-arm machine quiltedJoan Doughty: Emmy's Favorite. Machine pieced, hand appliqued and quiltedCathy Price: Spring Colours. machine pieced, appliqued and quiltedCarol Darou: Dresden. Various techniquesMarilyn Bolger: Tradition meets innovation. Detail shows candlewick embroidery Dawn Field: Japanese Garden. Machine pieced, appliqued and quiltedAnna Cornel: Namaste. Machine pieced, machine appliqued The Lanark Quilter's Guild welcomes new members, their next major show will be in 2013

Carole Armstrong: It's a quilt show of our member's work. We have 150 members. And we do this every two years, and it's called “Quilts on the Tay” because Perth is on the Tay River. The theme of our show is tradition against innovation. This is tradition, showing the hand quilting – all hand work. The far side is all of the innovative new techniques, from using paint sticks, to fabric dying, to fabric weaving, it's down at the other end of the gym. And we're proud of our quilter's oasis, in the middle, where the husbands, and even the vendors can go and sit. I noticed some of them reading a paper a while ago in there!

We like this venue here, because it's different rooms, as opposed to a great big auditorium, and it just seems more cozy.

Lucy Martin: Who quilts, these days?

Carole Armstrong: Young and old. It just depends on whether your friend gets you interested in it. I'll give you an example of the way it happened to me. I used to do tole painting. I used to sew. I used to crochet. When you become a quilter it's all-consuming. It takes in the color, the design. Quilters are wonderful people—you get to meet fantastic people—you never meet a quilter that you don't like! (Laughs) So...

Lucy Martin: And you're not just saying that 'cause you're surrounded by them!

Carole Armstrong: No, no. Definitely not. It's just a great hobby. It does become all-consuming, though! (Laughs)

Lucy Martin: I'm a little dismayed to realize that this is not an annual event. It takes place every two years. So the next one will be in 2013?

Carole Armstrong: That's right, yes.

Lucy Martin: So, if you wanted to be a participant in this, that gives you a good little lead time, to work away, and have something ready to enter, I suppose?

Carole Armstrong: Yes, that's also the reason why we only do it every two years, is because during our guild year, we have guests come in that offer workshops, after perhaps a trunk show. And, of course, people go and take the workshops, and you see examples of them out in the hall. And so, we really like people to enter things that have been done in the past two years.

Now, if they have something from four years ago, that they just finished, they can certainly enter that too. But we like them to be current, and, you know, not something you've dredged up out of the cupboard that's been sitting there for years!

There's always quilt shows going on from, you know, small, small communities, that do them in a church, with them just draped over a pew. Which are also very beautiful. A lot of the guilds aren't big enough to be able to own their own racks, such as we do, and to have husbands who are willing to build the racks and also haul them here and put them up for us! So, we're very fortunate.

Lucy Martin: Is quilting something that sort of happens off to the side, just among its own converts? Is there difficulty bringing it to the wider public?

Carole Armstrong: I don't think so. Because it seems we have more and more new members every year. In our show, for example, we've got about 250 quilts and only 63 people put those in. And yet we have 150 members. So what does that tell you? Some people say “My stuff's not good enough”. Others, as they age, they just want to come and be entertained and enjoy seeing the show each month, that we have, and doing the social part of it, you know? Quilting is a very social thing.

Lucy Martin: Do you have a quilt entered this year?

Carole Armstrong: Yes, I have six items.

Lucy Martin: Six items!

Carole Armstrong: Well, I do my part! (laughter) One big one, and the rest are all small ones. I like the Japanese pieces.

Lucy Martin: Thank you very much for speaking with me. I really admire this show. It's nothing short of stunning.

Carole Armstrong: Thank you. Yes. We have quite a lot of good workers around here! And we enjoy each other and we enjoy putting it on for everybody to come and see.

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