South West Quilters 2018 Christmas Meeting – Exeter Racecourse

It may have been foggy and damp outside, but what a fantastic time we had at the Christmas meeting on the 24th of November.

The day started with ample time for coffee and shopping, buying raffle tickets and admiring the display of 3D Christmas trees made by members. Then we took our seats for the morning’s talk: ‘Snow Dyeing’ by Patricia Hann. Describing herself as an enthusiast rather than an expert, Patricia gave us an inspiring talk. Despite the limitations of having no running water, no sink and no ice (!), she managed to guide us step-by-step through the process of snow-dyeing. Her lovely quilts and examples of colourful snow-dyed fabric were enough to send us all out looking for collapsible washing up bowls to get started.

The talk was followed by a Show and Tell which included members’ quilts which had toured with Grosvenor Shows. Then lunch; a feast of finger food, savoury and sweet.

The fog outside seemed to be thicker than ever, but our afternoon speaker was more than an antidote to bad weather. It was Stuart Hillard, with his talk ‘Away from the Hive’ (which I’ve just realised refers to the Sewing Bee !).

He started by telling us he was living the dream, with TV appearances, column-writing for various quilting magazines and designing his own fabric range. Then he proceeded to describe his journey, and what a journey it’s been: From being taught how to knit aged three, through university and his working life, to the audition process for taking part in the Great British Sewing Bee.

He spoke with warmth and humour and had us all transfixed. We were endeared by the vision of Stuart as a young boy, knitting his Action Man a maxi dress in blue acrylic yarn, and knitting his mum a long, sleeveless cardigan which he described as ‘Germolene’ in colour. She must have loved it! The anecdotes kept on coming and we kept on laughing.

Towards the end Stuart remembered to show us some of his quilts; a lovely selection of colourful, original designs. The talk ended with tremendous applause and a standing ovation, well-deserved.

Thank you SWQ. What a wonderful day.

Jan Purrett
To read Patricia’s instructions and notes on Ice dyeing visit her blog at

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