So there I was at 21, recently qualified as a teacher, and standing on a coral atoll called Tarawa, in the middle of the South Pacific. There was a wearying 36-hour journey behind me, and a 2-year contract ahead of me. I had one suitcase with all my worldly belongings, a collection of postcards (to share with them the wonders of the outside world) and a melodica (which I couldn’t play!)
From high in the air, I had seen the whole island as a tiny pinnacle of coral surrounded and protected by a reef, not unlike a tiny blob of paint seeping into the endless azure blue of the Pacific Ocean. On closer inspection, it revealed itself as an L-shaped strip of coral planted with coconut trees, enclosing a lagoon and surrounded by a reef. On landing, all I was aware of was white coral sand, coconut trees and I felt the intense tropical heat of the fierce afternoon sun. The simple sign saying ‘Tarawa International Airport’ was proudly fixed onto a locally constructed structure made from the ribs of coconut leaves and topped with a roof of pandanus leaves. I had arrived!
MY QUILTING JOURNEY
At this stage in my journey, in 1985, I had started home-based classes and the word is spreading. Periodically I would do a one-day workshop with a 3-course lunch to spread the quilting messages wider than my immediate classes. I heard about a craft class in Gresford and started to go there when I was free from teaching (regular readers may recall the mention of one of my current projects: the Gresford sampler) I also joined Chester Ps & Qs (Patch workers and Quilters) so that I could get to know a wider circle of quilters.
I worked hard to be enthusiastic when I taught any technique for the umpteenth time and I coaxed students along week by week in classes. But I needed to develop my skills too. It was about this time that I heard of the National Patchwork Championships. As one who needs to work to a deadline, I decided to enter my first quilt, Appliqué Sampler, of which I was justifiably proud.
I ran this idea across a ‘friend’ who said the organisers were looking for something a bit more special than that! After recovering from the unintentional hurt of the comment, I wondered what to make instead. I genuinely thought that ‘special’ meant that I had to design something new so I started to look around for an idea and I fretted about what I was capable of achieving. I knew it had to be hand appliqué because this was all I could do well at this stage and the quilt had to be worked in smaller sections to be joined after it was quilted.
Hi I'm Dilys Fronks!