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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Guest Speaker: Kristyn McCoy

Kristyn McCoy of Melon Patch Quilts in Iderton, Ontario was our guest speaker. She gave us an account of her trip to South Africa for 2 weeks to teach machine quilting at the Msanzi Zulu Quilt Center in Sweetwaters.

The quilt center is a project of the Rotary Club of Hilton and Howick and was created to teach quilting skills to the local women as a means of income for their families. The women create the quilts which they sell for a very reasonable $200 to tourists, the facility is purposely located on a popular tour route. Kristyn also takes orders for the quilts on her web page. 10% of the money goes to the quilt center and the rest goes to the quilt maker. By selling one quilt, a family can buy food for 4 months and the sale of multiple quilts will enable the quilt maker to install hydro into their home and bring water to their property.

The quilts are made with local fabric called shweshwe, a heavy fabric used to make the women's skirts and named after the sound it makes when walking in those skirts, or with donated fabrics from guilds and rotary clubs overseas. The patterns are a mix of traditional quilt blocks taught to them and their own cultural interpretations.

Each quilt has a label sewn on the back with a photo and story about the quilt maker.

Kristyn gave us a detailed account of her 2 weeks in Africa and you can read about it here in detail. One of the things that stuck with her was how the women would spontaneously start humming and singing while they were quilting. One would start and then all of them would be laughing and singing and enjoying themselves. She said it was interesting to see how happy they could be despite all the hardship and turmoil in their everyday lives.

Later in the year, Kristyn and a friend hosted a South African woman, Lungile, for 6 weeks in Canada. It was fun for them to share the Canadian quilting experience with her. They took her to as many quilt shows, guild meetings, and stores as they possibly could fit in, as well as lessons in machine quilting! They took her sight seeing to Toronto and Niagara Falls. She even brought their protege to LFQG's Harvest of Quilts show in October last year! For Lungile, this was her first trip ever away from her village, let alone outside of Africa and she was even lucky enough to experience a light snowfall! What an experience it must have been for her! You can read more about her experience in Canada here.

The LFQG would like to thank Kristyn McCoy for her wonderful talk; it was inspiring! It was humbling to see that something that many of us regard as a hobby, can be a serious source of income and aid for people in other parts of the world.

Other business:

AGM next meeting and the slate of candidates for next year's executive is as follows:

President: Rose B
Past President: Cynthia M-R
Vice President: Maria deS
Treasurer: Gail M-L
Secretary: Christine R
Outreach: Penny H and Elaine T
Membership: Karen W and Lorraine S
Newsletter: Jill B
Blog Editor: Carol V
Library: Beth Y and Julia C

O Canada Guild Challenge due next meeting!!!

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