A member of the Inman Quilters, whom we will not identify fearing her retribution in the form of being denied a piece of cake at next Tuesday’s meeting – described the gathering as a “bunch of old chooks sitting around.”
Helen Scholfield, one of six founding members in 2003, confessed to spending an entire session socialising without doing a stitch. “Haven’t you heard?” she asked. “One of the requirements is so many words per stitch.”
Meet the crew at Inman Valley, one of the hundred-plus ‘knitworks’ around the state. The 35 membership of the Inman Quilters don’t seem to mind sharing a joke about themselves and getting each other in stitches, but having barely survived their meeting in this quaint church hall at Inman Valley with a member walking through the door saying “There’s a man in here, there’s a man in here…” perhaps it is best not dwell on the “stitch two, talk” routine.
Amongst all this morning banter was a remarkable story of the quilting world. Yes, as outsiders we see them as “old chooks”, but the Inman Quilters – and others would undoubtedly confirm it is a reflection of every club – are about so much more than we may believe. You don’t hear calls of “look at my work”… in fact, they tend to judge their own work too harshly. And it is brilliant.
Quilting is obviously not just about them, but being part of a support group for each other. It’s about being friends who encourage and inspire, being there to listen, sharing a laugh and especially to lend support to those saddened for whatever reason. And amazingly, quilters around the nation have raised millions of dollars for charity.
No one could be more passionate about promoting quilting than the Inman Quilters’ Margaret Gray, who spoke of the members’ kindness and their dedication to making quilts as raffle prizes to support charities.
Since 2007 these ladies have sold raffle tickets raising nearly $7000 to assist so many wonderful causes including the South Coast District Hospital, St John’s Ambulance, Australian Red Cross Bushfire Appeal, Multiple Sclerosis Society of SA, Inman Valley CFS, Southern Fleurieu Cancer Support Group and the Commando Welfare Trust. Well done.
The major fundraising function since 2007 has been a biennial quilt exhibition with proceeds to local charities, and the Inman Quilters’ fifth event will be at the local Inman Valley Hall from April 11-13 when come the Saturday morning as many as 80 quilts plus wall-hangings, bags and whatever will be displayed forming an incredible array of colour and design.
The forthcoming exhibition coincides with the acclaimed Festival Fleurieu from April 11-19 which promotes with enormous passion artistic creativity in the life of the community within the Yankalilla Council district.
It was after the Inman Quilters’ 2009 exhibition that it was presented an Australia Day Award for the District Council of Yankalilla’s Community Event of 2010.
With this biennial exhibition comes the unofficial bragging rights with a panel from the SA Quilters Guild judging the ‘Best of Show’ and runner-up titles, with other acknowledgements including a viewers’ choice award.
According to Margaret, the Inman Quilters are a jovial and caring bunch, and admits they can be loud. “We enjoy coming together for fellowship and stitching,” she said. “Quilting provides the threads that bring and hold us together.”
Club president of two years Judy Williams provided the same comment from virtually every member: “We’re a friendly group.” There was also a heartfelt assessment that the first and third Tuesdays of the month from 10.30am in this hall are not just about quilting. “It’s about members supporting other members and just being good friends,” she said.
“Every new member has commented that they have felt the friendliness from the moment they have walked through the door.”
As another member, Karen Blonk, put it: “We share an interest; we come together and share our lives. This group has given me wonderful support through some difficult times.”
The forthcoming biennial exhibition includes a challenge for these local quilters – this time making gifting quilts for the Southern Fleurieu Legacy Group.
Challenge entries will feature a red poppy to commemorate Anzac Day and the 100th centenary of the landing at Gallipoli, and after the exhibition the quilts will be distributed by the Legacy Group to Legacy widows in the southern Fleurieu.
Quilting clubs across the Peninsula gather for workshops and social interaction, and typical of all of their ideals they are great supporters of each other’s exhibitions and functions.
You will not be surprised to learn there is also a social side to all of this with the Inman girls having quilting retreats (that’s how they are described to the partners) usually to Mannum, where the main street pharmacy does a roaring trade selling ear plugs.
Margaret also reveals the girls also get together for a Melbourne Cup and Christmas luncheon. “In fact, any reason for a get-together is generally considered a good idea,” she said. Now, that is something to talk about. And who would have thought a man would survive one of these sessions.
The Quilters’ Guild of South Australia was formed in 1984 and represents more than 100 city and country clubs including these across the Fleurieu Peninsula region based on the Quilters’ Guild SA website www.saquilters.org.au Contacts are:
Aldinga: Aldinga Quilters, Elizabeth Grocke 8386 1182
Aldinga Beach: Sanctuary Stitchers, Karen Bennett 8556 5338
Goolwa: Goolwa Patchers, Lorraine Jones 0417 874 527
Inman Valley: Inman Quilters, Glenda Trigg 8558 8180
McLaren Vale: McLaren Vale Patchworkers, Jo Reardon 0418 402 979; The Southern Belles Quilters, Bernadette Treloar 8382 5848
Milang: Pelican Patchers, Margie Pestka 8537 0113
Myponga: Mudlark Quilters of Myponga, Joan Corby 8557 6552
Port Elliot: Port Elliot Patchworkers, Trish Rees 0407 717 995
Strathalbyn: Strathalbyn Stitchers, Diane Lunt 8536 3760
Victor Harbor: Fleurieu Quilters, Norma Downie 8552 2113; Sew Whats, Jenni Simpson 8554 3575
Willunga: Willunga Quilters, Jennifer Hekmeijer 8277 9664
Yankalilla: Threads, Joan Edwards 8558 3902