Talking Quilts in Region 14

‘The first of the first!’ were the often-cited words of Talking Quilts Co-ordinator (Region 14), Dorothy Baird. And the Region 14 volunteers certainly were.

On a sunny day, late in April, our eight volunteers arrived at The Quilters’ Guild headquarters in York ready and eager to learn how they could contribute towards building an archive that tells the story of quilting in the UK today. By the end of the day they had learnt how to use the audio recording equipment, the basics of oral history interview technique and how to transcribe for Talking Quilts. Leaving with their audio recording kit and the Talking Quilts handbook, they were keen to get interviewing. Over three months, Dorothy, Janet, Julie, Nicky, Pat, Glenda, Jackie and Joanna conducted a total of 20 interviews. The stories they captured varied widely; celebration quilts, memory quilts, first quilts, practical quilts and ‘the quilt I’ve always wanted to make’.

In July some of the volunteers got back together to reflect on taking part in the project, as well as giving us some valuable feedback on how we could make things more straightforward for future volunteers. Talking Quilts volunteer, Nicky said, “I enjoyed hearing Julie talking about her quilt and very much hope to interview some more people. I found the equipment easy to use and the quality of sound was excellent.”

We also had some great feedback from some of our interviewees, Jenifer Nathan said, “I’d like to express my thanks to the Talking Quilts project for all the work you’re doing to bring the social importance of crafts like quilting to the wider world. It’s been an honour to be asked to participate in this project and it has meant so much to me.”

Then to round off Talking Quilts time in Yorkshire we participated in Ryedale Folk Museum's Craft Weekend. Dorothy Baird reported, “We used our display to show off what we'd been doing over the first round of the project and Vicky put together snippets of audio recordings from some of the interviews. It generated a lot of interest over the two days and we found another interviewee. It was a delight and brought our introductory three months of Talking Quilts in Region 14 to a happy close.”