The Keep Well campaign was an initiative from the Irish Government, launched on October 29th by An Taoiseach [Irish Prime Minister] at Government Buildings and focussed on five main themes:
- Keeping active – keeping active and being outdoors, even during the winter, is important to help physical and mental health and wellbeing.
- Staying connected – staying connected with people, addressing isolation, supporting volunteerism and initiatives that support person-to-person connection is important to our wellbeing.
- Switching off and being creative – switching off and being creative or learning something new, getting back to nature and finding ways to relax can help our general wellbeing.
- Eating well – by nourishing your body and mind we can develop a better connection between the food we eat and how we feel and positively impact our physical and mental wellbeing.
- Managing your mood – equipping people with information on where to go if they need support e.g. HSE’s Your Mental Health website. This will also be linked with the local community helpline to ensure that people can access the support they need.
The DCCI embraced the Keep Well Campaign to celebrate their 50th year; focusing on ‘Switching off and Being Creative’. They chose the main thread to be ‘switch off, be creative, & learn something new’. Perfect for the pandemic we found ourselves in.
In turn we, the Quilter’s Guild of Ireland, enthusiastically undertook the Challenge. We encouraged our members to reach out to friends and family, to persuade them to join us.
Our theme ‘Home’; our aim to create a couple of quilts and to raise money for Women’s Shelters, in particular with reference to Women’s mental health support.
Mary Palmer, our Chair, designed several blocks with varying degrees of difficulty, each to measure 10 inch square finished. We published these on our YouTube channel, with video demonstrations created by Mary Palmer. You’ll find a link here: Quilter’s Guild of Ireland YouTube Channel
The response exceeded all our expectations. Blocks came streaming in from all over Ireland. Some constructed by people who were sewing novices. Others were completed by our fellow quilters in other guilds. It was almost overwhelming. The generosity and spirit engendered was uplifting and emotional. So many people invested time and fabrics into the creation of these blocks, each one unique. We experienced a collective spirit with our fellow quilters, throughout the island of Ireland, in the midst of the strangest of times.
It was perfect? Switch off and be creative. All we had to do was to sew little blocks.! At least one 10” block (10-1/2” square unfinished) on the theme of Home (Houses, Trees, and Paths & Gardens).
Examples of individual blocks:
Covid Warning [We are operating in Covid times, so please stay safe. When sharing fabric by post/ by hand, it might be an idea to advise the recipient to leave it for a day or two before opening. We can’t be too careful these days!]
- Printing re Foundation Piecing Warning. Some printers default to less than 100%. When printing foundation patterns make sure it is printing at 100%.
- If you have already printed a small version, that’s fine, submit it. We’ll add a wee border to suit that quilt.
- We love it when people take the time to point out the little errors which might creep in. .
We had prizes too! We were given a grant to facilitate the purchasing of fabric. In the pandemic with everyone being isolated, this proved too cumbersome to organise, therefore, we settled for putting the money into special raffle. To honour the Design and Crafts Council’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2021, we awarded 50 prizes ranging from €10 – €100 vouchers, used in one of the Patchwork shops on the island of Ireland. Some lucky people got free QGI membership too.
Zoom Sessions & YouTube Videos
We held a series of zoom sessions, where Mary Palmer gave encouragement and advice. It was a lovely way to meet up at a time when meeting up in person wasn’t an option. We had some lovely chats and met some great people.
Mary Palmer’s videos were a great success. The first was aimed at the beginner, and progressively became more complex. They’re still available and can be found here: QGI YouTube channel
Once we reach 100 subscribers we can make the URL address a bit more QGI friendly. You can subscribe which means you will be notified when new videos are added, there’s no cost to join.
NB Videos 6a and 6b are exactly the same, they’ve just been taken from different camera angles.
When we started, we were convinced that we’d get enough blocks for 3 quilts, but the contributors from all over Ireland, including the islands and America blew us all away. [I’m not saying America is an island of Ireland…]
In particular, thanks to all those dedicated and hard working quilters – long arm and domestic machine Goddesses who gave up their time and expertise to put the blocks together, basted and quilted them. The results speak for themselves.