It's been thirteen years since I printed my first copies of my WELSH QUILTING PATTERN & DESIGN HANDBOOK. It was created out of a need for a pattern resource for students and myself because by that time, I had mountains of sketch notes along with every book I could lay my hands on with any reference to a Welsh quilt. Not much help in a class.
In 1994 when I discovered Welsh quilts, studying them was more akin to doing detective work. Along the way, I learned about Welsh culture which was really intriging for me because I had a Welsh great-grandmother, Grandma Jones. I really idenified with the Welsh quilters which added a very human element to the Welsh quilting.
When the time came to pull the handbook together and print it, the absolute last thought on my mind was that it would ever reach beyond my own classes. If I remember right, the first printing consisted of twenty copies which I needed for one of the first classes I taught for a guild. So why does this all matter now? Over the years, I've had offers from people who have very kindly offered to help me 'clean up' my Handbook and I want them to know that I really appreciate their interest and support. But the Handbook has taken on a life of it's own for me. It's spelling isn't always correct, it got rushed to finish and probably could have included additional information such as how to bind the quilts correctly. But at the same time, it has a kindred connection to the culture it represents, it's a one-of-a-kind, it's a little unpolished and a bit of an outsider. It isn't just another commercial product of the quilting marketplace. When I look through it, I don't see line drawings in black and white, I see colorful, textured quilts made from wool or cotton sateen. I also see the faces of the Welsh women who stitched the quilts. The Handbook represents my new appreciation for my Welsh ancestors who I know little about and the friends I've made in Wales and around the world as a result of the research experience and teaching. In a way, my Handbook is a bit of a rebellion against the computer age and perfectly printed quilt books and the fast moving, financially driven quilt business which I've been involved with at many levels. Don't get me wrong, I own many quilt books and I operate everyday in the quilt 'business' but I don't want to be consumed by it.
So, the Handbook will stay as it is and will continued to be printed in some form for the time being but there are no promises in regard to how long it will be available. In 2011, The Jen Jones Welsh Quilt Centre starting publishing the Handbook for sale, it's bound differently and has a color photo of the Quilt Centre inside the cover but it's the same book. I consider it a major honor that the book has been accepted by Jen to sell at a place which is so important to preserving Welsh quilt history. If you order the book from Jen, the sales proceeds go to the upkeep of the museum so I would encourage you to order it from her website jen-jones.com. The Handbook is due to be available through a Texas quilter and possibly a quilt shop in Texas in the near future, details will be listed when I have them. I prefer to let others sell for me.
So, if you're drawn to Welsh quilts, I hope that you'll see them through eyes of the ancient culture of the Celtic Welsh rather than the trends and marketplace of the global quilt marketplace.
May your journey into Welsh quiltmaking be a path of discovery of old ways and new friends.