For the love of quilts
Graham Parker is not only one of our most experienced tour managers, he is a keen quilter too – an interest that gives his tours a unique flavour.
ECT: How did your interest in quilting begin?
G: On a tour! I’d never had a crafting instinct, but in 2014 I took a group to the International Quilt Festival in Houston and everything changed. We spent three and a half days at the show and I was so inspired by what I saw that I decided to give it a go myself. I came home with enough fabric to make three small quilts. I showed them to the Meon Valley Quilt Group who were so encouraging that I kept going. Now I craft everywhere I turn.
ECT: So what’s the appeal?
G: Well, I’ve always been interested in fractals and colour and what I saw in quilting was those two things coming together.
ECT: You’ve lead lots of quilt tours since that first one – what do you like about travelling with other quilters?
G: There’s such a wonderful sense of camaraderie. We’re all sewing and knitting and crafting on the coach and everyone has his or her own particular skill set and is keen to share, so travelling together is a way of learning new techniques and seeing new ideas.
ECT: You took a group to the Patchwork & Quilt Days show in the Netherlands too. What makes this tour so special?
G: Patchwork & Quilt Days in Rijswijk is a regional, rather than a national, show which gives it a distinct atmosphere. The very best designers come, but the whole event is on such a lovely small scale. And there are plenty of shopping opportunities there too - that’s a really important part of any quilting tour because travelling to other countries gives you the chance to buy fabric that’s not available in the UK. I’ve known people throw away clothes so they have space for more fabric in their suitcases!
But what makes this Dutch tour so special is that it combines other elements too, from the beautiful flowers of Keukenhof Gardens to the patterns of Royal Delft Pottery. You’re immersed in design from start to finish and come away filled with all the flavours of Holland.
ECT: What’s the best thing about leading a quilt tour as a quilter?
G: The fact that I’m one of them, not simply the tour guide. We’re all sharing the same adventure.
If Graham has whetted your appetite, take a look at our textile tour programme here