It’s International Day for Rural Women. A day that celebrates and acknowledges the contribution of women in agriculture around the world.
Over the past week I’ve been sharing the stories of this year’s Outback Wife women and originally I’d planned to share the final story today. Instead I’d like to pause a moment and tell you about a very special project that accompanies this fabric collection.
The Gascoyne Wagga.
Touring around the Gascoyne, it wasn’t until I was about halfway through collecting the stories that I learnt of the Gascoyne Craft Group. All of this year’s ladies are members of this group.
They meet once a month in Gascoyne Junction, and over a weekend, sew and/or craft together. For several of the women, this is often the only social interaction they get outside of their own families each month. As one of the ladies said to me ‘it’s not just sewing…it’s mental health’.
I can’t quite remember who suggested it first, but an offer was made for the group to help sew a quilt to celebrate the launch of this year’s Outback Wife fabrics. Of course I said yes. YES. Let’s do this thing!
So a coupla weeks ago, I travelled the 1,300kms up to spend a long weekend with the Outback Wife ladies and a few of their friends. We sewed up a beautiful quilt. The quilt is truly special. Some of the ladies who worked on it had never sewn before, some have a lifetime of sewing skill.
Over three days we sat in the little Junction Craft Group room by the dry Gascoyne River and stitched. Each day I read a couple of the stories out as we worked. While they each knew their own stories, it was the first time they got the chance to hear eachother’s. There were a few tears and much laughter.
And the food. Struth. The food. Each of the ladies brings a couple of dishes to contribute to the meals. I’m sure there was some sort of unspoken cooking competition going on. Each dish, slice and salad was AMAZING! One of the ladies told me at pudding time, ‘you gotta have some of each or you’re out of the club’. They enabled so badly. I think I ate more over those three days than I had the entire previous week!
Back to the quilt…this is not the type of quilt one usually sees at International Quilt Market when fabrics are launched. Infact, truth be known, it contains very few of the new Outback Wife fabrics (as sample yardage hadn’t arrived yet). It’s not so much about the fabrics but more about the accompanying stories.
I’m so looking forward to sharing the full quilt in all it’s glory at Market as it’s uniquely ‘Outback Australian’. It’s special, and I hope, powerful. It’s women coming together to support and celebrate eachother.
On this day acknowledging the rural women of the world, I hope we all support eachother more. It doesn’t matter how isolated we are, we’re not alone.
Many hands have worked on this quilt…
In Gascoyne Junction: Christine Kearney, Alys Mckeough, Betty Fletcher, Anna Ullrich, Genni Robinson, Rachael Funnell, Debbie Merritt, Jenny Funnell, Jane Hughes and me. Together we travelled a combined 2,802kms to sit together and stitch.
The quilt also has contributions from some city friends: Clare Turpin (WA), Melissa Le Cornu Brown (WA), Kylie Wright (VIC) and Sonia Lyne, (VIC). Each stitched a little something-something for the quilt in solidarity and acknowledgement of the stories.
In the rural town of Katanning, my local long arm quilter, Sandra Hetherington, gifted her time to baste the quilt.