SIX NATIONS – After competing at the Six Nations Annual Fall Fair, Public Health Nurse, Knitter and Quilter Dana Martin was surprised to find that she had been chosen by the Six Nations Agricultural Society to represent in quilted items at the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies with a hand-made and first prize quilt.
The competition will take place after all of the fairs in Ontario are completed, so Martin’s quilt will be competing on a grand scale.
In terms of what got Martin into the craft of quilting she explained that her mother taught her how to sew but she also learned from now retired Audrey Powless in Home Economics. From there she grew to become her family’s seamstress.
“I always sewed for everybody,” said Martin. “I did my first quilt in 1991 and it was just a plain log cabin. I had to use it last night so it still works,” she said with a laugh.
Within the quilting world there are many patterns that vary in degrees of difficulty, from large and easy blocks to tiny and concise rectangle pieces. Each piece must be perfectly measured and ironed to be able to fit together with sharp corners and vivid patterns.
Martin named off family members she has given quilts to including her grandmother, her nieces, her husbands nephew and all of the married couples within her family.
“I’ll usually make a quilt to give away when someone gets married or when someone has babies in my family,” she said.
This is what started the large “stash” or selection of fabrics within her sewing room; but some are more sentimental than others.
“I try to use fabric that means something to me too,” she said as she held one of her quilts and pointed out a blue floral pattern. “That I know is my mom’s night gown, ’cause when she passed away we got a lot of her stuff. So I kept the stuff that I knew I could use in my quilts.”
From scrap quilts to Jacob’s ladder quilts, Martin has a large collection of finished and unfinished quilting and knitting projects. She also belongs to two guilds, which are quilting clubs that have monthly challenges and activities as well as a forum to meet other quilters. One of her more recent projects includes a Canada 150 quilt, which names three patterns a month after a prominent woman.
All of the practise in her craft definitely paid off during the Six Nations Annual Fall Fair.
“[It was just] wow,” she said. “When people suggested I put my stuff in the fair I was like ‘okay, sure.’ And I remember my friend Dorothy always telling me, ’cause I’ve never put things in the fair before [besides Tiana’s quilt].”
“I just thought ‘oh my goodness’ and Dorothy said to me ‘you can’t make any money unless you put in a lot of pieces into one category, that’s the only way you’re gonna win extra.’”
So Martin decided to send in three knitted items with each winning her first place, and three quilted items that won a trio of first places as well. After paying five dollars to enter, Martin walked away from the fair with more than $90 in prize money for two timeless hobbies that she loves to do in her spare time.
Martin recognizes that the art of quilting and knitting are rare crafts for young people to find interest in, but she would like to see more young people take advantage of the opportunity to show case their handiwork by competing in the fair.