2020 - The Year in Review

I don't know about you, but it's fair to say it's been an interesting year. Pete described it as "not ideal" which in a very British way sums it up well.

Friends and customers have stitched their way through many scrubs and facemasks. Our Handi Quilter educator Abigail Sheridan de Graaff spent much of the early part of lockdown organising the making of scrubs. It was a huge amount of work for all of those involved and we salute everyone who devoted time, energy and fabric to worthy causes in 2020.

Others have, despite enormous personal sacrifice, nursed and cared for those unlucky enough to catch the dreaded Covid. We know we're not an essential industry but for many of our customers the making of quilts for others, whether it's for care givers, care leavers, people in care, those who need a comfort blanket, or for friends and family has helped us get through what has been a difficult year by any measure. Whatever it is, making and doing has helped in some way either as therapy or in the results of those labours.

In the quilting world, we've become more connected at the same time as being disconnected from our traditional habits of quilt shows, education and installations. Meeting with customers was one of the joys of our job. Despite everything that has hindered it, 2020 has been a very busy year at Pinhole Quilting as we adjusted to the new normal, doing many of the things we would normally have done but doing it "virtually".

Please join Pete and Liz for a review of the Pinhole Quilting year. Our You Tube video is just under 10 minutes and is made up of photos from our 2020 album including some video clips of some of our 2020 installations. You can watch it by clicking the photo of Liz and John Scott with the new Moxie below.

At the beginning of the year we took a three day trip to the North-east, Scotland and the North-west for an installation, visited Handi Quilter Ambassador Pauline Burbidge and installed a Forte with Pro-Stitcher at Sew Hot at Thornton-Cleveleys.

It is always a joy to see Pauline and Charlie at Allanbank Steading. We purchased one of Pauline's quilts (on the table in the picture below) and were delighted to receive the sketches of her inspiration for the quilt as well. The quilt now hangs in our Pinhole Quilting Showroom. Pauline was due to exhibit some of her work and hopefully that will still take place in 2021. 

Pete admiring one of Pauline's cyanotype quilts.

Pauline's quilts for her 2021 exhibition

We attended the first and only show of our 2020 at Duxford. Demonstrations directly to potential customers became more difficult from then on. Showroom visits were cancelled in March. We didn't know when they might resume so we bought a webcam, learnt how to use our cameras for video and started doing Zoom demos. That was week one - it was a rapid learning curve!

The cancellation of our UK Longarm Quilt Academy was our biggest disappointment of 2020 and more importantly for our 55 customers! We sold out in under 15 minutes when it was launched and we knew it was going to be an amazing event with teachers from Australia, South Africa, America and the UK.

Fortunately we had orders from customers whose machines were going into sewing rooms and "she sheds"/ garden rooms where we could get access safely . That meant that after the initial lockdown when we couldn't travel, we were able to install some of the bigger machines with frames.

We sold many of our demonstration and teaching machines that we had been keeping for Academy leading to some great opportunities for new customers wanting to quilt in lockdown.

Below is a video from a lovely installation on the Isle of Sheppey. Traffic was so light it wasn't a problem to get there and back in a day. We think it was just our Pinhole Quilting car, trucks, white vans and Abigail delivering scrubs out on the roads.

A virtual "Festival of Quilts" was introduced by Sheri Warren, President of the Quilters Guild and Handi Quilter Ambassador Stuart Hillard. We were disappointed that the arrangements for teaching with Angela Walters at Festival of Quilts 2020 had to be postponed but hopefully that will be reinstated when Angela can travel again and the Covid vaccine is in place.
We had some virtual meet ups of Longarm Learning Curve, our Facebook group and also Facebook Live sessions throughout Lockdown 2.0.

As we couldn't have customers visit us during the Lockdown month during November and into December it made sense to be showing some of the amazing things that you can do with the feet and accessories, threads and tools that are available for our Handi Quilter machines. As a result we connected on Facebook Live with Handi Quilter owners in Australia, America (the Adirondacks with Pat who is awake (!) at 10am GMT), Brazil, Ireland, Scotland, France, The Netherlands and UK.

You can watch any of those Lockdown videos on Facebook on this link.

It was more spontaneous (you could say less planned!) than some of our other videos but that immediacy made it more of a conversation with our customers. It was wonderful - we loved it and we hope that you did too. Thank you to everyone who watched live or afterwards on our Facebook page. If we go back into Lockdown and can't do demonstrations we will look to doing it again.

Whilst 2020 has presented new challenges it has also provided great opportunities which we fully embraced, with Zoom training being the most important of those. We have found Zoom training to be in some cases more effective than face to face. For example, our Pro-Stitcher customers watched two videos to show how to do a self-installation of the upgrade. Training then took place using Zoom. The benefit was that customers could work on their own machines with time to absorb the information in between sessions. Having responsibility for the running of the machine has also led to more effective learning. It meant I couldn't stop customers making mistakes - they had to be much more self-aware!

The new Moxie 15" Longarm

The Moxie was launched in November 2020. We sold out of our first batch of machines and have sold a good number of the ones arriving in January 2021. Our new Moxie Mentor, well-known quilter Jo Avery will be receiving her Moxie machine (along with our other new Moxie Owners) soon. Jo and Pinhole Quilting will be sharing her progress and projects as she unboxes Moxie.

Jo Avery
In summary, 2020 has been an interesting and challenging year. We've been able to install lots of lovely longarms despite the restrictions and we have seen many of our customers spend quality time on their machines and on virtual classes, extending the travelling on their personal Longarm Learning Curve.

We wish you and your families a safe, healthy and happy New Year 2021.


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