National Craft Month Highlight: Terryl Allen
March is National Craft Month, which gives us the perfect opportunity to showcase many of our talented Kentucky State Fair exhibitors! Each year, thousands of ribbons are awarded in 31 divisions. In the Fine Arts and Crafts Department everything from weaving to wood carving is showcased.
We’re starting our celebration of Kentucky State Fair crafters with Terryl Allen.
Crafting has always helped Terryl de-stress. Maybe that’s why she’s picked up so many different hobbies, from quilting to cross-stitch. We sat down with the blue-ribbon winning Kentucky State Fair exhibitor to learn more about how she got started and her award-winning creations.
What crafts do you do?
I knit, crochet, sew clothing, and quilt. I also make doll clothes and do counted cross-stitch, embroidery, needlepoint, and have done some smocking. I always say, “Give me a needle and thread and I can probably do something with it.” I used to do liquid embroidery and ceramics, but have moved on from them.
How did you get started?
My mother taught me to sew and crochet when I was about 9 years old, and I think I was embroidering before that. Mom kept up with the trends in the 70’s and 80’s (counted cross-stitch, afghan stitch (Tunisian) crochet, etc.) and made me aware of them, too, so she was always the impetus for all my crafting. Other than knitting. Mom never had any interest in learning that, so I taught myself from the books that were available in the 80’s. A far cry from today’s YouTube lessons!
Do you have a favorite project?
Ooh, that’s tough. I’ve done many things over the years that I’ve been proud of, but I guess my favorites lately have to be a zoo-themed quilt I made several years ago, because it made me step outside of my comfort zone, a peacock quilt I made in memory of my mother that incorporates aspects of embroidery, and an appliquéd pansy wall-hanging that also made me work outside my box.
What awards have you won?
The above mentioned zoo quilt won Honorable Mention at the KY State Fair in 2013. That was the first time I won any kind of an award, and I was thrilled! Since then I’ve won some 1st & 2nd place ribbons at the Fair for doll clothes, a 3rd & 4th place ribbon on some clothing, a Blue Ribbon for an embroidered Temari ball, a Red Ribbon for a Tunisian Crocheted shawl, and a Blue Ribbon for a wool skirt made as part of an historic outfit. That last one made my day on opening day last year, because it was the first thing I saw when I entered the Textiles Department!
If someone wanted to get started with either needlework or sewing, what tips would you give them?
Find like-minded people to help and inspire you – whether that be on-line, through local shops, local or statewide guilds, or just a couple of friends getting together to chat and create. Having someone to share your excitement with makes it all so much more fun.
You work with your local needlepoint chapter, what is the goal of a needlepoint chapter?
I’m actually a member of a couple of local quilt guilds (I’m the Secretary for Friends ‘N Stitches that meets Tuesdays at Southeast Christian, and I’m the President of Kentucky Cover Lovers Quilt Guild that meets in Shelbyville, and am President of the Louisville Chapter – Embroiderers’ Guild of America, but am not a member of the local chapter of the American Needlepoint Guild.
Having said that, I would say that the goal of all of them is pretty much the same – to encourage interest in and passion for the various needle arts, and to educate, celebrate and preserve their various heritages. As with so many things, crafting is cyclical. If we don’t do everything we can to pass our combined knowledge on to future generations, then that same knowledge will disappear. And that would be a terrible shame.
Is there anything that might surprise a layman about sewing and needlework?
Maybe how easy it is to learn. As you can tell from my previous answer, there are lots of folks around who want to share their knowledge. And for those who may not be able to find someone local, there are a myriad of YouTube videos out there for everyone to learn from. I even reference them myself when I need a quick reminder of a technique – or want to learn something new!
Also, needle arts are in no way limited to women. Men have been active participants from historic times to now. Some of the more well-known quilters, both locally and nationally, are men. And I’m sure the same can be said of all the other categories of needle art. Working with a needle and thread can be great stress relief, and who doesn’t want some of that in their life?
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