Category Archives: Wales

New Shared Learning Project launched looking at the Castles of Wales

My name is Ruth Smith. I am the leader of the craft group (Crafty Crafters) of Newcastle Emlyn U3A. For those of you who attended the All Wales Conference on 8th May, or have followed the Wales Coastline and Borders Celebration on Facebook, I coordinated the making of the Mwnt wall hanging which involved several of our members doing some part, whether knitting, patchwork, needle felting, fabric painting, embroidery, ribbon embroidery and embellishments, to complete it and, once all the component parts had been made, I stitched it all together and quilted it.

I hope by now that you have heard of the new Shared Learning Project, called Castles, that Chris Winner, our Welsh Trustee, introduced at the conference. The idea, that came from the group sat at our table, was to involve as many U3As from all over Wales as possible in making a “Castles Quilt” and I have agreed to take the idea further, to find out if there is any interest and coordinate the project. I’m now asking all Welsh U3As if they have a craft/sewing/quilting/art group or an individual person who would like to participate by creating a “picture” of a castle in their area which can then be joined with others to create a quilt, or perhaps we should call it a wall hanging as it would be intended to be hung up, not placed on a bed.
Suggested layout
I will limit the size of the picture to fit into a 10″ square. This will allow as many squares as possible to fit into a quilt size that I am happy to handle. (78” x 78”). I think less than 10″ would be too restrictive to produce something worthwhile. I’ve created an illustration of my idea using Excel and have attached a copy to give you an impression of what I would like to achieve. The pictures I’ve inserted are taken from Google just to illustrate the idea, not intended as suggestions of which castles should be included. I’ve tried to choose pictures showing different types of castles, parts of castles and also some old drawings/paintings which could be copied (please ensure there are no copyright issues) in order to show that it would be good to have a variety. Any medium can be used as long as it can be done on fabric or attached to fabric (but not so heavy that it distorts the fabric), e.g. patchwork, applique, knitting, crochet, embroidery, stumpwork, needleweaving, lace, painting (please use fabric paints), printing, felting, machine embroidery, ribbon embroidery, cross stitch. If cross stitch is used, this could be done on 14 count aida fabric and used instead of the calico. The greater the variety, the more interest is created.

I’ve chosen calico for the background of the squares because it’s neutral and it will be possible to paint or print on it as well if that’s what someone wants to do. I picked blue and yellow for the sashing and border as representative of U3A colours, it is a U3A project after all. I would also embroider the names of the castle underneath each in English and Welsh (if different).

10″ squares will allow for 36 castles to be represented which would be wonderful to achieve. If I have offers of more, the ones included in the quilt would be picked by a blind draw. The remaining squares could be finished as separate squares and made into cushions or put into a folder to be displayed at the same time. It would also be good to have a couple of paragraphs about each castle to accompany the quilt. I will ask for the squares to be returned to me by the end of October.

At the end of the Castles Self Learning Project, there will be the question of what to do with the wall hanging as it would be unfair for it to be kept by just one person/U3A. Suggestions so far are raffling it for charity (we would have to check if it is possible for U3As to hold this type of raffle), donate it to CADW as some Welsh castles are in their care, or possibly donating it to St Fagan’s who have items representing the activities of people in Wales.

I propose purchasing all the fabric myself and posting the squares to those taking part. I have worked out an approximate cost for the quilt of £160. This will depend on where the fabric is purchased from and how many U3As take part. I would need to ask if those U3A’s completing squares would be able to contribute towards the cost. If there are 36 U3As, the cost would be only £4 – £5 each. I will be able to confirm the amount when I know how many participants there are.

If your U3A, or someone in your U3A, is interested in taking part, please contact me directly at and I will be happy to discuss it further.