13 Feb 2018: We're just back from a busy five weeks in southern Africa. We kicked off with an amazing six days in Kruger National Park with Alison and Graham and our champion organisers Helen and Nathan. In Johannesburg, Magie had a chance to catch up with quilting pals and do some shopping, while Bob stayed properly focused on food - especially the famous 'Russian sausage sandwich' at Nathan's favourite junk food haven, Akhalwayas.
Then we headed for new territory - Moçambique - which from a textile point of view is known mainly for its women's wrapper called capulano. Through a local eco-tourism organisation on Ilha de Moçambique (www.ilhablue.com) we found an old lady who taught us all about this traditional cloth via an interpreter. Textiles aside, Ilha de Moçambique - a UNESCO world heritage site - is fascinating, welcoming, laid-back and steeped in history. Then in Maputo we found a wonderful capulano emporium called Casa Elefante. Of course, Magie bought several pieces for her collection!
Back in South Africa, we popped in on our great pal Pam Stallebrass near Cape Town and did some interesting and exhausting touring in the Karoo. All in all, a great trip.
31 Dec 2017: This is truly astounding, folks. When we launched it on 2 December, we thought our modest little quilt sale to raise money for the Sukuta Health Centre in The Gambia might bring in a couple of hundred quid for us to take with us on our buying trip to see Musa, Neneh and our friends at the clinic.
Thanks to your generosity - buying quilts like crazy, that is - we now have £2,670 to put towards more improvements at the clinic. These will benefit patients, staff, volunteers (like Musa) and visitors.
So, where will the money go? That decision - as always - was left to the clinic staff and the community.
While we were in The Gambia in December they got a quotation for additional improvement work to the septic and drainage system, as well as a quotation for new sealable sliding windows. These will improve privacy, cut down the dust and improve air conditioning efficiency in the maternity ward and pharmacy.
With the funding now in hand - work has already begun!
Thank you again for helping Musa's clinic.
3 Dec 2017: A great big THANK YOU to the worldwide fans of The African Fabric Shop!
At midnight on Saturday 2 December we sent you all an email to kick off our online sale of quilts to raise money for the Sukuta Health Centre in The Gambia.
Only 18 minutes later the first quilt was gobbled up - thanks, Vicky!
That started a quilt feeding frenzy that lasted the rest of the day both online and in the shop. By close of play Musa's clinic was better off to the tune of £2,154, including several generous cash donations.
We're off to The Gambia tomorrow with the good news - and the money, of course!
Previously, your generous support for the Buy a Plank quilt project raised £4,000.
'How did we spend all that money,' you might ask.
The answer is: we didn't spend it. That was the respsonsibility of Head Nurse Rose Mendy, advised by her team and the village elders.
That money paid for major building and sanitation work, as well as clinical and cleaning equipment.
For news of the next phase of spending at Sukuta Health Centre, watch this space.
And if you haven't alreadyl, sign up for our monthly e-Newsletter.
Thank you from Rose, Musa and the Team at Sukuta Health Centre.
John Gillow - renowned author, inveterate traveller and world textiles expert - recently pinned Magie with his esteemed blessing and honour: the Guinea Star (with bar) medal, awarded for three months of hard travel by bus, minibus, clapped out Peugot and donkey cart across West Africa.
Did you know that we stock John's book African Textiles: Colour and Creativity Across a Contintent?
Our recent 25 March World Textile Day at Llanidloes was brilliant. One visitor remarked - not for the first time - 'World Textile Day is my favourite day of the year!' Speaking to our theme Colour, our main presentation was by Liz Beasely of Ananuca Chilean Textiles. She took us on a journey to the Andes to discover the natural dyes used by the weavers where she sources her rugs, shawls and yarns. Jim Gaffney of Textile Traders did a short talk about the resurgence of natural dyes and we continued our new idea of Show & Tell where visitors can discuss pieces from their own collections - very popular. The cakes by the Quilt Association of Wales were wonderful as well!
Our next World Textile Day is 6 May at Wickham in Hampshire.
More info about all seven of our World Textile Days: www.worldtextileday.co.uk
It's nice to be home, of course. But we're missing the road a bit already - especially exploring the villages and markets of West Africa looking for textile treasures to tempt you!
Our latest adventure took us all the way from Morocco to Ghana with a whole lot of Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal, The Gamiba, Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire in between.
We're busy updating the website as fast as we can with great new fabrics from our travels.