Maretha grew up on a farm in the Eastern Free State during the depression years where you had to produce or make everything you needed. Sheep farming was at a premium. She learned to spin and weave with wool and mohair. Her first attempts at weaving were girdles on an elementary loom. In subsequent years when spinning and weaving were popular hobbies in Potchefstroom and Stellenbosch, she taught others. This knowledge stood her in good stead during her graduate studies in textiles.
Maretha continues: “My first exposure to quilt making was in 1966 when asked to write an article on the subject for an Afrikaans encyclopedia. I also took the initiative to make a felt wall panel (3 X 1.8 m). It was for the entrance to a new building at the University. A task, executed with the assistance of a textile artist and my students.
During my last years at Stellenbosch, Kaffie Pretorius returned from the USA with her hand-made sample quilt. She shared her knowledge freely. For me, this was a starting point and lifesaver when our family moved to Johannesburg in 1978.
I gathered a group of new friends whom I taught the joys of quilt making, initiated quilting groups, and in 1987 initiated the establishment of the Golden Rand Guild.
In this manner, I jumped boots and all under the quilting blanket.
These were pioneering days with a few references, leftover fabric, no specialist fabric shops, or quilt-making gadgets. There was sufficient creative energy, enthusiasm, a sense of sharing, and a need to acknowledge needlecraft to get us going. Amazing how quilting has managed to bring people together.
There were quite a few highlights in my quilting career, one being the publication in 1984 of the book “Protea designs for piecing and quilting.” in both languages. I also received the Pro dedicata award from the SA National Quilters’ Guild in 2004, initiated three group quilts for the GRG, and was involved in three national quilt festivals. The cherry on the cake was the completion of thirteen quilts by myself and my friends. It enabled me in 2013 to start writing the book Quilt Potpourri.