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Hello everyone, hope that you are having a good weekend so far. I have a change of plans as unfortunately my back is not too good so will not be going to Bolsover but will be mainly resting on the sofa carrying on with some of my projects. Luckily I have enough to keep me busy for the weekend ;-)
On our whistle-stop tour of Trust properties we made our way back up North stopping off at two houses in the Midlands.
Calke Abbey was an amazing experience, billed as, ‘a very unstately stately home’, it was a treasure trove of history, the collection of the Harpur – Crewe family who owned the house for over 250 years and never threw anything away!
There are gorgeous grounds and gardens and a church with beautiful Victorian stained glass windows.
The house is still in state of disrepair and the decision of the Trust was to repair enough to make it watertight and safe and not to restore but to display it as a country house past its prime, telling the story of those many British houses that suffered due to social changes after the first World War.
The house is crammed with things, an incredible amount of taxidermy, especially given that half of it was sold to pay death duties, and more importantly for me a huge wealth of textile beauty, particularly needlepoint.
There were touching displays of family possessions like this cabinet full of what look to be Edwardian children’s clothes and lace parasols.
One of the first rooms that you visit displays some of the thousands of objects that are in the collection which are not usually out of their storerooms and looks at the conservation needs of the objects.
This 18th century embroidered jacket and waistcoat was among them and made Ellie and I wonder what other costume treasures the house has given that the family kept all their possessions.
This is one of the highlights of the collection, the perfectly preserved Chinese silk embroidered State Bed which was found still in boxes, having never been assembled since it was made around 1715.
These pictures are from the National Trust Collections web site as the bed is displayed behind glass in a dimly lit room to preserve its beauty.
There were so many lovely examples of needlepoint on chairs, cushions and fire screens and wonderful embroidered silk cushions – some pieces half hidden behind cabinets of stuffed animals and birds.
This group of chairs is displayed with only one uncovered at a time to stop them fading and the photo at the bottom is on display on a side table to show them all together uncovered.
There was also this beautiful silk bed coverlet that one of the volunteers had tried to research the origin of, the conclusion was that it may have been Indian and probably dated from the 1800s.
One of the rooms had some of the children’s toys and at the foot of the doll’s house I spotted this sampler, excuse the poor light but you can just see the name and the date on it, Selina Crewe 1809.
Selina was one of the family and I managed to find a painting of her, again from the Trust Collection site. She died in 1838, 29 years after she completed this sampler so was not very old when she died.
It is rare to be able to see pictures of people who stitched the things that I see on my visits and I hope that she had a happy life and enjoyed her needlework.
I managed to find information about the fact that she married and had two children, a boy called Stanhope after his father and a daughter with the beautiful name Georgiana Jane Henrietta Eliza.
In my research for this post I found this great blog by one of the Trust staff called National Trust Treasure Hunt that has lots more photos of Calke and other properties that I will be going back to for a good browse and may inspire you for your visits.
Well I will love you and leave you now as I have sample knitting calling, I have started the mittens for Sarah and all is going well so far.
I have learnt how to do German Twisted Cast On this week so am feeling like a bit of a knitting genius again and have just had a delivery of new bamboo needles so am very happy!
Take care, have a nice rest of the weekend and thanks for visiting.
Book challenge number 22 is a book with pictures. As well as making things I love to read about the history of craft and none more so than the history behind quilts.
I have a growing collection of books on quilt history, both in the UK and US, and this is my latest acquisition which I have absolutely loved reading.
Wisconsin Quilts – History in the Stitches by Ellen Kort is a brilliant book as not only are the quilts wonderful but this was part of a special project to document quilts so they were brought by the current owners, often the descendants of the original makers.
This means that there are the stories and sometimes the pictures of the women who made them which is amazing as so often that information is lost.
As expected many are stories of hardship, of women leaving families as new brides and moving west, to Wisconsin and then sometimes further west to Wyoming and Oregon as well in search of a better life. The quilts are beautiful and so detailed in their execution, all hand pieced and hand quilted.
These are three of my favourites, a Star of Bethlehem from 1856, a Rose Wreath from 1865 and a Grandmother’s Flower Garden Path from 1932 during the Depression.
There are lots of deaths of children from disease and of husbands from accidents, injuries and later the Civil and First World Wars.
The quilts that they made so different from the ones we make today, from whatever they could find in the way of fabric, saving and reusing every scrap where we have the luxury of yards of new fabric to choose from.
This quilt was made from advertising flannels given away with tobacco products in the 1920s.
One of the quilts was made in England from scraps of velvet fabric saved by one of the needlewomen who made Queen Victoria’s bonnets.
Unfortunately too dark for me to photograph properly it travelled to the USA with its maker Kitty Weekes in the late 1840s when she went to join her brother Thomas and his friend George in Wisconsin. She helped clear land and build a house and married George in 1855 at the age of 44.
There are however so many similarities between us and those women, quilts made for celebration such as births and weddings, quilts made with friends for company, quilting being a little bit of ‘me time’ at the end of a hard day, though my hardest days at work cannot compare to being a pioneer farmer’s wife in the 1800s.
There are also quilts made to raise funds for war efforts, both the Civil war and the First World War like this one – an autograph quilt to raise money for the Red Cross.
I have been watching the Poldark series on BBC TV and many of the Cornish miners emigrated to Wisconsin when the mines began to decline and worked in lead mines there.
This is how the West was truly won, the hard work of all those men and women who set out alone and worked through cold winters and lonely times.
The book is a brilliant portrayal of the social history of a new state covering the late 1700s to 1943 and a really interesting read.
I have recently finished another book about emigration which has a personal connection so will post about that another time.
Thanks very much for visiting.
I spend a lot of time travelling to all sorts of beautiful parts of the globe so it was lovely to have week in my gorgeous country appreciating (along with many tourists from all over the world) what England has to offer.
Our first day was spent in the Cotswolds where I grew up and the visit to Bourton-on-the-Water brought back many happy memories of paddling in this stream, seeing the pretty cottages and visiting the model village (which Kerry loved just as much as I did when I first saw it).
We then went to Snowshill Manor, a National Trust property in the Cotswolds, quintessentially an English manor house with beautiful gardens but home to a very eclectic collection by the last owner Charles Paget Wade.
There was everything from samurai warrior suits to old bikes, including many beautiful Oriental chests from his travels. One room had a lovely collection of textiles including what looks like a piece from a Layton jacket!
I particularly liked this sampler book showing miniature garments, no information on its maker but I think it would be a for a similar purpose to the one that inspired the Blackbird Designs book, ‘A Stitcher’s Journey’, which I posted about previously, to show prospective employers your needlework skills.
A lovely day out – and all in the best of English summer sunshine!
Thanks for visiting, more historic loveliness soon!
I hope that you have been having a lovely and happy week in this run up to the festive season. This has been my last week of teaching for the year so we have had some Christmas dos and I have now finished teaching for the next few weeks :-)
I have been spending this weekend with my lovely friend Kerry, we had a very nice relaxing night in last night having a few glasses of wine and a catch up and today visited a Tudor house, Haddon Hall near Bakewell, that we have had on our wish list for while.
It was absolutely beautiful, not only was it a gorgeous day but the house itself was so lovely, a wonderful place with a great hall and plastered long gallery as well as a wonderful chapel with original wall paintings and the kitchens had been restored and really well interpreted.
Since Ellie started working for the National Trust I have paid even more attention to how things are displayed and labelled in the historic places I visit, listening to her has made me think more about all these issues about the visitor experience.
I think Haddon Hall have done a wonderful job, especially of the Christmas decorations – we loved them, see what you think in these pictures.
As well as all the Tudor things the drawing room had a lovely old hexagon quilt which I think dated from the 1920s.
Have not done a huge amount on the crafting front this week due to all the festive dos, had a lovely meal out with my Marsden Knitting group this week where we all exchanged hand-made ornies – need to take a good pic of the lovely ornie I got on my tree.
Still working on the knitted hat and on an Xmas gift for a family member. I finished another gift this week but can’t reveal that till after Xmas.
I am spending this week working from home then we go to Powis Castle for Xmas – am very excited and am hoping for snow! Jake has just arrived home for the holidays so we both have a few more dos this week then we shall be off!
Will post next weekend to wish you all a Merry Christmas – till then thanks for visiting.
Hope that you are all having a nice weekend, I have been very busy with decorating since early this morning so have decided to have a nice sit down and do a post with a cup of tea before I go and cook.
Ellie has gone back to University – we helped her move in to her new house on Thursday and left her to unpack.She has got a bigger room this year which is good as she had a lot of stuff! It is a very nice house with a brand new kitchen (not at all like student digs in my day!) so I’m sure she will be very happy there.
I had a good journey back just sitting stitching another JBW Xmas ornie with a cup of tea, looking at the lovely views out of the train window now and again. It was a very lovely couple of hours and I really enjoyed it. I do love using trains, I’m sure that driving is very useful and I can see the advantages sometimes but I was very happy sitting and relaxing with my stitching and reading my book.I felt very peaceful and mellow, it was great!
I have treated myself this week to some new books that have been on my wish list on Amazon for a while so I thought that I would show you them (in the absence of any finished stitching – do have two Xmas ornie WIPs which should be done soon!) I do love reading – again another one of my fave things to do and am very sad that the book below is the last in the series at the moment. I started reading the Elm Creek Quilt series last year on the recommendation of a friend from knitting and I love them, they are a wonderful mix of quilting patterns, history and the story of the women who make the quilts.
This book as you have probably guessed is about the American Civil war and picks up the stories of the lives of some of the quilters in earlier books such as The Sugar Camp quilt and The Lost Quilter. I really hope that there are more planned for the future!
My other great pleasure is of course finding out more about the history of needlework and this is a book I have had on my wishlist for a long time, I noticed last week that there was a very cheap second – hand copy for sale so snapped it up. The book is a history of American Needlework written by Rose Wilder Lane, the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ fame. It was Rose who encouraged Laura to write all her books, being a successful author herself and I can’t wait to get some time to study this in more depth.
Here is just a little taste of the lovely stuff inside, some red embroidery, traditional patchwork blocks and an applique quilt from the Brooklyn Museum.
My last treat is some new silk thread from The Silk Mill to stitch all these ornies with – an Xmas colour pack and some extra greens as they are having a 35% off sale until the 5th Sept – to good to miss. That has not arrived yet but will take a pic of it when it does for you so you can admire the silky loveliness!
Well I do hope you all have a lovely week ahead, we are gearing up for the start of a new term with Jake back at college this week, my new students will arrive the week after so it will be all go then, no time for being mellow but I will try to factor in lots and lots of stitching time!
Thanks for visiting.
I am pleased to report that I have almost finished the Makower Farm fabric quilt in time to take it to Spain next week. In fact I do have enough time (and hopefully enough fabric) to make a little bag to go with it to keep all the animals in.
I was going to be very pushed for time but as Ellie arrived home late and very tired (but happy and very brown) from her dig yesterday evening we decided to have a quiet day in today so I got it finished. I have not got pics of the completed quilt yet as I need to do the bottom hem but plan to do that tomorrow. This was my progress up until today (as modelled by Jake!)
Six of the labels have a pocket on them (made of an extra label with the same design shown on) and I have bought six little plastic farm animals to put into the pockets as well as a set of bigger animals.
As this was my own design I have spent a lot of time trying to work out what I could do with fabric I had bought and would it have been much easier had I bought more plain and co-ordinates for sashing and borders but I will know for next time. I have just quilted the top and then made a ‘bag’ with the backing and turned it inside out, partly as I thought it would look better and partly as I was running out of time and fabric to do a border. I think it looks great as the outside border has enough pattern on it anyway.
We have been for a few days out since Mum arrived at the weekend. Firstly to Marsden which was lovely and sunny.
Then to Temple Newsam House near Leeds which is a Tudor and Jacobean mansion that was the birthplace of Lord Darnley who married Mary Queen of Scots.
Lots of fab rooms and textiles inside , including some wonderful portraits, lots of embroidery spotting. No inside pics allowed but I did find a copy of this pic of Arabella Stuart on this very informative website.
The jacket she is wearing reminds me very much of the Layton jacket in the Victoria and Albert Museum that I have written about previously. Below is a pic of Margaret Layton wearing the jacket.It makes me wonder about who made them both and how many more similar jackets exist – was it a popular design, did they know each other and did they ever meet (hopefully not both wearing their jackets!). They were both alive at the same time.
There was also a very interesting quilt on one of the beds – no pics allowed so I will have to try to describe it to you and see if anyone has seen anything similar as I have never come across one like it before.
It was made of glazed chintz, Chinese inspired flower / tree of life type designs so late 17th or early 18th century I think. It was patchwork but did not seem to be quilted, no wadding as far as I could tell and the patchwork design was of large squares about 14″ diameter set on point with half triangles at the border. I went to a quilt exhibition at the V and A last year and saw quilts there dating from the 15oos but nothing like this. It looked quite basic, not really stately home style and I was very intrigued so if anyone knows anything about it please let me know.
We have a trip to York to the latest Quilt Museum exhibition and the Minster planned for later in the week which will be lovely. Hopefully I will get chance to post again before I leave for Spain (with my completed quilt – hurrah!).
Thanks very much for visiting, see you again soon.