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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!

Calke - house

Calke 11

There are gorgeous grounds and gardens and a church with beautiful Victorian stained glass windows.

Calke - stained glass

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.

Calke - cabinet

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.

Calke - jacket

Calke 13

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.

State Bed

State Bed

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.

Calke 2

Calke 3

Calke 4

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.

Calke 16

Calke - chairs

Calke - needlepoint

Calke 17

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.

Calke - bed cover

Calke 8

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.

Calke -sampler

Calke 6

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.

Selina Harpur Crewe

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.

Hello again

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).

Bourton

Bourton 2

Bourton 3

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.

Snowshill

Snowshill 3

Snowshill 4

Snowshill 5

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!

Snowshill textiles

Snowshill textiles 2

Snowshill textiles 3

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.

Snowshill textiles 4

Snowshill textiles 5

Snowshill textiles 6

A lovely day out – and all in the best of English summer sunshine!

Thanks for visiting, more historic loveliness soon!

We have had a very, very lovely day today – not only going to Hardwick Hall for the day but because my lovely daughter Ellie works there had a brilliant ‘behind the scenes’ experience which was amazing.

Here is the Hall in the lovely sunlight – as a contemporary of Bess’s wrote when it was built – ‘more glass than wall’.

Hardwick - hall front

Hardwick - garden

Here are some pictures of what the public gets to see.

The beautiful velvet heraldic embroidery created by Bess of Hardwick herself,  the blue silk bed hangings, the Great Hall with its bed canopy.

Hardwick - Bess velvet 1

Hardwick - Bess velvet 2

Hardwick - Blue silk bed

Hardwick - great hall

But we also got to go up on the roof! This is the top of the hall and the view from one of the small banqueting rooms that are in the towers.

Hardwick - Roof

Hardwick - Roof view

The best bit for me was going into the textile store rooms in the attic.Here are all the boxes with little pictures of the contents.

Hardwick - Textile store boxes

And here is Ellie opening one of the boxes for us.This contained a beautiful velvet hanging of flowers.

Hardwick - Ellie box

Hardwick - Flower velvet 1

Hardwick - Flower velvet 2

Another box had some more of the most wonderful of Bess’s heraldic pieces, here I am close up to this piece – no glass at all, heaven!!

Hardwick - Box velvet 1

Hardwick - Box velvet 2jpg

Hardwick - Box velvet 3

I feel very, very priviliged to have been able to do this – thank you Ellie!

And we were able to see the Gideon tapestries that have been away for conservation that she has been helping rehang – go and visit her blog for more details of this. The pictures below show the before and after effects of the cleaning.

Hardwick - Gideon 2

Hardwick - Gideon 1

A brilliant day – I loved it!

Take care all of you and thanks for visiting.

I am off to Florence on Sunday with my Mum so there may be some pictures of medieval art and churches when I get back – you never know!

Hello there

I hope that you are all well and happy.I have had a very enjoyable week, term has started and I have met my lovely new group. I have also spent a wonderful weekend putting the final touches to my new house. All the pictures are up and it is really feeling like home! One of the things that I have had great pleasure in putting up is my stitching, including the oldest pieces, my needlepoint cats.

Before I found cross stitch (courtesy of my sister) I mainly stiched needlepoint which I enjoyed but was very time consuming. However it was very good therapy with small children and I completed a number of pieces. These cats are from a book called Needlepoint Cats by Martin Leman  and are now on the wall in my kitchen.

Needlepoint cats 1

 Needlepoint cats 2

Needlepoint cats 3

I took time out from house sorting yesterday to enjoy the beautiful weather and my lovely new home’s location on the edge of the Peak District National Park.I went for a walk up the hill, I am very lucky as 10 minutes from my house is this wonderfully scenery. This is Butterley Reservoir in the late afternoon sun.

Butterley 1

This is the view from the road up to the reservoir and the picture below is the view back down the valley. The old mill chimney you can see down in the valley is right next to my house.

Butterley 4

Butterley 2

And this of course is one of the most important things about Marsden and the symbol of our Jazz Festival  – a local sheep, famous for invading people’s gardens and eating their flowers!

Butterley 3 - sheep

Am looking forward to many more walks – have got the loan of a couple of friends’ dogs if needed and am hoping to take my bike out soon, maybe tomorrow if I get time.Am feeling so happy now everything is settled and sorted, it is all such a relief!

Take care and thanks again for visiting.

I am building up a collection of antique needlework, some I have got via Ebay, others on my travels (like the Chinese embroidery),  partly due to my interest in all forms of historical needlework but also as I feel a need to rescue things sometimes that may have been loved but for many reasons end up discarded.

I have been doing a lot of sorting out and decluttering recently and realised that although I bought this piece a couple of years ago I have never blogged about it.

Needlepoint tray 1

What made me particularly think about what might have happened in both the creation and the subsequent life of this piece of stitching is that I have been doing lots of reading since teaching ended and I have more time.

I have been reading lots of books by Maureen Lee ,who I mentioned in an earlier post, which are set in wartime Liverpool and I wonder if this was to commemorate something.

I have not tried to take it apart to see if there are any details on the back as it is sealed in the frame. It is needlepoint and all of the canvas is covered in tent stitch in a fine wool. It is a small tray about 14 inches by 8 inches.

Needlepoint tray 2

 

Needlepoint tray 3

I would like to think it was a wedding gift for someone but hope it wasn’t to commemorate something less happy. I would like to imagine it being given to the happy couple who hopefully came through the war and were able to be together like my Nana and Grandad and raise a family.

My lovely Nana died this week after a short illness so I am feeling very sad. Thankfully she was able to come to the UK and see everyone for her 100th birthday which was brilliant.

Whenever I see stitching at museums and in historic houses and pieces like this I so want to know what happened, who made the piece and why, what happened to them after that. There is so much of our little history, our ordinary women’s history lost because it was never recorded which makes me so sad.

My contribution, however small, is to collect and love and cherish and share these things to honour their makers whoever they may be and whatever happened to them.

Thanks for visiting and see you soon.

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