A little bit of history

Hello everyone, hope you are all well and happy. It is another damp and dreary weekend here in Yorkshire but that means plenty of time for catching up on blogging and crafting!

Regular readers will know I love visiting historic places, all places are special in their own way and all very beautiful but sometimes you come across something really special that is a real wow moment.

You may remember that Ellie worked at Hardwick Hall before she moved to Clumber Park, they have an extensive collection of Elizabethan textiles, some worked by Bess of Hardwick and some by Mary Queen of Scots, her husband’s charge in the years before her death.

We were wandering through our second Trust Property, Coughton Court , really enjoying the beautiful treasures when we came across a darkened room full of the most amazing things.

Firstly there was this beautiful chalice cover with the most wonderful Elizabethan goldwork, then a priest’s cope which was made by Catherine of Aragon, (another heroine of mine), and her ladies, no pictures as it was too dark but you can get a glimpse of it at the collections site here.

Coughton textiles 5

Coughton textiles 6

Then at the back in a case was this very simple chemise, embroidered around the neck, the chemise that Mary allegedly wore when she was executed at Fotheringay Castle in 1587.

Coughton - MQS robe 1

This was one of the most wow moments I have ever had at a property, one of those really goose bumpy moments when you realise you are actually really close up to the reality of history. You can see a full length picture of the chemise at the collections site at the above link.

It was also very interesting as all contemporary reports said that Mary wore blood – red undergarments, the colour of a catholic martyr, maybe this was under those red robes.

You can read more about Coughton and the family history at this great blog post  from the very informative Tudor Stuff blog. The family were staunch Catholics and so had a bit of a rough time during the reformation but managed to retain their beautiful property.

There were also some other lovely costumes in portraits. The blackwork on the neck and sleeves of this robe and this lace collar were two of my particular favourites.

There was some very good interpretation using textiles as well, this is something that Ellie and I have noticed as a growing trend in Trust houses and one that we really like. I think it is far more interesting to read something set in the context and also from a practical point of view easier as the print is larger and several people can be reading the information at once.

This was a dinner party at which the guests were all members of the estate who died in the First World War. A very touching and lovely way to remember them, with their photos as place cards and their stories on the back of each chair.

Coughton - textile interpretation 1

Coughton - textile interpretation 2

I will be back soon with more lovely Trust stuff, now off to make another little basket, have resisted the urge to make more for a few weeks but they are so cute and this will be a present for a younger relative.

Hope that you all have a lovely weekend whatever you are doing and see you soon. Thanks for visiting.

Norwegian Embroidery

Hello again

One of my favourite parts of the Oslo Folk Museum of course was the exhibition of traditional folk costume, the bunad, and some wonderful examples of the embroidery including Hardanger, a traditional type of whitework from Norway.

Norway Folk Museum embroidery 3

There were examples of wool embroidery on costumes and accessories.

Norway Folk Museum embroidery 2

Norway Folk Museum embroidery 5

These baby’s caps were a combination of wool and redwork embroidery.

Norway Folk Museum embroidery 4

There was also blackwork, excuse the fuzziness of the picture below but I wanted to show you amount of stitching on this beautiful head dress.

Norway Folk Museum embroidery 6

Norway Folk Museum embroidery 1

We also saw a bridal outfit like this one below and lots of the beautiful jewellery that is worn with the costume.

Norway Telemark Bridal Crown -small

Norway Folk Museum embroidery 7

There are more beautiful images of Norwegian bridal crowns here , it really struck me how much the head dresses and the silver jewellery resembled the Miao Chinese folk costume that I saw when I went to the Ethnicities Museum in Beijing.

Miao Chinese Folk Costume

We saw quite a few people wearing their traditional costume on Christmas Eve in Oslo, particularly in the cathedral where we went for the afternoon service.

This website has got lots of photos of people wearing their bunads at an event held at the Folk Museum in 2012.

They were also on sale in one of the department stores, with packs of ready prepared shirt material and embroidery patterns.

I was also very pleased as many years ago when we visited Sweden I bought some beautiful metal clasps that I have used for medieval costume. I only have this one left.

Norway cloak clasps 1

But I discovered that they are used in the bodice of the bunad so was able to buy some more sets, I now have two each of these beauties.

Norway cloak clasps 2

I have been doing a bit of research and thanks to Pinterest have found so much inspiration for Scandinavian embroidery. There are some gorgeous designs here

And if you want more information and pictures about the wool embroidery this is an excellent source looking at costumes from Northern Norway.

Well I will leave you know and get on with some actual embroidery rather than just adding to my to do pile! Will be back soon with the last of my Norwegian loveliness posts.

Have a lovely rest of the weekend and thanks for visiting.


A woodland wedding with wellies!

Hello everyone

I can finally reveal the wedding outfit that I have been working on for so long as we celebrated my brother’s wedding this weekend. The jacket and shirt were finally finished with three days to go before the wedding!

We had a brilliant time, without a doubt one of the loveliest weddings I have ever been to, full of personal touches from Ben and Amanda that made it really special and very memorable. There are not many weddings where the bride gets to drive a tractor as part of the day!

Amanda works at Oakwell Hall, a beautiful Tudor house and country park so most of the wedding took place there. They did have a short legal ceremony at the Registry office, here are all the family with them after signing the register.

Ben and Amanda's wedding 1

Amanda had chosen a gorgeous silk brocade for me to make the wedding jacket from, with black silk collar and cuffs. I also made a linen shirt and Amanda’s Mum stitched a blackwork acorn design on the collar and cuffs.

Ben and Amanda's wedding 17

Ben and Amanda's wedding 10

Ben and Amanda's wedding 11

Ben and Amanda's wedding 12

The most important part of the day for them was an exchange of rings in the woodland that is part of the parkland, Amanda helped to build the faith circle where we sat for that ceremony.

It was brilliant, starting with Amanda in her tractor leading all of the guests from the hall to the circle where we were all given bubbles to blow as the bride arrived.

Ben and Amanda's wedding 7

Here are the kids and their cousins Sam and Sarah enjoying the bubbles.

Ben and Amanda's wedding 8

The ceremony featured wooden rings that Ben and Amanda had made themselves and very moving vows where they promised to be each others ‘forever friends’ and go on adventures together.

Ben and Amanda's wedding 9

We had all been asked to wear wellies or colourful boots for that part of the ceremony so here are mine, my sister Jackie’s and Ellie’s boots in the leaves.

Ben and Amanda's wedding 13

Ben and Amanda's wedding 14

Ben and Amanda's wedding 15

The reception took place in the barn which had been decorated with bunting made by Amanda’s Mum Eileen and sister Kate. Ben and Amanda love wood-turning and had made all of the serving platters for the cheeses as well as a mushroom for each guest as a wedding favour.

Ben and Amanda's wedding 4

Ben and Amanda's wedding 3

It was Ben’s 50th birthday as well as their wedding and so they had a woodland cake with models of their two cats on and a wedding cheese cake, they also made all of these little mice to decorate the cakes.

Ben and Amanda's wedding 2

Ben and Amanda's wedding 16

The evening ended with a fantastic firework display, one of Ben’s favourite things.

A wonderful day made all the more special by the fact that they did everything themselves, with help from friends and family, from the food to the decorating all of it was very much the way they wanted it to be.

This is one of my favourite pictures from the day, Ben in a very fetching apron serving the canapés!

Ben and Amanda's wedding 6

The kids have gone home now so it is all very quiet and I am looking forward to a very relaxing afternoon catching up with some Christmas stitching. Have a happy week ahead, see you soon and thanks for visiting.

Tudor Costume

Hello there, hope you are having a nice weekend, am about to go out to an open garden afternoon here in the village but before I do wanted to share some of the Tudor costume we have seen recently as Ellie and I had a little trip out to Nostell Priory  this week.

Ellie has been there before for a training course (she gets to go to some fab venues for her staff development!) and wanted to go back as a visitor.

The house dates from the 1800s but the family were related to Tudor notables including Elizabeth Woodville and so there were quite a few portraits of costume that were brilliant to see.

This blackwork jacket belonged to a Duchess and the detail on the painting was very good.

Nostell Priory blackwork portrait

Nostell Priory balckwork portrait 2

The best thing was just before we left which was this amazing portrait of Thomas More  (he who sadly failed in his attempts to get Henry 8th his divorce from Catherine of Aragon) and his family.

There was such brilliant detail in the pictures of the costumes so I took some close up shots for me and for my friend Kat who makes such fantastic Tudor costume as well as medieval period things.

Nostell Priory Moore pic whole

Nostell Priory Moore pic

Nostell Priory Moore pic 2

The blackwork embroidery on this shift is very detailed and there also appears to be similar embroidery on the edge of the dress.

Nostell Priory Moore pic 3

It was interesting to see that two of the sisters had shared two of the fabrics, using it alternately for sleeves and bodice.

Nostell Priory Moore pic 4

Nostell Priory Moore pic 5

I have some very good news to share with you as well as Ellie is going to be staying at Hardwick permanently – her contract which was due to run out next March has been extended and she will be there for there for the foreseeable future🙂 We are all very pleased not least Kerry as she was going to miss her cinema buddy!

One of the things that I keep meaning to post about is the National Trust Collections web site that details all of their artefacts, Ellie uses this a lot for her blog so you may find it useful if you are interested in more detail about their collections.

Will be back later with some more textile loveliness from Nostell, meanwhile take care and thanks for visiting.

The joy of stitching

Hello everyone, hope that you are having a lovely weekend, I am still knitting bunnies but turning my thoughts to other things as well as work is easing off and I have the summer coming up.

In and amongst the kit making I am planning some other stitching projects. It is while since I did anything stitchery apart from exchange pieces and Xmas ornies but am musing on some long-term projects (would love to do another big goldwork piece) and have some more blackwork gifts planned for later in the year.

I love doing blackwork, have not done any for so long and was reminded of my passion for it when Kerry brought up her sewing basket with her for our dress making weekend and there were the needlecase and scissor fob I had made for her some years ago.

Kerry's blackwork needlebook

This was one of the sets I made for the girls in my old medieval group, here they all are with their gifts, these were done in 2009.The picture below shows Kerry’s needlebook along with the two others I made.


blackwork needlebooks

A couple of years earlier I did a piece for a friend’s wedding, they are re-enactors so I thought they would like this piece based on the effigies we see (and use for costume research) in many churches.

Jenny and Blackie's wedding pic

I have so many more ideas of stuff I would like to do so am going to spend some time lining up the new projects this weekend. You never know – I might win the lottery soon and be able to give up work and is best to be prepared😉

Hope you are having fun whatever you are doing, thanks for visiting.

Tudor Times

Hello everyone, apologies in advance as this is a very picture heavy post but I have some fab 17th century embroidery to show you!

We visited mainly smaller Tudor properties this week, not by design just those that were local to us (and open on the right days!). We still have many more on our wish list to do🙂

The first was one I have had on my list for a while Little Moreton Hall in Cheshire, a very lovely Tudor house which as you can see from the pictures has suffered through the years and has needed extensive structural work to keep it from falling down!

Little Moreton Hall

Moreton 2

Moreton 3

Moreton 4

Moreton 5

The second was East Riddlesden Hall in Keighley, not only a beautiful little house but also home to some gorgeous embroidery.

East Riddlesden Hall


Look at all these beautiful pictures.


East Riddlesden Hall



Sadly their sampler display was not available due to a ceiling collapse in that room so I will return to see that sometime.

There was also some lovely embroidery that had been done for the displays by local women, this blackwork beadspread and crewel work hangings date from the 1920s.

ERH 11

ERH 10
And some fantastic plaster ceilings.




The last one we visited was Gawthorpe Hall near Burnley, this is a mini Hardwick Hall in design and is home to the Rachel Kay Shuttleworth needlework collection. A small part of her 28,000 pieces were on display.Rachel lived in the house in the 1950s and was a passionate needlewoman.

There were no photos allowed in the house but there is an excellent blog with online gallery and details of the textile courses they run.

Gawthorpe Hall

Gawthorpe 2

A very textilicious holiday with lots of inspiration for me!

Now back to the real world of work with just a few bits of stitching a week to keep me sane🙂

Thanks as always for visiting, I will be off to Ashby de La Zouche Castle next weekend for a show with Swords of Mercia so if you are in the area come along and say hello!

Where did the time go?

Hello everyone, I hope that you are all having a lovely weekend.

We are and it started with lovely daughter Ellie’s 21st birthday on Friday. I can’t believe that she is not only celebrating her birthday but also that she is nearly at the end of her time at Uni! It only seems a few weeks ago that we were dropping her off at her halls.

As I type she is sitting writing her dissertation, she is doing very well and is about 3/4 way through this. She is also applying for jobs in the heritage industry so I am keeping my fingers crossed for her as she has worked so hard.

She is still volunteering at Greyfriars, the National Trust Tudor house in Worcester where she worked as a Conservation Assistant last year but has also been doing voluntary work archiving material from the old Worcester hospital.

We were going to go to Leeds on a day out and visit Temple Newsam house but got sidetracked by some new charity shops in town so had a day of retail therapy instead which not only gained us both lots of new clothes (including some lovely tops for Ellie’s work wardrobe) but also donated some funds to charity! A win win situation. I love shopping in charity shops, we have some fab ones in our town with some really expensive labels at a fraction of the cost.

Ellie does not really want to be 21 and out in the big wide world – she would rather be a Disney Princess so I bought her lots of Disney gifts for her birthday – here is her pile of pinkness and her and Jake posing , they look very 60s hippy chicks here.

Ellie 21st 4

Ellie 21st 1

We also had a Disney fairies birthday cake with a sparkler in.

Ellie 21st 2

One of her presents, from my sister -in- law Amanda, was this beautiful blackwork picture.

Ellie 21st 3

She also celebrated with her friends in Worcester – in fancy dress of course – the theme was Army Girls.

Ellie 21st Worcs 1

So have a very happy 22nd year – we are all very proud of you!

My Mum also arrived on Friday as we are off to the Italian Lakes on Wednesday – lucky us.

So take care and I will see you all in a week or so!