Spiritual stitching

One of the things that was so brilliant at Exeter was the level of information given about all of the textiles on display. As well as a dedicated display of ecclesiastical garments in the centre of the cathedral there was information all around the site about the work.

The Company of Tapisers was formed in 1933 and although the individuals are anonymous there was a real sense when visiting of the human hand behind the work.

Some of the interpretation was very poignant as with this beautiful banner piece of the Virgin Mary.

This was a stunning and very unusual piece, seating along the length of the chapel telling the history of Exeter.

Everywhere there was so much lovely work, from kneelers to altar frontals. It really enhanced the experience for me to be able to read the additional information and I gave my thanks to the staff after the visit.

One thing that I am passionate about is the human story behind textile creation. The novels that I am writing are all based around individual pieces of textiles and the women involved with them. The history of textiles is the history of people, whether it be to celebrate, or simply to keep us warm. It is just so fascinating to me how all of these things are made, and why they are made.

I am so pleased that I have so many friends that share my passion for textiles, and that Ellen is so keen. She has made some stunning things recently, one being a very lovely crochet cushion cover that I am keen to learn how to make as I think it would look great in my new van.

I went to her crochet group last night and that was lovely. She is helping to run workshops with a friend of hers, Vic, who is a very talented creator so are you are in the Nottinghamshire area I can thoroughly recommend Made by Torty B. Her workshops can be found here and are great for beginners or more experienced crafters.

It will have to have a very good sort out of all of my new craft space soon as the machine will have to be found a new home and there might just have been a few purchases made while I have been in the UK. Some storage shopping is on the cards I think!

I hope that you are all enjoying life. I am so looking forward to the next few months of beautiful spring and summer weather. I have promised myself that there will be a new outfit for Whitby and a new dress for Tewksbury so need to get organised and fit all that in.

Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting and commenting, it is always lovely to meet my readers!

Bright lights, big city!

Happy New Year to you all, let’s hope 2022 is a year when we can do the simple things like meeting up with family and friends more often without worrying, and plan things without the risk of them being cancelled.

I have been lucky enough to meet up with lots of people over Christmas, seeing all of my ex work colleagues and friends in Marsden before a lovely time in Edinburgh over Christmas with Ellen. I am now staying with my sister in Worcester for a few months and start driving lessons again in a couple of days so wish me luck!

I will post later about Edinburgh but wanted to show you the lovely things in Manchester first. This was a last minute decision as I was going to stay with my brother, but due to the fact that he had to isolate when coming back from Spain decided to go there for a little tour of some of the places I had never visited.

I stayed at the Salford Quays development in a very cute little room in an Ibis Budget hotel. This was only a short tram ride from central Manchester and I got to admire all of the amazing tower blocks on the way in to the city.

The area was created out of the old dockland area from the era when ships used to sail as far as America via the Manchester Shipping Canal, as Manchester is a long way from the sea. It was one of the first urban regenerations in the early 1980s.

Within the modern shopping malls there were some lovely photos of the old docks and the workers are commemorated along the walkways with art and poetry. I spent a lovely couple of hours wandering around the new areas admiring the Christmas lights and the sheer scale of the buildings there.

My first visit was to the Manchester Art Gallery. Their fashion collection is still being developed but they had some beautiful art depicting costume, which I always love looking at.

There were also some very interesting other exhibitions looking at the role of ‘unskilled workers’, particularly during the pandemic.

That afternoon was a visit to the Manchester Jewish Museum, which is housed in the old Spanish/Portuguese Synagogue which was so beautiful. I have never visited a synagogue before so it was very interesting and very well interpreted with oral history recordings from the people that used to worship there.

There was also a separate museum with the history of the many people who had come to Manchester to settle, which was again full of the personal stories and belongings. I love museums like this that tell the history of ordinary people, it is so important that their stories are not lost.

I was also lucky enough to come across The Portico Library, a beautiful little subscription library that was founded in 1806 and had a quick look around. They had a lovely exhibition on ‘polite literature’ and they also have some resources on fiction writing that I am going to follow up on You Tube.

The final visit was to The People’s History Museum, which is a museum about the history of democracy and has many really interesting sections on the struggle for votes and worker’s rights. Some of these I remember well as they happened during my teens and early twenties. They also had a really interesting collection of banners, from the simple home-made ones of the 1970s and 80s to the very elaborate ones of the Victorian and Arts and craft era.

It was a lovely couple of days and it was nice to visit some of the smaller, less well-known museums in the city. After a busy few weeks I am looking forward to a nice quiet time here. I have bought a new sewing machine with lots of decorative stitches and am looking forward to trying that out this coming week so you never know there may be more evidence of crafting on the blog very soon!

I hope that you all have a nice week ahead, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Caceres, the cathedral and church

Unusually for us on a trip to any European city we only visited one church and the cathedral. There were so many other things to see in our three days there so I can share only a little bit of Catholic bling and goldwork with you 😉

The cathedral was in the main square where the market was and was beautiful inside, the light on the stonework was amazing. In contrast to most Spanish churches the main altarpiece was not gold, but a stunning wooden one with a painted ceiling above it.

There was a side chapel with a gold altar and some gorgeous icons, including one with lights which is something I have not seen before.

The museum had some excellent examples of gold work on the priests’ robes and icons. There were also some unusual painted robes, which were done on white satin, and the under robes had beautiful lace edging.

We climbed up a very narrow, twisting route to the bell tower where there were great views over the city. We did happen to be up there as the bells struck, but luckily it was only 1pm, it was very noisy but I love seeing bells in towers like this.

The other church we visited had an extensive collection of belen, nativities, from around the world and was in the process of building their belen, in the middle of the church. Although this was just a small church there were again some beautiful examples of lace and painted ceilings.

I will post about the museums and all the fabulous costume at a later date. I am going to be doing some volunteering this coming week at the food bank with Ellen and then hopefully on Thursday going to visit various friends in Yorkshire. It will be lovely to be travelling again, I have had a whole week in the house as I have been isolating until my Covid test result came through, which is very unusual for me nowadays. I am really looking forward to getting out and about again, though I have enjoyed doing lots of cross stitch for my ornaments this year.

I hope that you have all had a good week, and are looking forward to the festive season if you are celebrating. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Glorious goldwork of Guadix

It never ceases to amaze me what you find in the very small village and town churches in Spain, the altars, the icons and the sheer scale of things just leave me in awe, but even I was not expecting to find such exquisite and detailed goldwork in the Guadix pueblo.

The cave house area, although now a very popular tourist destination and with houses selling for well above average prices for Spain, was originally the area where the very poorest lived. Those who could not afford building material literally dug their own houses out of the hills. There is a short article here on more of the history of the area if you would like to read more, we visited Jose’s cave while we were there and it is a fascinating look at how people live. He just asks for a donation for your visit and has a very welcome fridge full of cold drinks for sale and also sells local honey.

Around the area there were various references to a priest, San Pedro Poveda, and I looked him up. He worked in the area providing education and set up teacher training to combat illiteracy in the area. His organisation was named after St Teresa of Avila, who is related to the order that I portray as a re-enactment character. Sadly he was executed for his beliefs at the start of the civil war in Spain. It is lovely to see his name and work remembered here.

We visited the church before the cave houses, I really loved the simple iron cross outside and the shadows that it made against the while walls.

Inside it was amazing, many of the icons that are used in the religious festivals were on display, and as always the costumes were stunning.

Further into the church there is a cave area and a cave house linked to that. They also had a little display of belen, nativities, from around the world. I loved their belen which is all set around cave houses.

Just around the corner from the cave house, in a little hidden room we came across the most amazing piece of goldwork that I have ever seen, even accounting for the marvellous work in Lorca.

I think what made it most amazing was its location. Not only was it so unexpected, whereas Lorca has many organisations creating the beautiful costumes for their Easter parades, but I have no idea why such a piece had been created for this small church. It looked to be very recent, and too large to be worn, though there was what looked like a priest’s cope and mantle beside it in the case.

The amount of work that has gone into this piece is amazing, many of the motifs are lilies, the symbol of the Virgin Mary, and have silverwork and shading, as well as goldwork.

I could not find any further information on its origin, only a small sign that I couldn’t translate so have no idea if it was made locally. A truly stunning piece of work and a testament to the skills of the makers.

I was sorting out my patterns yesterday and I have about 5 other goldwork pieces that I am intending make during retirement. I have only done a few, some as gifts, but one has come with me to Spain, my Tudor Rose.

This was made many years ago, in 2009 according to the blog post, and was based on one in the Elizabeth Hoare collection at Liverpool Cathedral that I blogged about here. This took me about 50 hours so I have no idea how long the goldwork in the church would have taken.

I mean to make a companion piece based on a pomegranate, which was the symbol of Catherine of Aragon, as well as being the symbol of Granada. Happy times with lots of lovely craft things planned! Today is a public holiday here so I am having a quiet day in, going to do my usual Spanish language practice, some knitting and then a bike ride later.

I hope that you are enjoying whatever you are doing this week, I will be back later on with more pictures from the Galera trip. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

A mini Hardwick Hall

Our last day of the staycation saw us at Gawthorpe Hall in Lancashire, another National Trust property. I have visited twice before but Mum and Ellen had never been. I particularly wanted Ellen to visit as the house was designed by the same architect as Hardwick, where she used to work and is a beautiful miniature version with an amazing textile collection. There are some historic rooms open but much of the public space contains the textiles collected by Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth.

Gawthorpe 1

Gawthorpe 2

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Rachel lived there from 1886 until 1967 and collected over 30,000 pieces of textiles, from all cultures and for all uses.

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She was an avid embroiderer and promoter of arts and crafts of all kinds which she taught to keep the skills alive.

Gawthorpe 13

This small display of ecclesiastical goldwork reminded me of my visit to the Elizabeth Hoare collection in Liverpool.

Rachel believed that creativity had health and and social benefits. I like to think that she and I would have been very good friends if I had ever been able to meet her, she sounds wonderful. The collection is maintained by a charity and works with schools and local communities as well as stitchers.

I love this display of her desk in one of the rooms, her stitching is on the walls and in the drawers are all the sorts of things she would have used, I love seeing this very personal side of stitching and can imagine her writing articles for embroidery magazines and deciding on new projects here.

There were some very similar pieces to those in the Women Travellers exhibition at Bankfield Museum that came from Eastern Europe and Asia.

Gawthorpe 22

Gawthorpe 23

Gawthorpe 21

The displays have changed since I last went about 5 years ago and there were so many wonderful pieces of whitework and lace on display.

These are two things I have never done but am fascinated by the delicacy of the work and think that the shawls and collars are beautiful. Maybe one day I will be able to incorporate something like this into a Steampunk costume.

Another thing I loved were these hexagons that she had collected, they had been fussy cut and posted to someone, probably as gift.

Gawthorpe 3

I think it is so exciting to see actual papers made of scraps, you can just imagine the sender making these and sending them to a special friend. There were also some hexagon needlebooks and you know how I love a good hexagon!

Gawthorpe 4

Gawthorpe 5

Rachel’s personal rooms also contained this wonderful bed with crewelwork hangings, I am really looking forward to the day when I have a hand- made quilt on my bed, I have one as a work in progress but it will probably be a retirement project as have not touched it for about a year. Luckily fabric does not go off!

Gawthorpe 30

Gawthorpe 31

There was also a display of contemporary embroidery inspired by the collection with some beautiful whitework pieces and silk embroidered birds and insects.

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Gawthorpe 28

This case of needle work tools was also inspired by the collection.

I have been embracing Rachel’s philosophy very much this week, we are right in the middle of marking season, with the added work on my doctorate and so it has been wonderful to sit and stitch in the evenings. I have been working on a table decoration for my Make do and Mend display and so have been quietly doing chain stitch while watching Netflix, very soothing after a hard day of thinking!

I have transformed a man’s shirt into a blouse for my display as well and am now busy working on other aspects, luckily both Jake and I have worn through socks recently so I will be able to demonstrate my darning mushroom and darning egg and I have just got a copy of a vintage pattern for making some patchwork slippers so that is my next project for the event.I am really enjoying the research for the event and have been doing lots of very interesting reading. I have also just won an auction on Ebay for some clothing and food ration books to add to my artifacts which I am very excited about. I will do a post all about that in a little while but my next post will be all about the Haworth 1940s event that Ellie and I are going to this weekend.

We are very excited, Howarth is such a cute village, home to the Bronte sisters and I have not been to this event before, though we have done a Steampunk one there a few years ago. The tablecloth jacket will have an outing as I have decided it is a great example of Make do and Mend and I will be putting on my false eyelashes and red lipstick for a bit of 1940s glamour. I am aiming for something like the gorgeous Gene Tierney here.

Gene-Tierney-makeup-1940s-

As with when we do Steampuk it always seems strange to be wearing make up and costume as I am so used to medieval re-enactment and shapeless clothing and all my hair covered. It will be lovely to be able to have a bit of 1940s style and I can’t wait to see all of the gorgeous outfits there.

Hope that you all have a nice weekend planned, take care and thanks for visiting.

 

Women who broke the mould

One of our staycation trips before Spain was to Bankfield Museum in the local town of Halifax. It is a beautiful museum situated just outside the town in what was a mill-owner’s house.

Bankfield Museum 30

The Ackroyd family that lived there also built a model village, Ackroydon,  in the surrounding area with well-designed houses for the workers that they then helped their staff to buy, so they were real social campaigners, aside from living in the very glamorous Italian style mansion house!

I have wanted to go there for a while to see their costume collection, that is currently being re-organised and will open in late May so Ellie and I have plans to visit later in the summer. However there was a really good exhibition on Women Travellers that had the added bonus of lots and lots of fascinating textiles.

Bankfield Museum 6

Bankfield Museum 5

The exhibition told the story of four women, Gertrude Bell, who I was familiar with already, Edith Durham, Lizzie Humphries and Anne Lister. Lizzy and Anne were local women, the others came from Durham and London.

Bankfield - Gertrude

Bankfield - Edith

Bankfield -Lizzie

Bankfield - Anne

All of them had travelled extensively on their own and Edith in particular collected lots of examples of textiles as she did so.She mainly explored the Balkans and came back with some beautiful examples of traditional costume including marvelous embroidery and goldwork.

Many of the items were gifts for weddings including the beautiful embroidered gauze towels in these pictures above and below, There was also such intricate goldwork!

Bankfield Museum 14

I really liked this blackwork piece above, I have not done any blackwork for so long but I love the stunning effect with just one colour of thread.

Bankfield Museum 8

A particular favourite of mine in the exhibition was her drawings of people in costume and the photos and postcards that she collected.I also loved all the original labels.

Bankfield Museum 9

One of the things that I noticed was the way that the women’s exploration was portrayed by media of the time. Lizzy Humphries’ husband actually abandoned her and their round the world walking tour, (taking most of their money with him!), but the poor women still had to suffer being referred to as Mrs Harry Humphries , spelt wrongly below, by newspapers and posters, she didn’t even get to go by her own name!

A really brilliant exhibition, I love things like this, there is so little that tells people about the different roles that women played in travel, research and politics like these women did.

There are also other exhibitions as well like this small one of various ceramics in a room with a wonderful tiled floor.I can’t wait to go back to the museum as they are also going to be having a Halifax at War exhibition as well from June 8th with lots of original photos. And entry to the museum is totally free!

Bankfield Museum 28

Bankfield Museum 29

I was originally supposed to be at a festival with my sister this weekend but my back and joints are not very happy at the moment so I have (probably wisely) given up three days camping for a weekend in the house sorting out my Make do and Mend garments and some work on my doctorate.

I hope that you have a good weekend whatever you are planning and if you are in the UK a nice and hopefully not too cold and wet Bank Holiday weekend.Take care and thanks for visiting.

Lorca, the goldwork in action

I am catching up with all the things that I have not posted about over the summer. At Easter, before the trip to Seville, we visited Lorca, a small city in the mountains a couple of hours from La Marina to see the Good Friday fiesta.

We have wanted to see this for a few years since we went on  our trip to see the goldwork museums. The four museums house all of the robes and banners that are used in this festival and we were absolutely amazed by them then. Two of the groups that organise the festival, the Blue and the Purple ones, are responsible for the religious side with the icons and the White and Scarlet organise the armies and other groups.

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Lorca 11

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We really had no idea of the scale of the festival though, what we saw in the museum was only a fraction of what filled the streets. We had a couple of hours wandering around watching everyone get ready and had drinks and something to eat before finding a spot to watch. It was quite bizzare seeing the streets filled with Roman soldiers and chariots and Egyptian girls!

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There are stands where you can buy seats for the parade so next year we will do that but we had a pretty good view of events from our little spot. We were right behind the camera crew so we could see a lot on their monitor as well.

Lorca 14

Apologies for the slightly blurry pictures but I wanted you to see the scale of the floats. As well as the Roman and Egyptian armies and their chariots there were horses racing up and down the street and the huge floats carrying icons , Roman Emperors, Cleopatra and her consorts and even the Pope!

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A truly incredible spectacle and the amount of work that went into the costumes is amazing. Some of the larger group ones were made by machine using ready made goldwork but most of the main characters are hand embroidered and it is truly stunning to see the mass of beautiful work that goes into this event.

A really great celebration of the art of the stitcher and another reason to love Spain! This is only a very small city and not famous for anything apart from this parade so we really wondered how they got to be producing something on this scale every year. We are going to go back next year and hopefully will book seats so we can have an even better view!

I am planning more pouch making this afternoon as Yarndale is in a couple of weeks and I need to get all my stock finished. Then it will be on to the Christmas ornaments, I have made a few of different types but need to decide on which will be the design I make six of for this year for my group of friends.I think I might go with baubles as have not done any of these for a very long time and have just acquired a huge stash of polystyrene balls from a local shop that was closing down.

Hope you have a lovely rest of the weekend and week ahead. We are off to Caldicot Castle for our last event so are hoping for good weather to end the season with.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

Just a little bit of bling!

The last photos I want to show you from Seville are from the cathedral. This is one of the largest in the world and it uses the tower or Giralda of the original mosque as part of its design.

Seville cathedral Giralda 1

Seville cathedral Giralda 2

The Giralda is stunning, with all of that detail made from brick and the surrounding buildings are also really beautiful, there are lovely cafes and restaurants all around the cathedral which makes it a gorgeous area.

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Seville cathedral 1

Seville cathedral buildings 2

I loved the exterior of the cathedral, the front entrance looks to have been completely replaced as it is a different colour stone and the roof decoration is stunning.

Seville cathedral 2

Seville cathedral 3

As we were queuing for a while to get in I took a few artistic shots looking up the facade, the second one is one of my favourite building photos ever, I love the contrast of building shapes and sky.

Seville cathedral 4

Seville cathedral 4 - angled

I really liked the little creatures on the facade especially this fox and the dragon, I think he looks cute and definitely tameable!

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Seville cathedral 6

Inside the cathedral was very impressive though not as decorated as I was expecting, compared to others such as Valencia the interior was quite plain but with beautiful lighting illuminating the intricate carved ceiling.

Seville cathedral interior 1

Seville cathedral interior 2

There was the most impressive gold altar that I have ever seen, absolutely mind blowing in its scale.

Seville cathedral interior 3

There was also a beautiful display of goldwork and the precious artifacts and paintings in a side room that was gorgeous. A truly magnificent place and a fitting end to our trip.

Seville cathedral interior 4

Seville cathedral interior goldwork 1

I have had a lovely weekend, mainly watching the rain come down while I have been stitching, which has been a bit of a shock after such high temperatures here for so long. I am hoping that my friends in the re-enactment group have not had bad weather as they were doing a show on top of the hill at Peveril Castle this weekend.

Sadly I missed that as the recent infected bites have led to a flare up of arthritis so I knew I would struggle getting up the hill. I know that other friends have had to cancel events this weekend due to the extreme weather which is such a pity for everyone involved.

Our next event is in a few weeks time at Lincoln and I need to finish my Steampunk jacket for then so I am planning to work on that this coming week.

Hope that you have a lovely week ahead, take care and thanks for visiting.

 

 

Creative people

I had a lovely time at Ashby, the weather was very kind as we only had thunder and lightening at night, not during showtimes and were able to pack all the tents away dry:-)

I spent quite a lot of the time sitting sewing while doing the occasional chat about headresses and we also did the fashion talk again.

Ashby 2018 Ellie and me sewing

This is Ellie showing off her new gloves, decorated with goldwork. I need to get a close up of these as they are fabulous.

Ashby 2018 Ellie and me

I was very pleased that Sadie was working on her new gauntlets and that Symon was making a beautiful tooled leather scabbard for his sword.

Ashby 2018 Sadie 1

I took some pictures as I want to use them in my doctoral research. All the people in my group are so clever. Symon is making another beautiful hand tooled scabbard.

Ashby Simon Leatherwork 1

Ashby Simon Leatherwork 2

Ashby Simon Leatherwork 3

I handed over the finished circlet to Kate, she was very pleased with it and it fits! I made it in a similar design to Ellie’s but a little simpler.It is made of black velvet over a stiffened hessian (buckram) band.

Kate's headress 2

Kate's headress 1

Kate's headress 3

Most of the fabric came from stock though not all mine but  between us we managed to sort it. Stitching through buckram makes your fingers sore but it looks lovely.The brass findings were from Etsy here.

A very lovely weekend in the company, as always, of very talented and fun people.Our next event is not for a few weeks now so am hopefully going to get some quality time in the sewing room over the next two weekends, I have been working on another Liberty quilt block so will hopefully get chance to finish that this weekend.

Hope you have a nice rest of the week and will catch up with you soon. Take care and thanks for visiting.

 

 

 

 

 

Come rain, come shine!

Well of course it was like most Ashby events, somewhat wet in parts. We did at least have glorious sunshine on the Sunday, it was very hot in the afternoon for the tournament and then we had a lovely evening and it started raining after we went to bed and never really stopped.

So we were not able to do much on Monday except a few demos like our head dress talk. Here are Ellie and I sewing coifs for the poor. At least we got some lovely pictures from Sunday.

Ashby - Ellie and me sewing -small

Here is what I think must be my favourite one of all time, Luke was doing his armour talk while getting dressed for the tournament and he had just put on his great helm and was telling the crowd that he could still see in front of him but not what was happening behind him so I took that opportunity to do a little happy dance for the crowd 😉

Ashby - me and Luke -small

He knew nothing about it until this appeared on our Facebook page later in the day. Thanks to Adam Kucharczyk for these brilliant pictures.

Ashby - Ellie and King - small

I love this one of Ellie in her new crown with the King.

Ashby - Group -small

And here are all of the group at the end of the tournament, we have new fighters this year so it was great to see so many people in the arena.

Ashby 2017 Luke and Mark

The boys had new kit as well, of course. They have been making some beautiful things. Here is Mark in his new coat and chaperon hood.

Luke’s partner Wendy had made him a new chaperon as well and he had a new hat, a bycocket courtesy of the mega -talented Kat of Kat’s Hats.

I didn’t get a picture of the stunning goldwork on the front however Kat had posted this one on her page, she is such a brilliant embroider.

Ashby - Detail of goldwork

The boys looked amazing in their armour as usual, Luke has new leg armour to match his colours.

Ashby Luke in full armour - small

Symon has been doing leather work and has made this wonderful coat of plates and belt, it is all hand tooled, he had to cut out all of the leather from the leaf pattern by hand, just beautiful!

Ashby Symon coat and belt 1

I am very proud of the group and look forward to lots of lovely events with them this year.

Hope that you like the pictures, there is also some video of the fights on our Facebook page as well if you are interested.

Will be back next week with an update on an embroidery finish, until then have a good weekend and thanks for visiting.