Sea, sky and spectacular textiles

We had an amazing time at Bambrugh, the weather was fantastic and the location wonderful with so many stunning views.

My friend Jo, who I have known since Polytechnic in the 1980s, is lucky enough to actually live here. Her partner is a member of the castle staff and they live in the gatehouse. Her photos of the beach during lockdown where she took daily walks were one of the reasons I wanted to revisit the area.

We also met one of the people we know from re-enactment, Dave the moneyer, he has been there all summer with his Viking set up. It was lovely to see him, chat about events and know that at least he has had a good season.

After visiting the castle we had a picnic on the beach and a walk (and paddle) along to the end where there was a wonderful maze like path back through the overgrowth to the other side of the castle.

When we return next year we shall visit some of the beaches further down which give the opportunity for more of these stunning views. Since we returned I have had many photo prompts from the castle Facebook page and these are just some of the amazing photos taken in the area. The final photo is by Jamie Dobson, I don’t have any information on the others.

Inside the Great Hall of the castle was a patchwork hanging that was really fascinating. It consisted of applique as well as a large area of patchwork made of diamonds. The hanging itself was around ten feet high and looked like an immensely time consuming piece of work. Although there was no label with the piece that I could see further research came up with the fact that it was made by Russian prisoners during the Crimean War. I should have guessed that it was a military uniform piece as I have seen similar in quilt exhibitions before.

I would love to know more about the piece, how many people were involved, how long did it take? Who designed the piece and where did they get the inspiration from? I would assume that this was a pattern and techniques they were familiar with from home. That is both the joy and the frustration of seeing such pieces in historic locations. I always want to know more about the people behind the work and little is recorded.

While I was doing the searching for more information I came across this amazing piece of embroidery from a textile artist called Rachel Wright. Photo from Pinterest. 

This was a commissioned piece and you can see more of her work on her Instagram page. She also has some items for sale on her Redbubble site and I particularly love this bag, might just have to treat myself!

We ended the day with another campfire, a game or two of cards, and another amazing sunset. Such simple pleasures but we were so grateful to be able to be there after all the restrictions this year.

We are lucky to live in such a beautiful country. I always travel in the UK a lot but the one advantage (there are so few!) of the current situation is that other people may have had the chance to appreciate our countryside more this year. 

I am hoping that in a couple of weeks I may be able to do some local travel as I have some time off coming up. I have a very large amount of holiday this academic year due to working nearly every Saturday and so having a day off in lieu each week that I need to use. I still have leave carried over from earlier in the summer that I could not use. We have an excellent bus service here so may do some more local exploring. 

Meanwhile there are knitted animals to finish, the mouse is almost done and is looking very cute so far, my first pair of stripey stockings and I love them!

Take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

 

 

Living our best Downton life

Ellen has been re – watching Downton Abbey during lockdown and I watched a few episodes when I was staying with her so we were really pleased to find out that some of the series had been filmed at both Beamish and Alnwick Castle. It was nice to wander round pretending that we were dressed the part and we both thought it would make a fabulous Steampunk event location.

The 1900s town at Beamish was amazing, it just looks so much like a real street, although it is made of elements from lots of different places. There are so many buildings such as the bakers, chemist, bank, garage Masononic hall, sweetshop and a lovely little town park as well as a row of houses. With the bus coming through and a little train station you can see why it is the perfect filming location for period dramas.

I think my favourite was the Co-op, one side was all groceries and the other the haberdashery. A whole shop full of vintage textiles – absolute heaven 🙂 I would love to have the time to be a volunteer there and work behind the counter, just look at all this wonderful stuff!

You can just see the quilt wadding and many lovely textiles for dressmaking as well as so many sewing notions. I really loved it.

After a stop in the town park for a rest we got on the bus and went to the mining village which was equally wonderful. I can’t wait to go back and hopefully we will be able to go inside the houses, there were so many amazing textiles, such as this beautiful crazy quilt and a really unusual embroidered waistcoat.

Our visit to Alnwick was on a very grey day so my pictures do not do justice to the beautiful setting.

We were lucky enough to be able to get tickets for the State Rooms and although no photos were allowed I found these on Google. The ceilings were amazing and this red and gold room was my favourite.

There was also a really good film about the shooting of the Downton Abbey Christmas special there and it was fabulous to see the actual rooms after watching that. I found some lovely pictures of the cast at the castle as well on Google.

Things are very busy at work, so there has been little crafting done. I am still putting together knitted animals and have finished another camper van embroidery so will share that with you soon. I am still teaching on campus so we are all keeping our fingers crossed for that to continue. It still seems very strange and everything is a bit tense as we are constantly expecting things to change. Thank goodness for the comfort of wool and thread to keep me sane 🙂

I hope that you are all ok and not too stressed, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Historic Scotland

We were staying quite a distance away from most of the National Trust for Scotland properties but did travel across to the other coast one day to visit the historic town of Culross.

We stopped for a cup of tea in a very cute little cafe and as I was looking out of the window I thought it looked familiar and I might have seen it in a film and turned round to see a signed picture from one of the stars of Outlander. I have really enjoyed this historical series, particularly looking at the costume, so I was really interested to hear about the locations that were used for the series.

The two pictures below show how the market square above was transformed for some of the scenes in one of the earlier seasons.

Scotland Culross_outlander

Scotland Culross-Outlander 2

The whole of the town is beautiful, there are such gorgeous cottages along winding streets leading up to the hill with views across the Firth of Forth.

We also visited Culross Palace, really a manor house rather than a place with amazing painted ceilings. No pictures were allowed inside so I only have ones from other travel sites.

Scotland Culross 12

Scotland Culross 11

Scotland Culross Palace

There was a gorgeous garden as well that goes all the way up to the hillside. There were some wonderful thistles and cardoons. The gardens were also used in the filming as they grow lots of traditional herbs there.

The most wonderful thing for me was that there is a Culross Needlework group who have been working on some gorgeous things to decorate the rooms. This picture is from the National Trust website.

Culross needlework - cloth

There were so many amazing examples of 17th and 18th century embroidery including sweet bags, pillows, pincushions, bed hangings and coverlets.

Sadly I have not been able to find many other pictures of their work apart from these few from the Trust website but there is an article about them here. They had also recreated one of mine and Ellen’s favourite pieces, the Layton jacket, which was in one of the bedrooms.

Scotland Culross_crewelwork_jacket_

Scotland Culross_detail_jacket_

With each piece there was information about the embroidery and the stitches used. It really made the place come alive and I hope it is something that the Trust encourages at other properties.

We also enjoyed a visit to Kilchurn Castle which stands in an amazing location at the end of a loch near where my friend lives. It was a gloomy and wet day when we visited but I can imaging the castle in all its glory and its location makes for some amazing photos.

We also met a lovely pair of Highland cows and had a chat to a photographer who works there taking amazing photos in all seasons.

Scotland 1 - Kilchurn 6

This is one of mine from across the loch through the rain in a very nice hotel where we had some tea and a chat to Jake all the way in Japan via the miracles of the internet.

Scotland 1 - Kilchurn 7

We ended our trip with a visit to Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House, which Ellen was particularly keen to see as they have built a box around it to preserve it from the weather. I love the Art Deco designs of Charles and Margaret Mackintosh and her wonderful artwork and embroidery.

A really excellent holiday combining all of my favourite things, camping, mountains, historic houses, needlework and of course family and friends. I will definitely be back soon!

Yarndale is taking place this weekend so hopefully Sharon and Sarah will have had a good time, I managed to make a few things for sale so I will be back in a while to post pictures of those. I am having a very relaxing and creative weekend. I was hoping to do a bit of walking but it has been so appallingly wet that I am quite content to stay in and watch the pouring rain from the comfort of my sewing room.

Hope you are all having a lovely time and are not too wet where you are, take care and thanks for visiting.

 

 

Giveaway winner and a quick update

Just a quick update for you. I have so many wonderful pictures from Lincoln and Scotland but just wanted to pop in and tell you that the winner of the giveaway is Julia’s Creative Year. Please e-mail me at alisonmryan@yahoo.co.uk and let me know if you would like a brooch, hairslide or hair bobble and which colours you would like and I will get creating.Thanks to everyone who liked or commented on my posts.

Scotland was so beautiful, I took so many of photos of the amazing mountains and lochs. We were there partly to visit a friend who lives very near this castle at the edge of a loch and this is one of my favourite pictures with Kilchurn Castle in the distance. The weather was mostly good and the stormy skies at times just added to the atmosphere. It is an amazing country and I will have to go back there as there is so much we did not get to see in the time that we had.

Scotland 1 - Kilchurn

Lincoln was brilliant as well, as usual but so warm! I have no idea why most of my hobbies end up with me dressed so inappropriately for the weather but was very glad of the parasol. Here is a photo of my beautiful Ellie in her house of Worth dress complete with new hat. I know I am biased but she does look stunning.

Ellie at Lincoln 2019

In other exciting news Jake is in Japan 🙂 He has been there for a week now and we have been having regular chats via the miracle of the internet. He has just moved into an apartment and starts his teaching job tomorrow.

Exciting times and I am so happy for him that all his hard work has paid off. He has had time to do a little bit of sightseeing  and has been sending us pictures of some of the beautiful parks. I am really excited to go and visit him next year.

Jake Japan 1

Tomorrow will be mainly devoted to crafting as I have some stock to make for Yarndale. I have almost finished the final draft of my doctorate so will be doing that first thing and then it can be e-mailed off to my supervisors and I can relax.

It has been a busy and somewhat stressful few months finishing that and waiting for all of Jake’s things to be finalised for his job so I am looking forward to peace, quiet and tranquility for a while  🙂 Here’s hoping anyway.

I will be back soon with more pictures for you, meanwhile 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Enter the (baby) dragon

We have had a lovely weekend at Bolsover Castle for our St George’s Day show. It was so nice to see everyone again and we have some new members in the group so it was great getting to know them and they did brilliantly in the show.

We did not camp, by order of the management i.e. Ellie and I was glad that we didn’t as I am still not 100% fit and it was very wet Saturday night. However we stayed on Saturday for the group meal in the very convenient pub they have built right next to the castle so got to spend time with everyone.

This show is always a bit different as we have dragons! Not one but two and there are some great comedy moments. We start off in the morning telling the children that the Dragon Knight has brought his dragons and build it up to the bit in the show where the cutest little baby dragon appears, ably played by one of our new members Daniel this year. Photos from Lee’s photography who very kindly posted them to our Facebook group page.

Baby Dragon 2

Of course St George cannot kill the baby dragon as he is so cute and he joins the knights fighting against the Dragon Knight.

Baby Dragon1

Meanwhile the Dragon Knight captures the Princess, played by Ellie and then later in part two the large evil dragon, played by Jamie comes in.

Dragon at Bolsover

A lot of the children are quite scared by this one and Jamie does a great roar. The dragon attacks the Dragon Knight only to be finally vanquished by the screams of the children.

Dragon 2

St George rescues the Princess, if he doesn’t forget, and then we have lots of children wanting to have their pictures taken with the dragons or knights.

Bolsover - St George and Ellie

Our dragons do a great job, it is not easy wearing these costumes on a warm day where you can’t see or walk without an escort as your feet have a tendency to come loose!That is what I love about re-enactment, people are so willing to do the daftest things for the sake of the show and everyone has a great sense of humour, even after 15 years the jokes still make me laugh!

We had good weather as well, only one short bit of rain during show times and I even got a little bit pink on Saturday. We have our next event in three weeks time, Kerry is coming up this weekend so that we can sort out some veil cutting and I am going to start making a headdress for Kate one of our newer members.

Bolsover - Kate and Kerry

 

She has been in kit since last year but this was her first event at one of our shows and she has a beautiful green woolen dress. She borrowed Ellie’s circlet  and liked it so I am planning to make her one like that with black velvet, pearls and gold embellishments.

The surcoat I made last year is still going strong though I am planning to add a cross to the back in time for next year. Simon played St George this year and here we are in the tournament.

Nun and St George at Bolsover

We did a fashion talk at this show which is a new part of the event, started last year and had a good reaction from the crowd so this year I talked about the different varieties of ladies’ and men’s garments and got the group to show off their outfits.People are always amazed that we make so much of our kit and love looking at the clothes and asking us how we made things and how long they take.

A really nice start to the season and I am looking forward to the next few shows. I have also managed to finish off some of the things that I have been working on so have a pouch and a basket to show you when I can take some pictures in good light. Thankfully I am now coming home in daylight which is great so will get those sorted soon.

I am planning a few more of the scrappy churn dash blocks as they got good feedback from the girls at Wool and Wine last night and the great news is that Sarah has got confirmation that she has a stall at Yarndale again this year so the pouch and bag production will have a home!

Hope that you all have a good rest of the week, take care, thanks for visiting and see you soon.

 

Learning Hungarian

Whenever we visit a country I always try and pick up a bit of the language, as someone who teaches about language the process fascinates me and I also love to see if I can work things out from the context of being in that situation, so much easier than learning in a classroom.

Mum and I learned quite a few words from just walking around looking at shop signs and street signs and picked up some useful words such as ‘tolni’ which means push, ‘forro bor’ which is hot wine or mulled wine which we had quite a few of, ‘etterem’ which is restaurant and our all time favourite ‘Szombat’ which means Saturday!

We visited Buda Castle on our first day which is a Baroque palace rather than a medieval castle which involved a ride up the hill in a funicular railway.

Budapest castle 2

Budapest castle 7

Next on the itinerary was the Fishermans’ Bastion next to the amazingly beautiful St Matthias church.

I am one day going to write a book of embroidery and quilting patterns based on my travels and all the wonderful patterns I have seen and this roof needs no explanation, look at those lovely hexagons!

Budapest St Matthias 2

I enjoyed taking arty shots through the Bastion windows and this reminded me very much of the cloisters we saw in Lisbon.

We also visited the Vajdahunyad Castle on the same day that we went to the fantastic Széchenyi thermal baths. These pictures are of the entrance foyer of the baths in wonderful mosaics, a real cathedral to glamourous bathing!

This is what the baths look like inside, picture from Google as we were in cossies and not carrying cameras, although there were some very silly people with their phones in plastic bags taking selfies!

It was gorgeous and wonderfully warm, the water was 28 degrees while the outside temperature was 11 degrees.

Szechenyi-Spa-Baths-Press-Photo-Outdoor-Pool

The castle was built in 1896 for the millennial exhibition and is based on lots of different architectural styles. We had a little picnic by the castle lake after our swim as it was a lovely sunny day.

Budapest H castle 1

On the way there we spotted this beautifully restored art deco house.

Budapest Art Deco House

Budapest Art Deco House 2

This one was sadly not open to the public though we did visit another art deco museum later on in the week that not only had gorgeous furniture and paintings but also gluten free cake! That was so nice after 3 days of wandering past coffee houses and bakeries just drooling over all the lovely things!

Budapest cake

A very, very lovely trip to somewhere we have wanted to visit for ages. I have some more pictures of textiles from the museums to show you in a later post, it wouldn’t be one of my holidays without a bit of textile exploration would it now 🙂

While we were away Mum and I were discussing our trip for next year. We are going to Seville at Easter but would like to visit another city next year. On the shortlist are Istanbul, Tallin, Moscow, Krakow, Dubrovnik and St Petersburg. I do love planning holidays almost as much as going on them!

Have a lovely week ahead, take care and thanks for visiting. We are in for some severe snow this week so hopefully it will not cause too much disruption, it seems to have been going on forever this winter, roll on spring!

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Tiles , sardines and another wonderful and wacky palace

Hello everyone

Mum and I really enjoyed our first trip to Portugal a couple of weeks ago, I came back with so many beautiful postcards of tiles as inspiration for quilt designs and some beautifully wrapped fish. Sardines are a big feature of Portuguese cuisine and there were tins of fish for sale everywhere.

Lisbon - sardines

I could have bought loads of these as they were in all of the gift shops and I love the vintage designs.

The city was lovely with lots of beautiful buildings, many art deco in style and the best railway station I have ever seen, the bottom two pictures in this mosaic.

The tiles on the postcards below come from the many tiled buildings that are in the city, some amazing pattern inspiration, if you want to see more look at this link.

Lisbon -tile postcards 1

I have framed this beautiful postcard and put it in my kitchen, lovely windows!

Lisbon  - tile postcards 6

The main reason for choosing Portugal for our trip was a blog post last year from Gillian Travis  , one of my favourite textile artists, who had visited Sintra, an area where the Portuguese royal family had their winter retreat and built lots of wonderful palaces. She has made some lovely journal quilts based on her trip including one with sardine tins, pictures at the bottom of this post.

Sadly my camera malfunctioned while we were away and though I thought I had taken lots of gorgeous pictures they were all corrupted so have had to resort to finding others from the internet to show you the wonderful Pena Palace  that we visited on my birthday.

Lisbon pena palace 2

I love bizarre palaces, we visited Neuschwanstein a few years ago and this is similar in its wonderful over the top architecture, this time with a Moorish influence.The whole area is so beautiful with rocky outcrops amongst the trees and views out to sea.

Lisbon pena-national-palace 1

I love this picture of it in the clouds, it looks like something from an epic film like a Lord of the Rings movie, amazing to think that this was actually built on the site of an original monastery as a family home.

Lisbon pena palace 3 clouds

We had a brilliant day exploring the palace and the beautiful grounds topped off by a ride down from the palace in a jeep which was very exciting! We had bought round trip bus tickets but the queues were really long for the return bus and there were lots of vehicles dropping people off at the palace and offering return trips. We narrowly missed getting a tuk tuk but were very happy with a cool ride down in the jeep.

We ended the day with a drinks on the terrace of a bar overlooking Lisbon and tapas at a very cute little place where we were the only customers, possibly something to do with the fact that Portugal were playing Germany in the Euro 16.Happily they won so we came back to the hotel accompanied by the cheers and honking horns of a lot of very happy Portuguese. A very memorable day!

We also visited an a great art museum and some found some absolutely amazing cloisters in the monastery, even better than Laycock Abbey so I will be posting pictures of those soon.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

Sunshine and gold

Hello everyone, am back from my very hot and brilliant event and a quick National Trust houses tour with Ellie. We saw four very beautiful properties and have had a thoroughly splendid time, got lots of photos to edit in between the work stuff this week.

Not been doing much crafting due to being away, just some hand sewing of hexagons in the car but wanted to show you the newly braided outfit and some pictures from our last event at Ashby de la Zouche Castle.

We had a really sunny and hot weekend which is not always the case at this venue and came home very pink and happy. Here is a close up of Ellie’s dress and coat with the 30 feet of braid on it.

I ordered it from a company in the US via Etsy , Tin Tiara Trims  and sewed two strips together. Ellie just has to finish beading it all now, she has done the neckline but has the gown to do as well. It is gorgeous stuff and I have lots left for Christmas ornaments as well!

This is a detail picture of the new belt she has made to go with the pouch and torque head dress. The charms she has used were also from Etsy.

Ashby - Ellie 5

She has also been busy with some new circlet head dresses, here she is a couple of weeks ago at an event celebrating the 750th anniversary of Chesterfield’s market charter. Photos from group Facebook page.

Ellie at Chesterfield 2 -small

Ellie at Chesterfield 1 -small

The dress she is wearing is one that Kerry gave her that she has altered and she has also made the veil, she is becoming a very skilled needlewoman and I am very proud of her 🙂

The King’s encampment was looking rather splendid as well, he has a new flag as well as a new awning area.

Ashby - kings awning

His kit is always amazing and he pus such a great effort into it.

Ashby - kings flag

Will be back soon with photos of Trust loveliness, have a nice week ahead and enjoy the sunshine if you are in the UK.

Thanks for visiting.