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!

Prayers and plots

On the Sunday of Kerry’s weekend visit to Worcester we visited the cathedral for the morning sung Eucharist service which was beautiful. The choir sounded so amazing and it made a lovely start to the day. The cathedral is where Ellen graduated all those years ago so I have visited several times before. There is a lot of restoration work being done so opportunities for pictures of the nave and painted ceiling were limited but it looked stunning.

In the afternoon we went to Coughton Court, a Trust property that was involved in the Gunpowder Plot. I have visited before and was stunned to find that they have what is allegedly the nightshift that Mary Queen of Scots wore when she was executed. The house and the family that own it have a long history of involvement in the disputes between Catholics and the state that started in the Tudor era. The property was beautiful in the afternoon sun.

There was a very interesting talk about the plot in the small Catholic church on the property, built in the late 1800s when the Catholics were allowed to build churches once again. It is easy to forget that we have had religious persecution in the UK at many points in our history and that there are lots of things that people have forgotten about the whole story behind the Gunpowder Plot and why it happened.

The church had some gorgeous chairs with central needlepoint panels, there were about 40 of these so definitely a labour of love!

It has an extensive collection of family portraits, which I wrote about in my last post, which are such good illustrations of costume of the era, and some lovely little displays. I loved this little beauty case with the scissors and the little souvenir book.

There were also some of my favourite things to find, like this needlework case and the lace making tools.

There were clearly some dedicated needlewomen in the family as there were some very large projects, most of these were in one bedroom. I have been doing a lot of research for my first novel so have been thinking a lot about the role of needlework in women’s lives. There are very few modern crafters who would take on projects of this size and the amount of hours that must have gone into these pieces is incredible.

Just looking at the thousands of tiny stitches in this seat cover above I can’t help but wonder about how made it, did they ever feel like giving up and how long did it take them? I did some needlepoint many years ago but have not returned to it due to how long it takes, so really admire the dedication of these needlewomen.

I have had a fairly quiet week, most of the crafting has been finished so I will be posting about that next. I have been spending the last few weeks before I return to Spain stocking up on things for the rest of the year that I can’t easily get there. I have more Liberty fabric arriving this week from a new supplier that I have found byLaurenRuth and have bought some more stitching threads. Next week will be mainly sorting and packing up ready to go to Ellen’s the following week, then back to Spain with my new machine and all of my goodies!

I hope that you have a good weekend and a nice week ahead, the weather forecast for the UK is very good so we will all be enjoying a glimpse of sun. What ever you are doing have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

The delights of Worcester

Kerry came down to visit me so we had a jam packed weekend visiting the majority of what the city has to offer in the way of historical and heritage properties. There is such a wonderful mix of architecture here, Tudor, Georgian and Victorian, as well as the riverside walks and the canal heritage so it is well worth a visit.

Saturday was mainly Tudor at first with the Tudor House Museum and Greyfriars, both on the same street where there are other wonderful Tudor buildings, including some lovely places to eat. The Tudor House Museum was originally three cottages and the displays concentrated on the importance of the trades in Worcester, very much textile related with the production of broadcloth and glove making dominating.

The museum has been extensively restored as it has been a pub, and café owned by the Cadbury family in recent times, so there is a nice mix of history in the small space and some lovely reproductions of costume and artefacts as well as the historical collections.

I have previously posted some pictures of the Tudor group at Greyfriars but this visit was for a tour which told the history of the property throughout its 400 some years. This was very interesting as it ended up being used as slum dwellings, with other tenement housing built within the garden. The restoration in the later 20th century was by a brother and sister, Elsie and Matley Moore, who were passionate collectors and she was a keen needlewoman. Therefore there is an extensive collection of beautiful textiles.

This is one of my favourite pieces, above the fireplace. I love the colours used in this piece. I think this is one of Elsie’s own embroideries.

I also really loved seeing the little touches of her life, such as the worn pincushion next to the chair, and the collection of needlework tools in a display case.

The library was also beautiful, in a different way to the libraries in other Trust houses. This was full of well loved books, but still with some beautiful decorations on the spines. I wish all books looked like this today, rather than just name and title on the spine. I think that they look so exciting!

We had a quick look around the city museum as well, where they have a display devoted to Worcester Sauce, as well as some lovely military costume. We were very admiring of the braid on the tunics here.

I loved this painting of a Spanish girl, making me homesick for my adopted country as these type of outfits are still worn for fiestas.

I have been busy booking lots more coach trips with mum so will have more adventures to share with you in May and June, the Spanish do love a good costume and I will be there all over the Easter weekend which is always exciting.

Our last heritage venue was the amazing Georgian Guildhall built in 1721. This is a beautiful public building in the centre of the town which is free to enter, and is used for weddings as well as official business.

The ceilings in the Assembly Room and the Council Chamber were stunning and I can imagine there must have been some amazing events there in the Georgian era. I am of course channelling my inner Bridgerton here as we eagerly await the second series in a couple of weeks!

After a quick stop for tea and cake at the same vintage café I visited last time, we had a lovely wander around the canal basin. We then had a drink in the oldest pub in Worcester, and ended up in a very lovely restaurant called Bill’s. I must admit to choosing it partly based on the décor, (as I did in Edinburgh), but the food was delicious as well.

A very lovely day out and it was brilliant to catch up with Kerry. We will next meet at my first re-enactment event of the season in July. I do have more pictures from Sunday to show you as well, but I will leave that until next week.

I am pleased to tell you that the moses basket is done, and to confirm that I intend never to work with jersey ever again 😉 It is too stretchy and slippery so I am going to confine my future makes to my favourites of linens, denims and Liberty, as well as some nice, non slippery fabrics for Steampunk, and no velvet.

I have already mentioned that I have been spending lots of time reading cross stitch magazines through my wonderful Readly app and I have been inspired by one article to buy a gorgeous pattern to stitch for my sewing room/bedroom in Spain.

It is from a French Company called Jardin Prive and is called ABC de la Brodeuse, pictures from their web site. It is so cute and I love all the Quaker inspired motifs.

It will take a while to stitch but I have also ordered the band to stitch it on from Willow Fabrics as I needed a metre of it.

I also treated myself to this lovely Christmas design to use the individual motifs for future ornaments. I am going back with all sorts of wonderful things to add to my craft stock so will definitely have to sort out my storage as soon as I get back!

This week’s task is to make up the knitted rabbit as we are meeting with my niece at the weekend for a little do, not really a baby shower, but more a family lunch. There will be some baby related gifts though and I am making the nappy cake, out of real nappies and lots of ribbon and cellophane.

I hope that you have all had a good weekend. Have a good week ahead whatever you do and as always, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Hexagon challenge

You all know by now how much I love hexagons and am in the process of making a full size double bed quilt from some using the Grandmother’s Garden pattern.

Well we were really thrilled to come across some wonderful miniature needlework during our recent visit to Nunnington, they have a series of miniature rooms that are part of their collection.

Nunnington -miniature needlework 3

Rather than being one dolls’ house these are lots of different rooms like this grand staircase in the picture above and most contained amazing examples of miniature cross stitch and needlepoint.

Nunnington -miniature needlework 2

When Ellie was little we bought her a dolls’ house and spent many years furnishing it and I stitched rugs and and made bedding for it. When she went to University we gave it to the family across the road who had 8 girls and I am sure they must have loved playing with it.

Nunnington -miniature needlework 4

Now she has her own house she has decided she would like to have another dolls’ house and has bought an antique cabinet to house it in, similar to the many we have seen in historic houses.

I said I would make some rugs etc for her but we also came across this miniature hexagon bed quilt in the display so I am going to attempt something like this for her. I have no idea if it has been paper pieced or not. I can’t imagine how you can cut paper and fold them that small as each must be only 1/4 cm across. I may well have to make my pieces bigger!

Nunnington -miniature needlework 6

There were also miniature sewing tools and work in progress like this needlepoint frame and lace making pillow and tatting.

Nunnington -miniature needlework 1

Nunnington -miniature needlework 5

Nunnington -miniature needlework 7

All wonderful stuff and so cute! I have been looking for information and as usual there is lots of inspiration on Pinterest so after Yarndale will have a go at a mini, mini, mini quilt. I have found a site that sells tiny papers as well!

I found this amazing mini quilt show on Pinterest, no idea who created it but look at the tiny loveliness here.

Mini quilt show

This weekend we have the Steampunk event at Lincoln, sadly our medieval show has been cancelled due to structural problems at the site BUT that means two whole days to enjoy the Steampunk and marvel at all the lovely costumes. My very talented daughter has been working on a fabulous costume for this year so all will be revealed next week!

Take care and thanks for visiting.

Nunnington needlework

We had a great mini trip up North, the first place we visited was Nunnington Hall in North Yorkshire, a lovely stone house dating back to the 12th century surrounded by beautiful countryside.

Not only was the house beautiful with lots of light and airy paneled rooms as the house has been displayed as it would have been in the 1920s, but there were also some wonderful examples of needlework connected to the family.

Firstly this Durham quilt, hand quilted by the last owner’s grandmother.

Nunnington -quilt 1

Nunnington -quilt 3

Nunnington -quilt 2

Then these stunning Jacobean crewelwork panels in the bedroom, they have been restored by the Trust, mainly to mend the linen backing, but the colours are still wonderful even though they are faded.

Nunnington -crewelwork bedroom

Nunnington -crewelwork detail

Panels this size must have taken so long to make, they were originally made for a bed.

There was also a very pretty needlepoint chair cover and some samplers dating from 1785 and 1835 with the makers’ names on.

Nunnington -needlepoint

Nunnington -sampler 1

Nunnington -sampler 2

This is not a good picture of the sampler due to the low light but here is a better one from the National Trust Collections site here. It was stitched by 10 year old Betsy Pickard in 1835 as a firescreen and is beautifully done.

Another thing that I really liked were the little cross stitched signs, someone has been working very hard to theme the information given.

Nunnington -label 1

Nunnington -label 2

There was also some very impressive other needlework that I will share with you in a later post, I absolutely loved it and it has given me an interesting challenge that I will share with you then.

Today will be mainly finishing off items for Yarndale, I have a basket and needlebook in progress and there is always more embroidering of sheep to be done!

Take care and thanks for visiting.

Tudor splendour

Hello, hope that you are all well and happy. I am very much so as I have submitted the work I was doing for my doctorate, hurrah , which means more sewing time, double hurrah  🙂 and I am going to Simply Solids this afternoon for another of their sewing courses.

Add to that the fact that I am off to Lisbon on Tuesday with my lovely Mum and my lovely son has come home from University , (for about 9 months until he hopefully goes off to teach in Japan), so I am quite possibly one of the happiest bunnies around!

We had a fab weekend at Tatton as well, the rain held off until the battle on Sunday so we only got a little bit wet and we met up with lots of old friends and Ellie and I marshalled the battle for the first time rather than water carrying which was very exciting. I could show you some photos of all of the excitement if I hadn’t filed them somewhere safe!

So on to the pictures from the National Trust visits Ellie and I did a while ago. First stop was Charlecote Park  in Warwickshire, a beautiful Tudor manor still owned by the family.

I love Tudor buildings with the red stone and the twisted chimneys and this had a beautiful setting as well. It was brilliant to see so many families enjoying the place, it was the school holidays and there was a teddy bear’s picnic on the lawn. Lots of future National Trust members hopefully who will bring their own children and help care for these places forever.

Charlecote 5

Charlecote 6

In the Great Hall there were some brilliant costume pictures, sadly too high up on the wall to take detailed shots but in the dining room there was wonderful wallpaper and in the library some very ornate needlepoint chairs that looked Spanish in origin.

Charlecote 8

I also loved the plasterwork on the ceilings, more inspiration for that book of textile patterns based on historic buildings that I am going to write one day!

Charlecote 7

Charlecote 13

Charlecote 14

There was also a lovely display of the more ordinary textiles in the laundry and the kitchen with embroidered traycloths and some rag rugs which had been made by children as part of a craft event.

A very lovely place to visit on a sunny English afternoon! Well will love you and leave you now as have to go and choose the fabric for the class this afternoon, we are making vinyl project bags so hopefully I will have a finished bag to show you soon.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

 

 

A wealth of needlework

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.

This is England

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!

‘Hardwick Hall – more glass than wall’

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!

The needlepoint cats in their new home

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.