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I am a quilter living in Woodbridge, Suffolk who has made quilts since I was a teenager. I also ring bells! Both are great British traditions....I will try to feature some of my antique Welsh and Durham quilts, the quilts I make myself, my quilting activities and also some of my bellringing achievements. Plus as many photos as I can manage. NB: Double click on the photos to see greater detail, then use back button to return to the main page.

Saturday 29 October 2011

Happy Halloween!!

Here are some pumpkin and squash blocks; the patterns were taken from Ruth McDowell's book "Pieced Vegetables".

Head over to the Passionpatchwork blog at to see another version of this pumpkin block. I was impressed to find out that the book has been translated into French - "Legumes en Patchwork" - as in all my years of teaching I have only ever met one other person who had bought this book! It's an odd book but I love it.....

Here is a Turk's Head squash block - I love choosing the colours for these blocks and playing around with them - "auditioning them " - to see what happens, before sewing the pieces together - its amazing how the most unlikely fabrics seem to "work" in this type of design.

I have ALL of Ruth's books and enjoy looking at her work.

I never used to buy fat quarters of fabric - only yardage - but of course small pieces are ideal for this type of work as you only need a small amount of each. And Ruth likes the rather outrageous fabrics - they work very well for her - I could never bring myself to buy very much of some of these fabrics - but after a trip up to Kisco in Leicester several years ago, I came away with an arm full of fat quarters in "loud" fabrics with large prints that were great fun. There are some hand dyed fabrics in here as well.

Happy Halloween!

More photos from Lampeter, Minerva and Gregynog soon.

Thursday 27 October 2011

Quilt Museum at Lampeter - 1

Having gone to Jen Jones' shop, I headed over to Jen Jones' Quilt Museum - this was much easier to find! Lampeter is a smallish town and the quilt museum is in the former Town Hall. It is easy to park and walk to the museum.

The Town Hall building renovation was meant to be a joint venture between the town council and Jen and her husband. But the council funding did not materialise and Jen and Roger had to make the brave decision to go ahead on their own. The numbers of visitors have been building up over three years - the lighting is now where they want it to be - and this third exhibition is just right in my opinion. "Less is More" but there seemed to be plenty of quilts hanging in the main room!

I include some photos but I am not including too much information. I would strongly encourage you to buy the catalog (available in English or Welsh) from There will also be a DVD available soon, which will have photos of all three exhibitions, together with more detailed commentary on a few of the quilts.

Jen Jones in front of an amazing blue and white quilt from Oakford - this quilt was sent off to the conservators for cleaning and looks amazing now.
I enjoyed meeting Jen and really enjoyed her talk to the BQSG group at Gregynog on Saturday evening.

A zany yellow and blue quilt from Rhuddlan near Llanybbder, which features on the cover of the catalog.

Another photo of the blue and white quilt.

A log cabin quilt from North Wales, where the quilting tradition seems to have been similar to the Cumbrian quilts, rather than the South Wales quilts we are accustomed to.

A Welsh strippy in blue and white, laid out on a bed form.

This was my favourite - a quilt from Pembrokeshire with spots!!

A lovely quilt from Merthyr Tydfil. A very early quilt.

Lovely quilting on a blue and white print quilt, probably from near Brecon.

I have more photos to share. Next year's exhibition at Lampeter will showcase the Amish-Welsh connection and will be in conjunction with the publication of Dorothy Osler's new book. This book is due to be available in December, and has been ten years in the making. Not only will there be quilts from Jen's collection in next year's show, but it will also feature a selection of Amish quilts from the American Museum's collection at Staverton Manor near Bath - should be a "must see" exhibition!!

Monday 24 October 2011

Cottage Shop in Llanybydder nr Lampeter

I am back from Wales where I had a very enjoyable weekend. My little car did a total of 675 miles; she got up the steep hills even if she was surprised to have to drop down to second gear (not usual in flat Suffolk!!)

I left Woodbridge about 10 am and did not arrive in Lampeter until 6.00. I headed off to the approximate area of the B & B I had booked - got out the instructions that I had carefully printed off - but was shocked to find that I had printed off the wrong ones (it turns out that there is a similarly named and addressed B & B in North Wales). I had to get the telephone number from Mike in Suffolk - made contact with the owners - then managed to take the wrong road! By this time I was very tired and was glad when the owner met me in his car at the now very-familiar crossroads. Two and a half miles up a small track!! Very pretty, but too dark now to see the scenery...

I had intended to have a walk down the lane the next morning, but it was showery so after breakfast and a play with a very cute British shorthair ginger kitten I set off for Jen Jones' quilt shop in Llanybydder. Thank goodness for mobile phones - I had to be (again) talked in by Hazel at the shop - and even then, ended up at the local cattle market, having taken the wrong left hand turn.

Finally! the Cottage shop, which is a listed building. Jen lives nearby. All the photography of the quilts is done outside here - I was interested to see "the gate".

The better quilts are kept upstairs - a very narrow flight of stairs has to be negotiated- there are several beds with layers of quilts on them.

Beds with quilts. The ceiling was low, a good impression of how houses may have been in former times...

Here is a nice patchwork quilt with some good quilting designs, Hazel says this will probably sell quickly once she has time to put it up on the website...I had not realised the fact that frills are not liked by buyers - the frills look a bit silly and stick out, apparently, if the quilt is not the right size for the bed. Thus the frills are often removed from the quilts to make them more saleable.

Some stacks of red and paisley quilts....

Stacks of quilts...

The more rustic quilts and the blankets are kept downstairs. Blankets are selling very well at the moment. They used to be sourced very cheaply, and resold at a reasonable price - however, supplies are fewer these days and prices are rising steeply. The older blankets are especially collectable now. I was interested to see a moth trap - pheromones lure in any male moths that are present, to alert of any moth infestation.

More blankets in the downstairs room.

The window downstairs, with its Staffordshire dogs....

A quick visit here - then it was off to Jen's Quilt Museum in Lampeter.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Off to Lampeter and Gregynog

I am off to Wales tomorrow. I have been working like fury to get everything done at work! I plan to drive to Lampeter to see the Jen Jones collection there. It was difficult to book a B & B near Lampeter- apparently there is a large construction project going on and workmen have booked all the places - but managed to find one - I'll post some photos when I get back!

Perhaps there will be time to go to Jen's shop at Llanbydder. Also if time allows, I'll go to the Quilt Association at Llanidloes. We'll see - I just have very little idea of driving times in Wales - I seem to recall that it took much longer than expected to get around!

Then on Friday evening its the BQSG seminar at Gregynog. There's been a lot of preparation work gone into this so I'm hoping it goes smoothly.

Yesterday I bought one of the Frixion pens, to test for marking quilting. Any opinions as to how good these are? Last night I gave in and ordered some Inktense pencils online - I couldn't find any locally - I also ordered the embellishment and applique book by Vaine online. I also have two old Welsh quilts arriving from Llanelli soon - so it will seem like Christmas for me next week!

More photos to follow next week with a report.

Sunday 16 October 2011

Request for Help - Sanderson Star Quilts

Request for help - do you own a Sanderson Star quilt or know of one? Would you be willing to take some simple measurements and briefly describe the quilting patterns on it? I need more measurements for my research on these quilts! If you would be willing to do this, please send me an email (click on my profile photo for the email icon) and I will send you an attachment of what measurements I need by return.

Margaret Nichol has already offered to go to Beamish Museum to measure the Sanderson Star there. I believe this may be the one made by Sanderson herself. If so, it would be rather like the "type specimen" one finds in botany - a reference specimen....will be very interesting.

All offers of help welcomed.

Monday 10 October 2011

Bell Quilt Goes to New Zealand!

I was very pleased to visit with Karen R and Guy on Wednesday - they are visiting the UK from Christchurch New Zealand for a few weeks. On their way from Kent to Yorkshire, they stopped over in Suffolk and took the Christchurch Bell Quilt away on the first leg of its journey to New Zealand!

We had a meal together at the Greyhound and then went for a ring at Pettistree Church before again retiring to the pub for our "Theory Session". It sounds as if it may be many years yet before the bells are ringing again and the cathedral rebuilt.

I would like to say once again how much I appreciate all the people who contributed blocks for this quilt - I very much enjoyed receiving them and was pleased to put the quilt together. Bellringing has a rich history and I am pleased to be part of its worldwide community.

Here is a photo of the Bell Quilt hanging at the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in August. I know that many people enjoyed seeing the quilt and looking for "their" block. I thought the blocks worked well as a group quilt and it got good marks from the judges on their score sheet. Many thanks to all those who helped with this quilt.

On Saturday I taught machine quilting at Quilters Haven in Wickham Market, which went well. Talking to Karin Hellaby afterwards, I also agreed to make a small quilt, in Amish plain colours, for Karin's next book! Luckily, it seems an easy technique.

On Sunday, we took advantage of the fair weather for a walk - from Edwardstone to Groton and back. Edwardstone was the first major bell restoration project for the Suffolk Guild of Ringers. Its a church that sits outside the village in a lovely rural setting.

We walked on footpaths, field paths and quiet roads to Groton - you can see the church just peeking out behind one of the old farmhouses there. No bells here...

We walked as far as Groton Woods. I used to take my environmental science students to nearby Bradfield Woods every year on a field trip to see the coppicing techniques - but I had never visited this wood. It is known for containing good amounts of the small leaved lime - Tilia cordata. This was formerly very common in the early stages of woodland in prehistoric Britain but it is now unusual to find a lime woodland in Britain.

There were some lovely wild plums along the route, but the tree leaves are beginning to fall...

Thursday 6 October 2011

Indian Quilts

Recently, I have been reading up on Indian quilts. I have had the book on Ralli Quilts for some time, but recently I bought John Gillow's book on Indian textiles and also Crill's book on the V & A collection of Chintz fabrics. I was able to speak to John at the FOQ. He felt that Rosemary Crill at University of East Anglia in Norwich might be a good person to approach.

As you may remember, I discovered that one of my quilts is the one featured in Plate 49 in Hakes book. John felt that the "Himalayan" of the description would be one of the ten hill towns, and that the quilt was probably the product of missionary work. Apparently there was a magazine at the time for Missionary workers, which could be an interesting archive to look at. Another researcher has also found, in the Rose archives in Farnborough, that this quilt came from Muriel Rose's "Little Shop" in London; also that it was dyed blue in order that it photographed more clearly for the plate in Hake's book. I shall have to follow this lead up as well.

I do have two Ralli quilts, both purchased very inexpensively. This one is made with commercial cottons in bright colours. It measures about 58 x 80 inches. John Gillow states in his book that "they are most probably the influence of British or more likely American female missionaries in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Many of the patterns, such as flying geese, found on Anglo-American quilts are included in Sindhi patchwork quilts."

The edge has a dog tooth edging. The quilting is a straight running stitch. No provenance on this quilt, of course.

Mostly plain cottons but there are one or two prints. The patchwork is a bit hit or miss...the quilt does not lie flat......

...and the quilt is far from square......

I have a second Ralli quilt - this one is a bit more elaborate and in more muted is a long quilt, and this photo shows just one half of the quilt - the seller said that it was vegetable dyed but somehow I doubt it...

Again, mostly squares and triangles, with some dog tooth edging.

The edge has been repaired in some places and the back is worn - a quilt that has seen use....

The dog tooth edging is applied, simply made by clipping a long strip at regular intervals and then turning under the edges and securing with a stitch or two. The quilt seems to have been much brighter originally and has faded with use and exposure to the light....this does not look like a vegetable red dye to me...

The next quilt history occasion is the seminar at Gregynog at the end of the month - then I will hope to get to the V & A to look at the Hake archive. I was also pleased to see a small collection of Canadian Red Cross Quilts at our local quilt show at the weekend - and surprised to learn that Jackie Maxwell has recently moved to Woodbridge. She is part of the Canadian Red Cross Quilt Research Group.

Monday 3 October 2011

More Corded Cushions

I had the chance to buy some more of these corded cushion covers which
were made by Ann Fairburn's Father's Aunt and her mother, who lived all their lives in Ammanford. Great Aunt died about 20 years ago at the age of 86 and her name was May Davies -auntie's mother died at the age of 107 and was called Phoebe Hugh. These cushions with flowers and a zigzag border look decidedly Welsh.

This cushion has a bunch of tulips and daffodils on it.

And this cushion has a star pattern - as Fitzrandolph says in her book, some patterns were made for embroidery and weren't really suitable for quilting...its a bit hard to see the detail here...

The star is filled with a flower surrounded by leaves but hard to see....

I also have a quilt made by another member of the same family - Catherine Phillips - Ann was pleased to know that it was being enjoyed and that it went on tour with the Quilt Fairs...a very lovely quilt with some great quilting designs on it.