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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 31 December 2011

Hmong Carrying Strap

When I was first quilting, I went with a group of friends to Siripan Kidd's house in Colchester for a day workshop. Siripan sold beautiful Thai silk, and this piece that I made shows some of her techniques - hand drafted patterns, put together with hand piecing. You can see that some of the silk is "shot silk" and another of her techniques was to place the grain of the shot silk in varying directions so that the colour changed. You can see this clearly in the border and also some of the leaves.

Detail - the small quilt was hand quilted in a random pattern. That was fun to do. Siripan and her husband now live in Thailand and until recently, arranged textile themed holidays for quilters.

Recently, I was having a rummage amongst my stored patterns and found these small items. They were purchased many years ago from Siripan.

These are small sections of antique Hmong embroidery. I believe that they are parts of a "carrying strap". In any case, they are functional pieces which have been well used.

The stitching is very fine and it is interesting to see the reverse. The bobbin case has been placed to show the scale.

The second section - here with colourful bands.

The labels show that I bought them for £4.oo each. The stitching is much finer on these older pieces than the more modern made for tourist pieces.

Friday 16 December 2011

Roker - Single Durham Quilt

Here is a nicely quilted single quilt. I bought it as it had good provenance - this is always very important to me! I like to connect a piece of work with the maker. In this case, the quilter was Mary Jane Wilson who lived in Roker where she ran a boarding house. Roker is near to Sunderland - the mouth of the River Wear is nearby, as is the North Sea. I bought the quilt from her great granddaughter, Sandra Davies from Devon. Apparently Mary Jane was a keen quilter and always had something on the go. The family had several pieces of quilting by Mary Jane.

The quilt is single size and measures 82 by 42 inches. It is cream on one side and a pale pink on the other. Single quilts are more difficult to design, as there is not as much space as on a double quilt. Here is the foot end of the quilt - you can see a nice feather border and a central medallion.
The central medallion,which has a central rose surrounded by feathers and concentric circles. There is also neat crosshatching.

At the head of the bed is this large daisy motif - the border is also missing in this area(see lower edge in this photo).

The reason that I think it is the head of the bed , apart from the different design here, is the fact that this is the only side of the quilt where the edge is intact. The other sides are "unfinished" - but I think the other three sides were originally finished with a frill,which having got very tatty, has been cut off. The head of the quilt of course would not have had a frill.

The wadding is a thin cotton. From the raw edges, one can see that the pink has faded and was a darker pink when new.

Here you can see the two colours and the raw edge, I have not touched this and will leave it unfinished.

The border is well drawn - I wonder if it could be matched up with any RIB published pattern the pattern looks very "perfect". The quilt is made of an artificial fibre. It has a small burn where the fabric has melted - a natural fibre would have created a dry ash.

This quilt was sold to me as being over 100 years old (ie pre 1907). Due to the artificial fibre of the fabric, I do not think it is that old. But it is a nice example of quilting, neatly done and well designed.

Friday 9 December 2011

Red and White Durham Quilt - Crawcrook, Durham

Here is a red and white basket quilt from Crawcrook, Co. Durham.This former mining village is now a part of Gateshead, Tyne and Wear.

This quilt must be the largest in my collection - it is 92 x 98 inches. It was too wide to photograph the whole of it in my lounge - you can see that I had to fold it on the RHS! There are 36 basket blocks - all surrounded by a zigzag border in red.

The border is pieced by hand. In fact, there is no machine stitching to be seen in this quilt. Perhaps the family did not have a sewing machine? Even the backing is hand seamed.

In the following photo, you can see that the basket handles are sewn on with a running stitch, not the usual whip stitch.

As the quilt was difficult to photograph in the lounge, I put the quilt on a double bed - you can see that the quilt almost touches the floor on both sides of the bed. The baskets are oriented in such a way that half face one side of the bed while the rest point in the opposite direction.

The quilt is entirely hand pieced. The fabrics are a turkey red twill and white fabrics, some of which are twill and some of which are a plain weave.

Quilting patterns are simple but varied - a flower or tulip-

Another flower - a braid is also seen -

One thing that was apparent when I put the quilt on the bed was that the four corners of the quilt stuck out-

--which may explain why the corners have all received a lot of wear. The rest of the quilt is in pretty good condition.

The quilt was made by Mary Maud Gardiner (the seller's great grandmother) helped by her mother. Maud lived in the small pit village of Crawcrook, where she lived all her life until her death in 1990 at the age of 97! Her husband Jack was a coal miner until his untimely death at the age of 40. Maud brought up her three sons on her own after her husband's death - Arthur, Joe and Robert. The quilt then went to the seller's grandfather (Robert) - she remembers her grandparents keeping it in their spare room mostly, only using it if it got really cold. It has been well looked after over the years.

If Mary Maud was born in 1893 then the quilt possibly dates from about 1910 - 1915. It is very difficult to date quilts made from plain fabrics and the turkey red fabrics were popular and manufactured over a long period.

Monday 5 December 2011

Pettistree - 25th Anniversary of the Rehanging of the Bells

Pettistree is a small village with a beautiful mediaeval country church - yesterday we had a special celebration during Evensong to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the rehanging of the bells. The bells had been unringable for many years and had only briefly been rung for VE Day.

With the help of local people and the Suffolk Guild of Bellringers, the money was raised in 1986 and the bells were rehung by Taylor's of Loughborough. A new band of learners was taught in the months before the work was completed - so the bells were rung by the local (and inexperienced) band at the rededication of the bells. Not many of the original band remain (only Chris and Mary) but the band has flourished and is one of the most successful in the area. Bellringing is finding it difficult to recruit new ringers and Pettistree is just the same, but for the moment, our band is doing well.

During the church service - taken by Bishop Clive - the new peal board was blessed. This shows three special peals rung over the years, where three new methods were rung and named. They are: Pettistree Delight Minor, Pettistree Bob Minor and Peter's Tree Surprise Minor.

A quarter peal of Pettistree Bob was rung prior to the service and there was also open ringing. Next week another peal will be rung, to include the three "Pettistree" methods, as well as the newly named Wickham Market Surprise and Schurr Surprise methods (Susan Schurr was a ringer who was very much loved and who passed away during the year).

In the newly refurbished church room, the ringers had prepared a "ringers' tea" with sandwiches, quiche, cakes and much other food. Of course, although over 50 people attended the reception, there was far too much food and much was taken away to be eaten later.

Mike Whitby has been the ringing master for the 25 years and it is largely due to him that the band is such an active one. A presentation was made at which he was presented with a tankard and a framed drawing of the church.

This is my 200th post and I thank everyone for their kind comments - I always enjoy these so do keep them coming. I taught Applique with Embellishments at Quilters Haven on Saturday. We played with Intense pencils and fabric paint - ruched fabric strips and made ribbon petals - did things with freezer paper - it was very enjoyable.

I also talked to Karin Hellaby briefly before the class - I think that I have arranged an informal quilt study day to be held at Quilters Haven on a Sunday - will let you know the date when I have confirmed it - I also arranged to exhibit some of my Durham quilts over the spring half term at Q H - again will let you know the dates. Several years ago now, I showed some Welsh quilts at QH - now I reckon it is the the Durham quilts' turn.