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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.

Monday 31 December 2012

Red Cross Army Blanket

Here is an item that I bought in November on that well known auction site. It is a blanket with a story and was sold to me as a Red Cross Army Blanket.

The blanket is very worn and has many holes. It is made of knitted bands where the colours change every 6 or 7 inches. It looks as if these bands are made of odds and ends of knitting wool. The bands are joined together with a herringbone stitch and then a tape is stitched onto the back over the join. The best feature of the blanket is the large red cross which makes it very graphic in appearance.
The blanket is wery worn and has many holes - and there are darns and patches as well.

Here you can see the stitching that joins the bands together. There is a red binding also, although this is coming off. The blanket obviously had a special significance for the family, to be kept so long, and the seller put this on the item:

"Hi this is an odd one. 4 ft x 4ft approx wool knit blanket. This is more to do with war memorabilia but a small story, this was carried off a hospital ship during the second world war by my grandfather who had been injured in service. The blanket is wool and was made by nuns at the time. Its quite heavy and has a few holes in it but still has a use somewhere. Incidentally, my grandfather died of his injuries."

I have been in touch with Maxine M (also on the BQSG committee with me) and when I asked if I could donate the blanket to the Red Cross Quilt Study Group I am pleased to say she said yes. The group has  at least two exhibitions coming up in 2013 and I am hoping that the red cross on this blanket might be of use in those. Another member of the group lives here in Woodbridge so it will not be difficult to hand over.

Saturday 22 December 2012

Christmas Bellringing in Ipswich 2012

Its become an annual occasion here - to try and get all the bells in Ipswich ringing near noon on the last Saturday before Christmas. Ipswich is an essentially Mediaeval town, and has many old churches, some of them redundant and some put to other uses nowadays. Its a popular event and always has a good turnout. Our district meetings don't always attract good numbers, but this Christmas ringing always attracts ringers that we don't see at other times of the year.

 Pettistree ringers usually take charge of one tower each year - this year it was St Lawrence, "Wolsey's Bells" - I ring here most Wednesday lunchtimes. They're a heavy five - not easy to ring for the uninitiated!

But, we made a good job of it - here's Mike, and Kate concentrating on the striking...

There were also some ringers from Tattingstone, outside Ipswich...

Also ringing were St Mary-le-Tower (12 bells) St Margaret (8 bells) and St Mary at Quay, St Clements, St Nicholas and St Matthews (all sixes). Plus St Stephen, which is only a 3 bell tower.

Afterwards, we went back to St Margaret's for mince pies and tea. The churchyard has many "no camping" signs. Earlier in the year, there was an encampment of homeless men living there. The church and the authorities got them rehomed and under cover but it was a problem that needed sorting. The problem of homelessness is a growing one and the Ipswich churches have a special program for Christmas and New Year to accommodate an extra 12 people in addition to the usual shelters.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

New Book - Hawaiian Quilts

This is not a new book! but it is new to me....

Published in 2004, it is "Hawaiian Quilts - Tradition and Transition" by Reiko Brandon and Loretta Woodard, published by Kokusai Art, Tokyo. The book resulted from an exhibition of quilts at the Honolulu Academy of Arts in 1989.

The book has lovely photograghs - a full size photo of each quilt plus a detail of the quilt.

The photos are lovely, and there is much information about various quilters from Hawaii - very informative. I think it is a good addition to my library, which is a bit sparse on Hawaiian quilts....

Sunday 16 December 2012

Turkey Red Throw

Here is a throw in Turkey Red fabric that arrived recently. It is not quilted, but has some nice fabric to look at. There are so many different variations on a theme with this type of fabric - it was very popular as the red colour was very fast and did not fade like other red dyes.
The throw is just a wool blanket covered with cheerful fabric. I have unpicked these throws before, to recover the cloth, and usually they are just sewn around and the edges then folded over and top stitched - very easy and quick to make. In this one, I think the filling must have shrunk somewhat, as the fabric is a bit baggy....
The outer border has a border print - while the red did not fade, the other colours such as yellow and blue, did tend to fade, so it now looks as if it were just red and white...

A heart formed by two paisley shapes in the mitre!


The back has a piece of brocade, another remnant of fabric, pressed into service as a bedcovering...

Also on the back, the fabric is more colourful as the sun has not faded the colours - here you can see that the fabrics originally were overprinted with blue green and yellow - and would have been much more colourful.

It is very difficult to date these throws, as the turkey red fabric continued to be made for a long time, and according to Sykas, the metal rolls were reused and reused and often sold on to be used by other companies.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Dr.Dunton - Old Quilts

I brought this book home from Florida - it is a book that my father found. He loved to look in thrift shops for first editions....

It is a copy of Old Quilts by Dr W R Dunton of Catonsville Maryland. Dunton was a doctor who became interested in antique quilts - the book was published at his own expense in 1946 and only 2000 were ever printed - so I am lucky to have a copy. It documents: Album Quilts, Appliqued Chintz Quilts, Tree of Life Quilts, Framed Medallion and Plain Quilts. The price in pencil inside the cover is $4.00.

So... I was very interested to see a mention of Dr Dunton's book in William Volckening's quilt blog WonkyWorld post for Sept 29th - link here:

Bill (who seems to be a quilt collector with a deeper pocket than mine!) had bought a chintz medallion quilt which is very similar to the chintz quilts by Achsah Goodwin Williams - featured in the Dunton book.

Its a useful tool to have a collection of books at hand - I don't think that I would be keen on "Ebooks" for that reason...... just not the least you can read a hard copy book when the electricity goes off!!

My father Orville B Palmer worked for ETS in Princeton for many years and was an excellent writer. He collected first editions - his best find was a first edition Mark Twain book ( albeit not one of the more famous ones) at $25.00. He also found a first edition of The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck in a house that was being demolished in Hoboken (no dust jacket, though!) He built up a fine collection of books on the Midwest, which I think have gone to his alma mater's library at Oklahoma State.

The above photo was taken during WWII when Ruth and Orville were newlyweds - this was one of the very few photos from that time that could be found, but it was used on their 50th wedding anniversary invitation - taken with a Brownie Box camera?

My posts in this blog are approaching 300 - and I have had to start to pay for extra storage space, as I do not want to delete any of the photos or posts. Viewing numbers are above 120,000 now- so a big "thank you" to all those who are interested in old quilts and belllringing.

Sunday 9 December 2012

Signs seen in Churches....

I love going on ringing outings, as one always sees interesting things. Churches are usually old, indeed Mediaeval, and as well as having their old furniture and fixtures, often have things which have found their way into the church as "museum pieces".
Sometimes there are amusing signs as well...

This sign is a very large one - in the ringing chamber at Redenhall - it is directed at the bellringers and says "Use no bad words! This is a Sacred Place!!!" Prior to the Belfry Reform Movement in Victorian times, bellringers were sometimes very rough characters and difficult to control. Bellringing was seen as a recreation which just happened to take place in a church - but the bellringers were not necesarily part of the church congregation and often were not answerable to the vicar. There was sometimes lots of drinking and swearing! One thinks that there must have been a particular problem at this church with the bellringers?

This sign shows just how much things have changed - It states that "These roads are closed to horsemen - except for hunt servants". that is, common people not to interupt the activities of the local huntsmen.

Another sign placed at the foot of the belltower steps and directed at bellringers and visitors to the tower - "Notice - Admission to the tower - part of God's House - is only granted on condition of reverent and orderly behaviour: No writing or cutting of names is allowed"  Carved graffitti in churches is very commonplace and must have kept thousands of bored schoolboys occupied over the years. Some of this graffitti is very old, and is now carefully preserved for its historial interest.

Thursday 6 December 2012

More Molas

I enjoy collecting these molas....there is so much work in them, although they are made for the tourist trade. Such vibrant colours and such expert applique work......not easy to do, and I've done a lot of applique myself!

A large bird with a flower....I like the red background....

A crouching jaguar inside a geometric pattern...

.......and four flamingoes...flamingoes are a bit of a joke in my family.....when my parents moved to Florida, my father let it slip that the Floridian "Flamingo thing" was ridiculous and that he didn't much like them....of course at his next birthday all his presents were flamingo-related. Dad gamely rose to the challenge and put up the flamingo decorations, mobiles etc -- and put  the plastic flamingo garden ornaments on to the lawn.

Molas are made by the women of the San Blas Islands in Panama, Traditionally they were made into blouses and other garments, but today they are produced to sell to tourists and provide a valuable source of income.

Sunday 2 December 2012

Great News - Tom and Lily

I am really looking forward to January - as my son Tom and his girlfriend Lily (Reiko) are getting married on the 17 January. The wedding will be at Islington Registry Office and then there will be a lunch/reception at the Savoy. Lily's parents will be coming over from Hiroshima and sister Sophie will be coming in from Singapore. Of course lots of Moss family will be there too (about 30 people in all).

This photo of Tom and Lily was taken on their 2011 trip to Japan.

And here is a rather windswept photo taken on Aldeburgh beach last Boxing Day - with Maggi Hambling's Scallop Shell in the background. Benjamin Britten lived in Aldeburgh and this has words from Peter Grimes, his opera, at the top of the shell..

...and at the top of Town Steps, again in Aldeburgh.

So while Christmas promises to be rather quiet this year, January will be the family occasion!

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Welsh Patchwork Fan Quilt

Most of my quilts are wholecloth ones, so I was pleased to buy this Welsh quilt which is pieced. It is a fan quilt and although this is a common pattern, this one is made in typically Welsh style.

The predominant fabric is a cheerful gold cotton. This is used in the narrow border and in the fans.The other fabrics used in the fans are a variety of stripes and prints. The quilt dates from the 1930's and measures 168 x 200 cm.

The fans are all handpieced and then the blocks sewn together by machine. While the quilt has some wear to it, is a nice item.

The backing is plain cotton. The binding is unusual for a Welsh quilt, as the backing is brought to the front and then machined down. The quilting follows the fans in arcs, with diagonal lines in the narrow border. Again, not typically Welsh, but the thick wadding and the quilting stitches are as one would expect to see in a Welsh quilt.  

This quilt was bought at auction in Carmarthen and is likely to have come from the Carmarthen area.

Saturday 24 November 2012

Blue and Yellow Welsh Quilt

Here is a very nicely stitched Welsh quilt in royal blue and gold. The quilt came from a midWales farm estate sale in which most of the items dated from the 1920's.

The size of this quilt is 82 x 82 inches. The material is not cotton sateen; it is a fabric with a slight rib which I have seen in one or two of my other quilts (noteably the zany quilt from Aberythswyth) -  I do not know the name of this fabric. At Gawthorpe there was a silk outfit that was termed "silk grosgrain" that looked very similar but of course this fabric is not silk.

The centre is elegant with narrow leaves surrounding some large spirals. All surrounded by diamond infill.

The corners have a four lobed device and there are some simple leaves to be seen. Scales have been used as an infill.

A photo showing the ribbed effect of the fabric. The edge is neatly handsewn.

I especially like this "ram's horn" pattern which is not a common one but which is very elegant.

The corner fans are filled with a leaf or fern (almost looks like a feather?) The quilting is neat and as is usual was probably made by a local quilter or seamstress.  This quilt is in good condition and is not worn. This quilt is from a dealer that I have bought many quilts from. She does not sell as many now - either the supply is drying up or, it is less profitable to sell on that well known auction site??

Thursday 22 November 2012

Lilac and Cream Welsh Quilt

This quilt was sold as a Durham quilt, but is obviously a Welsh quilt. It came from a farmhouse clearance and was bought at auction at East Driffield, Yorkshire. How did a Welsh quilt come to be in Yorkshire? Was there a family connection, or was it a gift? We'll never know....

The colour was described as mauve, but looks more lilac or light purple in colour. The reverse is a cream colour sateen. The size is 72 x 80 inches. The quilt has been used and is worn, but has some nice quilting patterns.

The centre is the usual one of leaves with spirals surrounded by a twist. Fans echo the centre motif.

There are some nicely done leaves, all pointing in the same direction and outlined, with spirals as infill.

Here we can see the cream reverse and hand stitched knife edge.

I like the way in which all areas have been filled in with smaller motifs; note the triangles with spirals and a fern and also the four petalled motif as a filler. All create a rich surface texture.

Monday 19 November 2012

North Country Nightdress Case

Quillters have always made small items either  as gifts, or to sell. And after  WWII, there were quilting classes in which ladies made small items and lap quilts rather than bed quilts.

Here is a nightdress case that I recently bought on Ebay. It is  worked in gold coloured tafetta with a peach inner. It  measures 14 x 12.5 inches and is all hand worked.

The edges are hand stitched which is slightly unusual for north country work and makes me think of a class where "the correct way" was taught.

However, the stitching looks so even and well done that it may just be a gift  made by an expert quilter. It does not look to have been used.

The seller came from the Tyne and Wear area, and says she does not remember where it came from, but most likely an auction.

Thursday 15 November 2012

Patchwork Quilt from Staffordshire

Those of you who follow this blog will know that most of my antique quilts are wholecloth ones - I don't have very  many pieced quilts. So I am pleased to have bought this quilt recently, which I guess you might call a utility frame quilt.

The quilt is 88 x 85 inches and does not appear to have been used at all. It is clean except for a few small marks. The backing is of plain cotton. The binding is simply the front rolled over to the back and hemmed down. The central star is attractive and is sewn over papers, and the rest is entirely hand sewn. As it is unused, the seams are still tight but if you prod with a finger you can see this.

The seller told me "I saved it from the bonfire when my grandmother died in the early 80's." The seller was from Wales so I thought perhaps it was a Welsh quilt, but not so...."she was a Miss Wilton from a wealthy Newcastle Under Lyme family who married a Cheshire farmer and came to live on a large farm near Nantwich."

The quilt has no wadding and the quilting is a simple grid. I am not very good at dating fabrics - but there are quite a few types here to look at. This is a roller print in a tiny pattern.
There are a good number of stripes...

 ..and some half mourning prints in dull purple....

..and you can see a double pink here. A type of Lane's net pattern...there are also some brown fabrics but no more modern bright colours. No turkey red, for example and only a few small areas of green. There is one simple shirting. Many of the patches are pieced, what I guess the Americans call "poverty patches". Many of the fabrics appear more than once, so not a sample book.

If the fabrics look like Laura Ashley fabrics, there is a reason for this. Laura Ashley had a collection of old quilts and "borrowed" her designs from the antique fabrics.
I will have to do some more research but the fabrics suggest 1860 to 1880? Would anyone else like to venture an opinion??

More quilts to follow, I have gotten behind on these! I am giving a talk on "My Quilts" this Friday evening, so I had better select the ones to take next. Andrea, I haven't forgotten your question on these talks and will try to write about these soon.

Monday 12 November 2012

Towneley Hall, Burnley -Seminar 2012, BQSG

This year's BQSG seminar was held on the 20 and 21st of October, and proved to be interesting and enjoyable. Townley Hall was ideal as a venue - a nice lecture hall with ranked seating, and a Museum/stately house to explore during the breaks. The meals were provided by an outside caterer in the Servants Hall. The house has some wonderful  priests' vestments on display - the family was a Catholic one and saved these from destruction during the Dissolution. There was also a "priest hide" to be seen.

The papers presented were:

Chris Burgess - West Kent Textiles in Wills, Inventories and Probate 1550-1650.

Celia Eddy - The Ogier Wedding Quilt - North American Influence in British Quilts from the Mid Nineteenth to early Twentieth Century.

Ann Gibson - Patchwork - A Literary Tale  (Patchwork in childrens' books)

Anne Jeater - A Tyneside Signature Quilt - A Passport to a Primitive Methodist Community in the 1890's?

Lynne Setterington - Signature Quilts Old and New

Laurel Horton and Erin Beeston - Boltons Cotton Counterpanes - Handweaving in the Industrial Age

The Signature Quilt that Anne Jeater was speaking about belongs to the Quilters Guild, and we were lucky enough to be able to see the quilt. A large portrait of Queen Victoria is found in the centre of the quilt.

There are signatures, many in family groups. This quilt was used for fund raising, and each signature was accompanied by a small donation. Primitive Methodism was an offshoot of Wesleyan Methodism. While the Wesleyans were more middle and upper class, Primitive Methodists were poor working people, so the donations were unlikely to have been more than a few pence.

The quilt came from Tyneside, so it nicely quilted in North Country motifs.

Anne was able to go to the Primitive Methodist archives, and found a note in the meeting minutes to the effect that the proceeds had been used to buy a new carpet and curtains. By measuring the area that had been carpeted, and using approximate carpet prices of the era, she was able to arrive at a figure for the earnings of the signature quilt. I shall now have to go and look at my quilt more carefully - of course my quilt is Wesleyan, not Primitive, Methodist. I don't know if my quilt was used as a fundraiser.

I shall also push ahead this year with my Sanderson Star paper and hope to finish it for next year. Our exhibition at York (Quilt Museum) is next Autumn and we are devoting a lot of energy as a group to the exhibition and the seminar which will also be in York. This is the time to use some of the reserves that have accumulated and to produce a small but scholarly exhibition catalog.