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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 28 April 2012

Swaffam Prior Quilt Study Day

A quilt study day was held at Swaffam Prior by Region 9 (Norfolk and Cambridgeshire) on March 17. I drove across from Ipswich; this took me longer than expected so I arrived when the day was already in progress. The study day was once again led by Pauline Adams and Carolyn Ferguson, and was a bit more informal than previous study days. First, quilts brought by Pauline and Carolyn were shown, to describe some basics. Then quilts brought by those attending were evaluated by the group.

The nearer quilt was in poor condition but shows a good range of "half mourning" fabrics. Victorian mourning dress was tightly regulated. Full mourning for women lasted one year when black was worn, then second mourning, another year of black clothing when some ornamentation was allowed. Then a half mourning lasted 6 to 9 months and the dress eased back into colour - drab purples were common. The dyes used often cause the fabrics to disintegrate, as here. This quilt dates from 1860 - 1880 and has no wadding. There are good examples of monochrome copper plate printing. There is some symmetry in the placement of fabrics and English paper piecing was used to set the patches together. Its not sure if the red patches are "poverty patches", a repair or deliberate placement. This quilt will not be repaired, but obviously new fabric could be used to hold parts together if necessary. The fabrics are very fragile.

A hexagon quilt where the patches have been set in rows. This quilt had some interesting fabrics in it.

A quilt that has been expertly pieced by English paper piecing. The fabrics have been fussy cut. There were merchants who sold scraps by the pound specifically for patchwork - and samples were also used in patchwork. Different colourways of the same pattern can be an indication of this fabric swatch use.

An interesting family quilt with a family photo that shows the quilt in the background. This is the Wilkinson family quilt, made in 1896 and the photo taken at Christmas 1904. The design is the Drunkards Path, made in turkey red and white cotton. The maker is known.

 Here are three quilts from the Sunderland area - my quilt made by a WI group is the salmon coloured quilt in front. The other two (green and white quilts) belong to Liz N. All three quilts have similar motifs and a diamond central device.
And finally, a real Gee's Bend quilt. One of the ladies became very taken with the Gee's Bend quilts and read all that she could about them. Upon discovering that there was a (selling) exhibition being held in Australia, she bought this quilt - much to her family's amazement at the price. It is roughly built up from the centre, in a  frame arrangement. These quilts are made under cramped conditions. The quilt looks as if it has been made with remnants, the fabrics are of all different types and the quilt is not especially well made. Of course this sparked a debate on "art" versus "craft".

About 30 ladies attended this day which was most enjoyable. Many thanks Region 9 for organising this day. Two antique quilts were raffled for funds - one possibly made in Norfolk.

Wednesday 25 April 2012

More photos from Staffordshire/Derbyshire

More photos from the week in Staffordshire/Derbyshire.

 A stone Cross, very old, with Celtic designs upon it in Bradbourne Churchyard - notice the "cup and ring" designs which are very ancient and universally found in Celtic art. These are very similar to the Welsh spirals.

 A giant yew tree, over 1500 years old, in Doveridge Churchyard. There are many old yews to be seen in this area, and yews are among the most longlived trees in Britain. This one seems to be a clone of trees,arranged in a semicircle with a hollow centre, the original tree having died. Its branches are propped up on all sides. Yew trees have poisonous berries, which may be why they are mainly to be found in churchyards well away from livestock. Yew trees also provided wood for the famous English longbow. It seems probable that these areas were pagan sacred sites that were appropriated by the Christian church.

 Carvings on old pews in, I think, Alstonefield church. Most churches have pews of a more modern date, as seating in churches was "reformed" several times. It was deemed most important was that there be seating for the poor, where annual fees need not be paid; the Victorians installed new seating and enlarged churches. Of course churches were packed in those days, today I expect that there are more than enough spare seats for services....this carving reminded me of the motifs shown in many Welsh quilts.

 Coal carts in Silverdale churchyard, a reminder of the local coal mines that were formerly so important to the local economy. Presumably, ironmongery is represented by the gates in the background.

 Another giant yew tree at Ellastone Church, one of several at this church.

A beautiful door at Bradbourne Church, with carvings of animals real and imagined around the arch.

A final photo - ringing handbells in the hot tub!! Molly Jonathan and Faith ringing handbells - just to note that these are toy plastic handbells and not the real (and rather expensive) bell metal handbells. Considering that they are an inexpensive childrens toy, they sound very good!

Sunday 22 April 2012

Ringing Trip to Staffordshire and Derbyshire

Last week I went on a ringing week, organised by Paul Norris, along with other ringers from Norfolk and Suffolk. We mostly rang quarter peals although there were some straightforward tower "grabs" as well. This area is one that was formerly very industrial in parts, with various mines and mills and accompanying towns and villages. These of course are now mostly gone. The other part is very rural and agricultural. There is some lovely scenery here and the area is very near to the Peak District which is a National Park.

 Our first tower was Long Eaton near Nottingham - I spotted this quilt shop Munkey Creations. I also spotted Angie's Quilt Shop in Cheadle, but unfortunately it was closed whenever we were driving past.

Our base for the week was a house near Alton in Ramshorn - here is the view from the window. You can see a herd of red deer grazing in  the field.

I did not take photos of all the churches but most were built out of the local stone of a brown colour. This is the nearest village, Ellastone where the local ladies served us tea and cakes to raise money for the church.

Another church, Brown Edge, which again was a former mining town. Nice bells here, although the ropes were extra long! Before we rang our quarter peal we could hear the other group ringing their quarter at Norton in the Moors.

 The church at Wolstanton near Stoke on Trent. Nice bells here...

After ringing at Keele, we rang at a "mini ring" at Phil Gaye's house - our Rope fees went to a local charity. These bells are bigger than most mini rings and thus had to be handled in the normal way - some people found the transition difficult!

Wirksworth Church, where we lost a quarter of Grandsire Triples. A town that was very much in the bottom of a valley and thus very hilly.

Bradbourne Church, where I last rung in 1980 during a Durham University summer outing (of which I can remember very little). Very nice bells, rang a nice quarter of Cambridge minor here.

The very nice view over the fells from the Church door at Bradbourne.

Another church that I rang at 30 years ago, Ashbourne - this one I remember very clearly, as it has bells that are rung from the church chancel with very long rope drafts- rather offputting! I have improved a lot of course, but still not a comfortable experience to ring.

I then had to return to Suffolk to teach a morning at Quilters Haven in hand quilting.

A nice break, but with various people dropping out of the trip, I had to do much more ringing than I had planned to do - 14 quarter peals or about 10 1/2 hours of ringing! We also had two broken ropes and a broken stay so not uneventful. Back to work tomorrow....

Saturday 14 April 2012

Blue Durham - from Wales

Here is another quilt from Wales - it came from an antique store in Cowbridge in South Wales which apparently had a plentiful supply of quilts and blankets - alas, the store is long gone now. Although bought in Wales, this quilt is clearly a Durham quilt, and one that was a marked top. The design is a complex one, and incorporates many North Country motifs. Yet, I feel that this quilt may be another top which was quilted by a Welsh quilter, for the details feel rather Welsh.

The quilt size is 80 x 90 inches. As a central design, there is a rose in a ring surrounded by leaves and feathers.

Another view of the centre motif. Nicely quilted....

In each corner of the quilt there is another rose or flower, surrounded by a feather wreath.

The outside border is a swag, topped by a petalled flower. There is a background grid of diamonds.

The quilt did come from a Welsh shop - and the edge looks very Welsh in its treatment as it is neatly handsewn. Also, there is a thick woollen blanket which is a typical filling for a Welsh quilter to use.

There is a nice motif, a large plume. This quilt looks in very reasonable condition, and does not appear to have been used much. As is often the case with old quilts, there are one or two small stains, and one or two spots of house paint. Used as a drop sheet? or more likely, just around when the room was being painted. A very nice quilt, nicely quilted. I just wish that we had the full story with these quilts! and could ask how a Durham quilt came to be located, and perhaps quilted, in south Wales.

Monday 9 April 2012

Blue Welsh Single Quilt

Here is a little Welsh quilt that I bought recently. It is either a large cot quilt or a small single quilt! It is done in a rather "country" fashion, and is attractive in a naive sort of way....

The design is a simple one, there is a flower/four lobed design in the centre, then there are church windows around the outside. A bought edging completes the quilt.

The size of this quilt is 45 x 60 inches, and the colour is a pale lilac or blue colour.

Many frills are made from a doubled piece of fabric, but here a bought edging has been used. Either the fabric has faded, or the edging did not match exactly! The quilt material is an artificial satin, probably a rayon material.

The quilt is filled with carded wool, and the stitching although effective, is none too carefully done. The effect is a rustic one, which is what Welsh quilts are all about, so often.

Sunday 8 April 2012

Devil's Dyke and Anglesea Abbey

Last weekend we went to visit Mike's family in Royston. First, we went for a walk at a place I had seen the previous week when I had gone to the quilt study day at Swaffam Prior - the Devil's Dyke. This is a huge Anglo Saxon earthwork which is now a protected monument. Despite the fact that it is now cut through by several roads, it runs for several miles and has a footpath running along the top of it. What an effort it must have been to build - apparently it controlled trade and traffic along the Roman road, the Icknield Way, which runs nearby.

The weather was very warm and we took a short walk along a stretch near Swaffam Prior. A local tale says that the Devil came uninvited to a wedding - after being chased away by the villagers from the church, he created the dyke with a great sweep of his firey tail!

Parts of the dyke have been restored and you can clearly see how a ditch was dug and the spoil used to create the dyke.

After lunch with Mike's family, we returned to another landmark nearby, Anglesea Abbey, a stately home now owned by the National Trust.

Anglesea Abbey is famed for its snowdrop display - these were more-or-less finished except for a few late varieties.

But there were still some excellent displays, including beds of sallows with various coloured bark....

The most stunning area was this grove of silver birches - I'm told it is a fantastic sight in autumn with the falling golden leaves.