Search This Blog

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.

Tuesday 31 July 2012

Lampeter - Welsh Quilt Centre - 2

More photos from the Welsh Quilt Centre's Exhibition "A Quilted Bridge". A must see if you are in Wales!

On the bed, a beautiful shoo fly quilt from Milton Iowa, c. 1929, an Amish quilt loaned by the American Museum in Britain. And on the wall - a Welsh quilt, end of 19th c., from Nantgaredig, Carmarthenshire. You can see why there does seem to be a direct connection between the Welsh and the Amish quilts!

I loved the small touches - I thought that you would like to see the clothes hanging on the wall next to the previous two quilts!

A real Gee's Bend quilt, velveteen with cotton backing, again from the American Museum in Britain. 1969.

This quilt may be familiar, it is Jen's quilt that went to the V & A exhibition last year. From Pen Parc, Cardiganshire, c. 1890. Flannel, with parts of a paisley shawl used. Strippy quilt with appliqued and pieced central panel.

Purple and cream diamonds made near Aberystwyth from fine wool. c 1875.

The Welsh equivalent of the Amish doll?

Another patchwork quilt made of woollens, made by Benjamin Jones of Ogof Mill, 2nd half 19th c. When I got lost, I passed by the Ogof weaving shed! You can see the photo next to the quilt. I knew at the time that it was a weaving shed - now I know which one.

Welsh flannel double diamond in a square quilt. Red and blue flannel with blue flannel reverse, the filling is an earlier quilt. 1st half 19th c.

Photo - I think that one of these ladies made the mourning strippy quilt that I showed in the last post...

Of course there are better photos and more information in the catalogue of the show, available from Jen Jones for £5 plus P & P.

The Welsh Quilt Centre, The Town Hall, Lampeter. The exhibition is open from 11 to 4.30, Tuesdays through Saturdays - now through to 3 November 2012. Entry cost is £5 for an adult. Call or email concerning public holidays or if coming a long way (details in my last post).

Sunday 29 July 2012

Lampeter Welsh Quilt Centre - 1

Finally, I went to see the Quilt Centre's Exhibition "A Quilted Bridge - The Amish-Welsh Connection" in which Welsh and Amish quilts were hung side by side. Of course, the book which sparked this is Dorothy Osler's recent book.....

The Quilt Centre is easy to find, has a quilt shop nearby and a wonderful cafe next door (run by Jen's daughter and partner) - what could be better?

Jen kindly allowed me to take photos to share with you in this blog. Details of the exhibition and Jen's website at the bottom of this post. In addition to Jen's own collection, quilts were loaned by the American Museum at Bath, Ceridigion Museum and the National Museum for the Wool Industry.

Central Star Quilt. Llanrhystud, flannel, wool wadding, circa 1870.

Double sided Welsh patchwork, Cardigan, flannel. Hand pieced and quilted. 1st half 19thc. Once again, I thought the use of beds to display the quilts worked extremely well, and the lighting was excellent.

Geometric Welsh Central Bow Tie Quilt, c 1860, Salem nr.Landeilo. Flannel with mustard flannel reverse, hand quilted. The "Rothko" quilt! (see catalogue for explanation...)

Welsh flannel quilt - this one is not in the catalogue, and I'm afraid that I did not take any notes...beautiful on the iron bedstead.

Llanybydder Quilt - 1911 - made by Ada Jones in the mourning period after her husband had died.

Green and red Welsh strippy

Garth Farm Welsh Flannel Patchwork - c 1851 - Drefach nr Lampeter, hand pieced and hand quilted.

Welsh Wool Flannel quilt

Another Welsh flannel strippy.

More photos to come - a catalogue is available from Jen Jones - the cost is £5.00 plus post and packing (email for a quote at:
This exhibition at the Quilt Centre, Lampeter is open from 10 March to 3 November 2012 on Tuesdays to Saturdays 11.00am to 4.30pm. Entry for adults is £5; please call 01570-422088 for the opening times on public holidays (or email), as these do vary. Also get in touch if coming a long way.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Jen Jones' Shop in Llannybydder

The next morning, I left the B & B and went to Jen's shop, as the Quilt Museum in Lampeter does not open until 11.00. The shop was just as I had remembered it - but I forgot to take a photo of the outside, so this photo is from the previous year's visit - but it hadn't changed!

Downstairs, the stock in the room to the left is arranged on shelves - Here are some nursing shawls and the Welsh wholecloths.

And the "waffle" blankets and the Comfy quilts. The Comfy quilts were the manufactured equivalent of the Durham quilt. They come in many colours and are usually one print or bi-colour with a centre diamond pattern.
 More blankets - these are the narrow loom variety. These were made on smaller looms in small workshops and have a seam down the middle where the two lengths were joined together. Very collectable!

The "better" quilts are kept upstairs - a very narrow stairway had to be negotiated to reach this! There are stacks of quilts on the two beds that can be peeled back to inspect.

 I especially liked this Welsh patchwork - I don't have much patchwork in my collection but I liked the frame pattern here. As usual, the Turkey Red has stayed very bright while I imagine the other fabrics have faded over the years.

Another view of the patchwork quilt on the bed.

 In another room, some collector's quilts on a rail - some of these are North Country quilts and some are Welsh quilts.

More quilts to look at. Hazel wasn't at the shop the day I visited, but Jen was. Thanks for the cup of tea, Jen! After this - off to the Quilt Museum where I was given special permission to photograph the quilts for the blog.

If anything in the photos appeals to you, Jens email is

and her website can be found at:

Sunday 22 July 2012

Melin Teifi

After the tour of the Woollen Mill, I went across to the mill shop of Melin Teifi, which is a commercial, working mill located in buildings leased from the Wool Museum (which is a part of the Museum of Wales). As it was lunch hour, the looms were now silent. I looked around and bought a few samples of flannel to make a small quilt.

I choose plain colours in navy, blue and dark red plus a stripe.

It was interesting to see the bolts of wool that had been woven in the mill.

The Mill has a web site which can be found here:

One bolt of fabric caught my eye - I asked what it was called and it is a Welsh "tweed".

The colour and weight of this cloth reminded me strongly of the plain wool quilt in my collection.

I also thought of this wool quilt, rescued from an attic during a builders' clean in Llandeilo. I saw many more wool flannel quilts the next day, at Jen's Quilt Museum, and began to wonder if this quilt is older that I  had previously thought!!
I returned to the Wool Museum and had lunch at the cafe - here is a photo of Welsh women knitting - apparently the Welsh national costume is a bit of a fabrication on the part of Lady Llanover, who wished to revive the wool industry and therefore invented an idealised Welsh costume which included a striped flannel underskirt and a split wool  overskirt or bed gown. An apron, shawl, lace collar and a man's puritan hat completed the ensemble. In fact, country women in Wales wore clothes that were very similar to those worn in other parts of the country. The hat was very outdated even by early 19C standards, and country women would not have worn split skirts to show the petticoat - this was an upper class affectation. More information here:

Another photo of Welsh women knitting.

I drove off, getting lost in the process - but I did drive past what I now know to be the Ogof weaving shed. After driving down a very narrow and somewhat flooded country lane, I came to a minor road and then a major road - how I wished that I had taken the sat nav when it was offered! But I arrived back at Llannybydder and found my B & B, Y Garreg Wen, which was very pleasant.

I was also able to visit Jen's Shop and the Quilt Museum, so I have lots of photos to share in future posts.

Thursday 19 July 2012

Demonstration of Weaving Looms at Wool Museum

Once the Portcawl ladies had finished their coffee, it was time to take the tour of the Weaving areas. This was the largest of the local mills and dates back to the 1840's. After a fire  it was rebuilt in 1912-1914. Purchased by  the Museum of Wales in 1984, part of the mill is leased and run commercially.

After shearing, the wool is sorted and sometimes scoured. Dyeing takes place. Here are samples of Welsh wool types, but the Cambrian Mills used mainly New Zealand and Australian wools.

The wool was then "willowed" which is the process of untangling and getting rid of any foreign material like twigs and sand. This prepares the wool for carding. The machine was known as a "Devil" as it had a drum with metal spikes. Evidently a very dangerous machine, this example was involved in an accident where a worker lost an arm.

The wool was then carded - the machinery in the Museum is enclosed in cages to protect the public. Carding produced soft wool ready for spinning.

A further machine produced "rovings" which were soft strands of wool.

The rovings were then taken upstairs to the Spinning Mule, where the wool was given its twist and made into strong and pliable threads.

Wool spinning on a spinning wheel had been a domestic activity, so the introduction of the spinning machines deprived thousands of women of their livelihood at a stroke. No wonder there was so much public unrest when the machinery was introduced - the domestic textile industry was decimated.

Finally the woollen warp threads were set up on the loom and weaving could take place - here a blanket is being made.  The fabric could then be fulled (beaten with hammers in water to shrink and thicken the cloth) before being spread to dry on tenterhooks. Light flannels and tweeds did not need to be fulled; they needed only to be washed and scoured.

Some of the fabrics needed special finishing - the nursing shawls were placed in a hot press to impart a smooth, pressed surface. And some wools were combed with teasels to raise the nap and make it fluffy.

After taking the tour, we were allowed to wander through the museum, which had displays of Welsh woven blankets and other woollen products, as well as further machinery.

In the museumshop, I was able to buy some books about the woollen industry in Wales. I also bought a book on the history of Wales! it may take me some time to plow through this book.....

I then went to the working mill and the mill shop - photos to follow in the next post.

Monday 16 July 2012

Trip to Wool Museum at Drefach Felindre

After leaving Llanidloes, I headed off to visit the Wool Museum. It was a fair drive to get there, as I had to drive across to Aberytsthweth and then down the coast road. I headed for Newcastle Emlyn - luckily the brown tourist signs appeared, as the Wool Museum is not on a main road. The area is very rural, although the area once had many mills, due to the availability of a fast flowing stream, the local availability of wool, a rail head nearby, plus local weaving expertise.

When I arrived, my car was the only one there, save for a bus, and it was raining hard!

Luckily, I could hear the sound of the looms and knew that I was in the right place. There is still a commercial mill on the site, as well as the Museum.

The items that were produced in this mill in its heyday were nursing shawls,

Flannel for shirts and other garments, and blankets.

 The gift shop had a selection of modern woollen goods for sale - traditionally coloured...

...and in more modern colours. A blanket costs about £250 depending on size, which sounds expensive, but it must be remembered that these will last for over 100 years if well kept.

Flannel was a major product in days gone by, and these woollen fabrics made the famous flannel Welsh quilts. I was hoping to get more of a sense of how this was made....I had to wait while the ladies of the Porthcawl Baptist Church had their coffee in the tea room, then took the tour with their group! (Yes, it was their bus in the carpark.) I'll show you photos of the weaving machinery in the next post.