Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Visit to Hemmingford Grey and Wimpole Hall

Last Saturday 25 of us went on a coach trip! Ruth had kindly organised a fabulous day for us, and arranged for fabulous weather too! The day was warm, but not too sunny, and Ruth even scheduled the only shower for while we were on the coach!
Our first stop was for coffee and biscuits at The Cock Inn at Hemmingford Grey (and a toilet break!) which was very welcome, since the Lutterworth and Rugby contingents had left home around 8 am.
Then a short stroll along country lanes to The Manor, former home of famous author, gardener and patchworker Lucy Boston. The house is the oldest continuously inhabited house in the country, the old part dating from the 1100s and the new part from the 1600s. Here are a group of members in front of the house waiting to begin the tour.
The garden was absolutely magnificent, and seemed to go on and on. It was an old fashioned cottage garden, with lots of paths, nooks, crannies, lawns and magnificent herbaceous borders. Here are Muriel and Chris being dwarfed by plants I have no idea of the name of! Incidentally, they haven't just struck out amongst the plants, but are on a path, albeit a narrow one!
Here is Chris, seemingly being left behind by her friends - I'm sure it wasn't quite as it looks!
While everyone enjoyed the garden, it was the patchworks which really interested us. We were not to be disappointed. Diana, Lucy's daughter-in-law, told us that when Lucy had first moved to The Manor with her husband, she had bought a couple of hexagon patchwork quilts which were the perfect size for blocking draughts from the lounge windows. One of the quilts had a label saying 'started in 1801, finished in 1803' and due to their age, the draughts and smoke from the fire, the quilts eventually started to wear. Lucy repaired the quilts and this started her interest in making patchworks of her own. Unfortunately Diana did not want me to take photos of the quilts,
but I have found this picture of her most famous design, The Patchwork of the Crosses. The block is completely made over papers, and consists of lozenges and squares (some on point). Due to Lucy's clever use of value and pattern, no two blocks look alike, and several are almost unrecognisable as being the same design. If you would like to look at some interpretations of this block, look here. Lucy's coverlets were made over papers last century, but retained a vibrancy and modernity which excited us all (especially Sylvia, of which more later!). This quilt was made for The Astronomer Royal, and used lots of celestial motifs. If you would like to find out more about Lucy Boston and Hemmingford Grey, I can recommend a visit, or if all else fails, look at Celia Eddy's wonderful article here. After a very pleasant lunch overlooking the water, it was back on the coach to visit Wimpole Hall, a stately National Trust property.While we enjoyed the house, the gardens and surroundings, it was again the patchwork (this time an exhibition) which had drawn us. No photographs allowed again but we enjoyed looking at others' work, although some pieces were a bit arty for our tastes, and some of the prices were a bit mind boggling! Still, we decided that it was the time which had gone into the pieces (mainly wall-hangings) which was important.

By this time, many of us were taking refreshments in the courtyard. Ann was determined to make the most of her day and was on her way to scan the second hand books! Many thanks to Ruth for organising the day, and we look forward to the next trip!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

June meeting

After the excellent speakers we have had recently, it was lovely to have a more social evening, so people could catch up and have a good chat! The meeting was used to discuss the forthcoming exhibition, explain the format and have a selection of bag patterns available for people to take.

The exhibition will be on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th October from 10-4 each day. Volunteers will be needed to help set up on the Friday evening, and to man the exhibition on both days. There will be plenty of different jobs to do, from taking money on the door (£1.50 per person) to serving refreshments - and of course making the cakes which will make up the main part of the refreshments! - serving on the sales table and bag raffle, to generally being welcoming to people, and answering questions. Even if you can only spare an hour, your help will be much appreciated. If you haven't already signed up, you can let Di know or leave a comment on the blog and we'll get back to you. A new idea this year will be a bag and cushion raffle. We are asking members to make either a bag or cushion (or hopefully both!) for the raffle. Each item will be displayed, and people will be able to buy a ticket for the bag or cushion of their choice. Each set of tickets will be placed in a separate container for the cushions and in the bag itself for the bags. At the end of the day, a ticket will be drawn from each container, thus ensuring that every winner will be thrilled to get the item they most wanted! What a clever idea! This means that you won't see the item you've made donated to another raffle next week!

There was much excitement when Ruth unveiled the finished group quilt. Everyone was amazed at how good it looked, as several people secretly confided to me that they had been a bit skeptical when the background and balloon blocks had been first displayed! Apart from the fact the 27 people had taken part, the assembling had been done by Ruth, Lynda, Di and Paula. Many thanks to them for all their hard work. (And also thanks to my talented daughter, who gave us design inspiration when we were all stuck!)

On 26th September, Jenny Almond will be running one of her very popular workshops. She brought along various ideas for us to choose from, all with a Christmas theme. The two most popular ones were two lovely wall-hangings, one with houses and reindeer (above) and the other with four different sections (below).

Jenny will teach both items at the workshop, but needs to know how many people want to do
each one so she can prepare the patterns. If you weren't at the meeting, but would like to do the workshop, please decide which is your favourite and let Ruth know. (I like the reindeer one personally!)
Then it was time for show and tell. Brenda Lincoln (a founder member of Piecemakers) has become involved with 'Quilts For Heroes', an organisation which makes quilts for soldiers who have been wounded on active service. She and a group of friends have made quilts and sent them to a military hospital in Suffolk. Apparently when the first quilts arrived, the sergeant took them into the ward, put them in a corner and just made a general announcement that they were there for anyone to take. Since they were all tough soldiers, he wasn't sure how much takeup there would be. When he next went into the ward, the pile of quilts was gone, and there was a quilt on every bed or chair! No one is too tough not to appreciate a quilt!
Brenda is hoping for donations of fabric in red, white, blue or masculine colours and old shirts.
Chris brought several quilts for us to see.I had looked through the donated Linus fabric, and found a lot of dark plaids, which have been put together beautifully in this quilt. Keep up the good work, ladies!
Stephanie had made some cushion covers which were all made from strips of fabric sewn into squares, then chopped and mixed up. This ensured that they all match, as they are all made from the parts. Stephanie and Sharon had finished their hand quilting which they had started on the Sandie Lush workshop. Beautiful work.

Di had made three different bags for the raffle. One was a tote, one a shopping bag and the other a little purse. I'm sure people will be buying lots of tickets to win those.Last year, Flutterwheels's theme was stars. These were choppy stars, which Chris won. She fell in love with the fresh colours and quirky look of these blocks and has made them into a quilt for herself. Perfect colours for a dreary day, I would say. Nearly every meeting sees Paula presenting me with a quilt for Project Linus! This one is dancing gingerbread men (or star jumping gingerbread men as I prefer to call it!) Many thanks Paula. You're a star!

And finally, here is my Mystery Quilt which I made at Rocheberie Quilters in March. It's totally scrappy, as you can see, and quilted with feathers in all the cream spaces. I love it!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Visit to Forge Mill Needle Museum

It was on a warm and pleasant summer's day that 6 members had a visit to the Forge Mill Needle Museum. Our main purpose was to view the exhibition 'Quilting Yarns' which comprised some of the quilts owned by Jane Cobbett, ranging from the 1860s to the 1950s. Here we are in front of the museum. Left to right there is Lynda, Alison, Paula, Ruth, Eileen and Ginnie.

The exhibition was very good, and while it wasn't huge (about 20 pieces altogether) it was lovely to have the time to view and discuss them all in detail, with like-minded enthusiasts. Here are photos of some of the quilts.

This one was entitled 'Woollen Comforter' and was made of feedsacks, recycled clothing and dressmaking scraps from the 1920s and 30s. It was made in Pittsford, New York, USA, and was particularly delightful in the motifs embroidered on many of the patches. Some were initials (including, strangely, Ruth's initials of A.R.W) mostly ending with S, some dated and having ages added - one as young as 3 months, so perhaps not done in person! Some were animals, rabbits, chickens, geese etc., and some little scenes, such as a beehive and returning from milking and other motifs including several hands and a guitar. There were some interesting stitches joining the patches together too, mainly feather stitch but with some intriguing variations. The quilt had cotton wadding and a woollen backing, and six people who all wished they could take it home with them!

This is the Pease quilt. It belonged to the Pease family of Darlington UK but was not British, and had probably been brought over from the USA by them. It was made in the 1880s and the block is called The Star of Alabama. We really liked this quilt, but wondered why the maker had included the two very dark star fabrics in the top blocks. Maybe it was all she had, but we also wondered whether all the fabrics had had the same intensity originally, but the rest had faded. This is where we wished we had more knowledge of dyes and their effects on fabric!

This was a small unfinished fragment called Fussycut Stars. It was Scottish and had been made in the late Victorian era. It was all silk, and the fabrics had been meticulously cut and pieced to make beautiful patterns in the centres of the stars. Some of them (on the bottom right for example) looked as if they had been embroidered, but on closer inspection, it was the pattern of the fabric which had been used to full effect. It had probably been shut in a cupboard for years, as the colours were sumptuous.

Here is another quilt made of silks, velvets and other fabrics. This one is not of the same quality, but when you realise that it had been made by a 12 year old girl called Elizabeth Brown as a doll's quilt, you can appreciate it fully. It was made in Barrow upon Humber, UK in 1877. The unusual arrangement of blocks makes the design look rather like flying geese.

Here is another log cabin, his time in the straight furrows arrangement. This quilt had been made of feedsacks in Nebraska in the 1930s. It had been tied with blue wool, and the ties make a pleasing pattern over the surface. Unusually for an American quilt, it had not been bound, but the edges had been folded in and whipstitched.

This is a Welsh quilt, or at least, what was left of it! The date was not known, but it was made in Glamorgan. Both sides had been cut off for some reason, leaving it in a sorry state. Just imagine if that was your quilt, and someone had taken the scissors to it! It's just too awful to contemplate!

This beautiful quilt is a Bow Tie design, made in 1880, with blocks finishing at 4". We spent some time examining this at close quarters, trying to work out if it had been made over papers or not. (We didn't decide!) But when we had moved on and looked at it from further away, we were able to appreciate the soft colouring.

This Redwork quilt was made in Nantucket Island in the 1940s, probably from a commercial kits or pattern. It charmed us, and intrigued us in equal measure. Most of the blocks were cute designs of Sunbonnet Sue-type figures, but in the centre of the quilt (the first complete row in the picture above the bar) there were the initals V and K. We wondered if these were the initials of the maker or recipient. then we spotted another initial, I, in the second row, second block. Why were these letters included? Were they significant, or were they ones supplied with the kit, or ones she felt like making? There were no answers but we loved the freshness of the quilt.

Once we had viewed the exhibition, we went downstairs to see the recreation of a Victorian needle factory. We were amazed to find it took 30 different proceedures to turn a piece of wire into a needle, and the most skilled part, that of pointing the needle earned its workers a guinea (£1 and one shilling) a week, but gave them silicosis of the lungs, meaning that their life expectancy was only 30 years! Some young people had come to show the workings of the factory and were kind enough to let me take their photos. These young men were doing the shaping and stamping of the needles,

these young ladies were filing the edges of the eyes, and the overseer was keeping a stern eye on them! All in all we had a great day out. The museum is well worth a visit, and there was a lovely picnic space with tables and a children's play area with plenty of space to play and run about. The exhibition runs only till the 28th June, so if you would like to see these quilts (and others) in person, then go quickly or you'll miss your chance. If you can't go but would like to see more of the quilts, look on my blog here for the rest of the photos.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Sandie Lush

I can't believe my bad luck! I've had to miss another Piecemakers meeting, and the speaker was the fabulous Sandie Lush! Sandie is well known for her wonderful hand quilted wholecloth quilts, and while I prefer machine quilting myself, I am full of admiration for anyone who can hand quilt to Sandie's standard.
She brought along what must be one of her most famous quilts - a cricket jumper! She made it for an exhibition at Lord's Cricket Ground in 1999 which was called 'Under the Covers' (rather good cricketing/quilting pun there!). The quilting is used to simulate the aran patterns of the jumper, but seeing this photo, it's hard to realise that the quilt, called 'Slip one, knit one' is big enough to cover a single bed! I think the label is the perfect finishing touch.

The success of this quilt led Sandie to experiment with other knitting designs and fabrics, and she made a whole series of jumpers in this way. Here is 'Twist Four', a quilt in my favourite colour.

Wholecloth quilts are notoriously difficult to photograph, and the next quilt (even though it's beautifully appliqued) is no exception. Apparently it started off as 'Millennium Tuips' but finished up being called '2003 Tulips' and many people will remember seeing it win second prize at the NEC that year. The applique is exquisite, and the handquilting is a delight to see. You can just see the curving feather motifs echoing the applique shapes.

This last quilt was actually made by children at the school where Sandie is a governor. The centres of the squares contain the children's portraits, and you can clearly see the quilting designs on this simple beauty. If it took Sandie 3 years to finish a quilt, Sylvia (and the rest of us!) must be heartened, as I know that she has been working on this Hawaiian applique quilt for a while. It's her 'coffin quilt' as she wants it draped over her coffin when the time comes. It's not too clear here, but the quilt is an unusual shape, as it needs to drape over a long, narrow box!

Andrea brought along this very sophisticated quilt, which she had started a long time ago, found and finished recently. She says it was 'not very exciting' but I think the muted colours make it restful and elegant.

Diane's quilt is Japanese folded patchwork she made at a workshop. The fabric colours and choices emphasise the Japanese feel to it.

Carolyn's quilt is a Sizzling Strips on the other side, and this is the back, made from leftovers! How clever is that!

Since it is summer, we have organised a couple of outings. The first is to the 'Quilting Yarns' exhibition at the Redditch Needle Museum (and a brief stop at the Cotton Patch on the way back!) on Friday 12th June. We will be going by car, so a petrol contribution will be appreciated. Ruth has organised a trip to Hemingford Grey to look at Lucy Boston's quilts, and then the New Horizon's Exhibition at Wimpole Hall on Saturday 27th June. The cost is £13.50 each, and there are still a couple of places left. If you would like to come on either of these days, please ring me or leave a comment, and I'll get back to you.