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Hello everyone, apologies in advance as this is a very picture heavy post but I have some fab 17th century embroidery to show you!

We visited mainly smaller Tudor properties this week, not by design just those that were local to us (and open on the right days!). We still have many more on our wish list to do :-)

The first was one I have had on my list for a while Little Moreton Hall in Cheshire, a very lovely Tudor house which as you can see from the pictures has suffered through the years and has needed extensive structural work to keep it from falling down!

Little Moreton Hall

Moreton 2

Moreton 3

Moreton 4

Moreton 5

The second was East Riddlesden Hall in Keighley, not only a beautiful little house but also home to some gorgeous embroidery.

East Riddlesden Hall


Look at all these beautiful pictures.


East Riddlesden Hall



Sadly their sampler display was not available due to a ceiling collapse in that room so I will return to see that sometime.

There was also some lovely embroidery that had been done for the displays by local women, this blackwork beadspread and crewel work hangings date from the 1920s.

ERH 11

ERH 10
And some fantastic plaster ceilings.




The last one we visited was Gawthorpe Hall near Burnley, this is a mini Hardwick Hall in design and is home to the Rachel Kay Shuttleworth needlework collection. A small part of her 28,000 pieces were on display.Rachel lived in the house in the 1950s and was a passionate needlewoman.

There were no photos allowed in the house but there is an excellent blog with online gallery and details of the textile courses they run.

Gawthorpe Hall

Gawthorpe 2

A very textilicious holiday with lots of inspiration for me!

Now back to the real world of work with just a few bits of stitching a week to keep me sane :-)

Thanks as always for visiting, I will be off to Ashby de La Zouche Castle next weekend for a show with Swords of Mercia so if you are in the area come along and say hello!

Hello again

I spend a lot of time travelling to all sorts of beautiful parts of the globe so it was lovely to have week in my gorgeous country appreciating (along with many tourists from all over the world) what England has to offer.

Our first day was spent in the Cotswolds where I grew up and the visit to Bourton-on-the-Water brought back many happy memories of paddling in this stream, seeing the pretty cottages and visiting the model village (which Kerry loved just as much as I did when I first saw it).


Bourton 2

Bourton 3

We then went to Snowshill Manor, a National Trust property in the Cotswolds, quintessentially an English manor house with beautiful gardens but home to a very eclectic collection by the last owner Charles Paget Wade.


Snowshill 3

Snowshill 4

Snowshill 5

There was everything from samurai warrior suits to old bikes, including many beautiful Oriental chests from his travels. One room had a lovely collection of textiles including what looks like a piece from a Layton jacket!

Snowshill textiles

Snowshill textiles 2

Snowshill textiles 3

I particularly liked this sampler book showing miniature garments, no information on its maker but I think it would be a for a similar purpose to the one that inspired the Blackbird Designs book, ‘A Stitcher’s Journey’, which I posted about previously, to show prospective employers your needlework skills.

Snowshill textiles 4

Snowshill textiles 5

Snowshill textiles 6

A lovely day out – and all in the best of English summer sunshine!

Thanks for visiting, more historic loveliness soon!

Hello everyone

Well the snow has almost gone here in Yorkshire apart from bits on the hills, we have Spring flowers appearing and have had a couple of warm days recently so we are all feeling very happy!

One of my favourite parts of the China Nationalities Museum that I visited while in Beijing was the exhibition of needlework, this sign outside perfectly captures how I, (and it would seem the museum organisers), feel about stitching!

China Nationalities Museum Sign

There were themed displays of footwear (including the very sad lotus feet shoes for bound feet), bags, headwear and gifts – these little embroidered tokens of love and affection are called henbao.

China Nationalities Museum Henbao

China Nationalities Museum Boots

China Nationalities Museum Lotus feet shoes

I was interested to see cross stitch and patchwork in the bags as well as the more traditional Chinese silk embroidery.

China Nationalities Museum Cross Stitch bag

China Nationalities Museum Cross Stitch bag 2

China Nationalities Museum Cross Stitch bag 3

China Nationalities Museum Patchwork bag

There was also a section devoted to needlework tools – anyone remember these pincushions at the top of the photo?

My Nana had one when I was little (as well as the tomato one with the strawberry emery attached).

China Nationalities Museum Pincushion

In another part of the museum there were some displays of traditional Miao people costume, with beautiful silver headdresses and embroidered robes.

Each strand of the skirt is a separate piece joined with silver beads.

China Nationalities Museum Miao

China Nationalities Museum Miao 2

China Nationalities Museum Miao 3

China Nationalities Museum Miao 4

I have had a busy week craft wise, have finished and posted my Spring ornament for the Seasonal Exchange, part made two bags out of recycled denim and pillowcases and been to two knitting groups (though more drinking coffee and wine was done than actual knitting – as usual!)

And next week the season starts again! They joy of seeing all my re-enactment friends and camping and campfires and BBQs - I shall be so happy :-)

I must get around to putting up the events page for this year but next weekend we are at Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire - on Sat and Sun celebrating the victory of St George over the evil Dragon Knight! Please come and join us if you can.

Take care and thank you for visiting.

Hello everyone

Hope that you are all well and happy.

Seems longer than week ago that I was in Spain with those lovely blue skis :-)

My Mum had surprise day trip planned for me, I thought that it was going to be  a new museum of religious art or a fab church but it turned out to be this amazing art deco house in a little town called Novelda, about an hour away from where she lives in the mountains. She discovered it in a DK book that my brother and sister-in-law bought her and first went to visit it last October.

Spain has a lot of Art Deco and Modernist art and I have seen many very lovely things, mainly fabulous doors and ironwork but this was really special.

If you didn’t know it was there you would not really notice the house, the facade is lovely but it is tucked away in a little street in the centre of the town and from the front it looks to be quite a small property but it stretches back a long way and like many Spanish houses it has a Moorish influenced courtyard garden inside the house.

The wonderful thing about the house is that most of the rooms are furnished with original Art Deco furniture and it looks so lived in.

The house is called Casa Modernista and was built between 1900 and 1903 – the DK travel web site  has info on location and times info . It is well worth a visit if you ever find yourself in the area.

Spain Casa Modernista

Spain Casa Modernista 2

Spain Casa Modernista 3

Spain Casa Modernista 4

Spain Casa Modernista 5

Spain Casa Modernista 6

Spain Casa Modernista 7

Spain Casa Modernista 8

After lunch (tapas at a lovely little cafe round the corner) we had a little wander around the town and the market and then set off to find a church, St Mary Magdelene’s Sanctury and castle that we could see from the town and that Mum went to on her last trip there. After a few false starts and lots of communing with the locals we found it and it was really beautiful.

As far as we could work out it was built in the early 1900s and reminded me very much of Gaudi’s Sagrada Famila that I was lucky enough to visit a few years ago in Barcelona – on a much smaller scale. A very interesting church and look at those wonderful blue skies! These pictures were taken on the 4th of January!

Spain- Novelda Church 1

Spain- Novelda Church 2

Spain- Novelda Church 3

Spain- Novelda Church 4

So back to reality this week, a busy week at work but I had knitting group and a lovely relaxing weekend crafting and cooking so it was not all bad ;-)

I have been working hard at creating new stock to take the craft centre, have some new heart ornaments made from recycled charity shop finds that I am just finishing off so will post them next weekend.

I have finished my hat – in beautiful James Brett variegated wool, this was an adaptation of a pattern that I had as a freebie booklet from a knitting mag. I changed the stocking stitch with Fair Isle main part for moss stitch with a stocking stitch crown when I realised how hard it was going it be to do the decreases for the crown shaping in moss stitch.

New hat Jan 2

New hat Jan 1

I am very pleased that it turned out so well and that I now have the confidence to play around with patterns like this. It is very warm and lovely and I just cast on for another one in the purple version of this wool.

This will be followed by matching scarves and possibly wristwarmers in both colourways , at some point in between everything else I want to do. I have still not managed to win the lottery so unfortunately crafting is still subsidiary to my day job – is just lucky I really enjoy what I do!

Exciting job related news – my next trip to China has been confirmed. I will be leaving for Beijing at the end of Feb for two weeks of teaching followed by a few days of exploring the city.I am so lucky, life is wonderful at the moment and I am so enjoying myself.

Like most of the rest of the UK it has been snowing overnight – not as much as I expected but here is the view from my window this morning.Hopefully it will last until the weekend when I can go for a walk on the snowy moors!

Snowy Marsden Jan

Hope that you have a good week ahead and thanks for visiting.

Hello again, long time no blog. The reason for my absence is of course that I have been lucky enough to be teaching again in China.

I have been here for nearly a month and most of that time I have been in Guangzhou again but I have had a short holiday this time after my work and have been spending a few days in arguably the brightest and probably the biggest city in the world, Hong Kong!

I thought that Guangzhou was amazing in terms of the tallness of the buildings and of their Pearl River light show but of course Hong Kong is the mother of all skyscraper neon wonder and I have been having a lovely time here.

I also had a visit to Disneyland – it is one of my ambitions to visit every Disneyland, so far I have done 3 with Tokyo, California and Shanghai (due for completion in 2016) to go.

As well as the bright lights I spent a day on Hong Kong’s Lantau Island yesterday which is a beautiful mountain country park. I went on a cable car ride to see the world’s biggest outdoor sitting Buddha and visit the monastery, on a speedboat ride round the bay and to see some traditional fishermens’ stilt houses, finishing off with dinner on the terrace of a very nice restaurant overlooking  Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong.It was like being in a Bond film and was definitely one of the most amazing days of my life.

I will post more of those pics later once I have sorted them out (and found my camera cable which has disappeared somewhere in the packing process!) Here are a few from my trip so far. I am so lucky to be able to do this – I have spent the whole month pinching myself thinking am I really here again. I still really, really love China and hopefully will be back again with work in the Spring.

The first two photos are of the city of Guangzhou at night.

Guangzhou skyscrapers 1

Guangzhou skyscrapers 2

And here is the beautiful Canton Tower in Guangzhou which changes colour every few minutes during the evening light show.

Guangzhou tower 1

Guangzhou tower 2

Guangzhou is China’s third biggest city and is packed full of people, I have been staying in a very nice hotel in one of the busiest parts of town, this is what the evening rush hour looks like here.

Guangzhou traffic

And here is my gorgeous hotel room – aren’t I lucky! I know some people complain about business travel and living out of hotels all the time but I am still a novice at this and I am like a kid at Christmas with excitement. I am going back here tonight for two more days before flying home.

Milu hotel

And a couple of photos of Hong Kong, I have much better ones of the city lights as I was raining heavily the day I took these but until I find the camera lead can’t get to them!

Hong Kong at night

Hong Kong skyscrapers 4

There has been a little bit of shopping (only a bit, more window shopping looking at all the designer shops in malls like this one).

Hong Kong mall

And lots of culture as well, here is a picture of one of the beautiful painted panels in the ancestral hall of a museum I went to.

Hong Kong - museum painting

And lastly a little look at Mickey and Minnie in their Halloween finery.

Disney Minnie and Micky 1

Will update again sometime next week when I am back in the UK. Am looking forward to getting home to my beautiful village which will be such a contrast to all this but not looking forward to the weather. It has been around 35 degrees here and I have been wandering round in summer clothes.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

Hello and hope that you are all well and happy. I have had a busy and mainly wet week though today has been lovely and sunny so we have been gardening. Unfortunately it rained later on which scuppered any chance of a BBQ but as we are away at a re-enactment event next weekend we will be having two BBQs to make up for that!

Next weekend is (unbelievably) my little baby Jake’s 18th birthday and we will be at Tatton Park  in Cheshire where he has celebrated the last 10 birthdays. Ellie is coming to meet us which will be lovely, she is so enjoying her new job and is very, very happy. So good times all round!

As promised I have sorted some pics of Valencia for you, it is the third largest city in Spain and this was my third visit but I have not been for nearly five years. The old town and cathedral are beautiful but there is also an amazing modern development called the City of Arts and Sciences with museums and galleries and an Oceanographic centre which is well worth a visit – we love the Beluga whales there.

Valencia cathedral is one of my favourites in Spain – it has a beautiful tower and the most amazing ceiling painting of musical angels.

Spain June - Valencia cathedral

And a wonderful carved doorway of course!

Spain June - Valencia cathedral 2

The cathedral museum, which is located inside, has a breathtaking collection of religious art so I was a very happy bunny!

Near the cathedral was a wonderful shop selling icons, paintings and all manner of church regalia, robes, chalices, candlesticks galore. Sadly I couldn’t afford anything but my friend Kerry and I had fun window shopping!

Spain June - Valencia 7

Spain June - Valencia 6

This was the bell tower of another church in the city.

Spain June - Valencia 3

And below is the town hall which had a gorgeous pillared hall.

Spain June - Valencia 4

The pic below shows the Imax cinema with the Museum of Modern Art behind it. 

Spain June - Valencia 1

We had a very lovely day out and I hope that you enjoyed the pics.

I am halfway through another set of the Inverness Diamond wristwarmers as well as my baby gift stitching, I loved knitting them so much last time as they were really relaxing.

Will take some event pics next week and post when I get back, really, really looking forward to being in a field with my family and friends – magic!

Thanks for visiting.


Hasn’t the time flown? Nearly forgot to do this as the end of the month seems to have come so quickly.Click on the pic above to go to Kathy’s blog where you can see all the other lovely pics as well.

Most of these were taken on our recent trip to Lake Como in Italy.



We went on a boat trip across the lake from where we were to a little town called Varenna. We were just wandering up the hill on a little path and came across this villa which is now a museum and this was the view from the terrace – wow!

Can’t live without

Can't live without

I hadn’t got the list for this month’s hunt before I went so used the computer in the hotel to check. As soon as my Mum and the kids heard this category they said ‘red wine’ – so here is a pic of the wine we had every evening – even Jake got into drinking it. Though I think I could live without it …. but do love it!



The ferry-boat going in the direction of Bellagio across the lake from our hotel on a very misty first morning.


In and out

This had to be one of my (many) door pics – this one from the Duomo Cathedral in Milan – what a door!



While in Milan we visited the Milanese version of Harrods and this was in the Food Hall , designer water .  I don’t know if you can see the price tag but it says 59 euros – the phrase ‘more money than sense’ comes to mind!

Multi – coloured


From the same store these lovely Pantone mugs – have just bought Jake a couple of the cheap version of these from our local store for his ‘bottom drawer’ for going to University in Sept.

On the move

On the move

Our amazing train journey over the Alps – the Bernina Express train.



The first morning was very dull and misty but that meant there were amazing clouds clinging to the rocks in the village behind the hotel.



Ellie has just bought me this book from my wish list as a pressie for help with her dissertation -she is such a lovely daughter and it did make me smile lots and lots! I love Rick Stein, the series was brilliant and he has a lovely smile as well!



Beautiful wisteria in bloom all along Lake Como.



They would be if you tried to wear them! Miniature chocolate shoes from the Milan store food hall – yours for 35 euros.



The clematis and honeysuckle over my garden arch – just waiting for it all to bloom now.

Well we have had a wonderful time in Italy. We went to Lake Como, somewhere that my Mum has always wanted to go and this was a postponed 70th birthday holiday for her (it was last year but for various reasons we did not get to go away then).

We have been really enjoying our little peek into the ‘lifestyles of the rich and the famous’ (the line comes from a song by one of Ellen’s favourite bands Good Charlotte) and have seen villas owned by people such as George Clooney, Richard Branson and the Gucci and Prada families.

We have been (window) shopping in all manner of lovely places such as Como, St Moritz and Milan and have been very spoilt by staying a luxurious and all-inclusive hotel with fabulous food and wine all week. Jake now says he cannot contemplate a non-inclusive holiday ever again but he will have to as that was a one-off and we will be back to camping and BBQs in the rain for the rest of the year!

We stayed at a very lovely hotel, the Hotel Britannia Excelsior,  in a little village called Cadennabia right in the middle of the lake and as well as 3 organised day trips (into Switzerland to go on a train over the Alps, to Milan and lake cruise) we also did some sightseeing ourselves taking the bus and the little ferries so that we could explore the wonderful villages. It really was picture postcard perfect and I hope that you enjoy these pics in the slide show below.

This is one of my favourite ones taken at the Villa Carlotta which we visited for its beautiful art and gardens. Look at that view!

Italy - villa carlotta 3

And here we are at the same place in a bit of a tourist pose – when did my son get so tall?

Italy - villa carlotta 4

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I also have some lovely textile pics which I will post about separately as I managed to find lots of lovely embroidery (how unusual!)

Thank you as always for visiting – I have now had over 6,600 visitors in one month which is wonderful! See you all soon.

Hello there

Just back from our fab holiday in Italy which I will be posting about later. Here is a pic of the views that surrounded us all week, this was taken from one of the lovely villas that we visited - it was a wonderful holiday on all counts especially as we went all inclusive for the first time which was very luxurious!

Italy - villa carlotta 1

I have just finished the page about my time in China so hope that you enjoy all my pics.

See you all soon and thanks for visiting.

As might have been expected I found some lovely things in China! I thought I would put these in a post rather than with the other pics I have been working on for a separate page so that they will appear in the tags at the side.

China is of course famous for silk and while in Guangzhou (which was formerly known as Canton) I went to the old 19th century area for a visit and found this beautiful piece of embroidery on silk in an antique shop there. There were many pieces to choose from but I bought the lion as that is a very traditional Chinese symbol. I love the bright colours and the detailed stitching. There were so many lovely things in the shop (that I could not afford) like caps and gowns and stitched shoes.

Chinese lion 1

Chinese lion 2

I also came across some lovely cross stitch kits – these were being sold by a street vendor on one of the bridges near the hotel I stayed at in Guangzhou and worked out at about £1 per kit so were a real bargain. I have just started stitching the Emperor one to remind me of the dressing up with Mo that I posted about last time.

Cross stitch 1

Cross stitch 2

Cross stitch 3

The first group of people I worked with in the city of Shantou gave me a gift to say thanks at the end of the week which was very kind of them. I was thrilled when they gave me this beautiful set of local lace.There are about 12 of  these in the set they gave me. They told me that lace making was brought to the area by missionaries in the 19th century so they thought the present was appropriate as it was a blend of West and East which was so lovely. They didn’t even realise when they chose this gift what a textile addict I am so it was perfect!

Chinese lace

I was lucky enough to be taken out on a brilliant day’s tour of cultural sites when I was in Shantou. I spent most of my time in China teaching but had 3 rest days while I was there and the school I was working at took me to a historic house nearby where they had museum displays. This is part of a wedding carriage and is appliqued embroidery on silk.

Shantou - applique

Puppet theatre has a long tradition in Chinese culture and in the same museum there was a puppet theatre display with beautiful goldwork side panels.

Goldwork 2


Goldwork 1

I am still working on the rest of the pics to choose some for my page – I took so many so am spending a lot of time editing them and hope to post that at the weekend.

Thank you for visting and see you all soon.

April 2014
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