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The first house on our recent tour was the very impressive Kingston Lacy. The house  dates from the 1600s but was remodelled in the Palladian style later.

NT Holiday June 2014 - House  KL

NT Holiday June 2014 - House 3 KL

NT Holiday June 2014 - House KL

It boasts the first plate-glass windows ever to be used in a public house and its owner used them to good effect to give the Italian style he was looking for.

NT Holiday June 2014 - view 1 KL

NT Holiday June 2014 - view 2 KL
These views reminded me of our trip to villas on Lake Como a couple of years ago.

In the drawing-room was this beautiful embroidered piano cover with a little sewing box on display at the other side of the room. I don’t know what the date was for this piece or who worked it, as is often sadly the case no information was known about it.

NT Holiday June 2014 -  KL

NT Holiday June 2014 - piano cover KL

NT Holiday June 2014 - sewing box KL

The owners enjoyed collecting pieces and architecture from their travels, a pair of doors had come from the Vatican and this ceiling had been brought from Spain.

NT Holiday June 2014 - Ceilings KL

There was another beautiful painted ceiling in another vaulted room.

NT Holiday June 2014 - Ceiling 2 KL

All very stunning and well worth a visit. I think the National Trust is fantastic value for money (I am not just saying that as Ellie works for them as I have been a member for years).

It only costs £58 for a year and not only do I get the pleasure of seeing all this amazing art and architecture I feel happy that I am helping in a small way to preserve and protect it.

Thanks for visiting and see you soon for more Trust loveliness!

Hello again

One of the parts of our visit to Kingston Lacy that I most enjoyed was seeing the laundry which they had furnished not only with the equipment used but also examples of the textiles as well, very exciting for me!

The house dates from the 1600s but the display was of the Victorian machines and textiles.

NT Holiday June 2014 -Sewing machines KL

NT Holiday June 2014 Lace 2 KL

NT Holiday June 2014 - Lace 1 KL

NT Holiday June 2014 - laundry

I love this huge roller mangle, I remember my Mum and Nana having washing machines with mangles on top when I was little and really loved having a go, would not have been so exciting to be a full-time laundry maid though.

NT Holiday June 2014 - mangle KL

NT Holiday June 2014 - children's clothes KL

NT Holiday June 2014 - irons KL

The drying cupboard was very interesting as well, I assume many large houses might have had something similar but have not seen one before, these racks slid into the cupboard which had heated pipes on the floor.

NT Holiday June 2014 -drying room KL

I also found some lovely textiles in the main house – what a surprise! Will save that and pictures of the house for the next post.

Thanks for visiting.

There will always be textiles wherever I go as not only are they important and many of the places I visit have them on display as part of the social history of the location but also I do sometimes seek them out ;-)

However this holiday I had some very pleasant surprises on the textile front as I found some when I wasn’t even looking for them :-)

The first nice surprise was this beautiful sampler which had been done by Margarete the lady who ran the hotel we stayed in Germany. She was in her 70s and the hotel has been in her family for over 100 years.

Bavaria 2014 Langenau sampler

I couldn’t help thinking that she must have had a pretty hard life, she was on duty about 15 hours a day when we were there and I hope that at some points they got to close the hotel and have a holiday themselves.

I like to imagine that she stitched this in her free time and it gave her pleasure and helped her relax, it is a beautifully stitched piece and she was obviously proud of it as it was hung in the bar area.

Then we had our unexpected trip to the Steiff Teddy Bear Museum  which was an optional trip on the holiday which the kids really wanted to go to. It was really good with a little interactive piece at the start that told you the history of the company followed by a room with lots of toys that you could touch (and sit on) then displays of the toys throughout the ages.

Bavaria 2014 Steiff sewing room

The company was started by Margarete Steiff who was a keen seamstress, she had polio as a child and never married but sewed children’s clothes then made her first toy, an elephant (by accident it was meant to be a pincushion but it got played with!).

She then went on to make teddies and all manner of other creatures. The above photo shows a reproduction of the sewing room that starts the interactive part.

One of the most interesting parts for me as I have been making toys recently (both knitted and have started a couple of fabric ones) was the workroom at the end where as well as staff working demonstrating the toys being made they had lots of patterns hung up and old photos showing the factory workers. There is a concise history of the Steiff business at this link if you are interested.

Bavaria 2014 Steiff patterns 1

Bavaria 2014 Steiff patterns 2

Bavaria 2014 Steiff machinists

Bavaria 2014 Steiff toymakers

Then when we went to Rothenburg we came across this shop selling hand embroidered textiles.

Bavaria 2014 Rotenburg embroidery shop

They employ over 500 home workers to do the embroidery so I had to go and support the local economy and all those lovely ladies didn’t I? The kids were very patient while I chose from hundreds of gorgeous things.

I bought these beautiful lavender filled whitework pillows for display in my kitchen and an embroidered runner for the Xmas table. As I reminded Jake I do only have 4 (he seemed to think that was too many last year – no idea why?). This one will go very nicely with my holly decorated dinner set).

Bavarian needlework -whitework 1

Bavarian needlework -whitework

Bavarian needlework -xmas cloth

Rothenburg is also famous for its Christmas shops (which I honestly didn’t know when I booked the trip kids) and so spent ages in the Christmas Village in the Kathe Wolfahrt shop which was amazing! No photos allowed inside but this is from their website and it actually looks like this.

Christmas shop Rothenburg

I bought 2 beautiful lace ornaments for the tree and a little heart that hangs in my kitchen.

Bavarian needlework -xmas ornies

Bavarian needlework - heart

A wonderful array of textile goodness to add to a lovely holiday – very happy.

More pictures to come of the town of Rothenburg, it is still raining here in Yorkshire so no alternative but to spend the day in crafting – how sad ;-)

Thanks for visiting.

Hello there

The title of this blog post needs to be sung really as I am doing in my head, another wet Saturday here in Yorkshire, pity as it was so lovely earlier in the week and I was planning a little jaunt. However more time for blogging, knitting and baking :-)

This is a catch up post really (on the grounds that there are no finishes to show at present) and I have been meaning to post a couple of things for a while.

Firstly my very talented friend Helen (she of the quilts) is also making other things including these cute bunnies just in time for Easter.
She will have some for sale through her Etsy shop at some point for £6.50 but if you are interested please go and visit her at the new blog she has.

Helen's bunny

themagpiecat.blogspot.co.uk/

And I have been meaning to post some pics of Ellie as a bridesmaid at her friend’s wedding. I just got the disc from her so here she is looking very lovely.

The baby in the photo is the friend’s little daughter Lizzie who I made a bridesmaid bunny for, you can see the bunny on one of the present tables in the last picture.

Ellie bridesmaids

Ellie - bridesmaid 2

Ellie - bridesmaid 3

There will be no blogging for the next couple of weeks as we are off on holiday ;-)

My lovely Mum will be here next weekend (it is her birthday on Friday) and then we are off to Bavaria (or Bearvaria as Jake keeps calling it – think he is expecting to see some bears) for a week of visiting medieval towns and castles. Very much looking forward to it and as usual will take lots of photos!

See you soon, thanks as always for visiting.

Hello again

Well it is raining here again, which is a bit of a shame as I wanted to go for a walk but true to form the moment I got my boots out it started pouring down.

I could have course have gone in the rain but decided I would just have to sew and knit all day, most of it in front of the TV where I am watching Supernatural on DVD courtesy of Ellie who has been trying to get me to watch it for ages.What a pity, poor me ha ha, it is even too wet for housework ;-)

I have sorted out the error that I mentioned yesterday. I wanted to make an apron as a birthday gift for a friend’s little girl to send with some baking stuff I have bought. I remember Ellie being bought some baking things at a similar age and loving them so I have got cute pink utensils and pretty cup cake cases.

I found a really good free tutorial at a blog called Aesthetic Nest run by a woman called Anneliese who designs beautiful patterns for her 3 daughters (can feel a sewing spree coming on but must, must focus on medieval kit first!) She has an Etsy shop with her patterns and kids’ party printables which look brilliant.

The apron is made out of 2 fat quarters and is very easy to do (especially if unlike me you actually follow all the instructions and don’t put the straps in the wrong place and only discover that after you have hemmed it.)

She has made reversible ones but I made one out of 2 plain fat quarters from my Simply Solids Club stash and some applique motifs from a really cute fabric called Sweet Treats that I bought I couple of years ago.

Izzy's apron 1

And I am very pleased with the result. I particularly like the spotty pocket and straps.

I stitched the Sweet Shop label onto the pocket and added some buttons onto the sweetie jars. Am planning to add some sweets to the package for cake decorating so hope that she will like it.

I used the fabric motifs last year as part of a cot quilt that I made for Ellie’s friend and I still have quite a few motifs left over.

Sweet treats quilt

Have also finished stitching the replacement for the Autumn exchange piece that went missing so that will go in the post next week – fingers crossed this one gets there ok!

Hope you are having a lovely time whatever you are doing and thanks for visiting.

I do very much love being an empty nester (not that I don’t love my kids dearly and look forward to their visits) but one of the great joys of having my own space is that I have a craft room.

That along with the need not to spend weekends shopping, cooking, cleaning and washing means I have physical,temporal and mental space to create which is wonderful!

However there are some downsides particularly when you are trying to put together IKEA flat pack furniture on your own. The storage units I bought did come with a warning!

Old craft room 3

I managed in the end but they are not actually screwed together at the bottom as I couldn’t get the last side to fit.

One is missing one screw the other two but gravity seems to be keeping them stable and when Jake is home as Easter I will get him to apply a bit of brute force to see if I can sort it.

I did sort out the craft room when I first moved in using storage I already had.

Old craft-room 4

But unfortunately the CD racks that I had been using as fabric storage fell over (once on my head which was a bit painful!) and the shelving units were very old and unstable and always looked cluttered.

I also got rid of the wooden chest I had there leaving me nowhere to store the small (ahem) amount of fabric for medieval kit that I have.

And I have been buying a bit more fabric since I moved in so was running out of space and rather than being the calm wonderful creative space I wanted it was a mess.

However there has been a transformation.

This was yesterday morning.

Old craft room

Old craft room 2

And this is the finished result.

New craft room 3

New craft room 2

The shelves with baskets and the lovely heart pinboard were bargains from local charity shops. It does still need painting and more pictures putting up but that will be a job for the holidays.

I still have one tall storage unit on the other side with all the small boxes but now all of the fabric is together so that I can see what I have got. I found fabric for a new blue peasant dress yesterday that I vaguely remembered buying but thought had wandered off :-)

More importantly I have got a cutting table which is much better than crawling about on the floor!

So this afternoon I will be enjoying the fruits of my labour finishing off a little project for a birthday.

Oh and you see that pile of quilts next to the cutting area? No I haven’t been mega productive recently, they are made by my very talented friend Helen here in the village.

New craft room

She has been stash busting recently and has very kindly made these to donate to a children’s orphanage that my Mum supports in Spain. Will share pics of those later.

Do have a lovely week ahead and thanks for visiting!

Hello there

Am still having great fun with the bunny knitting-I have knitted another dress for the first gift bunny and have also ordered some new buttons to use for the shoes and dress decorations.

These are my lovely new buttons, I will use the red hearts for my Xmas ornies this year and the tiny buttons for bunny shoes as in the picture below. The pretty mixed bag are for fastening the bunny dresses.

Buttons

Buttons 1

Buttons 2

Buttons 3

These buttons are all mail order from Gregory Knopp, a fantastic site with so many wonderful buttons and free delivery! Go and have a look.

Here is my latest bunny dress, this is my first attempt at one of the more complex Fair Isle patterns, bit messy on the back but I am very pleased with it.

Bunny dress 3

I have also acquired some vintage crochet – this will be added to my stash to be used creatively at some point!

Crochet

Crochet 2

Crochet 3

Have another event this coming weekend and then a quiet week ahead so am looking forward to more crafting – some bunny knitting and making some medieval kit.

Thanks for visiting.

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

ERH 2

Look at all these beautiful pictures.

ERH 6

East Riddlesden Hall

ERH 8

ERH 9

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.

ERH 3

ERH 4

ERH 5

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

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

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 and I hope you in the UK have been enjoying all this beautiful sunshine we have been having!

It has been wonderful here and we have been really enjoying ourselves. This also bodes very well for our favourite event of the re-enactment year as this coming weekend it is the Tewkesbury Medieval Festival and I am beyond excited :-)

You may remember that last year the event nearly got called off do to the site flooding and it was a mud fest to say the least but this year we are looking forward to lovely sunshine just like the old days.

Do come and visit if you can – it is the 30th anniversary of the event this year and is a brilliant day out, free entry as well though please donate as much as you can to our bucket collectors as it costs a lot to put the event on and we want it to continue! The town and Abbey are also fantastic to wander round and if it is hot there is the river to paddle in.

I have been making lots of kit for friends and have been busy finishing it off in time which is why I have been practising making holes. If you want more info on medieval men’s kit then go to my page which details what everything is called.

I am not very good at this part of the kit making process (my lovely friend Kerry is a dab hand at it and her dresses have beautiful lacing holes down the back). I have usually cheated with using ribbon loops on my dresses but wanted to make a shirt with a laced neck and hose with holes to tie them to the brais.

Shirt neck detail

Hose  holes detail

Hose outside holes detail

They are not too bad but could be neater.

I will take some photos of the garments on their recipients and post later – Jake has been very kindly trying things on for me as I go along but as he is lots skinnier than my friends they have looked a bit big on him!

So far I have made a shirt, lined hose and slightly different style of brais so it has been good for me to learn new skills.

Brais

I have also been practising neatening my seams by stab stitching as I always zigzag raw edges before sewing together to prevent fraying and this makes them a bit neater and means the sleeves can be rolled up if needed.

Shirt sleeve detail

I am thinking of adding a new page to the making costume bit with more details of these garments as I know I get lots of hits for that so it is on my to do list now that summer is here and work is quieter.

It was my birthday recently and I got some lovely presents, my sister-in-law Amanda who is a very keen cross stitcher made me this beautiful Celtic design scissor keep which came in very handy as the scissors had really fine points for cutting the holes.

Birthday scissor keep front

Birthday scissor keep

She also stitched this birthday card for me – very appropriate!

Cross stitch birthday card

And from my lovely kids I got this gorgeous book which was a total surprise as it was not from my wish list. Ellie saw it when one of the staff at Hardwick brought it in and thought I would like it and it is brilliant, just my sort of book with lots and lots of detail about techniques and sources.

Sweet bags book

Sweet bags book 2

Sweet bags book 3

It is called Sweet Bags by Jacqui Carey.

And look another version of the Layton Jacket that I have posted about previously, this one is a portrait of Lady Dorothy Carey dated 1615 and I had not seen this pic before.

My lovely Mum gave me some money for garden furniture so I have bought a BBQ and last Friday we had our first Marsden barbie – here is Jake enjoying the sun (and a little cider!)

BBQ in Marsden

Still got to get a new table and chairs (that is our camping stuff) once I have decided what I want, tempted by a lovely mosaic bistro set but think the table is a bit small.

Well I shall be posting again in a couple of weeks as after Tewkesbury Kerry and I are off on a National Trust fest making the most of our memberships to go and visit some lovely properties, hope the weather holds for that.

Take care and thank you as always for visiting, liking, following and subscribing :-)

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