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I am having a very, very lovely week so far. I have been sent on a writing retreat by work to finish part of my doctorate at a most gorgeous place, the Gladstone’s Library in the pretty village of Hawarden in North Wales.

Hawarden 13

Hawarden 14

There are lots of books – this morning I was working in this amazing place.

reading-rooms

And also not one but two castles just down the road (pictures in a minute) and a beautiful church with stained glass to die for.

The food is amazing and I am having a lovely time getting to know some of the new colleagues that have joined us at the University recently – there may be visits to the pub and wine involved in that bit :-)

I am feeling very relaxed and happy and making great progress with the writing (which is the whole point of being here!)

The library was set up by William Gladstone who was Prime Minister four times in the Victorian era and whose family home is this modern castle, sadly not open to the public.

It reminds me a lot of Boddelwyddan Castle  just along from here where we have been lucky enough to do a couple of events. It is quite possibly by the same architect.

hawarden new castle

But I did get to go for a walk in the parkland surrounding the old medieval castle which was very lovely, on a mild Spring day with lots of these gorgeous flowers everywhere – well we are in Wales!

Hawarden 2

Hawarden

I went for a little walk in the village as well past the old House of Correction and a lovely fountain.

Hawarden 3

Hawarden 4

Hawarden 5

The church, St Deniols, was very nice with an extensive old graveyard with some sad tales to be told from the gravestones of war and childhood death. And an amazing surprise inside, stained glass windows by Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris.

Hawarden 6

Hawarden 7

Hawarden 8

Hawarden 9

Hawarden 10

Hawarden 11

Hawarden 12

I am seriously considering staying (not least because Ofsted are due at any minute!) but may have to go home soon so I can still fit in my jeans as there is lovely breakfast, lunch and tea plus morning coffee and afternoon, both of which may include cake – only to be polite of course.

In one of the corridors is a stitched piece by the local WI celebrating the village’s history.

Hawarden 15

Hawarden 16

Hawarden 17

However I do have Ellie’s velvet dress to alter for the start of the season at the end of April and a couple of other things to make so it will be (reluctantly) back to normality on Thursday.

Meanwhile I shall enjoy!

Hope you are all having a lovely week and thanks for visiting.

The Paso Blanco Museum was in an old chapel which had recently been refurbished. So not only was it the most wonderful collection of robes, cloaks and head dresses but the setting was amazing as well.

Lorca Blanco museum 2

Lorca Blanco museum

These were the first robes we looked at, the head dresses have eyeholes in them and the 3D work on the robes was stunning.

Lorca Blanco

Lorca Blanco 2

Lorca Blanco 3

Lorca Blanco 4

Lorca Blanco 5

Lorca Blanco 6

This is a close up of the wonderful Roman general’s cloak in the centre of the museum.

Lorca Blanco Roman robe

Many of the cloaks were pictorial as in the other museums and these had stunning scenes from the bible, the ones below were two of my favourite.

Lorca Blanco pictorial cloak 1

Lorca Blanco 24

Lorca Blanco 25

The detail of the people on this one must have taken hours of stitching.

Lorca Blanco black cloak 1

Lorca Blanco black cloak 2

And then there was the chapel to visit, just a little bit of gold in there!

Lorca Blanco chapel

Lorca Blanco chapel 2

Lorca Blanco chapel 3

Lorca Blanco chapel 4

Lorca Blanco chapel 5

Lorca Blanco chapel 6

Lorca Blanco chapel 7

Lorca Blanco chapel 8

Lorca Blanco chapel 9

Lorca Blanco chapel 10

If you feel like seeing any more goldwork I have done another slideshow for you. So much inspiration will keep me going for a long time!

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Hope that you have all enjoyed the goldwork and have a good week ahead, thanks for visiting.

We visited the Paso Encardo (Crimson) Museum first, no pictures from this one but we did get to meet the embroiderers working in an upstairs room and in my very poor Spanish I was talking to them about what I had made as well and they were explaining their methods.

It was interesting to see the work in progress, I didn’t realise that so much work is still being done there, not realising the scale of the event. The majority of the work that we saw in the museums was from the 20th century and a lot of it was very recent.

The designs are drawn onto white cloth which was then laid over velvet, the design was then overlaid with strips of fluffy white cotton wadding which was couched down with tightly packed stitches, then the excess cloth was cut away.

I was surprised that they weren’t using gold for padding as I have previously seen it done with gold coloured felt as the gold threads are put straight on top of the white cotton.

They told us that it took 3000 hours to finish one of the capes and that includes the beautiful lifelike embroidered pictures that are surrounded by the goldwork.

The Paso Morado (Purple) museum was next which started off with the sort of things that we were expecting to see, beautiful clothes for the icons.

Lorca morado

Lorca morado 2

Lorca morado detail

What we weren’t expecting was this a whole gallery of beautiful and amazing goldwork.

Lorca morado museum 1

Lorca Morado banner 2

This piece was my favourite from that museum, not just the intricacy of the goldwork but the overall shape of the banner.

Lorca morado banner

I have put some more pictures from this museum into the slideshow below.

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We then went to the Paso Azul (Blue) Museum a couple of minutes away which was housed in an Art Deco style house very similar to Casa Modernista in Novelda that we have visited a couple of times.

Not only was the display of capes fabulous but the building was beautiful, I loved all the newel post baubles which were all of a different style on the first two floors.

Lorca Azul museum

Lorca Azul museum 2

Lorca Azul museum 3

This museum was very different as they had a lot more of the horse rider’s cloaks and a lot more emphasis on the pictorial side of the work, still amazing goldwork but also Roman and Egyptian pictures and biblical scenes like this one in silk shaded embroidery.

If the first cloaks the women were making took 3000 hours I estimate about 8000 for this one looking at the size of it, just incredible.

Lorca Azul horse cloak

This robe was also beautiful.

Lorca Azul Robe

Again I have put more pictures into the slideshow below, apologies as some of the photos are not brilliant as all of it was obviously behind glass but you can get a sense of the amazing work.

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Will love you and leave you now as stitching is calling but will be back later in the week with the mind-blowing last museum, Thanks for visiting.

Is it sad that it gives me great pleasure to sit on a Saturday morning (looks like it is going to be a bit sunny as well – yippee!) and write blog posts?

Hope not as blogging does make me happy and I have been looking forward to sorting out my embroidery pictures from Lorca all week.

Am splitting them into two, maybe even 3 posts, as there are so many and the amount of work that has gone into these pieces I feel they need sharing with the stitchy bloggy world.

First some of the gorgeousness of the city itself. It is sadly famous for having a very bad earthquake in 2011 and they are still repairing a lot of the damage. What has been restored is gorgeous and those that are not beautiful old stone are painted mainly in white with a deep yellow trim.

These are some of the old mansions, the Casino and the town hall.

Lorca  houses

Lorca  houses 7

Lorca  houses 8

Lorca houses 1

Lorca houses 2

Lorca houses 3

Lorca houses 4

Lorca houses 5

We spent some time wandering around and visiting churches and the castle as well. This picture from Google is a great aerial shot of the castle.

Lorca Castle

Lorca was important in the medieval period as it was on the border between Moorish and Christian Spain being halfway between Murcia (the city that I visited on the last trip to Spain) and Granada so this was a very well used castle – great views of the surrounding countryside as you can imagine.

It was a long walk up (and we got lost a bit) but a short one down as we found the way back through the very poor area just below the walls.

Lorca castle 1

Stark contrast between the crumbling houses in the barrio and this church and seminary at the bottom of the hill. I am going to frame this photo and add it to my ‘beautiful buildings and blue sky’ collection of Spanish pictures!

Lorca church

We got the idea of going to Lorca from my brother and his partner who stayed there overnight on the way back from a trip to the mountains. They went to the tourist information and picked up a brochure that said four embroidery museums in the city and kindly thought of me :-)

It was also a very exciting trip as we did it all by bus from La Marina, these are the sort of things like I love doing and it made Mum and I feel very adventurous!

We also had some lovely food in cute little tapas bars like this one in a converted house where due to my poor Spanish I inadvertently ordered off the menu (luckily what I ordered was lovely and mostly non meat for Mum).

Lorca bar

Lorca bar 2

Lorca bar 3

I thought he was just explaining what was available and so was nodding to say that I understood and he obviously thought I wanted it all – we had to stop him after the first two dishes and say we had enough!

Mum and I were expecting to see loveliness and knew that the embroidery was connected with the Easter festivals(Semana Santa – Holy Week) and we have seen a few of these before so were looking forward to some lovely robes for icons etc.

However we didn’t realise that the parades are four days of spectacle that includes chariots, Romans and their Gods, Egyptians and the Devil  as well as usual icons of Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

Mum has lived in Spain for 11 years now and her sister for 24 and neither of them had heard of the event there so obviously a well-kept secret. So we know where we are going next Easter!

Here is a taster of the parade from some of local tourism web sites.

Semana Santa Lorca

Semana Santa Lorca 3

Semana Santa Lorca 4

Semana Santa Lorca 5

Semana Santa Lorca

The four museums represent the four brotherhoods – Paso Encarnado (Crimson), Paso Morado (Purple), Paso Azul (Blue) and Paso Blanco (White).

The last two are the biggest and the ones with the most spectacular embroidery as they are the groups with horses as well as icons and robes for participants. This tourism web site gives details of locations of all four and the other attractions if you ever fancy a trip.

Since this is a very long post now I will finish (and go and have brunch, my other favourite thing about the weekend!) and be back tomorrow for goldwork loveliness the like of which I have never seen before.

Thanks for visiting.

I realised (as I was mulling over the design for my thank you gift for all those lovely comments) that I had not posted any pictures of the last giveaway I did for my 400th post or the last piece of stitching that I did for the sadly now defunct Seasonal Exchange.

So here they are. This is the needlecase that I made, Cat had requested deep colours and I had these fabrics in my scraps from making my medieval pattern fabric throw for the sofa (which I still have not finished the hand quilting on – ahem!) so I though I would combine my hexagon addiction with a little goldwork.

needlecase giveaway

needlecase giveaway 2

The inside of the case has felt in a deep red for the needles and I put a little hexagon pocket in as well for scissors, threaders etc. Apologies for the yellowness of the picture, this was November light in Yorkshire!

needlecase giveaway 3

This was the last pincushion I made – the original gift got lost in the post and never arrived :-( so I made this little bird one instead.

It is an adaptation of a pattern from one of my cross stitch magazines, the original has NOEL on it and is a Christmas ornament but I liked the idea of an autumn bird looking for berries. It is backed with some of the same fabric left over from the throw.

Autumn exchange number 2 - front

I don’t know where I got the little acorn charm from but thought it was very cute and just right for this piece.

Autumn exchange number 2

We have had more snow this week, I actually ended up with a snow day yesterday where despite mine and the bus driver’s valiant attempts to get us to town I arrived too late for where I was going so turned round and came home! Was very tempted to just sit under a fleecy blanket and stitch but I was good and got on with some marking.

Plans for this weekend are to try out some more quilting blocks and our February block of the month will be released soon as well!

Hope you have a nice weekend and thanks for visiting.

A few years ago at Harrogate I saw some really stunning, original embroidery in the graduate showcase and was really pleased to see the work of Caren Garfen back again, this time with her own exhibition.

Caren’s work is called ‘She was cooking something up’ and is based around a kitchen installation. It takes the theme of women’s lives and their relationship with food, dieting and body image. Not only is it technically amazing, all of this is hand stitching on screen printed backgrounds, but so creative and powerful.

Apologies as my images are all a bit yellow due to the show lighting.

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 2

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 3

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 4

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 5

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 6

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 7

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 8

I was lucky enough to be able to talk to Caren and tell her how much I loved her work.

There are some more detailed pictures (in better light) at this show link.

Her website  also gives more details of her work and there is a really interesting interview with Caren at this link on the Textile Artist web site. I particularly like the way her work links modern stitching with the history of women’s work and needlework.

As someone who is really interested in the history of needlework it is fascinating the way that women’s lives were often influenced heavily by their skills with a needle in terms of employment, readiness for marriage, social activities etc and this work makes us think through stitching about our lives and current pressures on them.

No longer do we have to be proficient needlewomen to clothe our families, or ‘make do and mend’ to help the war effort, or have 12 quilt tops ready before we get married but for many of us needlecrafts and knitting are still very central to our lives.

It always fascinates me as someone who has crafted all her life that knitting, quilting, embroidery and sewing are now popular like never before (and often on prime time TV), not because we have to do it but because we want to do it and the ‘handmade home’ is now once again valued over mass production.

The fact that the internet (the original idea of linking computers was to protect data in the event of war) is such as resource for us all (not just women but mainly women) to share ideas, encourage each other and to often enable us to sell our work is fantastic.

My life would definitely by so much poorer without my bloggy  ‘imaginary friends’ as my kids call them. So on that note thanks for visiting and have a nice week ahead!

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!

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.

Well Autumn is definitely here in the Colne Valley.

The last of the tents is drying out on the line ready to be packed away until next season and the air has turned colder.

I am often sad at the end of the season as I so love camping and re-enacting but am really looked forward to my second Autumn here.

Being so much more rural I can really see all of the changing colours of the seasons all around me and the other day I had a lovely walk along the canal to pick blackberries and took these pictures for you.

Autumn colours 2

Autumn colours 3

Autumn colours 4

Autumn colours 5

Autumn colours 6

I also popped into the local charity shop (to donate) but came away with this beautiful tray cloth.

Flower cloth

Flower cloth 3

Flower cloth 4

Flower cloth 5

I am thinking of maybe framing some of these pieces as I now have far too many just to make things from them and think these might go very nicely in the kitchen.

The designs remind me very much of some of Kelly Fletcher from Materialistic– a very talented embroidery designer from South Africa who has some beautiful freebies on her Craftsy shop – look for the Bloomin’ Marvellous designs.

She also has some gorgeous designs for sale – really inspirational stuff!

I now have the ultimate luxury of a Sunday to do whatever I want to :-) Jake has gone back to University (not that he was any trouble while he was here!) but I am home alone with only myself to please.

Shall it be Christmas ornaments, knitting more dresses for bunnies, stitching? Maybe all three! I am making a start on my autumn exchange piece today and have chosen some beautiful brown silks for the piece.

Or a walk on the hills? it is beautiful and sunny today so I might just don the walking boots and get out there ;-)

I hope that you are having a lovely day whatever you have decided to do.

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!

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