Coaster IV – Broken Dish Pair

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For my previous coasters, I’d stuck to following some great online tutorials. To me though, patchwork seems like one of those skills where it’s far better if you understand the concepts behind constructing a block and can mentally deconstruct patterns, much like making temari, rather than just learning to follow a pattern blindly.

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Midsomer Quilting, Chilcompton

What is Chilcompton famous for? Or maybe you’re wondering, where, or what on earth, is Chilcompton. UK resident or not, you might be forgiven for not having heard of this small village, tucked away in the middle of nowhere in Somerset. If you’re not from the area, the nearest recognisable city is probably Bath, but even that is a 45 minute drive away, which in UK units is quite a long way. So what is it that draws so many people, even internationally, to this quaint piece of rural England?

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Coaster Mark II

As someone who really loves lurid colours, it probably comes as no surprise that, when it comes to fabrics, I really, really love batiks. There’s enough variety of prints, patterns and colours that I could probably be entertained forever. The ‘mottled’ effect you get from the resist dyeing process also means that one piece of fabric has a huge amount of variation within it, which for me all adds to the creative fun.

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Chaos, Routine and a Bernina

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The last six months have been a bit of a rollercoaster ride, with two moves, a new job and all the general chaos and upheaval that comes along with that. It has been rather exhausting and the whole thing has seen me decoupled from a lot of my crafting equipment, my stash as well as all my usual routines.

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Taipei and Yongle Textile Market

Being a tourist is often regarded as one of the most morally reprehensible things a person can be. No one wants to be the hapless soul, guide book in one hand, oversized Canon camera round the neck, clogging up the pavement taking photos of the local highlights, such as cracks in the concrete and public benches.

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Having lived somewhere was definitely a tourist trap in the summer I can sympathise with the tourist-hatred somewhat. I still have no idea how the floor can be so endlessly fascinating to squawking tour groups and quite why the secret to a good photography is maximum inconvenience to other passersby.

In the modern age of the smartphone and Google Maps, I’m usually fairly confident getting around independently. However, sometimes it’s nice for someone else to do the thinking, and as I only had a few days off for sightseeing in Taipei, I needed to be efficient about it and thus began my quest to see if it is indeed possible to take a photograph without causing a traffic jam and find out the local crafting hotspots.

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Lowell and the New England Quilting Museum

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Lowell is a city to the north west of Boston which birthed the American Industrial Revolution. As you walk around, you can still see the mills and textile factories that housed the first ‘power looms’ in America that automated large parts of the weaving process and manufactured the coarse cottons that take their name from the city.

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After the Great Depression and decline of the textile industry, Lowell became something of an economic wasteland. However, now, Lowell has been transformed a National Historical Park, which is a slightly confusing name because the Park part refers to part of the city itself. A huge amount of effort has been made to preserve the history and make for an interesting and informative visit.

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National Trust: Newark Park

The National Trust (or the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty if you’re feeling particular) is an organisation dedicated to the conservation of ‘lands and tenements of beauty and historic interest.’ Many of the iconic English country houses are maintained by them and even a few bits of the British coastline.

As a child, I spent many hours being carted off to various National Trust properties, usually with a fabulous picnic in tow. I remember this fondly but I have no idea if younger me was nearly so appreciative of quite how fantastic some of the architecture and history I was seeing was.

As an adult, the picnics mostly consist of handing over my life savings at the National Trust’s café, missing my grandparents’ ability to identify the maker and date of every piece of ceramic, but feeling very appreciative that someone has kept these snapshots of history alive. They also include an inordinate amount of time staring at textiles and grilling the poor volunteer stewards for as much information as I can glean from them.

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Newark Park is located in Gloucestershire, close to Wotton-under-Edge and for a house with a reputation for being dank and cold, has some very interesting fabrics and materials in it.

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Quilts UK and Design Misery

This weekend was the Quilt UK show at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern. After driving through a showcase of weather from all four seasons to get there, the rain thankfully held off long enough to make a quick dash to the main hall.

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I go to shows always hoping to see something a little bit different, some unusual fabrics or find a new supplier that does something amazing. I also love getting the chance to see projects and patterns in the flesh as well; it’s much easier to judge whether I want to make something having seen it and you often see loads of great inspiration from some talented crafters.

However, Quilt UK left me feeling a little disappointed. I wish I had paid the advance ticket price (50 % off) as the full adult price (£9) felt a bit excessive for the size of the show. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by having a good local fabric shop, but I wasn’t that enthused by the majority of what was on offer.

There is one type of fabric though that will never fail to turn my head. Batiks. I love batiks to such an insane degree my ‘stash’ is mostly just piles of batiks I have bought because I’ve been so mesmerised by the colours all common sense about only buying for projects flew out the window.

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London Adventures II: Hampton Court Palace and RSN Exhibition

One of the main reasons for visiting London was getting the chance to see the Royal School of Needlework’s current exhibition, ‘Peacocks and Pomegranates’, which was also a good excuse to visit Hampton Court Palace as well.

The RSN has been based in Hampton Court Palace since 1987, having originally opened its first studio in 1872. It’s a fitting location for the organisation that does a significant amount of work for the Royal Family and is responsible for the restoration and conservation of many treasured pieces of textile history.

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Hampton Court in the distance

Before you enter the palace though, you might want to take the time to visit Creative Quilting, a lovely little quilting shop just before the bridge to the Palace.

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It has a great selection of fabrics, patchworking and quilting books and all the assorted paraphernalia you might need. They are also happy to cut fabric from 10 cm widths, so you can get exactly how much you need. I was relatively restrained with purchasing a few Batiks for a scrappy quilt but I couldn’t help but leave with some of this absolutely fabulous Robert Kaufman fabric. Not sure what I’m going to use it for just yet, but it deserves a special project.

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15713 Robert Kaufman Japan

If anyone knows a UK retailer with a good range of Robert Kaufman fabrics, please let me know! Having seen Peggy Toole’s Lumia collections, I do want to get my hands on some.

Hampton Court Palace was one of the palaces belonging to the infamous English king, Henry VIII. Although it was originally intended for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of York, when he fell afoul of Henry’s fickle affections, gifted it back to the king, perhaps hoping he could avoid his downfall.

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