Sunday, January 04, 2015


A New Year

I cannot believe that it is six months since I posted last and here we are at the start of a new year, which I hope, will be just as exciting as the last one.

I received all my items safely back from the Brigham City Museum, beautifully packed; following what I understand was a very successful summer exhibition.  My thanks go to Mary Alice and her staff for the care taken and sending me photos and keeping me informed of the media interest.

Another exciting event was the Silvery Threads Exhibition, which took place at The Hostry, Norwich Cathedral, in October.  As an exhibitor, I was invited to attend the opening and prize giving, along with the Lord Mayor and High Sherriff of Norwich, which was a very exciting event.  The 65 exhibits had been chosen by an independent panel of judges from well over 300 photos, sent in from all over the world and were spectacular.  Most aspects of textile making were represented under three categories –wall-hung pieces, three- dimensional items and garments and accessories.  I entered a hand-quilted boy’s waistcoat and was thrilled to learn that I had not only won second prize in the garment and accessories category, but also the Best Member award for the category ( photo on website).  It was so encouraging to see many younger people collecting the awards, which gives hope for the future of textiles.

Shortly after the excitement of this event, we travelled to Scotland for me to give two promised workshops at the Wemyss School of Needlework, for a cushion, based on a quilted hot water bottle cover pattern, designed by the School for the Queen Mother.

History of the school

The school can be found on the main street of Coaltown-of-Wemyss, Fife on the Wemyss Castle estate. It was started in 1877 by Miss Dora Wemyss (later Lady Henry Grosvenor). Inspired by the opening of the Royal School of Needlework, she wanted to teach girls so they could have a vocation and earnings of their own.  She sent the first mistress Mrs. Webster (who was then stitching and teaching at the castle and described as “the most exquisite of needlewoman”), patterns from Kensington, so that she could learn the stitches to enable her to become mistress of the school, when it moved to its new purpose built premises in 1880.

Pupils, who came mainly from the mining and farming families living in the area, entered at the age of 14 for a six-month apprenticeship.  After their apprenticeship, they either stayed on with a wage or went into service, as their skills were then considered to be very desirable.  At its height, the school employed or taught 36 girls at any one time and some stayed on for a number of years.  Mrs. Webster trained her pupils quickly and took great pride in seeing their work “finished as neatly on the wrong side, as the right”.  Their work included embroidering many yards of satin for court dresses.  Two sets of crewelwork curtains were made for H.R.H. the Princess of Wales (daughter-in-law of Queen Victoria), delicate undergarments, children’s wear, trousseaux, layettes and quilting.  The school was also well known for its restoration of ancient needlework and the production of new work inspired by it.  One example being curtains made for Wemyss Castle of dark green velvet, embroidered with the thistle of Scotland, adapted from Mary Stuart’s needlework. (Mary met her future husband, Lord Darnley, at Wemyss.)

Over the years, the school continued supervised by a succession of highly accomplished needlewomen always supported by a member of the Wemyss family.  Latterly the School was run by Mrs. Birrell (Mrs Webster’s great granddaughter) with Lady Victoria Wemyss at the helm.  Sadly, over recent years, the school building had fallen into disrepair, to the extent that many of the patterns and textiles had to be rescued.  Upon her death, Lady Victoria’s overall responsibility was passed to Fiona Wemyss, her granddaughter-in-law, who has done a magnificent job in restoring both the fabric of the building, as well as the interior into a functioning school, once again.  Fiona and Louise Foster are now putting together the history of the School with the help of volunteers and local people, who have searched in their homes for examples of needlework done at the school by their relatives. Original patterns hang on the walls of the workroom and all around; there are examples of the exquisite work, which was once done there.


Amongst the School’s extensive collection of patterns, there is a wholecloth hot water bottle cover, which was designed especially for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.  Fiona was particularly interested in me using this as the basis of design for a silk cushion, for the two workshops I had arranged to teach.  It is a beautiful and delicate pattern, using individual feathers (none repeated), small flowers and curlicues instead of background quilting.  It took me a couple of days to adapt the pattern without spoiling the integrity of the original design.  Unfortunately, at the moment it is unclear who the designer was, but the School does have an extensive record of students who attended through the years and hopefully, one day, she will be identified.

When I visited the School, I was amazed by the treasure trove, which awaited me.  It is still housed in its original building, which consists of just three rooms and a loo (which includes a framed, hand written text, detailing various quilting techniques).   There is a shop filled with colourful embroidery wools, threads and other needlecraft items.  The School is currently teaching again and producing kits based on items from their archive.  The kits may be purchased through the website (see below). The room, where the workshops are held, is very light and holds 10 students comfortably and also houses some of the School’s textile collection (some dating back to the 17th C).  I could have spent all day exploring it.

The School, a selected exhibition from the collection and its shop is open to the public on regular days (see below). They also welcome prearranged group visits on any day of the week, (a fee is payable).  Contact The School to make arrangements. Since there is a rotating selection from the archive on display, items can be tailored to suit each group’s special interests for an extra donation.  The one-day workshops are usually inclusive of a delicious lunch (provided by a local community cafe). 

Bespoke kits and patterns are available, either newly created or based on designs held in the School’s archive.

A lot of very hard work has already been done to achieve a working School again and there is much more to be done.  It is hoped to have many more images and information on the collection and past pupils both at The School and on their website.

The Wemyss School of Needlework is well worth a visit.

Open Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday  10am-5pm

Wishing you all a very happy and successful 2015.


P.S.  Although I do very few long distance workshops now,  I am always open to unusual suggestions and particularly those with an additional interest in the history of quilting.

Sunday, June 08, 2014


Now summer is here, the Quilt Shows are coming thick and fast.  In just two weeks time, I will be visiting The National Quilt Championships at Sandown Park (20-22 June), on the Sunday.  It is the only big Grosvenor Show I manage to visit now and as it is held in what was my hometown, I love to visit.  Last year, it was one of the best exhibitions I had seen, so I am really looking forward to seeing what is in store this time.  I also find it a great opportunity to meet up with all my quilting friends and I know that this year, there are many going on coach outings, as well as making individual journeys.  Let’s hope the weather keeps fine for us all.  Here is just a taster of one of my entries.

Another exciting exhibition is taking place in Utah, USA.  Sadly I will not be able to visit this one.  Some time ago, I was asked to contribute some of my work to be displayed at the International Quilt Invitational Exhibition at the Brigham City Museum The exhibition runs from July 1st to August 23rd, so if you are in the vicinity, you may want to put that on your visiting list.  When I look at the list of contributors, I am very honoured to have been invited to display 10 items of my work, amongst them.

Later in the year, the Costume and Textile Association (Norwich) will be celebrating its 25th Anniversary by holding the Geoffrey Squire Memorial Competition and Exhibition “Silvery Threads”.  The exhibition of chosen items will be held in the Hostry, Norwich Cathedral, from 2nd to 13th October 2014.  There is still time to enter a piece of work into the competition, as the closing date for entries is 9th August 2014.  Entry forms can downloaded from the C & TA website

forms can downloaded from the C & TA website (    

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

The Beginning of a New Quilting Year

How quickly the end of the year comes around and here we are at the start of a new one, all over again.  Quilting is seasonal, like the weather and at this time of the year,  I try to complete the largest of my pieces, for exhibition.  Those who know me will question 'large' as these days, I cannot make anything larger than a metre square. When it is quilted with so many stitches, even that shrinks down by a couple of inches.  I have worked very hard over the autumn and managed to finish my latest little quilt called 'Candy Kisses' and this is a taste of how it looks.  It is made of white and pale pink silk dupion with added lace around the inner border.  The flowers have been painted on with water colour pencils and it has been trapunto quilted over quite a large area.  The quilt will be entered into Malvern this year, so if you are going there, you will be able to see it in full.

I have made a conscious decision this year to cut down on workshops and talks.  I have only been giving a few over the past couple of years, but I am beginning to find that my enthusiasm for travelling to wonderful venues and meeting very kind and interested people will have to be curbed.  A lot goes into the organisation of a workshop or talk away from home and it usually entails us having a holiday at the same time, which adds to the packing.  I have been very privileged to be asked to visit lots of wonderful quilting groups, all over this country, but feel that the time has now come to take things a little easier.  I am hoping that some younger quilters will be coming along behind who will be able to take over and enthuse and instruct with gusto.  However, having said all that, I am always open to offers and suggestions!!!!!!!

With slightly more time to spare now, I can concentrate more on my own work so you will be seeing the result of this at Shows around the country.  I have two or three new projects all planned out in my mind, so with the new year ready here, I had better get my needle and threads organised and get started.

As you may know, I have a new nine month, hand quilting, Block of the Month project, starting in this month's edition of Patchwork & Quilting magazine.  I have already had several emails telling me how pleased you are about this.  I cannot tell you how happy that makes me and with more time spent at home, hopefully I will be able to design some more projects which may be of interest.

I wish you all a very Happy Quilting New Year!


Sunday, September 02, 2012



It has been some time since I took time out to record what has been happening, since my last blog.

It has been an amazingly successful year for me and I still cannot believe what has happened.  Back in May, my cot quilt ‘In Dulci Jubilo’, not only won the Cot Quilt category, but also won the overall Championship award, at Quilts UK, Malvern.  Unfortunately, we hadn’t planned to be there this year, it being very close to another trip, but my great friends, Sue Goodman and Rosemary Hillman accepted the cup, on my behalf, at the awards ceremony. Poor Sue and husband Mike, very kindly, managed to fit the sewing machine into an already heavily burdened car to bring it home to me, together with the silverware.

Moving on to June and the National Quilt Championships at Sandown, I was amazed to find that my entry into the Theme category, “Flower Garden’, had won first prize.  Not only that, but my entry into the ‘In the Pink’ theme (‘Pink? Of Corset is!’) had come second, as well as receiving the hand-quilting prize and the little boy’s quilted jacket, first, in the Wearable Art category.  I was very surprised and of course, very pleased and had a lot of silverware to take home with me, on the train, the next day.  As always, it was a great Show and the standard of quilts was very high this year, with my friend Ferret scooping the Championship award, with her amazing (and very large) wholecloth quilt ‘Prometheus’.

Whilst all this was going on, I was informed that my quilt, “Lux Aurumque’, had been invited to be part of the special exhibition ‘Quilts All Around 2012’, at Houston this year.  A great honour, especially as only 33 quilts were chosen, from entries all around the world.  ‘In Dulci Jubilo’ was also juried into the World Quilt Show in New England and won the ‘Best Hand Workmanship (Traditional)' award.  I was, of course, thrilled with this as ‘Lux Aurumque’ won the same award, last year.  (Please see photos of these quilts on the Gallery on website).

Finally, I have just returned from spending a day at the Festival of Quilts.  This is the first year I haven’t spent several days there, as both Sue and I had found it very tiring last year and had decided to give it a miss this year.  At the last minute, I managed to get a day return coach ticket from Norwich, so I set off at 6.30 on the Saturday morning and we arrived at the NEC about 30 minutes after the Show opened.  My bucket bag had won a second prize and was displayed amongst the other Quilt Creations.  Unfortunately, they were positioned under the tunnel connecting two halls this year, so the lighting wasn’t very good.  However, there were some very interesting pieces on display, including an anatomically correct boy baby in a crib and a full sized bed ‘a la Tracey Emin’.  I didn’t have a lot of time to see many quilts, as I was catching up with lots of friends as I went around the Show, but the ones I did see were wonderful, especially those in the Traditional section which, I understand, were up in number this year.  The Festival is now under new management and there were a few hiccups that will need to be addressed, but from what I can tell from other postings, everyone had a good time and enjoyed the Show enormously.

Carin was over in the UK again however, due to the Olympics, had decided to spend all her time in Norwich, thus avoiding London.  As it happens, London wasn’t as busy as everyone had anticipated, as we found out when we went to the see the athletics on the evening of 'Super Saturday', but as Carin has so many friends in Norfolk, she had very little time on her own, before she made her way to the Festival of Quilts, where she stayed for the usual three nights.  Sue and I shared a glorious summer’s day with her on a trip to Sandringham, where we were able to enjoy the house, museum and gardens, whilst catching up with all our news.   Carin’s delightful miniature candlewick quilt, was also on display at the Festival of Quilts, amongst many others, which in my mind, is always the ‘star’ category of the Show.

Sadly, the venue for the Chilford Autumn Festival burned down earlier this year, but we now understand that it will still take place, as planned, at a new venue at the Conservation Hall, The Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Cambridgeshire.

The Block of the Month, I designed for Region 9 of the Quilters’ Guild still goes from strength to strength.  Ros has just sent out the final month's instructions.  However, it is still not too late to join in.  Just read the instructions on my website Homepage, make an application and you will be sent the whole 9 months patterns and instructions together.  I am very happy to say that over 200 people have applied so far and yesterday I taught a morning’s workshop based on the BOM for Region 9 members and other visitors at Mundford Village Hall, Norfolk.  I cannot say how wonderful the blocks and part finished quilts look already and I look forward to seeing lots of photos when they are finally completed.  Ros is now actively looking into the possibility of sending a collection of the finished quilts to a national Show sometime next year.

Just as a teaser, there will be a new BOM, which is due to be published in Patchwork & Quilting magazine next year.  Just look out for the announcement in the magazine for the start date.

I am also looking forward to our trip to Skye in October when I will be spending a day with the Skye Quilters, teaching a workshop.

So now the summer (such as it was) is beginning to close and we look forward to the autumn colours, it is time to get back to the drawing board and start on next year’s pieces.  One is already on the go and I can tell you it is very RED!

Looking forward to catching up with everyone during the next few months.

Happy quilting,


Saturday, April 21, 2012



The winter is now well and truly behind us now, although I have wondered if this was true over the past few days, which have been cold and wet.

I have been quite productive over the winter and this month saw my Lady’s Cap (a photo of which you can see in my website Gallery at, travelled to Quilts and Embroidery at Uttoxeter, last weekend and won first prize in the Three Dimensional category.  I am now the custodian of a very nice silver trophy and the recipient of some lovely fabric and threads, sponsored by Quiltessential, for which I am truly grateful.  I will certainly look forward to using them very soon.

Last weekend we travelled down to East Sussex for a three-night break.  I had been invited by Region 2 to be their afternoon speaker at an Easter Extravaganza, in Polegate, on the Saturday.  I arrived early as I was also exhibiting the, now very popular, Region 9, Block of the Month quilt, along with some of my miniatures, which always seem to go down well.  Jacqui Veasey, from the Miniature Group was also there with the handbag collection of delightful miniature quilts, as well as the one I had designed and made for the Group.  The Miniature Group is giving all members a free pattern of the little quilt, as well as a square of silk.  Non-members can buy the kit but the money is refunded if they join the Group.  As a result, Jacqui did remarkably well and signed up another ten new members and sold a couple of kits.  It appears that the Block of the Month Quilt also attracted a lot of attention, as I see that 16 people have logged on to my website since the weekend and hopefully downloaded an application form.  I will have to check with Ros Peedle, who is doing all the administration, as I am pretty sure that this will take us over the 200 participants mark.  Amazing!  I would have been happy with 100 and then 150 but now 200 is remarkable.

Quilts UK at Malvern is only a few weeks away now but unfortunately, we won’t be making the journey this year.  However I have been very fortunate in that my friend Sue has already delivered her fantastic appliqued bed quilt as well as my two entries, to Grosvenor Exhibitions, in Lincolnshire.  This has taken the usual headache out of sending them by post, which is always a worry, until you know they are safely delivered.

I am, however, looking forward to the following month and the National Championships at Sandown, which I will be attending.  I will have three items in the various categories and am so pleased to learn that Grosvenor Exhibitions are donating all the entry fees from the ‘In the Pink’ Theme category, to a Breast Cancer Charity.  I am sure it will be well supported and I look forward to seeing all the different ideas, people come up with.

I will be there on the Sunday and already know that there will be a coach coming up from East Sussex and I am hoping that the Isle of Wight ladies, I met a couple of years back, will also be making their regular visit.  So, this being the case, I look forward to meeting some of you there.

Happy quilting,


Wednesday, December 07, 2011


Christmas is coming!

Well, the calendar tells me that Christmas is just a few short weeks away now and I haven't done anything towards it yet, apart from make the mince pies.  I am working very hard on my latest whole cloth quilt and have worked out that if I put in the hours, it should be finished by Christmas Eve.  As it is a crib quilt, I shall be watching the Service of Lessons and Carols from King's College Cambridge, in the hope that I can find a suitable carol to name it after.

It has been a busy year.  I have been extremely lucky in that most of the cancelled book projects have found homes in our UK magazines and will be published some time in the future. It was such a shame to hear of the demise of Workbox magazine, but I did manage to have three articles published this year before it closed.  I am sure it will be missed by all who read it.

Once again, I have been extremely lucky to win awards for my work at both national and international Shows and look forward to more competition next year.  I have been even luckier in all my quilting friends, wherever they live around the world, who have given me the greatest support and happiness.  I thank you all.

The biggest event this year has been the making of the new Block of the Month Quilt, for Region 9 of the Quilters' Guild. Again, Nick has helped me with putting the instructions and patterns into pdf files and the first will be launched on 1st January 2012.  Nick has also had some fun filming me showing the stitches and how they are made.  The videos will be available to everyone who visits my website, very shortly.  Hopefully, over time, they will be added to and I hope they will be helpful to everyone who makes one of my projects, either on-line or in a magazine.  It isn't too late to register for the Block of the Month, even after it starts in January.  Just fill in the application form (on the website) and send your cheque to Ros Peedle.  You will then receive all the patterns and instructions which have been sent out so far and then join the monthly list for the rest.  I understand that there have been over 200 applicants so far, which is absolutely fantastic.  What a wonderful Show and Tell we can have when they are all made.

All I can do now is to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a good quilting New Year ahead.

Happy quilting,


Saturday, August 20, 2011


Back from the Festival of Quilts

I returned from the Festival of Quilts at the beginning of this week, weary and rather sad that I wasn't able to see as much as I had wanted to, during the short time I was able to be on the floor.

Sue, Carin, Ros and I arrived at lunchtime  on Friday (thanks to Sue driving) and after a quick snack, Ros and I spent the afternoon on the Quilters' Guild stand, promoting the new Block of the Month quilt I have made, to raise funds for Region 9 and the Young Quilters.  To be honest, I felt it didn't need a lot of promoting, as many people had already read about it and had made their way to see the quilt and pick up an application form from the stand and then going off to buy some fabric.  Ros and I also visited Heide Stoll Weber on the Farbstoff stand afterwards, where I was able to give her a sample of her hand dyed cotton sateen fabric I had used.  Apparently, she had already had enquiries and had no idea what people were talking about, but now she does.  She has agreed to dye some cotton sateen for us, similar to the one I have used and it may be obtained by contacting her through her website  Just say what you want and she will send it to you @ £27 per metre plus £3.00 p&p.  You will be able to pay in stirling, thus avoiding the currency conversion charges.  Having said that, there is no obligation to use the same fabric as I and I look forward to seeing very many different versions at the end of the nine month course.  If you don't know what I am talking about here, there is a photo of the quilt and an application form on the homepage of my website.  All are welcome to join in and Ros and I have been bowled over by the interest already shown.

Saturday was the only day I was on the floor to look at the exhibits and visit the stands but I wasn't feeling my best and this was also the first time I had to use my new funky walking stick, which is still at its 'running in' stage.  However, as I was stopped by almost every second person for a chat which, together with attending the Kemshall's fantastic lecture in the morning plus Carolyn Ferguson's in the afternoon, it left me with very little time to see anything and to buy nothing!!  This for me, though is what I enjoy about the FOQ - it is the people who make it.

I am pleased to say that my Academy workshop on the Sunday, went very well.  It was full to bursting with great, enthusiastic students and we had a very good day.  Unfortunately, I was initially disappointed with the state of the room we had been allocated and the tables on which we were expected to work.  There was no-one representing Twisted Thread around to sort it out, so I had to clean everything myself, the best I could, before the students arrived, including having to find an extra two chairs. However, I am glad to say everyone went home happy. The cushion I had made for that workshop was won in the raffle by one of our Swiss students and I was able to close the door behind me at 4.30 feeling that I had made yet more friends and hopefully inspired another class to do something different with their wholecloth quilting.

It is always a long job when I get home from a few 'working'  days to unpack, write emails and make sure I contact all those I have said I will but, whilst I was doing this, I received an email from Rosemary Hillman with a very important photograph.

Three years ago now, I designed a small Block of the Month quilt for the Traditional Group of the Quilters' Guild.  Approximately 120 members joined in and I was sent many fabulous photos of the finished articles (all different).  Rosemary specialises in making bed quilts and considers anything smaller as a miniature.  She determined to make her small quilt into a bed quilt and I was fascinated to know how it would look.  Well, after all this time, she has finished it and here it is.  I think the way she has adapted the original North Country patterns is just fantastic and it is a quilt to be proud of.  I hope that Rosemary can now be persuaded to put it into a Show next year so more people can see it 'in the flesh'.  I was very glad to see two more of the original sized quilts (one by my friend Carin), in the competition, at the Festival of Quilts this year and still am sad that we haven't been able to organise a bigger exhibition of them all to date.  If you would like to see more of Rosemary's wonderful quilts, just click on my links section on the homepage.

Just to finish everything nicely, at the end of this week, I had an email from Christine Porter, telling me that my quilt 'Lux Aurumque' had won the Best Handworkmanship Award in the Traditional category of the World Quilt Show which is being held in New England, USA .  I was absolutely amazed and very excited.  I feel that the best workmanship awards are always the most rewarding to win.  I am not a great designer, but I do put a lot into my hand quilting, therefore I feel so honoured to have been awarded this particular prize.  It is such a shame that this type of award no longer exists at the Festival of Quilts, but thrives at the Grosvenor Shows which, I am sure, gives great encouragement to all quilters. 'Lux....' will now go on to tour the USA visiting all the glamorous places I haven't yet had a chance to go to and ending up in West Palm Beach, Florida in November.  My son Nick is already planning a road journey!!!!!!!!

Well, the summer (such as it has been) is nearly over now and the children go back to school in two weeks time.  This then gives us the time to start, with a vengeance, on all those ideas we have had over the holiday period.  I am still writing articles and designing projects for various magazines which, I hope, you will see over the coming months and still have some in the pipeline.  As for quilting?  Well, I am having to adapt to accommodate my arthritis and am a lot slower but, I think I can promise one or two new items by the beginning of the next Show season.

Happy quilting,


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