A summer holiday with textile treats

At the end of July we had a couple of weeks holiday and our trip took in England, The Channel islands and France: in all three places I succeeded in doing at least one textile related thing, and sometimes more, although that wasn’t (officially) the theme of the trip!

I started out with a visit to The Quilt Room in Dorking, Surrey, http://www.quiltroom.co.uk which has been in business for more than thirty years. I have been a customer there for very nearly as long, but do most of my ordering by mail/internet and have only been to the actual shop a couple of times, the last time about 15 years ago. The shop is in a very old building with a leaded glass bow window onto the High Street and inside exposed beams and small changes in floor level from one room to another. All very cosy and stuffed to the rafters with quilting goodies. In the courtyard behind the shop is the building housing the mail-order department and the longarm service. It was a really hot day, but that wasn’t dampening the enthusiasm of the customers. It was great to be there again and catch up with the ladies who process all my orders  and also to pick up some quilting supplies that can’t go in the post, such as a couple of really big rulers from Creative Grids: a 16 1/2″ square ruler and a 2 1/2 by 36″ ruler, that is fabulous for cutting strips with. I also succumbed to a Jelly Roll from Moda’s Blackbird Designs Field Notes range, which has lovely florals in soft colours.

The Quilt Room, in Dorking, Surrey

The Quilt Room, in Dorking, Surrey

Quilts from The Quilt Room

Quilts from The Quilt Room

The Field Notes Jelly Roll by Blackbird Designs for Moda: scrummy!

The Field Notes Jelly Roll by Blackbird Designs for Moda: scrummy!

In Hampshire, we visited the Wakes, the house of the famous 18th century naturalist Gilbert White, http://www.gilbertwhiteshouse.org.uk where amongst many beautiful and interesting things (and a truly scrumptious cream tea) we were able to see his bed, with the hangings embroidered for him by his aunts in the middle of the 18th century. The bedspread and hangings are delicately embroidered with flowers. Because they have always been well cared for and the room is keep fairly dark, the colours are still fresh and vibrant.

Gilbert White's bedroom

Gilbert White’s bedroom

Just a few lanes further on from Gilbert White’s house is Chawton the Hampshire village where Jane Austen lived in Chawton Cottage. At the Jane Austen’s House Museum, http://www.jane-austens-house-museum.org.uk we where able to see the patched (but unquilted) coverlet that Jane made with her mother and sister Cassandra, plus a number of other small textile items such as lace collars, samplers and embroidered handkerchiefs. The coverlet was made in the traditional English style, over papers.

The patchwork coverlet made by Jane Austen

The patchwork coverlet made by Jane Austen

From the South of England we made the trip to the Channel Islands, and in Guernsey came across the Guernsey Tapestry, http://www.guernseytapestry.org.gg which isn’t actuality a woven tapestry, but a canvas work embroidery. The Guernsey Tapestry was embroidered to celebrate the new millennium in the year 2000, and consists of 10 embroidered panels (one for each of the parishes in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, which also  includes the islands Alderney, Sark, Herm, Jethou and Brecqhou) which cover 1000 years of island life. The panels are exhibited in The Guernsey Tapestry centre in St. Peter Port and are well worth a visit: apart from the interesting story and images both design and execution are first rate. The Tapestry was a community project, and hundreds of people worked on the panels over a period of three years. They were completed to be displayed for the first time in January 2000. The shop attached to the tapestry display sells canvas work accessories made by the stitchers to raise funds for maintenance, so I treated myself to an embroidered needle case. 

Panel 3 of the Guernsey tapestry - the 13th century

Panel 3 of the Guernsey tapestry – the 13th century

Panel 7 of the Guernsey tapestry: the 17th century

Panel 7 of the Guernsey tapestry: the 17th century

From the Channel Islands we went across to Normandy, and of course no visit to Normandy is even half complete without a visit to see the Bayeux Tapestry in Bayeux! Again, an embroidery (wool on linen) instead of a tapestry, this almost 70 meter long rendition of the events leading up to and including the invasion of England by William the Conqueror in 1066 never fails to captivate me. And to think that one is looking at stitches made nearly 1000 years ago! We went twice in fact in the course of our stay, and each time there are new things to discover. If you love textiles and are ever in Normandy, it is well worth a detour: http://www.tapisserie-bayeux.fr. The tapestry is displayed in a special gallery with low light levels to protect it: in the photo you can see it disappearing off into the distance: it rounds a gentle corner and continues on the other side, forming a large horse-shoe. As well as the tapestry there are museum galleries that explain the history invasion and how the embroidery was made.

The Bayeux Tapestry in the William the Conqueror Centre in Bayeux

The Bayeux Tapestry in the William the Conqueror Centre in Bayeux

So those where the textile highlights of my 2013 summer holiday. I came home refreshed, inspired and ready to create! Hope your summer holiday was as good!

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