Sunday, 2 November 2014

Old Handlooms at Helmshore Textile Mill


A visit to Helmshore Textile Mill proved to be an unexpectedly wonderful afternoon out. As well as an excellent and informative exhibition on the history of cotton, wool and spinning and weaving technology, there is a fabulous collection of handlooms (with many more in storage), as well as a collection of early power looms.

The following photos were taken with permission of Helmshore Textile Museum:




A spinning mule

Arkwright's four spindle spinning machine which developed into 96 spindle machines


Model loom made in 1816


a 'Wrap Reel' used to measure cotton. 




An early power loom

Some lovely weaver's knots




Saturday, 20 September 2014

A Loom, a Mule and some Slow Stitchery

On my recent trip to Bolton Museum's Chadwick Resource Centre with the British Quilt Study Group, as well as the beautiful quilts and coverlets, our visit included a tour of the entire storage facility.  The textile collection is not the only treasure trove here; Bolton Museum has some incredible machinery in their stores.

I managed a couple of photos. This beautiful loom,



This massive "Fine Spinning Mule" made by Dobson and Barlow, 1927, donated to Bolton Museum in 1966. This Mule is designed for the spinning of fine yarn, and very probably the last example of its kind.



I was also lucky enough to come across these two beautiful 19th century samplers displayed on the wall as we walked around,





Meanwhile I have been working on some slow hand stitching on linen  of my own:

"Amazing Grace" by The Nebby Needle (for my grand daughter Grace)

"Netty's Sampler" Drum Pinkeep by Stacy Nash

"Three Tulips" by  With thy Needle and Thread (I just love the hare on this design!)

And knitting my first triangular shawl !!

3S Shawl by Amy A. Meade

Do some slow stitching today!



Sunday, 24 August 2014

Caddow Quilts and Counterpanes

Last week I went on a visit with some fellow members of the British Quilt Study Group to Bolton Museum object storage facility, a new sustainable store and research space which houses the 95% or so of museum collections that are not on display at any one time.

A brief tour of the facility highlighted the amazing variety of the collections, including - from a textile interest - spinning wheels, looms, small and huge, to wonderful textiles, both local and global.

We then focused on examining a number of quilts and coverlets. I include some highlights below.

First up were a couple of "Alhambra" type woven quilts, pink warp and white weft. A lovely example here:

Alhambra quilt. Photo with permission of Bolton Museum and Archives

Next, was a White Marseilles Quilt (11' 7" x 10' 4") with a central star shape inside a circle with floral, foliage and feather motifs and lovely dogs, probably greyhounds, round the central motif,



Marseilles quilt. Photo with permission of Bolton Museum and Archives.

and these beautiful birds,


Marseilles quilt bird motif

Our group was particularly taken with this lovely example of a white Suffolk Puff quilt. The acquisition notes stated that it was made by Mrs Grace Dewhurst Young for her bottom drawer c. 1874-80.  We counted 40 x 44 Suffolk puffs making a grand total of 1,760!  Closer examination of a number of the 'puffs' and the reverse suggested that different stitchers were involved in the making of this quilt. 


White cotton Suffolk puff quilt 1874-80.
Photo courtesy of Bolton Museum and Archives.
A close-up of the stitched 'puffs',




And the fringe,



Last, but by no me ans least, we had the pleasure of a close inspection and handling of two of Bolton's treasured 'Caddow Quilts'. You can read more about these here on the Bolton Museum website. There is also an article in Quilt Studies Journal, Vol. 14 by Erin Beeston and Laurel Horton, 'Bolton Cotton Counterpanes: Hand-weaving in the Industrial Age'.


This firs white caddow quilt bears the name "W. Leaf of Pendleton 1795" and the intriguing date of February 2nd. William is likely to have been a member of the wealthy Leaf family who lived in Belle Vue in Leaf Square in Salford. 

The central design shows the royal crown and the motto below reads "Let the King live forever". 



The 'William Leaf' Caddow Quilt 1795
Photos courtesy of Bolton Museum and Archives

Our next treat was the Great Exhibition caddow, displayed at Crystal palace in 1851. The text reads ' Great Exhibition of the works of industry of all nations'.

Great Exhibition Caddow 1851
Photos courtesy of Bolton Museum and Archives.


This was a fascinating and inspiring visit and a tribute to Bolton Museums in working to make collections more accessible to both local people and researchers. 

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Baskets, bowls & pumpkins - a 17th Century House in London

Our recent trip to London included a visit to the remarkable Ham House, a NT property near Richmond, London. We arrived on foot, taking the train to Richmond, then walking along the Thames as far as Ham.

Very little has changed about this house since the 17th century. It was one of the grandest Stuart houses of its day. You can read all about its history here.

Ham House, London
Ham House boasts a wonderful collection of period furniture and textiles, not to mention this stunning staircase.


Carved staircase

Below stairs was particularly interesting in having many of the everyday objects of the period.










Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Weaving and weathervanes - The American Museum in Britain Part 2



As promised, here are some highlights from the amazing Folk Art collection at the American Museum. 

Nine Patch quilt 1850

'Union 'hooked rug c. 1865 (behind glass)
Hooked rug 19th century (behind glass)

Washington 'Justice and Peace' 19th cent. printed panel

Hasbrouck House, Washington's HQ. Painting 1840

Shop sign


Weaving Loom

Wooden Painted eagle 1860-1890 Attr. to
itinerant carver Wilhelm Schimmel

Dummy Board . 1830

Rooster weathervanes

Folk Art is an interesting 'label' and is often also called  'naive', 'primitive' or 'outsider' art, among other terms. It's really quite fascinating. For anyone interested there is a current exhibition of British Folk Art at the Tate Britain, which will then tours from September to Compton Verney Gallery near Warwick, which itself has an amazing collection of British Folk Art, including quilts and samplers, which I managed to visit on my return from Bath and London. 

Monday, 30 June 2014

Cigar quilts and Whirligigs- the American Museum in Britain - Part 1


Highlights from my recent visit to the American Museum in Britain, Bath. 

Housed in Claverton Manor on the outskirts of Georgian Bath, The Museum explores the history of America from the early settlers to the 20th century through its decorative arts and crafts. The journey takes you through a series of period rooms and also showcases an amazing collection of American folk art.

It is the only Museum of Americana outside of the U.S.A and is a wonderful insight into the common history and heritage shared between Britain and America.

Here are some highlights.


The Museum and grounds with a sculpture of Lincoln's head

The period rooms are reconstructions of known houses, some still standing.


Keeping Room, 17th century Puritan colonial living room

Deming Parlour c. 1760. Connecticut.

Stencilled Bedroom c. 1830

Conkey's Tavern,  a typical 18th century drinking place, often hotbeds of revolutionary discussions, reproduced in the Museum. 


And over the fireplace here, what was once the door lintel,



Shaker Room, 19th century

Pennsylvania German Room 1750-1830

And some miscellaneous arts and crafts,

Clockwise: Martha Washington doll, Black Dolls, quilting templates,
 corn dollies and whirligigs

Charlotte Club sampler 1813
Little schoolhouse quilt 1875-99

And a taster from the Folk Art Collection which I'll cover in Part 2: a quilt made from cigar ribbons and beautifully embroidered with feather stitch.

Cigar quilt