Tuesday, January 24, 2012


This sampler from my little collection commemorates the coronation.  Like many others, my parents arranged to visit a cousin who had just invested in a television for the occasion.  We lived up on the edge of Cold Fell.  Electricity was still some few years away from us, so we had a wireless, but no tv until I was ten.  Last week we replaced our analogue tv with a digital model.  Not only is this slim and a fraction of the weight, but it allows us to do amazing things such as linking the netbook to the monitor so we can see images on the big screen, or watch programmes we have missed through i-player or 4od.  We are enjoying exploring the possibilities.

More detail on the drunk driver story: the self-employed painter and decorator who demolished our front wall had been paid for a big job that morning - one thousand pounds in cash.  When arrested he had two pound coins on him.  Apparently, he had already paid off a couple of people whose cars he had clipped before exiting the pub car-park.  Of course, he was driving with no insurance, and in fact had a court case pending for a similar offence, although that one also involved an assault.   When it came to trial he was sent down for three months.

We were initially very alarmed  when the crash happened, as it looked as though we were under attack, and we had been woken from sleep.  However, when it became clear what was happening, the whole thing took on a different character.  The drunk himself was sitting in his white van which was at right angles across the street.  With the other car still attached to the front.  He was trying to reverse so as to drive away.  The clockmaker who lives along the street from us managed to reason with him to hand over his keys and we all then waited for the police to arrive.

 My husband took some amazing photographs which were published in the local paper along with the story.  In order to walk down the street, it was necessary to climb through the white van, as the road was completely blocked.  We spent a long weary night working with the county surveyor, the electricity board and emergency builders to ensure that the house was safe to go back into and secure.  We were a little astonished to be asked to give an assurance to the listed buildings person that we would not convert the hall into a garage now that we had seen that a car would fit into it.

On a happier note, I received this cute card made for me by Pat in Alberta.  Pat and I are about the same age, so her stories about the music of her younger days would be the same as mine.  But in almost every other respect we seem to be complete opposites: Pat has seven children and a host of grandchildren who are clearly the love of her life.

I have made this card for Pat in return.  I was impressed some years ago by the work of Margaret Talbot - silk embroideries rich in detail, using the inspiration of the flushwork patterns on East Anglian churches.  These are patterns made by alternating flint with masonry and they are usually religious or heraldic symbols.  Something about the reverse of this piece of silk, woven for the tie industry, suggested heraldic shields.  My partner's family initial is M, so I used a piece of gold thread for that.  Beneath is the card from my village, showing the National Trust merchant's house.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Recently, one of my very small collection of samplers was mentioned on a blog called Britsamplers, which seems to seek out all the various renderings for a specific occasion.    That was a sampler commemorating the birth of Princess Anne, but this is for a quite different event: the abdication.

I love the homeliness of this piece.  Imagine having worked up the sampler for the Coronation, no doubt from a pattern offered in a magazine....  all the detail of armed forces uniforms and the various royal palaces.  All the flags of the Dominions - all that detail.  Even applying the stamp for the new king...  You have just got it all done when the announcement comes: a Nation's Disappointment, indeed.

Little wonder that the maker added this text along the sides.

Top half in detail:

and lower half

Over Christmas I unearthed this little sampler project.  The notion originally was to use the miniature blocks to make a frame for a mirror for our hall.  I remember choosing a sampler pack of silk in Sweet Pea colours from a trader called The Silk Route at a textiles fair.  The colours would have just fitted in nicely with the deep burgundy flowers of the hall wall-paper.

 I can date the abandonment of the project precisely to the moment  when the wallpaper, indeed the wall itself, ceased to exist.  It was past midnight when we were woken by an enormous crash from downstairs.  In our hall was the front half of a car - how could this be?  And more than that ... it was moving back and forwards - but with no driver in it.  The stuff of nightmares?  It was certainly surreal.

A self-employed painter and decorator had been paid in cash first thing that morning and had spent the day drinking, to the point where he was beyond drunk. He got in his white van, clipping a number of vehicles as he left the car-park, and arrived in our street unable to notice the line of parked cars.  He hit the first one so hard that it shunted two others along before pivoting through our front wall, still attached to the front of his van.  Then he tried to reverse out so as to drive away, hitting the shop opposite several times in the process.

Amazingly, although the damage to the cars in the street ran to thousands, no one was injured, not even the drunk.  In our house the front wall was gone but ours is a very old house and the main timbers are  some feet back from the frontage.  We park down the street, so our cars were safe.

 The only thing smashed was a large brown pottery jar, which at first seemed to have vanished.  When we located all the shards my husband was able to reassemble the whole thing, so that no one would know it had happened - unless they looked closely.

Now, I am thinking that the silk blocks might be assembled into a cushion cover, with a little sashing.