Wednesday 29 June 2022

A stitchers journey of slow stitching and journals ... and a beautiful Brocante!


Every Stitch Adds To The History.

When I begin to come to the end of a project it is both sad and happy in equal measures somehow.  The fabric and embroidery art is beginning to come alive, with each piece of vintage fabric with its own little story to tell and each tiny stitch you are effectively adding to its history with whispers of its past.  From the age of the French antique linen that the design is being stitched onto, to the ages of the fabrics and every tiny thread and stitch you are bringing together a story of decades and history.  

For me, at least, I get a little sad that this particular piece of art is finishing.  It is like saying goodbye to a good friend at the end of a wonderful day.  The happy part is sorting a fresh project with its own memories contained in its weave of antique fabric and linens and adding again to its story yet to come.

Getting all the components together laid out on my studio table, fabrics, threads, buttons and linens or quilt pieces along with my notes and little sketches, the anticipation of the new creative journey makes me happy indeed.  At the end of everyday I always tidy a little and thread a few needles up ready to start afresh the next morning.

On dark days ( that happen even in the Summer) I have candles and twinkling lights and on hot sultry days I have the stable door half open and will be there with a cool breeze and the sounds of birds singing away.  Sometimes I have my radio on and it is a really happy, cosy place to be.  

Slow stitching really is a form of therapy for me and I feel so lucky and blessed to do what I love on a daily basis.

My journals and notebooks are very important to me and keeping forms of records of sayings and quotes or sketches and ideas.  I am a wordsmith at heart and even a single word on a piece of stitchery can change it, it can evoke all sorts of thoughts about a piece.  From Oscar Wilde, Lord Byron or Louisa May Alcott and so many more greats I borrow their words to merge with some of my stitchery.

I like to sketch little ideas for future project, just little rough sketches and ideas that I van embellish on as I go, but the essence of what I would like to achieve is there on that page with some words or quotes that again could add to its future history

I never travel without my diary, one should always have something sensational to read in the train!

Oscar Wilde.

So last weekend I travelled to West Sussex to The Country Brocante Summer event and oh was it worth it.  It was stunning.  The event was held near Wisborough Green and you drove into a large field to park.  Then you followed the bunting and laughter on a pathway through a little wooded area, which was dotted by stalls and craft people.  One lady was weaving baskets.  There were flowers and displays everywhere through the woods.  Then it opened out into a large field and there in the twinkling sunlight were so many white marquees and gazebo's decorated beautifully.  It was truffling heaven indeed. I know that I must have gasped, every little detail had been thought of, which included the ice cream tent being blue and white stripped so that you could see it out of all the white stalls. Several gorgeous coffee vans and a great cafe selling the most wonderful salads, which on such a warm day was just what was needed.

So with my trusty basket I began to explore, it was like vintage heaven.  I met up with some of my lovely friends Simone of Ayres and Graces, Sue of Suitably Vintage and Suzi of Hearts and Kisses.  It was so good to see them.  Simone and I worked out we had not seen each other in person for 4 years!!!  catching up and the laughter was a true tonic.  Now it was time to go and find treasure and in no particular order this is what I found.

I bought four double pieces of very old American quilt pieces, so when I cut them into each
square I will have eight gorgeous quilt pieces for one of my workshops later in the year,  A Christmas themed one of course!  The colours our beautiful and there is a right amount of wear on them to make them even more beautiful in my opinion.  What do you think?

From the same person I also bought a large piece of blue and white antique American quilt with stars.  It has four square in total and I feel a beautiful wall hanging coming on with this piece of history.  I really want to keep it all together and there will be words only stitched on this.  My thought is that it will read "A bed without a quilt is like a sky without stars"  What do you think about that.  I really think it would suit this beautiful piece of old quilt.

I am imagining some really old and carved mother of pearl buttons on there too as I have some that are stars that I bought a few years ago for the right project to come along.  They are very rare and feel this is the right project to stitch them onto.

I also added to my every growing collection of cotton reels, I love both Coates and Sylko threads.  The Coates ones remind me of my beautiful old neighbour who worked for them and I am always
thinking of what he said about some.  I like to think when I am looking at them at a fair such as this, he is walking beside me and there nodding at my choices.  The Sylko threads always have such wonderful names such as these Light Apple Green,  Eau-de-nil, Parma Violet and Scarlett.

A while ago now I found a old rolling pin in a charity shop

in the little town I live in and it was a Nut Brown one.  Beautiful china rolling pin with worn green wooden handles.  So when I was truffling about imagine my delight that I spied a vintage tin mould made by Nut Brown as well with a star on the top.  I could not believe my luck that in a field in West Sussex it was waiting patiently for me to find.

When I found Suzi Hearts'n'kisses I saw to my delight a little wall hanging stitched by her and it had Little Thimble stitched on it! Well now that had to come home with me.  I have not put it up yet but it will get done this week.  Thimble Cottage will be all the better for this piece of
stitching in my porch somewhere I can tell you.

Further along in a smallish marquee there were some lovely vintage pieces and I never leave any stone or box
unturned for you do not know what may be waiting to be found.  There were some antique wooden bobbins I thought but they turned out to be little spindles from chairs that were not used.  I looked at them and took one out to see if it would stand on its own and to my joy it did.  They were very dirty but I got some and and as you will see from the photos they were black.  I got
them home and put them in a large bowl of hot soapy water and gave them a good old fashioned scrub a dub dub.  They dried over night on my drainer in the kitchen and then I gave

them a bees wax and polish and as you will see they are perfect for an idea I have for an Autumn workshop. I had designed something a while ago and was on the look out for something that was a little different but would work and I believe I have found them.

Now I know some of you will be wondering if I actually bought any small quilt pieces and gorgeous vintage eiderdown fabrics, well of course I would not disappoint you all .. grin.  I bought from lots of different places there but it turned into quiet a beautiful haul of really outstanding little pieces for my stash and for projects yet to

be.  It is so wonderful when there are little bits of fabrics all in a basket to sort through, for me it is all part of the thrill of the truffle.  When you spy little bits that are just you and what you are about in terms of creating it really makes you smile.

Hunting around I found a few more things, some old wax paper deeds which will be for a project and work shop at some point.  Then I found two little hand thrown and painted jugs for my ever growing jug collection, they were so

very pretty and do not take that much room up on my groaning dresser in the kitchen.  They are very Summer related so they are on my dresser now and very happy indeed. One has a daisy with a little bee and the other a rose.  Dear little things and great to put milk in serving someone a tea or coffee.  Every jug in my cottage is used for something... They all have their moments in time.

My last little purchase of the day was this dear little

antique card and at the back of it there is the senders hand written message, I just could not resist at all and I think you will all see why as well.. It is delightful and I really do not know what to do with it except put it into a glass frame back and front and hanging it in my studio, where it can be removed from the frame from time to time to look at it all.

On the Saturday the show ended at 4 and it was time to bid a farewell to a really beautiful fair and wonderful friends and exhibitors.  The day was not quiet over as we went to a local old pub for a drink and a light bite before heading off back to Dorset once more.

I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings today and it has not been too long for you.  Hoping you have enjoyed a peek into my sewing, journaling world along with a little peek of a wonderful weekend filled with treasures and laughter.  I could have filled up this page with so many wonderful photos but I picked but a few.

Well that is it for today and hope you all have a wonderful weekend coming and enjoy this beautiful weather that we are still having here so far.

Take care and as always Happy Stitching!

Sarah XX

Friday 24 June 2022

Antique Quilts, beautiful, functional, tactile and Collectible.


We stitch together quilts of meaning to keep us warm and safe, with whatever patches of beauty and utility we have on hand.

Anne Lamott.

The other morning the postman knocked on my door and handed me a fairly large box.  I could not think what was nestled inside.  Pondering over the package I sipped at my morning coffee.  Well I thought just open it up then.

I carefully opened the box and inside was a beautifully wrapped something in brown paper tied with a beautiful ribbon around it.  There was a beautifully hand written "Thank you"  on the brown paper.  I began to carefully open it up and a gorgeous antique, red and white quilt was folded neatly and smelt beautifully fresh and hand washed.  I could not believe it, the I remembered seeing the patterned fabric and remembered purchasing, what I thought was a large piece of antique quilt, however this was very much a whole complete antique quilt.  This tells you I had purchased a bargain.

Eagerly I opened it out to reveal a hand quilted large quilt.  The tiny neatly hand stitched had nine to an inch.. it was old.  Looking closer and doing a happy jiggle dance at the same time I saw it was not pieced but printed fabrics, each side different and all in glorious red and white.  I looked carefully and could see that the red was indeed in Turkey red, Oh the joy!

For those of you who do not know about Turkey Red cotton, it is a complex dyeing
process which involved many steps and some caustic chemicals.  It has a distinctive wearing pattern as the yarn was dyed and then woven into fabric.  The colour stays bright but the process causes the threads to wear which when it ages you can see little white striations there in.  It was widely used to dye cotton in the 18th and 19th Century.  It is made  using the root of the Rubia plant and is a long and laborious process and originated in Turkey and said to have been brought to Europe in around the 1740's.

In France Turkey Red is known as rouge d'Andrinople .  Anyway I wondered if I could find out more about this process  and upon searching I found from the notes of a Manchester dyer in 1786.

  • 1. Boil cotton in lye of Barilla or wood ash
  • 2. Wash and dry
  • 3. Steep in a liquor of Barilla ash or soda plus sheep's dung and olive oil
  • 4. Rinse, let stand 12 hours, dry
  • 5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 three times.
  • 6. Steep in a fresh liquor of Barilla ash or soda, sheep's dung, olive oil and white argol (potassium tartrate).
  • 7. Rinse and dry
  • 8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 three times.
  • 9. Treat with gall nut solution
  • 10. Wash and dry
  • 11. Repeat steps 9 and 10 once.
  • 12. Treat with a solution of alum, or alum mixed with ashes and Saccharum Saturni (lead acetate).
  • 13. Dry, wash, dry.
  • 14. Madder once or twice with Turkey madder to which a little sheep's blood is added.
  • 15. Wash
  • 16. Boil in a lye made of soda ash or the dung liquor
  • 17. Wash and dry.[2]

So as you can see from the above it was a long process and not terribly appealing!

Originally when I thought I had purchased a large piece of antique quilt it was for cutting up and making things but this quilt will not see a pair of scissors it would be sacrilege in my humble opinion.  Having to re-think about making something with the quilt to "it's a keeper" is a pure pleasure and a wonderful unexpected surprise.  I will go truffling to find some red and white quilt again and smile at my good fortune. 

Here in Dorset we have had the most glorious weather of late,  really very warm but it has been wonderful sat outside under a huge umbrella for shade at the table.  Hand stitching out there and watching the birds busy hunting around for worms to feed

their young and the bees so diligently at going from flower to flower collecting pollen, it is the Summer sounds of a little garden I love with the warmth bringing the sweet smells of lavender and roses carried in the warm air.

Bee's do have a smell you know, and if they do not they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.

      Ray Bradbury.

Tonight I think a walk down by the river to check on the family of swans.  Originally they had eight signats but it seems only four have survived.  I took this photo early one morning by the River Stour and hope that they still have their four young.

This year I have not spotted our otters yet, probably I am not early enough to be honest with you, it is one of my Summer joys seeing their beautiful and inquisitive faces staring at you from the water,  makes me smile so.

Here at Thimble my studio remains lovely and cool to retreat to and remains a good heat to work in.  It is not good when hands get to warm and the needle slips through your fingers.

This weekend I am off to a Vintage Brocante and I am so looking forward to it, I am

not sure what the weather will be like but as it is mostly in large marquees it really does not matter to me.

Wandering around truffling for treasures and meeting up and catching up with friends is such a delight.  After 2 years of no fairs at all and not seeing friends in person, I no longer take it for granted at all,  because of Covid I am sure we all appreciate our freedom so much more, I know I do.

Well I hope you all have enjoyed today's musings and mutterings from here in beautiful Dorset and hope you all have a really wonderful weekend.

As always be careful and take care and of course Happy Stitching!

Sarah XX

Monday 6 June 2022

Threads of time studio

 A peek inside and out of my studio, where I will be taking workshops.

If you are interested please email me for further details.

  Come to my table and share with me warm gingerbread cookies and cinnamon tea ❤️

All the slow stitched projects will be created from gorgeous antique French linens and antique fabrics. Tuition all day and a homemade lunch are included.

I hope you enjoy the little video .

Sarah xx