So this is taking me longer than I thought it would! My enthusiasm waned a bit, I think it was the actual basting of the squares that was putting me off. One inch squares are so fiddly compared to hexagons. I have been watching some quilters baste their EPP shapes on Youtube and a lot of them use little clips to hold the fabric in place while they start the basting off. I’ve ordered some from Ebay, so I will give them a try when I start my next project. I’ll be honest though, if the clips don’t make it easier then I’m not sure I’ll have the patience for one inch squares again!
Anyway, the squares are all now prepped and sewn into the strip that will join the two sides together and as you can see in the photos, I’ve already started the joining process. Not long now. Maybe another episode of Inspector Morse and the joining will all be done!
Restrictions are easing a bit here in England so sometime last week my husband Nathan made a plan for us to meet up with our friend Bob from The Haunted Generation. I wasn’t involved with the making of said plan, it was simply one of those ‘this is happening, are you up for it’ things. A walk up on the North York Moors? Well my default answer to that is always going to be a yes, but there was a potential problem.
Last weekend I had done a five mile walk on the flat and come back in a bad way. Existing issues on top of a year of not moving around very much at all, just about finished me off! I couldn’t move when we got home and two days later I could still only manage a short walk with a stick. I didn’t fancy my chances hiking up hill and down dale so I made the decision not to go. I really couldn’t face the thought of holding everyone else back or ruining the trip in some way. And then I changed my mind. Several times over the course of the week in fact. At the eleventh hour I made the decision to go and frantically threw some supplies into a backpack.
Dosed up on painkillers, I laced up my boots, grabbed my walking stick and we headed for the hills, my mentioning of the yellow snow warning seemingly falling on deaf ears.
On the drive over I could see that the tops of the hills had a covering of snow and briefly thought of that yellow warning. Oh well, I thought, can’t cancel now, I’m in too deep and besides the sun was actually shining and this trip was important. The first flakes started to fall as we parked up.
Bob, Nathan, myself and Megan the Border Collie set off, our destination clearly visible high up on the moor. We had begun our sacred pilgrimage to worship the god of all pre-digital broadcasting in the North East, the Bilsdale Transmitter.
Our outbound walk went okay considering I almost gave up on the ascent. The mast seemed further away every time I looked at it but at least the weather was now behaving itself. I looked at 14 year old Megan, an old lady by comparison and I thought, if she can do it then I can, ignoring the fact that four legs and a daily walk probably puts her at an advantage over me. We picked up pace a bit once we were up on the top and it was soon time for the flasks and sausage rolls to come out which meant I was suddenly Megan’s best friend!
We hung about by the mast for a bit and talked about ’70s dinner sets and ’70s sitcoms while I admired Bob’s unmistakably ’70s Thermos flask.
To give you an idea of scale, those are buildings you can see at the base of the mast where we sat for our picnic. It’s so tall, it has become an iconic landmark, it’s red beacon light hovering eerily above the dark hills at night.
The walk back was when things started to go less smoothly. It began with me leaving my stick where we’d stopped and Nathan went back for it while Bob and I stood waiting on the track. In hindsight, I should have gone back for it myself and kept my circulation going because a few hundred yards on, I got a Raynaud’s attack in both hands. It was about the same time we realised there was some serious weather heading straight for us so it was no bad thing that my solution to the circulation problem was to move faster! My hands came back to life and we made good progress, arriving at the top of the route down just as the snow started falling.
As we made our way down, the flakes seemed to get bigger and bigger until they were settling on everything, including us. By the time we got back to the cars it was a white out, the Bilsdale Transmitter lost in another world.
When my second born was just over a year old we moved house. It was 1999 and at some point during the year that followed I set foot in my first craft superstore. I always thought it was a Hobbycraft, but after a little digging about on the internet I realise it can’t have been, not in the area where we lived and on reflection I am wondering if it was actually a whole store, or if maybe it was just a department within another store. Either way, it was the first time I had ever really been in a craft store of any description. Prior to that I had only ever been to small independent drapers and haberdashers. Anyway, I came away from that craft store with a couple of Fat Quarters (although I don’t think I even knew what a Fat Quarter was then), a stencil that I never ever did use and of course the star prize. A William Morris tapestry kit.
I can’t actually remember how much I paid for this Strawberry Thief kit but I do remember that if it hadn’t been massively reduced in the sale right when I had some birthday money to spend, I wouldn’t have got it.
Twenty one years later and it’s still not completed! I was quite shocked when I did the maths but my eldest is turning twenty five this year so I think I’ve got some facing up to do about the passing of time and all that.
It has been stored in various places over the years. When I first got it the detritus of life hadn’t yet started to build up, so it lived in a carrier bag in the under-stairs cupboard with nothing else but my Nana’s 1960s Singer and a Teletubby scooter that started playing the theme tune whenever it felt like it. I think Baby Annabel may have got lobbed in there at a later date for a similar reason. The under-stairs cupboard was always a handy holding area for all things noisy and annoying while I located a screwdriver to get the batteries out. Pretty sure I put the Chicco Animal train in there to die too!
Anyway, fast forward to 2021 and the kids are mostly all grown up, I’m no longer married to their dad, I live in a different county and life has not been easy. If this tapestry could talk I’d be telling it to shut up and leave the past in the past! It has seen me through some tough times and I think that may be the reason it has been left for such a long time prior to my recent revisiting of it. It had become something I went to when I was too stressed to be truly creative, but still needed to do something with my hands. It being a printed canvas meant I didn’t have to do all the counting that’s often required with needlepoint or cross stitch kits so I could just pick it up and put in a few stitches here and there whenever I felt like it.
You’re supposed to work these things from the centre out, but you can see where boredom or the need to mindlessly work a simple block has taken me to the border on many occasions. Sometimes I look at an area of stitching or even a single stitch and I wonder what was going through my head as I pulled the thread up through the canvas then. And then I have to triage the memories as they come, pulling the happier ones to the front if I can.
I’ve decided. It’s now time to break the negative associations and get it finished and made up into the cushion it was always meant to be. I’ve even got some velvet put aside for the back now, which is helping me to visualise it finished and on the sofa, next to the other William Morris cushions that I’ve acquired over the years. I’ve spent a few evenings on it recently while re-watching Inspector Morse and All Creatures Great and Small. It is not going back into storage this time, it will be completed!
Hello I’m Natalie. Textiles artist, amateur vintage Laura Ashley collector, massive Bagpuss fan (hence Auntie Feedle) and novice English Paper Piecer. Once country bumpkin, now urban dweller. I love tiny floral prints, folk anything and prancing about in old Laura Ashley gear. Regular time traveller to the 1970s.