Friday, 27 January 2012

A Lovely Trip

Last weekend, we made a rare trip "oop North" to see my family in my hometown of Chester. For those of you who don't know Chester, it' s a walled Roman city and very picturesque (it also happens to have very good shops).

A week or so earlier, we had spotted that this fabulous poster went up for auction. As you know, we are quite fond of vintage railway posters.

So on a gloriously sunny Saturday, we all wrapped up and went off for a walk, to show Mr HenHouse "The Groves", which is the riverside location pictured in the poster. I'm pleased to say the poster is quite an accurate representation; many railway posters show scenes which bear no resemblance to the "not so pretty" reality!

Many of the town's most desirable residences border the River Dee.

Heading into town, I spotted this rather cute shop at the bottom of a street I wouldn't often need to wander along, and decided to take a closer look.

Oooh, isn't this shop positively dreamy? It's the sort of shop you read of in children's story books but don't imagine exists anymore in reality. Sadly, it was shut but promised to be a real treasure trove. I think as it is such a specialist shop, possibly it is one which only opens on request to collectors. Hmm, I think in the future I shall return.

Up on Chester's historic Rows, I made a beeline for this shop.

It's one of the cosiest shops I know and reminds me of the beautiful shops I once visited in New England. It has a good selection of patchworking fabrics, including many of the Civil War reproduction style ("sludge") and I was looking for something in particular.

I absolutely adore these little wooden buildings. I want!!! (But I was very good and restrained.)

Happily, I found what I was looking for, which was the checked border fabric for this dolly quilt which I pieced at the cottage over the New Year holiday.

It's another Kathleen Tracy pattern from her book, "Prairie Children and their Quilts". It is called the "Schoolgirl Sampler Quilt". A sampler quilt is one which contains many different blocks, the idea being that it gives the maker good practice in a variety of techniques, hence being ideal for a learner or schoolgirl. As Kathy says in her book: "The sampler has a long tradition in American needlework. Young schoolgirls may have practiced sewing and quilting simple blocks until they were more proficient at the craft..."

I can tell you that it was rather challenging to make, though undoubtedly enjoyable so long as one is not too exacting. So many little pieces and so many points to line up and not chop off! It measures about 16" x 20.5".

I have also just finished this little dolly quilt which is from the same book and called the "Crosses Mourning Quilt". For the rest of this year, Kathy is selecting one quilt each month from one of her four books for members of her "Small Quilt Talk" group to complete if they fancy. She also gives us a special variation on the design so members can choose which to make if they want to do so. This is the variation, a little smaller than the version in the book. It measures approximately 16" square.

Kathy's book not only provides beautiful quilt patterns but goes into the history of the pioneers, those who travelled the arduous journey in order to settle land in the West back in the middle of the nineteenth century in America. As Kathy explains, quilts were often taken along by the pioneers on their long journey and sadly, they might have ended up being used to comfort the sick or shroud the dead. Kathy designed the quilt as a tribute to those pioneers who died on the trail. Some of the quilt group members have made it using clothing from loved ones who have since sadly passed.

I have used new fabrics to make my quilt but I can share with you a special photo which my mum gave to me last weekend. It shows her "nain" or her great-great-great (I think) grandmother, nain being the Welsh word for grandmother. Mum also kindly gave me these jet beads which belonged to one of her ancestors, too. I think they look perfect alongside the quilt.

Happy weekend, my wonderful readers.


  1. Love you quilts - they are fantastic! Chester sounds like a real treasure trove of a place. I would love to visit there on a mini weekend away one day. I've heard it's a little like York and I love York's shambles area.

    Leah x

  2. Hi,love the look of the shops you visited,and those little houses are so cute.The patchwork is lovely really like the last one,its lovely to read the history behind things.Love Jill xx

  3. Your latest post was really interesting for me in many ways.I live 12 miles from Chester and consider myself so lucky to have Chester as our local shopping venue.(We live over the border in N Wales).Also ,I am thinking of getting back into patchwork and quilting again after a break of many years.I didn't realise there was a fabric shop in Chester and your little quilts have spurred meon.Very useful info.The folding ruler is identical to the one my grandfather had and I have jet jewellery given to me by my grandmother.So,all in all, a blog post really relevant to me.Thank you!

  4. You did a wonderful job on your School Girl Sampler. The hand quilting really makes it. And, I agree the pink binding does pep up the Mourning Quilt. Thanks for sharing. Bonnie from Small Quilt Chat group

  5. How amazing that the picture on the poster has hardly changed at all, that must be quite rare! Never been to Chester but it looks very nice, a shame about the shop being closed looks delightful.
    have a great weekend

  6. Terry and I went to Chester about 4 years ago. We did the open top bus tour first of all, just to learn a bit about the city etc.T'was pretty good!!
    I love the vintage poster and, as you say, the fact that it is a pretty accurate take on the real thing.

  7. I've visited Chester but not seen either of those shops, I'd love a good rummage in "dollectable" just the name makes you want to step inside it's lovely door, Lucey x

  8. Your newest miniature quilts are little gems. The colors are both traditional and original...bravo to you for the combinations. Another bravo for all that precision stitching!

    Chester does look like a charming place to visit. I'm making a note to myself.

    Best wishes.

  9. I love visiting here. It's so warm and cozy.

  10. Your quilts are divine Hen. The school girl sampler quilt looks much to complicated for me though!
    I adore your crosses mourning quilt though. What a beauty! How lovely of your Mum to pass on such a precious photo and beads. Just beautiful :o)

    So did you win the auction for th Railway poster? I think it is a beauty, and as you say, so like Chester now!
    What a pretty place you grew up in.

    Have a lovely weekend Hen with your two boys :o)
    Take care lovely lady.
    Love Donna xx

  11. Lovely quilts. Me thinks a visit to Chester one day to see the doll shop.
    More beautiful quilts
    Julie xxxxx

  12. Lovely quilts- what is it about sludge? It just draws one in....Chester is one of those 'meaning to visit' places, really must get there one day,especially now I know sludge is readily available.

  13. Hen, you are a master quilter! I just love each and every one you make. You have an artist's eye for color too and it shows in the fabrics you put together. What a lucky woman to have been raised in such a charming town. I have a dollhouse that I got before Christmas and I have the idea to make a tiny quilt for the 4 poster bed in the master bedroom. I guess I need to find some miniature print! I have a video on my blog today of my big waterfall I volunteer at. Hope you pop over and see. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  14. I love those old posters too :) It's interesting the way you have compared it with the present view. Chester looks like a nice place to visit - I've never been - I definitely would have wanted to have a peek in the Dollectible shop! Maggie xx

  15. Popped over from SQT. Your work is lovely. I love the way you play with colours.

  16. I would love to visit Chester for the horse racing... heard it's beautiful :) Your quilt is lovely x

  17. Hen, what a delight to visit you as always. I have you on subscribe email now so don't miss any of your posts. Chester is indeed beautiful, I'm from Derbyshire so not to far away, I went with 2of my aunts in law a few years ago and fell in love with it. We saw Lorraine Chase there too I didn't see the beautiful shop so didn't get the pleasure of browsing.

    Your quilts as always are exquisite, I love the School girl as already said you have an eye for choosing the best fabrics for the job :0)
    Thank you once again for sharing.

    Enjoy your weekend

    Peg xx

  18. Your visit to Chester looks like something out of a beautiful picture. Love the Dollectable store and hope you get to browse in it soon. I belong to the Small Quilt group too but don't post very often. Your little quilts are really wonderful and I enjoy looking at them and reading your blog. I am your newest follower..and admirer.

  19. What a nice place you show us. I hope I will have the chance to visit this nice town someday. Your Quilts lok fantastic. Nicole

  20. I love the colours of the sampler quilt, the check border sets it of beautifully.

  21. Love the railway poster. I remember there being a teddy bear collectors shop in Chester. Great place.

  22. I love Chester, we are lucky to live an hour away and I was there on Saturday shopping and browsing. lovely photographs, Jane

  23. Hen, i LOVE your schoolgirl sampler quilt, it's adorable!! i was really hoping that would be Kathy's choice for Feb.

    Your crosses mourning quilt is truly beautiful, lovely fabric selection. i really enjoyed making this little quilt.

    I'm still undecided about which version of the broken dishes to make, although i'm leaning towards the smaller version :)) cheers, Marian


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