Tuesday 25 February 2020

Wandering in Beaune

On our recent trip to France we took the opportunity to travel to a New to Me part of the country, with a couple of days in the lovely city of Beaune in Eastern France. Our weather on the way across was grey and miserable but, fortunately, our main day there was bright and sunny.

Our hotel, which was in a former wine-merchants house was only a few minutes walk from the Collegiale, Notre Dame de Baune so that was our first port of call on our day of discovery. The Basilica is best known for its collection of 15th Century tapestries but this was not open whilst we were there sadly. It is pretty impressive though isn't it?

The main focus of our morning though was the Hospices de Beaune, which as you can see is pretty amazing. The Hospices, which was established in 1442 by the then Chancellor to the Duke of Burgundy and his wife, was set up to provide nursing care for the poor and needy in the area. A role that it continues to provide to this day, although not now in this building.

The main part of the hospital has been restored to reflect its original medieval state. The box beds along each side were used by more than one patient at a time and could be closed to the main ward with the curtains for private examinations by the medical staff.

The original construction did not include a pharmacy, but one was added later in the hospital's history. The entire contents of a pharmicist's shop was purchased to stock the hospital pharmacy at one stage and these bottles are remnants of that purchase. Dragon blood and green tea are perhaps not the first combination of medicines that you would reach for in the case of illness! The Dragon blood is not quite as bad as it sounds as it relates to the root of the dragonfruit tree :)

The quilters amongst you will no doubt be as thrilled as I was with the gorgeous tiled roofs of the Hospice. Tiled roofs like these are apparently typical of Burgundy, but these must be the most amazing examples of the tilers art.

The Hospices is famous for the wine auctions held there every year, which is contributes to the funding of the care provided by the charity. The charity owns a vineyard as well, which is just so quintessentially French :)

Wine was the focus of our second port of call in Beaune (surprise, surprise!) which I will regale you with in a separate post.

Let me know in the comments if you have travelled somewhere new this month too!

Friday 21 February 2020

Sheepish Cuddles

A while ago I made a Bear cushion for our elder grandson, which I am pleased to say that he has really taken to. Recently, however, our son told us that our younger grandson has also taken a shine to the cushion, so in the interests of filial harmony a request was put in for a second cushion for our littlest grandson.

As I didn't want to make a replica of the first one, I trawled through all sorts of cushions on Pinterest until I finally decided that I would have a go at a sheep cushion.

I had never worked with fleece before so that was the first challenge!

As you can see, however, it turned out fine :)

The front and back of the cushion are 16.25" fleece circles, the face is grey felt with scraps of white and black for the eyes which I have raw-edge appliqued to the fleece backing.

I used six strands of black floss to backstitch the mouth and nose.

I wanted to make the ears stand proud of the face and body, but wasn't sure how to achieve that until I came across this tutorial by Shiny Happy World that uses Soft & Stable as wadding. Now, as it happens I had a strip of Soft & Stable left over from the Catch-All Caddy, so problem solved!

My first attempt at the ears wasn't very successful as I made them so slim at the bottom I found it impossible to turn them right side out. The second attempt, which you can see here, was much better!

I didn't have a round cushion inner so had to make do with a square one, however, it gives my sheep a slightly wonky shape which I think suits her very well :)

I was really pleased with how this turned out and hope that she will be as much cuddled as her Bear companion! 

Saturday 1 February 2020

If wishes were horses ...

It's the first of the month and the reveal day for the next challenge of The Endeavourers Art Quilt group.

The theme for this quarter was "Wishes", well that certainly taxed my poor brain! Once again the hardest part of the quarterly challenge was actually coming up with something in my head that would fit the theme, the second hardest part is then trying to create what is in my head :)

Fortunately, in all of my musings on the theme of "Wishes" I came across this old Scottish proverb "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride". The saying was mentioned in a collection of Scottish rhymes and proverbs in 1721, although it had been around in a slightly different form since 1628! For some reason I could not get the saying out of my head so I had the idea for the theme all I had to do now was create it!

And here it is, my "Beggars would ride" quilt response to the Endeavourers Challenge.

The quilt backing is loosely based upon a Bargello arrangement with the greys of the town/city home of a beggar gradually becoming the greens of the countryside where horses can roam. The greens were quilted with fan shapes to represent the rolling hills, whilst the greys were quilted in a squarish grid pattern to represent cobblestones. The darker greys were more intensely quilted than the lighter ones.

The horse is appliqued with two shades of hand-dyed silk (sadly not dyed by me!). I used an outline from a colouring book for the shape as my drawing skills are definitely not that good. Sheer luck resulted in the dyed fabric on the head resembling an eye, as the supplier only had a small piece of the silk shade that I ordered so there wasn't enough fabric to allow for any fussy cutting!

I tried to create the mane with hand embroidery but couldn't get the flow right as you can see here, one thread was too spindly and more threads meant the fringe was clumpy (!), so eventually I tried free-form machine embroidery to get the look that I wanted. I also wanted the horse figure to seem more solid nearer the ground so the tail was created with some textured embroidery threads, which were couched down after the silk applique pieces were raw edge machine appliqued.

There is some evidence that registered beggars in Scotland around the time of the proverb may have worn "Beggars Badges" that granted them safe passage between parishes and the right to beg for alms.

My "Beggars Badges" were created from empty tea light holders and an empty soft drink can! The washed and dried metals were embossed and then die-cut before being stitched to the quilted background. I like to think too that in recycling these tins I am giving a small nod to the times I have chosen to represent :)

As ever these challenges take me in directions that I cannot predict but thoroughly enjoy whilst taking them!

Head on over to The Endeavourers to find out how the rest of my fellow Endeavourers have interpreted this theme, I am sure that you will be amazed, I always am!

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