Cowslips Workshops, Launceston, Cornwall, UK (1)

During my recent trip to Cornwall, UK, I had an unexpected treat after my UK quilting friend, Lesley Coles, told me about Cowslips Workshops. My sister and I went there, and oh, what a gem of a place! This Patchwork store, classrooms, cafe and exhibit space are located on a picturesque farm a couple of miles outside Launceston. Store owner, Jo Colwill resides at the farm and has turned the place into a regional patchwork destination infusing her love of fabric and sewing as well as running a fantastic cafe serving delicious teas and lunches. Here’s a visual tour of the store and cafe. In next week’s blog I’ll illustrate the classroom and the current exhibit in the converted barn.

The store is small but the space is well used. There is a wide selection of fabric, quilting notions, books and patterns. The attractive quilt samples hang from the irregularly shaped walls and ceilings. There’s also delightful whimsical pottery for sale.

Here’s the popular cafe, where the fare is all locally baked and the produce locally grown as much as possible. They even have their own garden growing fresh vegetables.

The lovely quilt on the wall of the cafe, depicting the local church, St. Stephen’s, was made  by the store owner, Jo Colwell.


Solar Eclipse Day!

Corona II: Solar Eclipse by Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry, Port Townsend, WA was named one of the 100 Best American Quilts of the 20th Century. I had the good fortune to see this amazing quilt in a display at Houston in which those top quilts were featured and again in Paducah. The rich colors and composition are fantastic. It is now center stage at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY,  which is located in the path of totality for the national solar eclipse. At 1:22PM tomorrow, August 21st, Paducah will experience over two minutes of darkness in the middle of the day as the shadow of the moon passes across the sun.

Here in Western Washington, we will have 92% of totality around 10 a.m. I’m planning on observing it from the top of a mountain ridge in the Olympic Mountains and have my viewing glasses ready to go. Wherever you are, I hope that if you are experiencing this natural wonder, you will wear safety glasses to view it and enjoy it. If you aren’t in the appropriate geographical zone, you can at least appreciate Caryl’s spectacular quilt!

Summer colors

I’ve just returned home after a vacation in Italy and UK. In Italy, where the weather was sunny every day, the colors were so rich and vibrant with heavy saturation. In Tuscany we stopped by this beautiful field of sunflowers to take photos. I love the yellow against the the blue-blue sky and the way the sun shines through the upper petals of the flowers.

I stayed with friends in Northwestern Italy in the Piedmont area. We visited the nearest market town, Aqui Terme, and enjoyed the abundance in the local farmers’ market. The produce was so fresh and delicious. These colorful peppers are very inviting and when looking at the composition of the photo, I like the contrast of the striped coverings over the stalls.

In the UK, the hydrangeas were in full bloom and spectacular in the West Country. This one was at my niece’s farm in Dorset. Look at all the different shades in a continuum from blue to pink.

As a quilter, I feel inspired by array of natural colors in these flowers and vegetables, and I’m sure that this adds to the store on which I draw when designing my quilts.

Pendleton Woolen Mill, OR

In May, when I took a road trip to Northeastern Oregon, I went on a tour of the Pendleton Woolen Mill. I’ve always admired the Pendleton products and was interested to go there to see how it’s all done. Check out this video to see the process.

The mill was founded in 1863, over 150 years ago. I was impressed by the scale and the rate of production from what is now a highly mechanized mill. The woolen fleeces are dyed, carded, roved, spun and wound onto bobbins. White yarn is also dyed into over 500 different colors. All of this takes place, before you even get into the weaving of the blankets in beautiful intricate patterns, many of which are inspired by Navajo and other Native American patterns. These designs really appeal to quilters like me and are inspriing!

The machines are huge, make a lot of noise and are incredibly fast.4.25 million pounds of raw wool is processed every year. The looms are computer programmed and automated to make these complex designs, but set up requires skilled labor and all the blankets and rugs are manually checked for flaws.

After touring the mill, I perused the “seconds” room where wonderful bargains may be found. I succumbed and bought a beautiful blue blanket which was half-price, like the ones in the stack in the photo. The only thing wrong with it was that it was made 4″ too short.