................... to all of you that is :o)
This is my 400th post - where has that time gone, over two years?
I've 'met' lots of lovely people through blogging, built up on-line friendships with people all over the world, gained masses of inspiration both about quilting and life in general, laughed and cried along with lots of you.
Thank you to my blogging friends you've added a whole new dimension to my life.
I'm having a giveaway for this landmark but more about that at the end of the post.
One blogging friend I've been chatting to on line for a while is Karol-Ann up in beautiful Yorkshire. Reading her posts and looking at the gorgeous scenery in her photos makes me often quite homesick about the county of my birth and upbringing.
Lately we've been talking about quilts to signify Yorkshire and I mentioned I'd made one some time ago - it actually turns out to be nine years ago.
So here you go Karol-Ann - this is at your request.
In 1999 the National Quilt Championships were held in Olympia in London. One of the classes was a quilt shaped like a playing card (rectangular but with rounded corners) measuring 24" x 36" and depicting an English county of your choice and it had to have the name of the county on the front somewhere.
As much as I love living here in Somerset, spent 13 wonderful years in Gloucestershire, gave birth to my eldest in Herefordshire and experienced 6 months of French living, Yorkshire will always have a strong hold on my heart.
For those of you slightly less familiar with British geography Yorkshire is the largest county in England with many contrasts. Wild barren moorland in the north to sadly now less concentrated heavy industry in the south. From the numerous pretty little dales in the west to the spectacular coast in the east it is a wide and varied land whose people are intensely proud to be 'Tykes' the colloquial name for Yorkshiremen.
My aim with this quilt was to signify that contrast in two halves separated by the token river running across the centre. (Apologies that the quilt looks somewhat crumpled - it's been in a bag in the bottom of my wardrobe for some time - I really should get round to finding it a home to hang it where it won't get faded)
The top right half of the quilt symbolises the 'moorland jock' sheep which are the only real cash crop for farmers in the rugged uplands on the Pennine chain of hills. This is the part of Yorkshire I grew up in.
I remember the process of getting his facial features just right was a real devil of a job
In the background I've endeavoured to represent the heather moors so gloriously purple in August and September each year
The sheep is peering over my interpretation of a typical dry stone wall of which there are miles and miles across the fells. If I had a pound for each mile of this sort of wall in Yorkshire I would be a rich woman. This lichen on the rock is made with tatted lace using perle embroidery thread
And his wool is actually knitting wool crocheted into a chain and stitched on to embellish him.
The river is made up of several layers - the background is some quilting fabric with a brown stone effect, then I built up lots of layers of slivers of translucent ribbons in watery colours and finally a layer of blue net to hold it all in place
Along the river I've embroidered the names of most of the Yorkshire rivers in a blue sparkly thread - that was an education, scouring the maps to try and include them all - I found many that I'd never even heard of - well I did say it was a big county. The river Wharfe runs through the village I grew up in - Wharfedale is my dale.
At the top of my river I hand appliqued the symbolic white rose of Yorkshire - in hindsight I do wish I'd embroidered black fine lines around each of the constituent pieces so it's easier to discern from a distance but this is how it is and this is how it will stay.
The opposite bottom left half of the quilt signifies the industrial south of the county - the area where I was born and lived until I was 18 months old.
Although I only lived in the mining area of South Yorkshire for a fairly short time my family has extensive connections with the coal mining industry, my father worked down the mine in his early twenties, my maternal grandfather was a miner all his life and on my fathers side we were the only family to my knowledge to have 5 First Class Colliery Manager's tickets in one family - my paternal grandfather, his three brothers and their father (my great grandfather) so you can say that there is most definitely coal in my blood.
Sadly the British coal mining industry declined in the 1980s and 1990s although there are still plenty of reserves under the ground - who knows maybe as fuel prices continue to rise around the world they might have to resort to mining again as it becomes less economically unattractive. Sadly by that time most if not all of the expertise of our mining industry will have retired or died and we will have to learn it all over again.
Anyway enough of our social history - I wanted this half of the quilt to be the complete opposite of the other so picked a sunset background with the silhouette of the colliery winding gear and the ubiquitous slag heaps standing sharply against the orange sky.
The orange also signifies the glow from the iron smelting works which also used to be such a feature of the Sheffield area - sadly most are gone now - heavy industry has very little foothold in the UK's economy any more. That's why I worked the word Yorkshire in silver metallic fabric and embroidered Sheffield Stainless Steel (famous all over the world) on the 'H' in the word.
The shadowed cottages in the foreground are miners houses.
They all have dirty smoke from their chimneys - as a child whenever I returned to this area to visit my grandparents there was always a certain smell about the air - mainly due to the coal fire in each house fuelled with the discounted coal which was part of the colliers wages.
Finally I pieced the back with another cottage but this time from the greener Dales environment - sorry I obviously forgot to turn this photo before I added it.
I travelled to Olympia to see my quilt hung with all the others - it didn't win any prizes although I do believe it was hanging next to another Yorkshire one which was third prize. As I stood anonymously near the quilt admiring my handiwork I overheard a couple of ladies viewing the exhibits and one of them pointed to my quilt saying 'Oh no, that doesn't work at all - why ever have thet used that orange - I don't like that at all' Obviously my subliminal message of contrast was wasted on this particular lady :o)
So there you have it -YORKSHIRE! - it will always secretly be my home, no matter where else life might take me.
Now onto 400 posts - I did promise a giveaway and I think I gave you all a little hint of its summery theme.
I stitched a basket of strawberries some time ago so decided to make them into something for this auspicious occasion
I added some strawberry fabric
And quilted various strawberry treats in the borders
Here we are - the finished object
All you have to do now to have a chance of making this your own is to add a comment to this post by the end of next Friday 13th June and I will select one from the hat - obviously Friday 13th won't be so unlucky for the person whose name is drawn.