I was born in Leeds and though I have travelled a lot in the past, my home is now in Ilkley, on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. My friends would say that I have a fairly strong Northern accent and I see myself very much as a Yorkshire lass: I am pretty hardy in cold weather, I love a brisk walk on the wild moors just like the Brontë sisters many moons ago, and I drink a lot of tea.
A lot of my recent quilt art has been directly inspired by the landscape that surrounds my home.
First up are the very famous Cow and Calf rocks on Ilkley Moor. These huge formations are made of millstone grit and are so named because one is large, with the smaller one sitting close to it, like a cow and calf. According to local legend, the Calf was split from the Cow when the giant Rombald was fleeing an enemy, and stamped on the rock as he leapt across the valley. Hundreds of people come here to climb and explore the moors with fantastic views across the valley.
The first picture I made is a literal interpretation of them. I used foundation paper piecing to make the iconic shapes of the landscape and a mixture of Liberty prints and silk for the grass. I then machine quilted the swirls in the sky and textures of the fauna. The border fabric features bicycles and was designed for Liberty of London by Grayson Perry, it is a print named Philippa after his wife. I thought this was very appropriate as Ilkley has the largest cycling club in the country with over 1000 members (though I am not one of them!)
I was very fortunate on the eveining I went to have a go at photographing this print in situ to bump into local professional photographer Chris North, who was flying his drone to get some shots of the rocks at sunset. He very kindly helped me out and sent across some beautiful images.
Next up came the idea to create a picture featuring the Cow and Calf as animals, and there is no shortage of livestock in the surrounding fields here to observe.
I used wool spun down the road at Marton Mill in Otley, which is beautifully soft, for the Cow and Calf. The quilt design was inspired by The Heart and Crosses coverlet dating from 1875, which I have admired many times on visits to The National Quilt Museum in York. I used dark grey in the centre to echo the rock formations and surrounded them with colours I associate with the local moorland which is rich with heather, bracken, elderflowers and bilberries. The quilting was all stitched by hand on the original artwork. I am really pleased that this image is now making its way into the nurseries and bedrooms of local children.
Then we have The Yorkshire Rose.
Once again this is made with fabrics from Liberty of London including Grayson Perry's bicycles in two colourways. It is machine quilted with metallic silver thread. I stitched it during the build up to the Tour de France in 2014 when the race passed through Ilkley, an amazing event that I will never forget.
It is quite funny because the majority of my immediate family, including my parents, grandparents and two older sisters were all born across the border in Lancashire. My brother and I were born in Yorkshire. Historically there is rivalry between the two counties (the Wars of the Roses) and it manifests itself in daily life, for example my dad supports Burnley Football club and my children support Leeds United. So when my dad saw this piece he did politely ask if I might be making a red Lancashire rose any time soon, but I haven't quite got around to it yet!
What I have been sewing in the last few weeks is another picture with the Cow and Calf, soon to be printed as a christmas card. I pictured them snuggled up on the sofa under a quilted blanket in their christmas jumpers and party hats, at the end of a busy day of celebrating. The bikes are in there again too, this time as wallpaper! The picture here is unedited and ready to go off and be transformed into cards which hopefully some of you will want to buy!
All other products mentioned in this post are available as cards and prints in my online shop. Thanks for stopping by.