bishops house

This Must be the Place

Well, it’s certainly been a while since I managed to write a thing. In the meantime, the usual amount of stuff has been happening. So I’ve been photographing, note-taking and generally procrastinating over the events of the last month or so. Get ready for a mismatched, cluttered, catch up style post. Let’s get this rudderless ship back on track!

Finished Projects

crochet cushion1

This month I made my friends a snuggly housewarming gift in the form of this stripy cushion cover. I crocheted it freehand and immediately started making another so that I could write a pattern to share with you. The #2 is in a brown/purple chunky yarn with some teal accents – noice.

catch up Jun153

The stripy blanket is complete. My magnificent octopus. Every day I see it on the sofa it brings me joy. I have already started the next one. I don’t want to come across as prescriptive, but everyone should crochet a blanket.

catch up Jun152

I also finished making a little vest top from some adorable fabric a friend brought me from Copenhagen. I say finished… it hasn’t had its final press yet, and it is a little too big. I have lots to learn about sewing clothes to fit!

Recorded a demo

Yeah, so.. I’m in a band now? If you follow me on other forms of social media you may already have gleaned this. We have been playing gigs around Sheffield for a few months and thought it would be a good idea to record some songs. We went to Old Pig Farm studios, near Oughtibridge.

recording1

The process isn’t complete yet, but we are well on the way to having some credible material. I hadn’t been in a recording studio for some time before this, but now recall that it is a singular experience (so…much…coffee). Credit to John at the Old Pig Farm for beautifying our folky stylings.

Went to Cumbria – Ate Meat

catch up Jun154

Bank holiday weekend? You bet your ass I went to Cumbria! And it was beautiful, despite a rather harrowing journey northwards, including 3 trains and a bus from Oxenholme (via Kirby Lonsdale. Seriously). My visit was the usual heady mix of being very well looked after, sitting in a range of comfy chairs and looking at the sea. Blissful. This time I didnt make it into Carlisle -sorry Carlisle – but I’ll be back before too long.

Bishops House

catch up Jun151

Things have been busy for me at the Museum of late, I’m now on the committee which runs the museum and have taken on some new responsibilities. We have welcomed a couple of different groups to the house for visits in the last month and I couldn’t be happier with the feedback. We have also had the pleasure of hosting a postgraduate intern who has been extremely helpful and positive – I’ll be sad to see her go!

So there you have it, now we are all up to date. Thanks for reading!

Heritage Textiles: St Oswald Church Banner

A colleague at Bishop’s House had kindly offered to show me a church banner he bought from and antiques dealer. An exciting prospect for me you will understand, as I am such a sucker for heritage textiles! He thought I might be able to share a bit of knowledge about its provenance, condition, etc, and perhaps make some recommendations about its display and storage. I was more than happy to do just that – and took a few photographs to share with you.

I had a wonderful time exploring this object, as despite its unfortunately poor condition, some of the materials and techniques on the banner are fascinating and indeed beautiful. Have I piqued your interest? Read on…

The banner depicts St. Oswald of Northumbria, an interesting choice as old King Oswald was fairly warlike and died ‘a martyr to Christianity’ during battle. I imagine that many churches would not seek to portray him so heroically today.

Full body shot. Paper templates under staff and shield are visible

Full body shot. Paper templates under staff and shield are visible

He carries a large cross and long sword worn at the waist and a shield, which is fairly typical.He is also represented in stained glass in Carlisle Cathedral (shameless home town plug).

Although the background fabric is very badly chewed up, Oswald himself is fairly well-preserved. His rich velvet cloak and tunic remain plush and grand. I looks to me like his hands, face, crown and boots are made of painted pieces of leather, which excites me greatly – I have never seen this on a banner before! The gold detail on the belt buckle and crown are particularly endearing and show great care.

Trying to pick out the painted details of Oswald's face. His hair retains its shine!

Trying to pick out the painted details of Oswald’s face. His hair retains its shine!

The banner contains some interesting hand embroidered detail. Oswald’s little clasp and the neckline of his tunic are made up of individual French Knots, and the hems of his cloak and tunic have a multicoloured braid couched around them. The sash which holds his sword also has a couched detail, which mirrors the green satin stitch in the border.

Another interesting feature of the banner is the layered nature of its construction. Through a gap in the backing I could see layers of wool wadding and different types of fabric, including the black glazed cotton which can be seen through the damaged background fabric. Some of the shapes are paper pieced too, such as Oswald’s sword and shield. The number of hours it must have taken to construct this!

A small opening reveals many layers

A small opening reveals many layers

A row of this trim on front and back adds weight to the point of the banner

A row of this trim on front and back adds weight to the point of the banner

Two lines of stitching show a modern repair to this cord

Two lines of stitching indicate a modern repair to this area

reverse of banner. mustard fabric shows sign of moth damage and alterations

reverse of banner. mustard fabric shows sign of moth damage and alterations

The damage to the banner includes some moth-eaten bits on the backing, which feels to me like a light wool blended with cotton. The thick braiding and cord on the border have become detached due to the banner being hung, and this has been repaired within the last few years with navy (!) thread.

Green border motif in satin stitch. The weft of the bright gold background clings around the stitches

Green border motif in satin stitch. The weft of the bright gold background clings around the stitches

Background fabric, cord trim and stitched border

Background fabric, cord trim and stitched border

The owner of the banner was told by the antiques dealer that it dated from the 17th century, but I am not entirely sure if this is the case. I certainly am not expert enough to give it a date, but the design of it looks a little Victorian to me (think Pre-Raphaelites and their churchy art). However, I would assume that a Victorian banner would more likely contain greater quantities of silk, but this is all conjecture!

If anyone would care to enlighten me on this, pleases share your knowledge! Also, if you have any questions about the banner, feel free to comment or drop me an email.

Thanks to Dave for letting me loose on this treasure!

Inspiring Sheffield – Bishops House Museum

This weekend I wanted to share some more tales of my adventures around Sheffield. It may be wise to prepare yourself for more of this type of posts, as I keep discovering new places I need to visit!

Having once again reached the summit of the mighty Meersbrook Park, I decided to peek into Bishops House – a 16th century dwelling which has been open as a museum since the seventies. Up until that point, it was inhabited by local families, but I imagine the external toilet facilities wore them down eventually…

Being manned entirely by voluntary staff makes for a warm welcome and plenty of enthusiasm about the house and its history. Just by virtue of turning up and looking cheerful I was shown a host of fascinating maker’s marks in the wooden beams of the house – a set of signals showing how to assemble the pieces. The most intriguing marks however were these daisy wheels carved into doors on the ground floor, said to avert evil.

bonus points for spotting the daisy wheel

bonus points for spotting the daisy wheel

Some of the spaces in the house have more traditional cased displays taken from the Museums Sheffield collections, whereas others are room settings, which I always enjoy despite their unpopularity in contemporary museum practice. My favourite of these has to be the bedroom, complete with four-poster bed, embroidered curtains (drool) and intricate plaster fire surround. This piece is said to have been removed from Sheffield castle and re-installed here. In any case, it looks just beautiful.

Bishops House4

The furniture within the house featured some really beautiful wood carving, which I am hoping will inspire me to create some new embroidery designs. As fellow museum geeks will most likely understand, I was extremely happy to discover this little treasure trove – and so close to home!

Bishops House3

My thanks to Ken, Dave and Helen who were on duty the day I visited. I would also like to thank Nick and Martine for a warm welcome to the volunteer team! Perhaps if you visit in the future it will be me telling you where the original staircase used to be! Well Huzzah for that.

For more information about Bishops House you can visit their website, or have a look at their Facebook page.