Friday, 20 October 2017

As Good As It Gets - Jen Jones' Welsh Wholecloth Quilt Exhibition and Update

Yesterday I had to get some material to match that which I had been using on my red and white quilt.  That meant a trip to Lampeter.  We went via Llandovery, so we could change some things round at the Unit.  Then across country past Dolaucothi Gold Mines, established by the Romans, who did a form of open-cast blasting with water to get at the most likely seams.  Anyway, before I went into the quilt shop, Calico Kate's, I decided I would see if Jen Jones' latest quilt exhibition was still running.  It was, and it focused on Wholecloth quilts, and some clothing, made between the wars by skilled quilt-makers from the Welsh valleys (an area of poverty) who were recruited by the Rural Industries Bureau, so that they could increment their meagre income through the making of quilts for retail in London.  The Royal Family, aristocracy and the big hotels (Claridges was one) put in orders for opulent quilts made using materials from shops such as Liberty  who supplied silks, taffeta, satin and velvet.  Each quilt was filled with lambs' wool. 

These are just a few photos to whet your appetite.  Photos are loading far too slowly tonight, and I am just off for a bath now.  The beautiful quilt, shown above and below, dated from 1825 and I believe is one that has benefitted from being restored using some of the money raised from one of the previous exhibitions.   It was made in Whitland, using linen and cotton materials.

Photo showing some of the original quilt makers.  (More details tomorrow).

A close up photo of the most amazing quilting.  Mind-blowingly good.

So much skill and a lovely design in this cushion.

A slightly blurry photo of one of the Art Deco room settings used to set off the quilts.

Words failed me when I looked at this yesterday.  I can't imagine how long it took to design and quilt, but oh my gosh, you couldn't have a more stunning design.  This was made by Emiah Jones, who was an expert quilter who took pupils to teach for the RIB scheme.  It was Emiah who was commissioned to make a quilt for the then Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

I wish I could enlarge this even more to show the superb quilting patterns used here.  Just amazing.  This lemon yellow quilt was made by Edith Thomas of Whitland in the late 1920s.

Some really unusual quilting combinations used in this pink quilt.  I love the little hearts.

Above and below: two more blurry photos.  My fault as the camera had to be set to "no flash" and for some reason the photo took longer to focus when I clicked to take it, so several photos nothing like as good as they should be and some unusable. 

Some more photos now (Saturday morning has arrived and we've not blown away).

This  Double Wedding Ring quilt has an amazing story.  It was made using offcuts of corsetry garments.  I will quote the entry in the guide book:

"My mother Myfanwy Morris wanted to enter a competition at the National Eisteddfod soon after the war and it was to do with using old to make new.  An extension to "mend and make do".   I am not sure whether it was a quilt competition.  She set to and was encouraged by an acquaintance who had an American quilt that had been made in South Wales and gone to America and returned back through a family connection.  My father Griffith Morris an architect in Portmadog was keen to help her and got down to making the metal templates for the quilting and also the frame to stretch it on for ease of working.  The material for the top layer was given to her from a local shop, material sample books for undergarments, ie corsets and such.  I think the whole process took around 18 months.  Remarkable really with a family of four and a busy household to run.  Mother was always keen to try competitions and was very successful on many occasions, but not with this quilt as the material was new. "

Grr - again slightly blurry.  This is a satin cotton wedding quilt from South Wales, again an RIB quilt.

Above and below: some of the entries made for a competition run alongside the Exhibition and based on people's interpretations.  The redwork hanging above was the Peoples' Choice (I agreed, it was stunning).  Below are some more entries.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

More mopping up the apples cake recipes


2 1/2 cups/8 oz plain flour
2 cups (I halve this to 4 oz) sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tblspn. pumpkin pie spice (ground cloves)
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (200ml/7fl. oz.) water
1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz) vegetable shortening (I use Stork marg.)
1 cup applesauce (1/2 pint) - cooked up previously and cooled
1 cup mashed banana (2 medium bananas - a good way of using up very ripe ones)
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped almonds (I leave these out)
3/4 cup (4 oz) raisins

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl of an electric mixer and blend well.  Add water and next 3 ingredients, blend, then beat at medium speed until creamy.

Add eggs and beat 2 mins at medium speed.  Stir in nuts and raisins and pour batter into a wax paper lined 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan (or use a large loaf tin and cook for longer).

Bake at 350 deg.F for about 45 minutes.  Turn out onto a cake rack and peel off wax paper.  If wished, when you have turned right side up and whilst still warm, you can sift confectioner's (icing) sugar over the top.  I don't bother.  This freezes well.


1 lb (450g) ordinary plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 oz (25g) butter
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
1/2 oz (15g)fresh yeast (or 1 teaspoon of dried yeast)
1/4 pt (150ml) warm milk
1/4 pt (150 ml) warm water
12 oz (350g) cooking apples
1 level teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon golden syrup

Lightly grease and flour a deep 8 " (20cm) square cake tin.

Sift the f lour and salt into a mixing bowl.  Rub in the butter.  Stir in 1 oz (25g) sugar.  Blend the yeast with the warm milk then mix in the warm water and pour into the flour.  Mix to make a firm dough.  

Put the dough on a lightly-floured worktop and knead for 10 mins.  Cover and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.  Knead risen dough again and roll out to an oblong 15 x 10 inches (38 x 25 cm).

Peel and roughly chop the apples and mix with remaining 3 oz (75g) sugar and cinnamon.  Sprinkle apple mixture over the dough.  Moisten edge and roll up, starting at a long edge.  Cut the roll into 9 slices.  Put the slices in the tin, cut sides up.  Cover and leave to rise to top of tin.

About 15 mins. before end of rising, turn on over, set at moderately hot, 425 deg. F. 220 deg. C, Gas Mark 7.  Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 40 - 45 mins, or until golden brown.  Brush with the syrup and serve warm or cold.  With cream, it's a lovely dessert.  Not one for freezing.

Lap quilt update and some apple cake recipes for the freezer

There was me thinking I was getting to the sashing in my class today - I had forgotten I needed to do the last corner pieces - the red bits here.  Anyway, now I need to assemble some plain patterned red blocks to intersperse with the nine above.  Oh dear, that means I will have to buy some more material!  What a hardship that will be . . .

8 oz (225 g) self-raising flour
4 oz (115 g) butter
4 oz (115 g) caster sugar
8 oz (25 g) cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped (you can use eating apple if that's all you have available)
Grated rind of one lemon
1 medium egg, beaten
2 oz (60 g) sultanas (optional)

If you want the ginger version, add a handful - a couple of ounces (60g) of crystalized ginger - either the ready to use strips, or chopped up lumps or the balls in syrup chopped up.  Makes SUCH a difference to the flavour.

Set the oven to 375 deg F or gas mark 5.  Put the flour into a large bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Stir in the sugar, apples, lemon rind and egg and mic well.  Add the sultanas, if desired, and ginger.  Put the mixture into a well greased 8 inch diameter cake tin and bake for 30 - 40 mins until golden in colour.  Serve warm as a pudding or eat cold.


1 cup butter, softened (8 oz/225 g)
1/2 cup (4 oz/100 g) white sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup water (standard breakfast cup)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups  (12 oz/ 300 g) all purpose (plain) flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda (Bicarbonate of soda)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups apples, peeled cored and finely diced 
1 cup (6 oz/ 175 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips


1.  Preheat the oven to 325 deg. F (165 deg C).  Grease and flour a nine or ten        inch tube pan (I used an 8"? cake tin).

2.  In a large bowl cream the butter (or margarine) with the sugar.  Beat in the        eggs then add the water and the vanilla (I found this curdled readily, so            added a few spoonfuls of sifted flour.)

3.  Stir in the flour, cocoa, baking soda, ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg        together.  (I sifted this all first).  Beat this mixture into the creamed   mixture. Stir in th e chopped apples and the chocolate chips.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  (I never buy ready made choc. chips but chop up the                  requisite amount of bar chocolate - Lidls' usually.)

4.  Bake at 325 deg. F (165 deg. C) for 1 hour and 15 mins or until cake tests          done when prodded with a sharp knife near centre.  Transfer to a rack to            cool.  Makes about 16 servings.

This will freeze well.

I added some chopped preserved ginger to this as we love ginger here.


2/3 cup (4 oz; 113 g) butter, melted  (or 150g if I translate it from an online site.  I used 4 oz anyway)
2 cups brown sugar (I halve this amount which would be about 4 oz/113g)
1 cup applesauce (drat, just use a tea mug!!!)
2 eggs
1 tblspn. grated orange peel
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose (plain) flour (11 oz/300 g)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup chopped pecans (I left these out as none in cupboard)
Confectioners' sugar (icing sugar, also omitted).

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F.  Combine first two ingredients in a large bowl and blend well.  Beat in next 4 ingredients and reserve.  Sift together the flour, powder, salt, and soda and stir into applsauce mixture.  Stir in nuts if using.  Spread batter in a greased 10 x 15 inch pan (25 x 38cm) and bake for 40 mins.  Remove, cool and dust with confectioners' sugar if using.

Scrummy : )

Some more will follow in a separate post.  All these will freeze well.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Busy in the kitchen

Scroggs (Crab Apple) Jelly - one of 11 jars made.  The darker colour due to an infusion of Bramble Jelly juice.  Lack of clarity due to me squashing the crab apples before straining through the jelly bag.  That's something you shouldn't do, so I don't know what made me do it this time!  Ah well, it will still taste good.

Below: we are inundated with apples at this time of year.  This is one box of about 10!  That's just from one tree too, and some windfalls from the two at the top of the yard.  I am giving away as many as I can before I disappear beneath the apple mountain!

This is just one of the windfall boxes, which will need using quickly!

At Sunday's car boot sale, I bought a dozen back numbers of Country Living magazine from a fellow dealer we know.  It's a magazine I enjoy but the amount of advertising in it puts me off buying it brand new, so I just read it 2nd hand when I find it offered.  In last year's Christmas issue were some lovely clay horses, white with red painting on them.  I thought they were lovely but couldn't find the recommended cookie cutter, so I bought this one instead and will have a play with the clay (when I've been to the Range, which I hope stocks it).  Obviously, this is a cookie cutter, so it will get used for that too.

As a follow-on from the cube pincushion I made the other day, I have made two more, using the method my patchwork teacher recommended, which was to use one long piece of material around the centre.  Well, I did, but tbh, think my way gave a better shape so if I make any more, will have separate pieces of material for each side.  Anyway, this turned out reasonably well and is stuffed with the coarse spinning wool, as are the others.

Today I have been spending my time on line following an auction which we thought of buying at - but the items we were interested on went too dearly.  When I wasn't up here, I was outside carrying on with the autumn tidy up in the garden.  I have just dug up one big clump of Oriental Borage - another of the culprits which have little in the way of flowers, but are large on leaves the rest of the summer . . .

I managed to fit in a short walk too.  Short, because of getting back to the computer and also because a neighbour was trashing the bottom hedge - a really brutal job as it had about 4 years' growth on it so some of the branches being trashed were the size of my wrist.  He is the neighbour who has no sympathy towards nature and just does any job the easiest way.  So I had a walk around the overgrown field beside the river, a short loop of a walk.  The river stretch was beautiful and so relaxing.

I am not sure what is happening tomorrow yet - I may have to miss my Patchwork class if there is a trip to the auction in the offing.  We are waiting to hear from a neighbour who was going to go with us (if she can get a dog sitter).

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Scroggs Jelly and other apple jellies


It's a deep red colour at the moment as I made Bramble Jelly in the jelly bag last time, and although it has been scalded since, some of the colouring remains.  It will look pretty when it is set.  I'll do that stage tomorrow, now I've got some jam sugar.

You CAN make this with ordinary windfalls too, but give added flavour by adding cloves, ginger or flavouring with lemon peel or sweet geranium leaves.  (The recipe is the same if just using cloves, use 6 to 3 lbs windfall apples).

"Scrogg" is the Northumberland name for a crab apple.  Colour of the set jelly varies from deep pink to yellow-green depending on variety of crab apples used.  These are from a domestic Malus tree, not the wild Malus sylvestris, but work just the same.

4 lbs (1.8 Kg) crab apples
6 whole cloves (optional)
2 pts (1.2 litres) water
1 lb (450g) sugar to each one pint (500 ml) juice  (I use jam sugar as it doesn't have the scummy residue that ordinary granulated does, so you get clearer jelly).

Wash apples and cut into quarters or halves.  Don't remove peel or cores.  Put into a large pan with cloves (if using)and water.  Simmer fruit until very soft and pulpy.  Strain through a jelly-bag overnight, and next day measure the juice and put back into the pan.  Heat very gently, stirring in 1 lb (450g) sugar to each 1 pt (500 ml) juice until completely dissolved.  Then bring to the boil and boil rapidly until setting point is reached.  Pour into warm sterilized jars, cover and store. 

Serve with warm scones and cream, as an accompaniment to cold ham, pork or goose, or as a sponge or cake filling.

Variation: Add about 12 washed sweet geranium leaves to the pan with the apples instead of cloves.  This really is a marvellous jelly.

With lemon balm - add 3 or 4 sprigs of lemon balm or verbena to the pan with the apples instead of sweet geranium leaves.  Omit cloves.

If using cooking apples up instead, with ginger - add 1 oz (25g) bruised root ginger when cooking the apples instead of the cloves.

For a lemoned variety, add the pared rind of 1 lemon when cooking the apples instead of cloves.  The herb lemon balm was also often use to give a lemony flavour when lemons were scarce.

For Herb jellies (with an apple base) - flavour with sage, mint, thyme, lemon balm, basil, karjoram, rosemary or parsley.

Rowan and Crab Apple Jelly - 1 lb (450g) rowanberries; 1 lb (450g)crab apples; 1 pt (500ml) water; 1 lb (450g) sugar to each 1 pt (500 ml) juice.  Method as above.

Sloe and Apple Jelly - you can use crab apples or cooking apples.  Amounts as above. Prick sloes with a darning needle before cooking up.

Sorry, I forgot to mention this is Sara Paston-Williams: The National Trust Book of the Country Kitchen Store Cupboard is where the recipes come from. That title just about sums me up (Pattypan over on Tarragon and Thyme blogspot, even more!)

Finally, a brighter picture of my cubed pincushion:

I have now cut out and pieced the squares for two more in a different colourway.  I shall assemble and stuff them tomorrow. Photos to follow.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Nothing like a good barter . . .

When you live deep in the countryside, bartering is a way of life.  I love to make jams and chutneys but they nearly all get given as gifts or, as today, bartered towards something else, or as a BIG thank you for something else.  The guys who have the Shoot on Next Door's land (and shooting on ours too) have been promising us some venison for a while.  Today they arrived with it, and in return I sent them off with a bag of windfall apples (more to follow, little do they know!), and a dozen jars of jam I made when I was clearing all the old brambles from the freezer to make room for this year's pickings.  The venison is a big haunch from a Fallow Deer, and will feed us heartily over Christmas and then what's left will be made into casseroles to go back into the freezer.

I have been feeling a bit yuk all day (several nights of sleeping badly, or waking at 3.15 a.m. and not sleeping thereafter).  I gave myself the day off and did some hand sewing and tried my hand at a pretty patchwork pin cushion I had been using at my Patchwork class (made by our teacher).

I should have put this on a light background as the flash didn't go off.  Ah well, you get the general idea.  It is stuffed with sheep's wool.  Only after I had sewn the last stitch did I realize I should have use the much coarser staple wool and not the nice soft one (Shetland I think) I found in a bag in the Junk room, so I may unstuff it tomorrow and use some from the other hank.

I had sewn these hexi's (to finish an unfinished 1970s quilt I bought a while back) over several nights, then realized they should have had velvet or different special fabric centres, so had to unpick the centres and replace them.  The blue material was a quality one and SO much easier to sew with!

Two bags of crab apples from a friend's domestic trees. She helped me solve my dilemma for making crab apple jelly, since the tree I always used has been chopped down and the roots grubbed up.  No reason except that someone bought the land and "cleared" it . . .  These are currently defrosting.

Above and below: I finished the afternoon making the first batch of Country Mincemeat which I make every year using the windfalls (though I normally start earlier than this).

Recipe below:

I also added the juice of the lemon and orange I used the zest from. This can be added to with layers of more chopped fruit, sugar and dried fruit as it gradually sinks in the jar.  I find mine keeps well in this earthenware jar, though I know this doesn't work for everyone, so by all means add suet and cook and bottle it.

Finally, two gifts from Keith on his return home.  He knows me well . . .

Friday, 13 October 2017

A wander round a small Welsh town

. . . or is it a large village?  Anyway, it's Llandovery, and as yesterday was our day to man the shop and it was incredibly quiet, we took it in turns to go out and stretch our legs and get some exercise.  I took my camera along, so here are a few photos of the "back streets" . . .

I started off just trying to take a photograph of the pretty windowboxes. Then I noticed that I could see right through the house, across the garden and a steel gate and field beyond. 

Beautiful begonias.  I love this colour.  Must grow some next year in a bigger hanging basket than I have now.

Just before I turned off into the town, the view across to the hills above the Rhandirmwyn road.

With my back to the hills, I crossed the road.  I always think this house looks Cornish with its slate weather-proofing.  The two trees are very graceful.

With the alterations to this house (under the windows, blocked in middle window, new double doorways) I think this was much different in the past, and probably one larger house with a single entrance.  I don't know how far they go back, but if no extension, then weeny cottages inside.

I carried on exploring, past a row of terraced houses, in various pastel colours.  It was very quiet along here with just a few people dog-walking, or taking their children home from school.

Snoozing up by a window, I spotted this chap (possibly two?)  A cosy place to be.

Right in the middle of the town, this track led to a house (out of view) - perhaps an old farmhouse which the town had surrounded?  I was tempted to go and explore!

Part of a lovely window display.  I just loved this woven blanket (based on a log cabin design).

An artful corner display in the same shop.  I should imagine the shabby chic chest of drawers is a silly price.   The Welsh tapestry blanket is a nice one but not sure if this is the remains after they made cushions out of it (which folk do when they find one too damaged to sell as a whole blanket).

The market square with its lovely architecture.  It's a nice little town and we always enjoy exploring a bit more of it whenever we are there.

I hope you haven't floated away today - it's been a bit wet here!