Double Axehead quilt

Double Axehead quilt: hand pieced and hand quilted (Mary Addison )

Double Axehead quilt: hand pieced and hand quilted (Mary Addison )

A bright but blustery day with the air full of bombarding beech nuts I braved the latter and took advantage of the comparative warmth to photograph this quilt on the fence at the end of the garden. Although not old as quilts go, it had been a material witness to the early life of my 4 children and regular washing had taken its toll. Though soft and muted there’s a definite worn look when viewed close to and its deterioration made me realise that viyella and fine wools were not ideal for quilts that had to cope with the multifarious common assaults that children, especially young ones, visit on bed coverings. I had thought I wouldn’t even blog it as I was rather upset at its deterioration, fading, discolouration, etc. from its initial beauty. However, as it sat on a chest in the corner of a room all of a sudden the loud though passive accusal of neglect became just too great to ignore. As in photographs it still looks rather good, I decided I should celebrate its faded loveliness and enjoy the memories that the various fabrics had to offer.

Double axehead quilt: detail of fabric piece - possibly viyella.

Double axehead quilt: detail of fabric piece – possibly viyella.

The coral floral fabric, the pale green and the mustard fabrics shown above were all bought specifically for the quilt to add colour. Small prints came from the making of little dresses for toddlers, while the green splodgy fabric with mauve flowers was a Liberty Varuna pure wool fabric that had been a maternity dress. The paisley with the yellow background had formed a contrasting hem band to a blue floral dress in a way that would have sounded ghastly a year or so ago but which would now look pretty fashionable. Plus ça change, etc.

Double axehead quilt: detail showing piece in Liberty varuna, a fine wool.

Double axehead quilt: detail showing piece in Liberty varuna, a fine wool.

I bought lots of the little floral prints in sales to make nighties for growing children and for backing numerous  planned quilts – in the picture above you can see 3 of these. I quilted the whole thing in lines of stitching which echo the quilt pieces and bound it in bias strips cut from a piece of coral viyella. 

This design is also known as apple core in the U.S. I’m surprised at how few people make it as it is a quilt that grows quickly in the making and offers easy quilting either in overlapping circles or waves. It does, however, require quite big individual pieces of fabric, so little scraps are no good at all.  

Double axehead quilt: detail of corner

Double axehead quilt: detail of corner

In the photograph at the head of this blog, beyond and to the side of the quilt you can glimpse the field behind the house. We are very ‘green’ in these parts – sometimes it might seem a bit too green. Coming back from work on Monday evening our nostrils were assailed with a new pungent odour which increased as we neared the vicarage. Later in the evening, the PCC treasurer who is also the wife of a local farmer, dropped by the vicarage on church matters so we waved vague questioning fingers in the air around us and asked if this was her husband’s doing. With her finely attuned sense of smell she protested that it wasn’t their smell and obviously felt strong enough about the misattribution to email later in the evening with the information that it was the  work of another farmer (and emeritus Church Warden) who had spread ‘that stuff from Benson’ on to the field behind us.

Double axehead quilt: a cosy quilt for a breezy day

Double axehead quilt: a cosy quilt for a breezy day

 So in some St Mary Mead style sleuthing, I emailed the relevant farmer asking if he were putting on ‘our’ field the product of the organic waste from our little green bins. In reply, I received the following information which is rather interesting and which I should probably have already gleaned from a more in depth reading of the local paper.

The anaerobic digester at Benson, which I pass twice a day on my way to and from Oxford, consists of an inoffensive series of low lying round green buildings with gently sloping conical roofs. It begin operation in November 2012 and despite initial objections as to a potential smell, I have never noticed anything unpleasant. This plant takes all the household compost of South and West Oxfordshire, i.e. organic kitchen waste that we put the little green bins. Some farmers take this when processed though as yet I’m not clear quite how they use it. Processing of this also puts methane into the grid. But it was not this on our field.

Double axehead quilt (hand pieced and hand quilted by Mary Addison)

Double axehead quilt (hand pieced and hand quilted by Mary Addison)

A separate processing plant on the same site takes grass cuttings and hedge clippings  and it is this which has been spread on the field behind us. This will apparently be disked in (I’ve no idea what that means – I shall find out) soon and the ground will then be left until the legal date of February 14 before it is further disturbed or treated with herbicides, etc. In this way the land will be left as food for songbirds, for the growth of weeds and for the proliferation of bugs through the “hungry gap” (I’m asking about that too). Poppies will be planted in late March. The stuff on the field now should not smell –  “though it might a bit to start with” – which it does, but it’s certainly not unbearable nor is it as bad as I remember the smell of chicken litter on the fields from my days in Nottinghamshire. So, now I’m a bit clearer both about what’s happening in the field and what is going on at Benson and I feel I can relax and get on with enjoying the view. The only dark cloud is that we shall soon be allowing out our newly spayed year-old kitten. I blanche at the thought of a meadow full of baby songbirds. As yet she scarcely puts her nose out of the door and anyway it’s not the time of year for baby birds. But by spring I shall have to source an industrial bell for her collar – one that is light but very noisy. I’m also keeping my fingers crossed that she will still find the big outdoors too intimidating – a vain hope, I fear.

Postscript: Many thanks must go to Jane Brocket for the lovely things she said about me and my blog yesterday. Her book “The Gentle Art of Domesticity” motivated me to get blogging in the first place. Her beautiful photographs of things as diverse as quilts, cakes, paintings/prints, marble floors and balls of wool and her interesting and informed text showed blogging at its liberating and stimulating best and filled me with a burning desire to get blogging too. Even if no one reads my blog, I’d still do it, as family, friends and parishioners do dip in from time to time to see what’s going on. That more people are now coming to my blog through Jane is immeasurably exciting. Thank you Jane.




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  1. Beverly/California
    Posted September 27, 2013 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    Just stopped by after reading Jane Brocket’s post. I will be visiting again; it is always interesting to follow along with crafters from other areas of the world.

    Coincidentally, that quilt pattern is a favorite of mine – we call it “apple core”….

    • Mary Addison
      Posted September 28, 2013 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      Thank you for looking at my blog and your comment. I meant to mention the alternative name of the design and I have now amended my blog. You don’t see many quilts in this design but I like it so much I may make one again.

  2. Posted September 28, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    I too have just discovered you via the always inspiring Jane Brocket. Your embroiderey and the quilt are magnificent – I take great joy from looking at an old piece of patchwork and remembering different moments in my life. And you mention Ipsden, somewhere I often visited years ago when my aunt and her family lived at the Old Rectory. Small world, isn’t it?!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted September 28, 2013 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      I have often looked at your blog and enjoyed it greatly. I even think I’ve been all the way back to the beginning. How interesting that you know Ipsden. We would love to hear anything you remember. Do stay tuned to my blog if you are interested in the area as my husband who is also a museum curator as well as a vicar has exciting plans for the village – very much in their infancy at the moment. But he set up the Holst Museum in Cheltenham and is a bit of a dab hand at this sort of thing which just leaves me open-mouthed.

      • Posted September 30, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

        How strange that you already read my blog – thank you for enjoying it! I will of course stay tuned in to yours though I doubt I can be any help re. Ipsden. Your mention of the Holst Museum, Cheltenham and your husband rang more bells; was he the David Addison of All Saints, Bisley, Gloucestershire by any chance?

        • Mary Addison
          Posted September 30, 2013 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

          He is indeed the same David Addison. How amusing that you should have come across him, especially as you now seem to live on the edge of the world. Fascinating!

  3. Bev S.
    Posted September 28, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    I also found your blog through Jane Brocket and have enjoyed reading and admiring your needlework. My husband and I are both clergy (Presbyterian) and I love, love to knit. Thank you for sharing your talent!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted September 30, 2013 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for saying such nice things about my blog and needlework. I’ve never got into knitting although I’m so taken with the sleeveless pullovers in Jane Brocket’s book “The Gentle Art of Domesticity” that I aim to get down to making my husband something similar soon – ish, whenI’ve finished all those other projects…….

  4. Posted October 1, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I am not a quilter, though I know several and have never seen this pattern – it appeals to me far more than the more popular shapes! Lovely.

    How interesting to hear how the land is farmed; my daughter has gone to live somewhere near you, so she will also learn something about how things are done there as opposed to here in rural Switzerland!

    What an attractive and articulate blog you have…

    • Mary Addison
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 5:44 am | Permalink

      Thank you looking at my blog and your encouraging comments. Your own blog looks a good read and I shall certainly have further looks at it. With best wishes, Mary

  5. Nancy Cox
    Posted October 16, 2013 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    I also have recently found your delightful site via Jane Brocket. You do a lovely job of inviting a visit into your corner of the world. Thank you.

    Your quilts are beautiful. I do basic sewing and have taken one quilt class. You inspire me.

    My husband and I are children of clergy and are very involved in our church. We both sing in the choir. Your tidbits of church happenings bring a smile.

    I hope you keep blogging.

    Nancy Cox

    • Mary Addison
      Posted October 16, 2013 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for your kind comments. I too find blogs inspirational and I think it is wonderful how generous people are in sharing their creative ideas.
      I am very fortunate to have landed up in this part of the world – it was quite unplanned. Although the countryside is lovely, it is the people who give a place real character.

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