This past week we have been in North Wales, enjoying the Snowdonia National Park, and purchasing blankets for the collection.
Snowdonia is beautiful. Wild hills covered with trees (a novelty for those of us from Shetland), hills with snowy peaks, winding roads along the coast, and small villages with lots of history. We have visited the slate mining areas by steam train, been for dinner at Portemerion which was, if you know the place, bizarre and brilliant, and walked over Barmouth Bridge, one of the longest wooden bridges still in regular use in the UK. It has been an amazing and eye-opening festive season but we saved the best for our trip back to Swansea.
Driving down we decided to pay a visit to the Welsh Quilt Centre in Lampeter. Not entirely unexpectedly, the Centre was closed for Christmas but a notice on the door invited us to Jen Jones' shop, just down the road. So we went...
Jen Jones has been collecting, exhibiting and selling quilts and blankets since 1971, and her shop in a charming old house is an absolute treasure trove of delights. Jen opened up for us and we spend a fantastic hour chatting and discovering many lovely things. Quilts and blankets dominate, and there are many of them, dating from the 19th Century through to the middle of the 20th Century. It was brilliant to see so many beautiful things but three pieces took our eye; a huge patchworked quilt handmade by a mother out of fabrics from her family history from the 1930's to the 1960's, an unusual blanket which is Eastern European, and a deeply coloured tapestry blanket dating from between the World Wars.
The patchwork quilt is massive; it would cover a king size bed and still leave enough to drape on the floor. A real labour of love but also a history of cloths because os the variety of fabrics that have gone into the making over the decades. We will carefully store it and ensure that others can enjoy seeing the hard work and love that has gone into the piece. If you want to have a look, please ask us to take it out for you.
Draped over a door was our second purchase; this blanket with figures and patterns. Jen told us that she thought it was Eastern European because an expert friend had recognised the patterns, but we do not know exactly where it comes from. Can anyone of you lovely readers help?
But my absolute favourite is the tapestry blanket with its typical Welsh patterns. It is, of course, double cloth, but the colours are quite unique. A photograph does not really do it justice so again, if you would like to see it in person, please ask. The richness of the real thing has to be seen to be believed.