Our first stop, after some imaginative route planning by Brian's sat-nav, which tried to take us on the unmade road past the wind-farm at Wainstalls, was at Empress Mills at Colne. We had a very happy hour browsing the many nooks and crannies at this family-run enterprise, which are stocked from floor to ceiling with fabrics, threads, dyes, wadding, ribbons, and every other haberdashery item you can think of. With talks from Christine on lovely new products as well as detailed descriptions of some of the threads that they make or supply, it was a difficult job rounding members up to stick to our schedule!
The Empress Mills team pictured at Ally Pally earlier this week
Our next stop was nearby at Patchwork Chicks at Barrowford. As we only had time for a brief "shop", some members said that they would return for a further visit to this shop full of lovely quilting fabrics and notions.
After grabbing a sandwich in Barrowford (some of us weren't as organised as others!) we returned to the coach for the 15 minute journey to Gawthorpe Hall at Padiham. Here we were met by Textile Curator Rachel Terry who gave us an informative talk about the items on display from the Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth Collection which is held at the hall, which was her family home. "Miss Rachel" collected textiles throughout her life, as well as being an accomplished needlewoman, lacemaker and tutor herself, and the collection is VERY extensive and holds some fine pieces. Each piece in the collection has hand-written notes and is graded on its merits. We split into two groups, giving the other half a chance to look around the rest of the Hall, or call at the Courtyard cafe for some delicious cake.
Soldier's quilt made from over 9000 tiny pieces of uniform!
Contemporary pieces by former artist in residence, Bella May Leonard
Our group just before leaving with Gawthorpe Hall in the background
Amazingly the weather was fine and mild, and even more amazingly, we managed to find a direct route home and arrived back slightly ahead of schedule!