ID Number: TQ.2015.039
Name of interviewee: Vanessa Sherston-Baker
Name of interviewer: Pam Harrison
Name of transcriber: Take 1
Location: Vanessa’s home
Address: Elham, Kent
Date: 4 August 2015
Length of interview: 0:43:55
Vanessa’s nine year old son was moving up to the newly renovated attic bedroom, so she made a quilt to help make it homely. David’s quilt is covered in applique animals, mythical creatures and personal symbols, made with much love by his mum. Vanessa talks about making this quilt and others, as well as discussing her journey with her creative side; from her embarrassment at taking a sewing O-Level to completing a City and Guilds.
Pam Harrison [PH]: So, this is an interview for Talking Quilts. The ID number is TQ.2015.039. The name of the interviewee is Vanessa Sherston-Baker. The name of the interviewer is Pam Harrison. And the location is Vanessa’s home [clears throat] in Elham in Kent. The date is the 4th of August 2015 [chatter and dog barks]. Well, perhaps, Vanessa, you could start by describing the quilt that you’ve chosen.
Vanessa Sherston-Baker [VSB]: The quilt I’ve chosen is, er, one I made for my son. Do you want the story behind it?
PH: Yeah, yeah.
VSB: Um, which I made, er, it’s written on the quilt in, in, in… stitch and I think it’s February 2001. Um, David was nine years old and he was moving from his bedroom to the top floor. We were getting the attics done out and he was going to move up there and nine years old, I felt this was my way, I think, of trying to make him, make it home [interruption] in, in, in the top floor. It is 74 inches square and it’s, um, almost based on the idea of a strippy quilt in the fact that there are, um, four, um, er, six inch wide strips dividing three 11 inch wide strips. The narrower strips are made up of, um, oblongs, um, and the, er, multi-coloured oblongs and the, um, 11 inch wide is a cream background with lots of applique. And the applique is, they are one fabric only. Lots and lots of different colours but, but it’s made up only of one fabric and they’re just shapes. So, you’ve got the donkeys, the butterflies, the lion, the house, um, the dragon, of course, because he was interested in dragons of those days and we’ve got el, elephant there’s, er, dinosaurs he liked.
PH: So, they’re all different animals?
VSB: Er, all different shapes, um, whatever… And also, I put in that, I drew round David’s hand, so that’s David’s hand, February 2001. And that is his sister’s foot. I drew round her foot, Amy’s foot [PH: Yes]. Um, lots and lots of heart fabrics in there to try and show the, the way I was feeling. Um, but also, I, the, the, the cream background is stipple quilted but, um, the bits being held down, apart from being machine appliqued on, um, are quite often have some quilting on to keep them together. It’s supposed to be a very practical quilt this. And, um, so I took the opportunity to write on some of them so David’s hand is written on obvious… And, and the… um… triceratops [PH: Yes], um, which is, it tells me, late Cretaceous period 61 to 65 million years ago. Herbivore. Um, the camel… camels spit I find out. Um, something rather soppy on the eagle. Let your dreams soar. Um, if you can’t be soppy when they’re nine years old, when can you be soppy? Um, the T-Rex is written on and things like that [PH: yes]. So, it’s, it’s quite fun. It’s got a border of the floating diamonds around the edge. Um, so it’s lots and lots of colours and shapes [PH: Yep]. That’s it.
PH: Fantastic. And the, you’ve got a binding and then… Tell me about the backing fabric.
VSB: Oh the backing fabric was just, um, he liked blue and orange. His room was, er, coloured in that. That was a pure fluke find. Um, but the border is a green border with small hearts on and I bought this fabric many years ago and I have used it to bind a lot of my quilts. It’s, because that’s, that’s the way I feel about it. [PH: Yes] That, um, I think I probably used… I did Amy’s, Amy moved rooms at the same time. She moved into his old room so I think her quilt was probably bound in the same fabric.
PH: Right, yeah. Did he know you were making this at the time?
VSB: Yes he did. Um, it was, er, it took quite a long time. Um, and we helped, he helped choose shapes, not fabrics, but shapes. And people, I asked people to help out as well. There’s a crocodile here. A friend of mine, his best friend’s mother, um, drew me a crocodile so that’s Charlotte’s croc [PH: Yes] because, um, she drew that for me [PH: Yes]. And then there’s a tractor and a guy who helped us in the garden watched me trying to draw a tractor one day and said, it’s not like that, and I said, oh great, how is it drawn? And, er, so that’s Stephen’s tractor, um, who David knew very well. Um, so yes, he, he was, um, involved in it.
PH: So, it’s full of different memories and ideas.
VSB: The, this is also the African elephant because I drew an elephant and again, Charlotte, who was, um, drew the crocodile who was brought up in Kenya said that I couldn’t draw, what I’d drawn was an Indian elephant because the difference being the African elephant has bigger ears than the Indian elephant. So, if the ears come below the, er, face, it’s going to be an African elephant rather than Indian. It’s amazing what you learn when you make quilts.
PH: [Laughs] Yes, yeah. And all these different fabrics in the strippy section. Were they all ones you had? You had them?
VSB: Yes, I think, um, ooph, I can’t remember. I have a very, very big stash. Um, and I have collected for many years. Um, probably I bought a lot of these, um. That’s a very old one. In, in a lot of my quilts nowadays, um, if I’m using, whatever fabrics I’m using, I quite often use, um, clothes so that I can look through… My daughter’s quilt that I did with this, um, I’ve got some of my mother’s dresses in there [interruption]. Um, I’ve used my daughter’s dresses when she was a child in some of the other quilts. Um, and I made a big quilt with, um, shirts. Old, or well, when my husband’s… I was doing the ironing one day and I thought, the collar’s gone, I can’t iron this one, the collar’s gone, can’t… It was great, I went down from nine shirts to, er, four shirts, I think, to iron. And so I thought, okay, make a collection. And I started asking all my friends could they please, when the shirts wore out. And, um, um, and I stopped asking after one chap jumped up and said, yes, yes, of course you can have my shirts and gave me three new ones. And I said, no, no, no, the point is old. And he said, nope, nope, I won’t wear them, you can have them, you can have them. It was very embarrassing [PH: yes] [laughter]. Um, so after that I went to, um, charity shops and I got them from charity shops. Um, but I got an enormous amount of shirts and, and I made a quilt with hand dyed old sheets and old shirts [interruption]. Um, so that was a, that’s another way of starting a quilt or being involved in a quilt. But it’s great fun because you know the guys all come up and say, oh, yes, yes I remember this, my shirt, that’s mine.
PH: And with this quilt you said it took you quite a long time.
VSB: Um, I think it took me two or three months [interruption]. My daughter’s quilt was made in three weeks. Um, it was smaller than this but, er, based on a piece of cake design. Um, and it was, um, easier because I knew exactly where I was going. I did feel by the end of it that I’d worn my eyeballs back [PH: Yes] and it, it was exhausting. But this took much longer because I wasn’t sure how, how it was going to finish up. And I certainly in, somewhere in my, in my workroom I’ve got a, um, the other strippy partitions which were a different size, either bigger or smaller. I think big… which were, I knew were wrong when I set it together [PH: oh]. I knew it looked wrong so I started again and, er, made them over [PH: Yes]. Um, so it took much more thought and labour. It’s not as… um, you know, finished a design as the other piece. It’s much more personal, this one.
PH: And you said earlier that it’s one you feel emotionally connected with?
VSB: Yes, yes, very much so because it’s, um, probably I feel more connected than David. David was very, very happy to move up to the attic, even at nine years old. I mean nine years old, my poor baby [laughs]. But um, but this is, the, this quilt is one I’ve written most on. Normally, I try somewhere and sign the quilts with, within the quilting, um, but this one is, um, er, signed and dated and addressed and everything.
PH: Described. Yes, yeah. And so, you still keep it? You look after it now, do you?
VSB: Yes, David’s come back home again after u-, he just finished university and he’s back home again for a bit [interruption] and, um, maybe he’ll go one day [laughs]. But, um, he doesn’t use it on his bed. It, it’s used, you know, snuggling up in front of the television, but [interruption] um, it goes around, um, I hope one day it’ll be used on somebody else’s bed but we’ll see.
PH: No in your, going on to your quilting history, I think you talked about that you’d been quilting vaguely or off and on for 40 years.
VSB: Oh yes, yes. Um, I think one of the first proper things I made, um, was a big [dog barks] big cushion for my sister when she went to university. She’s three years old than I am so… Um, and that was the first proper finished item. I’d done much more before that but I haven’t finished it. But this was, was a parti-, definitely a patchwork, big patchwork thing, um, probably not quilted, and, um, I’d made one and she saw it and she said it was, was great and, um, [dog barks] she’d pay me to make another one so I did. Um, never saw any money for that which I’ve never forgiven her for [laughs]. But it did teach me early on that you don’t get much money from quilting [laughs].
PH: So you were a teenager at this time?
VSB: Yes. I, I liked fabric. Um, I like colour very much and I do remem-, I did dressmaking for, er, for a long time. I can remember actually the first thing I made was at primary school and, um, 10 or 11 and I made an apron [PH: Gosh] and, um, I must’ve been sewing before then. My mother must’ve taught me something even though she didn’t do much sewing herself. She knitted PH: Yes]. Um, but I knew how to sew on a button, for example, that was the very first thing we learnt. But I remember making the apron. Um, and so I’ve always, always liked sewing. And, and I can remember the, er, fabric store I used to go to, um, and I, there was, it was small little place and a lot of it was very horrid fabric. I mean, the amount of polyester [PH: Yes] [laughter] in those days it was awful stuff. Really nasty. Um, but I did love, I like designed patchwork, um, colour, shape, everything.
PH: And so, how did your interest move then? So, you were doing this at, while you were still at school?
VSB: Yes, um, and, er, we did, er, you know, we made boxes at school actually just out of, out of class and we did the hand sewing bits and pieces, but not sure I finished an awful lot. And then I was given the book by Beth Gutcheon and I think it was when I was 17 and I stayed with my aunt who had given it to me who was in Canada and she was a quilter. She made quilts for all her children [PH: Yes] and so that was when I began seeing proper quilts. Um, and also she did a wonderful wall hanging I, I remember. Um, and it, it, my mother didn’t sew though she had a sewing machine, um, she did very little. Um, so most of, most of, in those days, I was really self, self-taught for patchwork [PH: Yes, yes]. Um, and, um, I didn’t get much encouragement that handmade stuff was any good [PH: Oh]. Um, so it was… Probably mine wasn’t any good actually at the time but, um, it’s, you know, the stages you go through if you’re self-taught. Um, and then the first teaching I had was, um, when the children were at primary school and I started the adult education courses in Ashford [PH: Right]. Um, and I started off doing small bite size pieces, um, at um, and I did some printing and some dyeing, some indigo dyeing, some introduction to design, things like that and then I did Ruth Issett’s year course. She did a one year course that could’ve gone on to a second year but it wasn’t running when I, when I finished my first year course and that was just, um, printing and dyeing, which was wonderful. Um, and then that gave me the confidence to move to Tunbridge Wells to do the four years City & Guilds which I did, which I did ’05 to ’09 I think. Um…
PH: And that was a City & Guilds in… patchwork?
VSB: Oh, patchwork and quilting yes.
PH: Patchwork and quilting specifically, yeah.
VSB: And that was run by… [Whispering] can’t remember. And that was fun. That was good. A lot of design, a lot of, you know, everyone says, well, it’s like going back to kindergarten but with the, um, with, with the adult mind it’s much more fun than that because you do, you do a lot of tearing up of paper and colouring in and shapes and cutting and sticking and, oh, it’s wonderful. Wonderful stuff.
PH: Yes. And, so following that, did that give you lots of different ideas or…?
VSB: It does, it does, it also gives you, um, more confidence. Um, and you start, um, you start gaining a critical facility, I suppose, faculty? Whichever. Um, and, and, and you get more confidence to say what you like and why you like it. Um, colour for me is one of the most important issues in a quilt and I can recognise, I can recognise quite often what’s wrong if [dog barks], if it is wrong, and I, I, you can say some things are wrong in, in colour. It’s not just a case of somebody likes it therefore its right or they’ve done it. You can see where there’s a mistake. Um, and I, and I know why. Um, which I’m quite pleased with. Um, because for years you look at some-, I used to look at something and think, I know it’s wrong but I don’t know why. Um, and um, my… I still can’t draw, I would love to be able to draw and I, you know, suspect if I worked at it, I’d get better at it but I prefer to do something else. Um, er, but I do try and carry notebooks around with me and I do a lot of scribbling of patterns to make, um, for ideas [PH: Yes]. You know, for, for every quilt you make there are 100 ideas, easily [PH: Yes]. And I draw, er, quilt shapes for the quilting patterns, um, constantly. I have books, um, to draw line for patterns, which is fun. It makes you, for me, I look at the world more, slightly differently now. I see shapes and colours that I didn’t see before which is very good, I think.
PH: So, what sort of things might you get inspiration from?
VSB: Everything. Everything. Yes, colours from everywhere around you. Shapes from a lot of building work, um, or buildings. Um, you get shapes, line, line from buildings. Um, and… um, I’m not good, as I say, at drawing and therefore I’m not good at naturalistic design. I go for line and then move on to design from that [PH: Yes] and, er, um, and I collect fabrics to make quilts because I put colours together or I decide I’m going to make a quilt in sea greens or, and moving to greys or blues moving through purple or, um, I have a lot of, um, pink, orange, red, yellow that I clash together. It works, it works if you look at the colour wheel it’s, it’s very interesting. Um, but I think possibly also because I’m not very exuberant in my own dress, this is where my colour comes out.
PH: So, when you are planning a quilt, would you start with the colour?
VSB: Quite often, yes. Yes.
PH: As the first thing, yeah.
VSB: Er, yes. Certainly, I’ve got a few piles over in the workroom that, that, that are just sitting there making, making a pile and, um, and I go from there. And quite often, sometimes, the result is far better than I ever expected or hoped for. I don’t… Pure luck sometimes, I think. Um, I’d like to think it wasn’t entirely luck but I suspect sometimes it is, that I finish up with something that I’m thrilled to pieces with, um, without having seen. One of, one of the things I don’t do which I should do is make practice pieces and I should have… I was trained, taught to with the City & Guilds and I, and I should, you know, make a practice piece or block or cut things up and stick it down or, and I don’t do any of that. I get too excited and I throw myself in.
PH: You want to do the whole quilt?
VSB: Yes. So…
PH: So, do you have a room that you work in specifically for, for the quilt making?
VSB: Yes. I, the, when we built the garage we put a room on top and there’s a, um, a sort of bed, sitting room over there with a bathroom attached and, um, that’s where I work. Um, it’s a bit of a mess at the moment, which has curtailed my quilting. But its summer, I don’t quilt much in the summer. Um, and occasionally I will bring the sewing machine over here if I’m doing, just joining bits of fabric together without much thought. But I try and keep it in one place because it’s, it’s so easy to make a mess. It is terribly easy. Um, and, er, at the moment I’m, um, I, I won some squares of fabrics so I’m just making a very simple heart quilt, um, that, that will, um, I can do in the evenings and bits of pieces of in the summer. But most of my time in the summer is spent in the garden.
PH: So, in the winter, how much time would you be spending…
VSB: It varies enormously. A huge amount. And, it’s like a, like a quilt. You can’t really say how long a quilt takes, can you? [PH: No, no] So, um, if, if I’m quilting as against piecing or designing, um, I can, I will start off and if I, and I’ll manage half an hour the first day and be completely exhausted. And the second day I’ll manage an hour and be completely exhausted. And by the end of it, um, I can probably manage, um, three or four hours, um, in total. Um, but in, split up. Um, but it’s, um, quilting is very, very tiring for me. Um, you can sit and piece and play around with fabric quite a lot but when you’re actually, when I, when I quilt, the exhaustion of moving on a domestic machine [PH: Yes] means that I, if I do more than four hours a day, I think I’m doing extremely well [PH: Yes]. Um, but that’s, that’s quilting, by which time you know exactly what you’re doing. Um, and for the other bits, I’m moving gently through the water trying to find my way quite often.
PH: And that’s manipulating the whole…quilt? When you’re quilting?
VSB: Yes. Yeah. Um, it’s, I, I did, I was wondering whether to get a long arm quilt, quilting machine but you can’t do that without making some money from it and I don’t want to work on somebody else’s quilt. I’d be terrified of doing anything wrong. Um, um, and er, so it’s, it’s just me and my domestic.
PH: But you manage to get all this under the machine?
VSB: Yes. Yes, once you, um, I read, I watched, I think, Harriet Harman, um, on a DVD talking about, um, her quilting, actually quilting, and um, um, and that was very useful, describing how she did it. And I, this was before I had any classes, but that, that was very good. I think for, like anything I suspect, if you can watch somebody else do it, um, I’m sure cooking much be the same or, [interruption] I don’t know, laying a brick wall. Um, if you see somebody do it, it gives you, um, a much better Idea than just reading a book. Um [PH: Yes] so that was, that was very, very useful and that I did, um… before I did, before, that was one of the first things, um, I actually watched or I… first started, um, almost getting help with, with quilting. That was a good one.
PH: And are there any things you don’t enjoy about quiltmaking?
VSB: I can’t, I can applique by hand but I cannot hand quilt. When we, when my group does our charity quilts they are hand quilted and I can do everything else on it but I cannot hand quilt and somebody said to me, of course, practise Vanessa. And I thought, yes I could practise, but on the other hand [laughs] I can get somebody else to do it and I’ll, I’ll do their… I put on the bindings, I, I do more… And I can hand applique but I cannot hand quilt. So, I won’t do that. Um, most of the rest of it I can do even if I don’t want to.
PH: And do you have any particular technology apart from your sewing machine that makes a difference?
VSB: No. No. Calculator comes in very useful sometimes. No. I do buy gadgets and I do buy different rulers, but when it comes down to it, um, the, a decent cutter and a decent ruler is about as far as I go. Um, I was, I mean, I was looking into buying a, trying to sort out my, my room, I was looking into one of these cabinets to put the sewing machine in [PH: Yes]. And I looked at it and I was going to have something that would tidy everything up and it was, but it was going to cost me, you know, well over £500. It was for my 50th birthday and I thought, what a load of phooey, and I bought a very expensive sewing machine instead [laughs] it does one machine, one, one stitch, it’s the Juki, going up and down and, er, that’s it and it’s wonderful. It’s very, very good. Um, but I don’t, I don’t think I have anything else. Um…no.
PH: When you’re looking at other quilts, other people’s quilts, what are the things that you notice or that make you think this is a good quilt?
VSB: Um, colour, um…handwork. I, anyone who does the hand stitching, I, um, hand quilting is, I, I take my hat off to them. You can see how much work goes into it. Um, but I do like a lot of quilting one way or another [PH: Yeah]. Um, and um, so that I always appreciate. Those are the two main things that I look at. Um, and I suppose a bit of originality. Um, I, I have, um, no I don’t think I have ever taken a pattern and followed it to the final degree. I will always adapt and nowadays I try, I don’t expect ever to follow a pattern. Occasionally I do if I’m, I don’t want to think about it. But for me, quilting, a lot of quilting should be, um, should be the, the originality of the design.
PH: So, each one of your quilts could be different, a different design then?
VSB: Yes. Even… I went through a phase when I was doing my City & Guilds, when I was following an idea and I was, um, I was interested in the Amish and the Welsh quilts and I made, um, a sort of strippy quilt using, um, hand bleached fabric actually, dyed and bleached. Um, and then I went on to, um, the square in a square [interruption] and I made the same, er, the same quilt twice in different fabrics. Um, different ways of making it because I wanted to, er, follow that idea through. So, the quilt is the same design but its two different quilts, very definitely. And then I, I think I followed that series with a, with a fourth one in a, following a different line of thought. Um, and er, but on the whole, er, once I’ve done a quilt once I don’t ever want to do it again. Um, yeah. Even in a different colour. It’s, it’s not something that, that’s interests me. There are too many patterns out there, too many completely different styles [PH: Yes] and, um, I would like to, to, to hand quilt. Um, I was looking at a, some quilts at Sandown a few years back and I was thinking, you know, I could do a small piece and I, in fact, I did take a piece of indigo dyed, um, piece that I’d done, um, and kept it as a wholecloth and played around with it a bit and, er, did some hand quilting on it and that must’ve been, poof, eight, nine years ago and it’s still sitting in my drawer [laughs]. So, I believe in finishing things and if I can’t finish it then what’s the point of, if I don’t finish it, what’s the point of starting? [Laughs].
PH: So, when you start, you said earlier, you would, first of all, be inspired by the fabrics and the colour and that, then you would work out a design after that?
VSB: Um, not necessarily afterwards [interruption]. Um, they, they might come separately and then pull together [interruption]. Or I might never use the fabrics. They might sit there in glorious isolation [laughs].
PH: How would you plan it? By drawing it or just, you’d have a plan in your head?
VSB: No, mostly I draw. I do start off with a plan in my head, but it’ll go on to paper at some time or other. Um, and it would be nice to say I keep all the bits of paper so I have a lovely history and, of course, I don’t, you know, they’re scraps of paper or bits of pieces and, um, and it doesn’t always work. I started a quilt for my niece for her 21st birthday. And, um, I have the colour, I knew exactly how I was going to do it. Um, and it was, um, multi-coloured with a white background and I was trying to work out how much white fabric I needed and I needed 11 and a half metres. And I kept thinking, this is ridiculous, I can’t possibly need 11 and a half metres for an ordinary quilt for a, something that will be, that is background and, and I worked it out and every time I came to 11 and a half metres, 11 and… And I thought, ridiculous. I’ve done the figures wrong somehow. And I started sewing it and once I’d made the first block… I cut out, the thing, that was the thing, I cut out all the, all the fabric before I started and I made the first block. And I realised that I’d doubled the size so that it was 11 and a half fabric, er, half metres I needed, but instead of being six foot by six foot, it was going to finish up as 12 foot by 12 foot [laughs]. And I’ve never forgiven myself for that one. I, I really hadn’t, I thought, oh maybe, maybe if I took off the outer edges, but it was all so beautifully planned. The fact, if, if it’d been the right size, it would’ve been fabulous [laughs]. Anyway, I did one row and then thought this is ridiculous I hate this and put it away [laughs].
PH: So you didn’t finish that one?
VSB: No. But I had worked it out and I had got the figures right. It was just that the original figures were wrong. So, um…
PH: And most of the quilts you make now, what happens to them?
VSB: Um, one went off to, was, was my brother-in-law, that was two years ago, wanting a quilt for his, um, daughter’s 50th daughter. Um, I’ve got, in another couple of years I’ve got my nephew’s 21st. He wants one. And I do, you know, once you start thinking about it and planning, it does take easily up to a year. I might not start sewing it for, um, for six months and then it might take bit by bit. But, um, but you know, I don’t, I can’t start three months before it’s due and expect to get it finished. Um, it takes longer than that for me. Partly because I don’t work on a quilt everyday [PH: Yes]. Um, but um, and you know, some, my daughter’s taken one or two off and a lot of, it’s awful, a lot of them go into, um, into the cupboard [laughs]. And so I’m doing wall hangings now. I have more and more wall hangings around [PH: Right] um…
PH: And are they for yourself or do you give them away?
VSB: Um, most wall hangings I make for myself. I’ve got a couple of people saying please could I make them one, but um, I find it difficult to make for other people because I don’t know what they like [PH: Yes] and I know exactly what I like so… I suppose what one should do is make a load of stuff that I like and then say, help yourself. Um, but um, but then… I don’t know. You want them appreciate it [phone rings]. Um, and, and, you know, there’s so much work involved. You don’t want, I don’t, it’s, it’s a stupid thing but I don’t want to hand on, on to somebody without them appreciating there’s an enormous amount of work in it. And you can’t hand it over saying, by the way, appreciate this [laughs]. Um, so er, so it doesn’t, they don’t go to many people.
PH: And what’s the biggest challenge you feel you face as a quilter today?
VSB: Gosh. Um, ooph, I don’t know… Um, new ideas? I don’t know. I have no idea. Um, there’s an enormous amount of new, of fashion changing. Um, and actually, I suppose it’s not keeping up with fashion, but it is developing your own skills. Um, I’m very good at certain things and what I should do, I think, is um, is build on them. So, I should learn how to hand quilt. I really should. Um, and I should learn a much, um, more of the new quilting techniques. Not piecing but, um, I do teach myself new piecing techniques. Um, and I am also, I don’t accept shoddy work from myself. So, I, if, if, if something, if pieces don’t fit, um, I will redo them. Um, and so curved seams and different ways of, of, of, of sewing seams. Um, I worked quite hard on, on things like that, um, to make sure I’m good. But, but I, I’ve, I’ve gone back into doing what I know I’m good at, a little bit, and um, I should develop. Very easy to stand still, [interruption] um, so that’s, that, that, that’s a challenge.
PH: Why would you say quiltmaking’s important in your life?
VSB: Um, creativity, um, artistic. I, um, was brought up or possibly that’s slightly unfair, but I always felt that, um, um, being artistic was not as important as being intellectual or academic and that if you got a, an O’ level in English, it was better than an O’ level in, um, sewing, needlework. And certainly, when I took the needlework O’ level, [dog barking] I refused to take the exam because I was embarrassed to have, I know, I had to do the course, I had to do all the written work, all the, um, er, practical, I had to do the, um, mock and I would not take the actual exam because I was embarrassed at having something that was not an academic O’ level even though I’d done everything and I regret that now, bitterly. Um, and I’m cross with myself but there you go. Um, so I am now trying to, um, get a, an artistic side, a creative side [PH: Yes]. And yes, and I would like to do, I’d like to be much better at, um, a proper sketchbook or design book, which is what we should, what we did have and what, what I got used to with, for four years. Um, I’d like to go much, go back to doing much more of that [interruption]. Um, I’m very messy as a person, um, but I, I did get very used to experimenting. When I was dyeing, learning how to dye, I did a lot of experimenting and, um, and it all got written down but that was for a specific, um, you know, because I was, yes, for the course. And um, I think, um, doing something by yourself is much harder. There’s the challenge [interruption], to continue that sort of work by yourself [interruption]. Um, I looked a Constance Howard when going up years ago to, er, one of the Ally, Ally Pally Knitting and Stitching show they showing Constance Howard’s notebooks and they were lovely. Abso-, you know, all the design pieces, um, it was all there in her books and that’s what I need to go back to do… So, it is the crea-, creativity [PH: Yes], but it’s with this quilt, when I was thinking about this quilt, um, I know that I did this theoretically to put on his bed, er, when he went up and it was his new room up in the attic airspace. Um, but I, you look at it now and there are hearts all over the place and I obviously did this quilt because I loved him. Because I do love him and I wanted him to have something that was there in…fabric, I suppose, to show how much… And it’s, it’s far more for me to do [PH: Yes] than for him to take. It meant, probably this quilt means far more to me than it means to him [PH: Yes]. Um, and that’s what I, one of the many things I like about quilting. It’s a very, very personal gift. It can be. Um, heart and soul goes into it.
PH: Certainly has, yeah. It’s fantastic. Thank you, Vanessa.