Have you heard of Manx quilting? I learned about it in the funnest way this past fall and I’ve been wanting to get around to writing this post forever.
Before we talk about Manx Quilting, I’m assuming we need to talk about what the term Manx means. It is the name of the native Celtic people from the Isle of Man with additional Norse (Viking) and English influences. The Isle of Man is an island located in the middle of the Irish Sea between England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland and is its own separate country with its own laws and government though it does have a crown-appointed royal Governor and some protection from Great Britain. (I’m probably not explaining that well, but that’s the gist.)
You may remember I shared about my trip to England last fall. While over there, I also flew to the Isle of Man for a very brief (and soggy), but wonderful weekend visit. We were able to get an inexpensive flight direct from London on one of the European budget carriers.
I lived on the Isle of Man for 6 months when I was 21 years old while serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and fell in love with the place.
I’ve only been back to visit twice since then – 4 years ago with our family, and this past October. This time I went with friends who were flatmates when we lived in London 25 years ago, and I was SO excited to introduce them to this place that still holds a piece of my heart. Here I am in front of the flat (3rd floor) that I lived in in 1995.
Well, turns out we arrived for the very soggiest of Saturdays. But this also turned out to be serendipitous. (In front of Harry Kelly’s cottage.)
One of our planned stops was Cregneash Folk Village – a Manx National Heritage site – with historic homes and other buildings – including this beautiful church (and post box from Queen Victoria’s time!) I’d been to Cregneash and walked through the village, but never actually gone inside any of the buildings because the setting and the view of the sea from the village was charming enough. (No sea view this day though!)
Well, as I mentioned, because of the rain we actually went inside some of the homes. Don’t you love this scene with the cozy fire in the hearth and a real Manx cat? (Manx cats are famous for having no tail.) The setting reminds me of a scene from a Beatrix Potter illustration. And do you spy a quilt?!
Wait, first here’s a close-up of the Manx cat.
And now a close-up of the quilt!
Turns out this farm home was hosting a demonstration on Manx Quilting. In my love of all things Manx, I had no idea there even was such a thing as Manx Quilting! It was meant to be.
At first glance these blocks look like traditional log cabin quilt blocks. But their construction is different, in a foundation-pieced quilt-as-you-go method.
This method is ingenious-ly resourceful for a group of people with minimal access to supplies because of their remote location. The traditional block they came up with is simple and inexpensive and did not require any fancy notions – only what was had on hand: scraps of fabric from worn-out clothing and bedding, a needle and thread. No batting, no rulers, no rotary cutters, and often no scissors!
Here’s one of the volunteers at Cregneash Village sharing what makes Manx quilting unique. (One of these days I will remember to video horizontally.)
Ever since seeing the demonstration I’ve been wanting to try this method, so I broke out some Gretel scraps to give it a whirl. I thought I’d just make one block for the experience, but I loved it so much, that now I want to make more! (And I mean, how cute is Gretel in this log cabin design?!) It’s a fun handwork project to carry around.
I had hoped to have a tutorial to share with today’s post, but a combination of a snow day + a sick kid this week and I’m behind on pretty much everything. But this post is already exciting (and long) enough, so we’ll have a part 2 next Tuesday where I’ll walk you through the steps I learned to make your own Manx quilt block!
A few last pictures from the Isle of Man. Because it’s a beautiful spot. The Calf of Man (a small island at the southern tip of the main island). For years it was expensive to get to the Isle of Man – either flying or by ferry – but with the creation of the budget airlines like Ryan Air and EasyJet, it’s relatively inexpensive. If you’re ever visiting the UK and want a charming island experience, than I say go! You can find more pictures and information about the Isle of Man here.
The town of Peel – home to an almost 1,000 year-old castle built by the Vikings and Snugglebunny Cottage. (Personally, I think I’d prefer to live in Snugglebunny Cottage.)
Be back with Part 2 next week! Stay tuned!