Wednesday, 24 February 2010



A few miles from where I was born, there is the parish of Osmotherley at Broughton Beck (I always intended to get married there but life took me on a different course). Our coat of arms appears on the lintel of Langrigg Hall at Dubmill, Cumbria, and nearby is located Osmotherley Cottage and a commemorative stone in a school wall to a benefactor, Richard Osmotherley.
The village of Osmotherley near N Allerton in Yorkshire developed from another branch of the family and the folklore attached to it is quoted from the following site:

‘When King Oswald's son was born, the wise men and magicians were summoned to court to forecast the destiny of the child. They all declared that he would be drowned before attaining a certain age. The fond mother, in her solicitude to prevent such a mishap, carried him away from the disturbed north to a hill in peaceful Cleveland, called Roseberry, where she hoped to rear him in safety, until the dreaded period was passed. But, alas! the Fates had decreed it otherwise. A fountain of water gushed out of the rock, and fulfilled the prediction. The child was buried in the neighbouring church of Teviotdale, and the loving mother, filled with grief at the loss of her darling boy, pined away and soon followed him to the grave. She was buried, according to her oft-expressed desire, by his side; and thus, from the saying of the people, "Os-by-his-mother-lay," the place got the name of Osmotherley.

In Parliament, there are the Osmotherley Rules referring to the departmental evidence and response to select committees.
So the pedigree is illustrious but I am hopelessly impoverished these days!!!

(Aside: interesting that the computer offers smothered as the alternative for Osmotherley)
Having made my first Appliqué Sampler quilt, I then went on to make a Traditional Sampler. It was hand appliquéd, machine pieced and hand quilted.


Sampler quilts are brilliant for learning! Such quilts include pieced or patchwork blocks, made by accurately preparing squares, rectangles and triangles and sewing them together to create 12” squares of fabric. These include blocks made with 16-patches, 9-patches and 4-patches. Preparing shapes and sewing (or applying) them on to a ready cut background creates the appliqué blocks. My next quilt was a Log Cabin quilt.

I have mentioned before that I usually have a quilt in my hands, one under the machine and one on the design wall. (Oh and I forgot about the one (of hundreds) that is in my mind!).
The quilt on my design wall at present is a challenge for the AGM of the Quilters’ Guild of the BI. This year it is to be held in the NW Region 13, in Southport. The challenge is open to members of the host region and the theme is ‘innovation’. I figured that the way I have been working over the last 4 years seems original and innovative to me. My entry ‘FLOWER VASES’ is still in progress, with machine quilting and detail yet to be added. (More information later.)


Tuesday, 23 February 2010



Dilys Anne Fronks is an unusual name (more of this later) but wait till you hear what my maiden name was: OSMOTHERLEY! Few could spell the Welsh name of Dilys but just add Osmotherley to that and you can see what problems might arise. Responses varied from stunned silence to you’ve got to be joking and I’ve had to spell my name out most of my life. It has brought mixed blessings. It was instantly recognisable so once heard, never forgotten! I followed my sister, Gwyneth, and 2 brothers, Edward (Ted) and Owen, through life locally, always labelled as sister to one or the other.

Historically Osmotherley is a well documented name, derived from these earlier variations : Asmunderlauhe, c. 1240; Asmunderlaws, c. 1270; Asmunderlowe, 1299; Asmondrelaw, c. 1320. The de Asmunderlaws appear in Furness in the 12th century, and Asmunder was probably a Viking who originally owned the lea or meadow in the area.Both my brothers have 2 sons, (one with twin grandsons) so our branch of the family grows and flourishes well into the future.

My Coat of Arms


Whilst making my first quilt, The Appliqué Sampler, my teacher said that in order to get good flat results in appliqué, you had to keep your work as flat as possible. Being a non-sewer, I took her literally! I sewed with my right hand but kept all the fingers of my left hand on top of my work! When she caught me doing it that way, she said I was allowed to pick my work up but, when I did that way, the fingers underneath distorted the background fabric and gave poor results. Since then I have continued to sew on a flat surface and teach it as a tabletop method. It has served me well as a hand sewing technique for the last27 years.
And at the start, don’t we fret about the number and length of our quilting stitches per inch! I was told to aim for 12 per inch, but I only managed 4! (they are affectionately referred to as ‘toe catchers!’)
My first quilt has been so well used over the years, it is faded now, and the wadding (batting) is as thin as it can be. But I am as proud now of it as I was when I first finished it. This quilt opened the door to my quilting world.


The quilt under my machine at the moment is a log cabin sampler quilt, sewn with a paper foundation method and using Liberty of London fabrics.
I made my first Logs in the Sampler in 1994 (Gallery 1 and always vowed that I would go back and visit the technique when I had more time. The traditional 12” sampler quilt blocks were made with a log cabin technique, using the light, medium and dark values of the fabrics.

Shoo Fly 12”

Clipper Ship 12”

Maple Leaf 12”

The first blocks for Liberty Logs are 6 ½” square, hence the need for the accuracy of paper foundations! 9-patch and 4-patch
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Sunday, 21 February 2010


LBQ (Life Before Quilting)

I was born and brought up in the UK, in Dalton-in-Furness in Cumbria, at the southern tip of the Lake District. Dalton is an ancient settlement and was mentioned in the Domesday Book as Daltune. During the 12th Century, Furness Abbey was built 1 mile away, and Dalton became the site of the Abbot’s market and fair, and his courtroom and gaol. This resulted in the town becoming the Capital of Furness in Medieval times. Henry VIII destroyed the nearby abbey during the reformation. Dalton-in-Furness was the birthplace of portrait painter George Romney 1734 – 1802.


I started to quilt in 1983 when we lived in Dorset, a county in the SW of England, on the English Channel. I was at a local craft show, minding my own business, when I saw the appliqué quilt that a local teacher, Jenny Dove, was exhibiting. I’d never seen anything like it before and was drawn to it, to savour the impact of the colours, the combination of fabrics, the delicacy of the design and the texture of the quilting. Jenny uttered those immortal words ‘Why don’t you come along and have a go’ and I did! I attended a one-day workshop to do a traditional Topeka block and then continued at night school 2 terms and made my first quilt.


I was a total beginner and so was desperate to learn. I only knew how to do appliqué at this stage and so all the blocks were done by this method. The patchwork block ‘Bird’s Nest’ below was made by appliquéing all the squares and triangles onto a plain background! I knew no different. I certainly had a lot to learn.


I always work on several pieces of work at once, something on the design wall, another under the machine and a third on my lap. I just turn to the one that suits my frame of mind during my ‘play’ (I could hardly call it work!) time.

I always need a hand project on the go to sew on my lap in front of the fire. At the moment this is a Sampler quilt, being taught by my friend Jennifer Ellis at the Gresford craft group to which I belong. Each block is made up of one repeated shape and here are the first blocks, machine pieced and hand appliquéd. I am using only 2 colourful fabrics, one for the background and the other for the appliqué shapes.

GRESFORD SAMPLER 1 (2” squares)

Thursday, 18 February 2010



Hello whoever you are and wherever you are, welcome to my very first blog.

I have been determined to start one for a long while so here goes. Where it will lead, I know not, but with all my knowledge, experience and enthusiasm for making quilts, it should be an interesting and informative journey. You may ask questions or send comments and I will be pleased to respond.

Aside: And now I am looking at the blank page and thinking what do I say next!

I think I should start with a brief outline of my life before quilting. I will expand on this section under the heading of LBQ in future blogs and add detail where there is something of interest to say.


I was a total beginner once, a non-sewer who would no more have picked up a needle than flown to the moon. Although my mother was (and still is at 94!) a competent embroiderer, I had no history of a life surrounded by fabric and because my mother sewed, I didn’t need to or want to. I directed all the considerable energies of my youth to participating in sports.
I went on to train as a PE teacher and, as soon as I qualified, I applied for Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO). I was posted to what was then called the Gilbert and Ellice Island Colony (GEIC) in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean, now referred to as Kiribati and Tuvalu since independence. I met and married my husband Roger out there and returned to teach in Mid-Wales the UK before becoming a full time Mum to two daughters, Tamana Anne and Tessa May in Dorset. It was in Dorset that I saw my first quilt and from that moment I knew that I had found where I wanted to be without realising that I had been searching for somewhere to go.

So just how did I get from my first traditional quilt block ….

TOPEKA 15” x 15”

….. to the painterly quilts I am making today?

ROBIN 29" x 32"
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