Granny, Tell Me A Story

Granny Tell Me A Story. Or more likely, Daddy, Mummy tell me a story. The Story Quilt that Granny made is finished, however it is known. Finished, parcelled up, and winging its way across the Atlantic Ocean to my granddaughter.

The quilt originally started as a Polaroid Quilt, designed by CapitalaQuilter. I loved this when I saw it and thought it would be a fun block for my bee mates to make. At that time I was in the Modern Quilt Ireland bee. Sadly the guild folded but I have many happy memories and made many friends through this. I can't track back to my original post, but it was pre 2016!

Eventually I laid all the blocks out, but no longer felt I would like it on my bed or on the sofa. Perfect however for a story quilt. One or two of the blocks were too adult so I make up a couple more. When I say adult photo blocks, I don't mean quilters in the nude. That would be just be weird. I mean too grown up. The blocks were all quickly pieced, basted and quilted and then there was one block which jarred with the rest. Ironically it was one of my blocks. The basting had hurt my eyes and I couldn't face taking it apart, so I oversewed an extra block. I made one with bears which little miss will love. This meant I had to add quilting in the ditch to secure it. Previously I had just stitched around the photos.

The backing was some rose fabric, donated from a friend's mother's stash. I widened it with a strip of my husband's shirt. This hobby really does take the shirt from his back. He had a penchant for 100% cotton shirts, beautifully soft but they wear quickly at the collar and cuffs. Now he is retired it is mostly band t shirts every day, so I nabbed the shirts to repurpose them. The buttons are excellent for baby knits too. The binding was made up from my favourite spotty Rose and Hubble fabric. My supplies of this are running low now.

All that remained was to make a label. I hand stitched a piece of white Liberty linen on the corner with the dodgy binding. To make the label secure, I hand embroidered a stem stitch in green around the edges to anchor it, and added white and green and blue French knots. Within this square I stitched " To **** love  granny, 2020". My husband says, don't forget the date, how can we forget 2020. I turned the quilt to show him, and you know what? The embroidery is upside down! Never mind, silly granny .

Next up were the photos. The plan was to take the photos at Belfast Castle, very close to our home. Belfast Castle has an important place in the city's history. It was built in 1860 for the Donegall family, the Castle was built in the Scottish baronial style in the grounds of the family's deer park, as you do. The Castle was passed to the next Marquis of Donegall who was a spendthrift and a gambler.  He spent much time in debtor's prison and was known locally as Lord Dun-em-all. The Castle passed from him, through, Lord Shaftesbury, eventually to Belfast City Council in 1932. It lay derelict and unloved for many years before being refurbished and used for weddings.  

 It has been important to our family for many years, the childrens school was nearby. My late mother in law lived at the foot of the Cavehill, you could see it from her door. She particularly loved Psalm 121 v 1, "I shall lift up mine eye to the hills .." When she died, we commissioned an oil painting of the Castle with the Cavehill behind it. Unfortunately this isn’t a photo taken by me , but “borrowed”. 

 My son and his wife were to have the Belfast component of their wedding there, but due to visa delays, the bridegroom was unable to attend! We had many celebratory meals there over the years. The gardens have a fountain and rosebeds. There is a cat theme, cat mosaics, cat statues. Apparently the Castle like all good castles, has a resident ghost, a ghost cat. My little granddaughter shares her house with two cats, she would like this. Unfortunately due to Covid19 restrictions the gardens are closed, so we had a walk around the Cavehill itself.  This is the closest we got.

So, once again, the photos are from my garden. 



The Cavehill itself was believed to be the inspiration for Johnathan Swift's sleeping giant in Gulliver's Travels. The profile of the hill does look like a sleeping giant and Dean Swift was a clergy man further along the coast looking towards the Hill. 

 The caves themselves and the fort at the top, played their part in Irish  history too. They were a hiding place for a rebel leader, Henry Joy McCracken, after the failed 1798 Rebellion. Victorian day trippers used to go there for picnics, no idea how those women in long dresses made it up there.

 In our own family history,  my father in law proposed to my mother in law at the top of the Cavehill. She suspected he might, so she wore her best dress and highest heels, just wasn't expecting to head up there! Made it right to the top too. My husband was running up there one day and he heard shouts of "Mister, mister, help". Three wee tough girls had climbed up into the caves and one had taken fright or got stuck. He persuaded her he would catch her, braced himself for impact and did so. They strode off with a flick of the hair over the shoulders, pretending the whole thing had never happened. Heaven knows how they climbed up there in the first place.

 For ourselves, we used to walk the grounds frequently and went up over the top every Boxing Day. The views from the very top are right across the city and down to the coast some 40 miles away. On Monday I didn’t go right to the top but got further up than these old legs have taken me in recent times. That should be my challenge . Make it to the top again . (Again, not my photo nor is it me at the edge !)

Helen x 


  1. Belfast Castle and the surrounding grounds definitely hold a lot of history and family history for you. I'm sure this quilt will take part in many new and growing family adventures and stories, too.

  2. My daughters wedding reception was at Belfast Castle, we had a wonderful day, the view across the lough is beautiful.
    Great quilt, the little one will love it!

  3. The grouping of the polaroids by theme into blocks with different colored backgrounds makes for a truly unique quilt. I know your granddaughter will love it! I would certainly love to explore that castle. You certainly have some treasured memories from there!

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