Friday, July 24, 2009

Stitching...surely you jest

Finally, I have a few items to post related to stitching. I have worked on some gifts which I'll post later, but have some progress on a few more.

First, may I present the headless wonder? I only stitch on this at Mon. night stitching, so I'm taking forever. I need a swift kick to just finish the darn thing! Quilting by LHN

Next is Donna's RR in the Friendship Sampler....

Some bright and cheerful colors, but only two for a change instead of twenty different ones - Definitely more fun to stitch....Secret Garden 3 - HAED

I've been given this award by Wendy, Gabi, and Charlene, and been slack in saying thank you. Since I'm inspired by all of their blogs, I consider this a treasure.

I'd like to pass this award to all those in the Friendship RR with blogs.
Ann, Marian, Lisa, Kathy A., Sara, Donna, Willeke, Karin, Simone, April, Danielle, Karen, Diana.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Stage Three: London with Susan and Sally

Upon arrival in London, a tube strike was in effect. It was a comedy of errors to get from the train station to our hotel, collect our main luggage which we'd stored while in Belgium and France, and then go back to the hotel once more. Yes, there was a reason for the double trip. And good luck grabbing a taxi when employees needed to travel to and from work. Have I mentioned that I don't recommend taking large luggage on the bus with everyone else that can't take the subway? However, we made it, not without scars LOL, and new fun began.

We were with a wonderful group of stitchers with the Still Stitching with Susan tour. Hosts were Susan Greening Davis and Sally Criswell with their companion, Penny. Before we met for a nice dinner to kick off the tour, we set off to see a few sights for ourselves.

...Trafalgar Square with the double decker buses in front

Day 1 - first stop was the V & A Museum, which was unbelievable in itself - then more sights around London. In the afternoon, we visited Joyce Petschek in her lovely studio. Joyce has been a pioneer in Bargello and gave us some history and let us look around her world at both finished and unfinished stitching. Really awesome trip. Of course we were allowed to partake of stash there, but I was good. Only bought a tiny kit and her Beautiful Bargello book.

V & A Museum with it's wondrous needlework -

...Shepherd's Buss

...Blackwork embroidered skirt

...Jane Bostock sampler - 1598

...Court dress -
Wouldn't you want to wear this? Gives new meaning to the a version of "On top of Old Smoky,"
"On top of the school building, all covered with sand,
I shot my poor teacher..with a green rubber band.
I did it with pleasure; I did it with pride.
I couldn't have missed her; she's 40 feet wide."

With a dress like that, it's almost feasible. LOL
Sometimes it's scary the random things that float through my brain...

...One of the many gorgeous ironworks at V & A

Day 2 - bus ride through beautiful country to Stratford-upon-Avon to Anne Hathaway's cottage and Shakespeare's birthplace. Then a stroll throughout the quaint area was in order - very picturesque.
...Anne Hathaway's Cottage me twisted, but I do appreciate good wit, and Shakespeare was one of the best. I had to snap these stickers of his insults from plays. Click on the picture to better read them; some are hilarious. I bought one of the mugs that had some of these and more.

Saw this riding through towns - my kids are major "24" fans. It's official - it's international. :)
That night, the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre had a midnight showing of Romeo and Juliet. Several of us had a really cool dinner at a restaurant near by and then meandered our way to the theater. A little bleary-eyed the next day, but well worth it.

Day 3 - Next morning, we had stitching time with Susan and Sally and special appearances from Lorrie Birmingham and the Doll Lady, as she is known. Susan and Sally unveiled their project for us, a beautiful spot sampler to go with our notebooks. Nope, not done with it yet. We were given all sorts of lovely little surprises all throughout the trip - one of a kind charms, lap pads, little trinkets, magnets, pictures, etc.
As for the dolls, I'm not normally a doll person, but these were beautiful and had exquisite workmanship. They were completely hand-made by Polly Nassim, a retired doll-maker of forty years. There will be no more once the inventory is gone. The dolls are dressed with beautifully sewn designs based on the Georgian, Elizabethan, Regency, Victorian, etc. English periods. Most have bits and pieces of antique lace or trim on them, also. The faces are handpainted and then stitched over. I bought two of the Georgian era, as to have one for each of my girls later. Kim set up Polly with us, and we are much indebted to her.

Afterwards, some of us girls traipsed to Covent Gardens to see what it was like on the weekend - a super large, nice flea market - very cool!

Day 4 - Off to Bath with it's wonderful Bath Abbey, Roman Baths and Pump Room, and residence of Jane Austen. I absolutely love her works. I drank the waters - expected sulphur, but didn't notice a different taste, really. Along the way we also stopped at Stonehenge and Runnymeade, where the Magna Carta began. Some went to a Beefeater's banquet (medieval) that night, but I opted out.


...Bath Abbey

...Roman Baths...lovely color, hmm?!

...Jane Austen center


Day 5 - Had a special trip to Hampton Court and the Royal School of Needlework with an awesome tour. I truly wish we'd been allowed to take pictures, but they have massive WIP's they don't want revealed until unveiled in entirety. Truly magnificent works and the most impressive and beautiful Japanese raised embroidery I've ever seen. That afternoon, Kim and I had a relaxing afternoon in Kensington Park strolling and stopped to stitch for awhile on the benches. Others had taken a boat ride down the Thames. Since I'd been in London several times before, I chose not to participate in some of the traditional sight-seeing tours.

...Very small portion of Hampton Court Gardens - lovely!

...Such a graceful swan at Kensington Gardens swimming in the large fountain

Day 6 - Today's sights were the Cotswolds, the "heart of England", as they say. Stunningly beautiful countryside with the village of Bourton-on-the-Water, Chipping Campden, and Gloucester. Gloucester was just charming with it's own Beatrix Potter shop (remember the Tailor of Gloucester? - based here) and Gloucester Abbey. Beautifully crafted with 12 Green Men hidden inside and out. The afternoon was spent at Pinks Barn with Jane Greenoff. She invited us into her world and was the epitome of hospitality. I bought some stash here, I must say, and well worth it. Lovely time was had by all. Many were going to the theater that night, so off we rushed back so they could all make it.

...On the way to the Cotswolds

...Click the picture to find some of the Green men above the arch in Gloucester Abbey

...Needlepoint cushion in Gloucester Abbey - there were probably 60-70 total. This was in the priest's area and larger than the choir cushions... aren't they gorgeous? All with the same color background and different design.

...Beatrix Potter shop

...Pinks Barn - Jane Greenoff's home and shop

One of Jane Greenoff's adorable sheepdogs...

Day 7 - Spent in and around London in various places and then a wonderful farewell dinner together. While there, we were visited by the Pearlies, a dynasty of people dedicated to charity works. They all had the most elaborate suits and dresses, all hand-sewn dripping with pearl/pearlesque buttons. Some of the suits take 9 months to finish sewing and they're heavy to wear. Susan and Sally presented us with another of their little surprises. They really put so much effort into presenting us with a memorable tour. And whenever anyone was free in the evening and wanted to hang out, we went down to the couches in the massive lobby to visit and stitch. If you're wondering if you'd like to participate in one of these tours, I highly recommend it. You get so much out of it you would otherwise miss. Thanks to them both.

So if you stayed this long to see all the pictures, thanks for taking a peek into my world for that week. I'll leave you with a few more...

...Lion at Trafalgar Square

Important information painted on the busy London, literally

...Stash books from each needlework place - Jane Greenoff, RSN, and Joyce's Bargello studio

...And lastly, schoolchildren coming from an exhibition. Aren't they sweet?!

Last stop, off to Edinburgh, Scotland - aye, and a grand time it was!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Second Stage: Paris!

Back to my trip, we left Brugges, and took the train to Paris where I managed to fall asleep once again while in the Chunnel. At least I think I saw the beginning this When we arrived there, it was raining and proceeded to rain the rest of the day. But we were in off we went to tour the city with Notre Dame, Sainte Chappelle, Arc de Triomphe, etc. It was really neat to see the special veteran memorial services they were having at the Arc as we went by....

Statue outside Notre Dame that caught my eye. Click on the picture and look at the king; who does he favor to you? My first thought was the King of the Dead in Lord of the Rings #3. Funny the things we notice.....

Notre Dame Cathedral...

Above the entrance...

Rose Window in Notre Dame... then on to the Sainte Chappelle.

Stained glass in Sainte Chappelle - this was absolutely stunning. The stained glass on the second floor was from top to bottom all the way around - just unbelievable. I'd seen it years ago and forgotten how beautiful it was.

No picture of Paris is complete without the Eiffel Tower. Kim and Chris went to visit it the next day with much better weather. I've been there before so I went off to find my Paris-Etoile Harley-Davidson shop - voila - victory! Though I have to say it had one of the rudest shopgirls in it I'd met in a long time. Not much inventory in the little shop downstairs, but luckily I found what I needed. If I'd been anywhere else, I'd have walked out without buying anything, but this was the only HD shop I was going to get to in France and it was for my DH, so I bought it and left, muttering to myself the entire time. Don't bother going there, though. Find one on the outskirts of Paris - you're bound to have better luck and service. :)

This is near the entrance of the Louvre, which was closed, so I had some time before meeting my friends. I set off to find Des Fils et Une Aguille, an LNS that several people had recommended to me. After some trial and error, I found it a few blocks away from the Louvre. I wish I had taken pictures of it; it was wonderful. It had French designers I'd never seen and things to drool over; their band fabrics were beautiful. I could have spent hours in there, and I did pick up a few items. I'm a great fan of Isabelle H-Vautier and Renato Parolin; they have a collaborative book, so after looking inside, it was a must have.

There were many that caught my eye, whether by chart or model, but I bought from designers I hadn't seen here in the US. (Pics are clickable.)

Paris has many beautiful sights to see, and I couldn't possibly put them all on here. But I've always loved Hotel des Invalides which contains Napoleon's Tomb...

and more Paris in the rain....
Their metro system is fantastic - they have unusual signs along the way to point to the subway.

As we left the Paris train station.....Next stop - London. Who knew there'd by a tube strike as we're coming in to Paddington train/tube station???