Sunday, October 31, 2010

a quote for Sunday or any day

'the primary benefit of practising art, whether well or badly, is that it enables one's soul to grow' - Kurt Vonnegut

so true and sometimes badly means you can be forgiven for playing and experimenting and ending up with things which don't look so good. I am still pottering along with my kunin felt - this time I used black puff on black felt through the pebble stencil and swept paint over the surface before I heated it - I am trying for the fragmented distressed look and I guess I will only improve with practice.

I have also been pottering around with sari ribbon but that will come soon. Not much to show there as yet. The weekend has been full of lots of winding and more sorting and stuff and behind the scenes type jobs.

The rugby last night was exciting and the Wallabies deserved their win - hopefully a wake-up call for the ABs as it broke their unbeatable streak. I was not one who thought the choice of Stephen Donald to be a good choice and I would have much rather seen Aarron Cruden or Colin Slade being there but then who am I but a mere mortal.

This morning we went to Veritas for breakfast - Veritas has been bought by the Barolo boys and Alan was as bouncy as always - lovely breakfast though. Amazing how a change of chairs and mirrors and fresh flowers and colour can make such a difference.

And thanks for the emails about my hair - I am much happier again now it is its 'real' colour again. I once was blonde.....

Friday, October 29, 2010

At the end of a busy busy week

we are sitting down enjoying a well earned glass of red wine. I did sneak off yesterday to be re-fucshied - this silly pic I took with my phone is for all the lovely people in London who were concerned that my colour had vanished. Well it's back again. Even better - a lovely girl I got lunch from yesterday afterwards told me I looked 10 years younger - goodness knows how old she thought I looked beforehand!!! That's all my cook books behind me - and I do cook from most of them and read them often.

All Blacks play tomorrow in Hong Kong....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Still busy today - the boxes arrived from London with a few returning goodies but mostly lots of new excitements which I just had to find. At least the boxes are now all empty and everything is away. Lots of new goodies to appear on the website in the next week or so. This is the first of our new J'aime series - these are hand painted merino wool in sets - excellent for tiny knitting and stitching and wrapping and whatever. The winding machine decided to break while I was using it - I haven't told Ian yet - he was busy putting a panel back in the sunroom whihc fell off while we were away.

and these are some of the new felt trios - wool and viscose all hand dyed. Absolutely glorious - we haven't got the full colour range yet but it shouldn't be too long.

I was interested in the comments on the knitted skeleton - it didn't appeal to me either but I could appreciate the work involved. I shan't be attempting it - sorry Bruce.... you won't get your own- you wil have to knit it yourself.

Almost up to date with the orders and apologies to those qhose parcels haven't quite left - they will tomorrow. then I shall get stuck into the POMs (product of the months) - there are plenty to keep me busy.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Creative Play today? - not much at all

I did get to play with kunin felt a little more but will show you tomorrow - in the meantime we are being inundated with parcels and shipments including this lovely new book by Janet Edmonds - I have been waiting for it to arrive and I know quite a few other people have been too. I am going to sit and read it when I have finished my salad preparation for the bbq and while Ian cooks the bbq - very warm day here in Perth today - I fear we are in for a long hot dry summer and it isn't even summer.

Then we got a huge shipment of these texture stamps - there are 2 in each pack and 18 different sets. I want to use them with puff on kunin but I only got as far as selecting 1 for me. I chose a words one because I have a wee plan for a tiny section in one of the Holey Moley workshops next year.

Today I got the Quilt Scenes all packaged to send - Ian is about to load it on the website - one of Jenny Bowker's quilts is inside (I mean the picture of ) which is a bonus. I think there are a fewcopies left if anyone wants one,. The dollar means we have been able to make them $18.50 including postage instead of $22 which we had advertised on the web. As soon as I had cleared the decks of those, the latest CPS turned up. Harry from UPS just laughed when he saw my face and said it was punishment for going on holiday when he had to work....  We will get them out tomorrow - not that we have anything like caught up yet but I know you are all lovely and patient and we are going as fast as we can. Ian can almost see the floor by his computer but he doesn't realise i have quite a few more orders to deposit there tomorrow.

Gilding the Lily on-line workshop started today and Ratty Tatty Papers tomorrow. I will be back with more kunin felt fun. The boxes of stuff from London arrive tomorrow. More excitement.

WOW - Bruce just sent me this - go check it out

Monday, October 25, 2010

always find a moment or two to play

It's important for the soul to play - Julia Caprara said once that if she didn't play (I think she said create actually) then she felt unwell - I agree with her. Even though we are flat out not that we mind - we would be unhappy if we were sitting around doing nothing - I like to pop off and do something creative and today I am playing with kunin felt, puff paint, paint and embossing powders. There is a reason for this but all will be revealed before too long. I stencilled black puff paint through a stencil and sprinkled some embossing powder over the top in places and heated it gently with my heat gun. Then I painted it with silver metallic paint and heated it again - the kunin starts to break up which is great. I am using Opulent paints made in Australia - yes Kraftkolour after the fires has got the Opulent range up and running again and my order is on its way to me right now. I love these paints but I have been pretty quiet about them because we have only had a few in stock. I love the fact that they are made in Australia as well as the glass jars they come in and of course the wonderful colours and richness of pigment. I have tried a couple of other brands recently when I was away and the comparison was nilch. Next I will stitch on the kunin felt first but time was not totally on my side.

CPS gifts arrived today first thing so they have almost all been sent out (I think there are 2 left) - International Quilt Scene arrived this afternoon so they will go tomorrow. All the other orders are working down. Loads of Versa Tools going to their new homes in big red bags. Gilding the Lily starts tomorrow and Ratty Tatty Papers on Wednesday - I wrote about it on facebook but I lost that post - looks like I have more to learn. Facebook is quite involved really but I am learning. Anyway I think this is the last time I will run these two workshops - I am working on the next stage embellisher one and also The Holey Moley Club for 2011.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

a lazy Sunday

Well lazy in that we weren't out walking the streets of Madrid. We had a wee sleep in except that someone rang very early with an order and a couple wanted to come and buy stuff. But the suitcases are all empty and away, the house is still clean and we have inspected the garden but not cleaned up yet. Sadly we have lost nearly all the kangaroo paws but the garden design for the back area outside my studio window is in the mail which will be exciting and when the landscape guy comes to plant it all he will bring new paws and we will close our eyes and pay him money and then we will water water water for absolutely ages.... Then we went up the road for breakfast and lunch - Ian had breakfast and I had lunch.

Above is the scarf I knitted on the plane coming home. It is sari ribbon in one of the colours we should have soon. I have ordered in a whole load of shaded colours.This is one skein knitted up on 15mm needles.

I didn't read a lot of books while we were away - a couple of Stuart McBride - most enjoyable and lastly I read Sebastian Faulks - A Week in December. I found it fantastic. We have enjoyed all of his books.

About half the orders are ready for Ian to action but I have spent a lot of time pottering around our new facebook site for The Thread Studio. Baby steps but I can see it has potential. Lovely to see so many people already there and it's not even a day old.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

We Are Back

Yes folks - we are back from our trip - not an upgrade to be seen - planes were very full - but like having a baby, you forget the pain afterwards. We have unpacked our cases, put most things away, the washing is on, the orders are all printed and in the orders basket for starting on tomorrow and tomorrow we will clean our garden which doesn't look too bad.

Trofie for those who asked - is a pasta - I have had it at a couple of places but at Riccardos it is the best - mine came with sort of crayfish in a red sauce and was very tasty. I think it is the third time I have had it there so next year I should change?

The Cloth Paper Scissors Gifts and International Quilt Scene will both be here on Monday so we will get these out to all the people on the lists and because we have had so many requests I am ordering in some more QA Gifts and also Stitch magazine from Interweave. Let me know if you want either.

Our boxes from London should be here on Tuesday or Wednesday I hope - lots of exciting goodies inside to open. I can see it will be a busy week for us both. I have loads of new ideas in my very full notebook and busting to get to my studio to try out a pile of things. As a reward for enduring economy once again for a long and medium haul we are off to Barolo for dinner - the cupboards are bare.....

ps you may have noticed that I have finally created The Thread Studio facebook - I have thought about it for a long time - I like to keep my blog for personal stuff including the creative stuff I do so I have decided that facebook will be for promotions and special stuff. Do go visit and sign up to be a fan (whatever that means) - you will notice I haven't written much yet but that's not bad considering I have only just arrived home....

Friday, October 22, 2010

a day in London to finish off with

Today wasn't anything really exciting - we had to go visit a supplier of ours and have a ride in his new sportscar and a cup of coffee and a chat and come away with boxes of goodies - we aways enjoy visiting him and he collects us from the station and takes us back. Today though was more of an adventure because the underground had parts closed so we visited new stations and drove on different lines.

Then we went to Annette and Terry's to collect our big suitcase and just around the corner from Chancery lane we decided to visit this pub dated 1602 or similar, for lunch.

A very Pommie lunch I think - chicken and ham pie with potato mash and a half a pint of beer. Very nice indeed. I forgot to photograph any of the yummy food in Madrid. It amazes me that people want to stand outside in the freezing cold drinking beer.

Tonight we are off to Riccardos in Fulham Road - they make the best troffie.
We are staying in a nice hotel and have an upgrade room which is nice and big - but in the basement - not sure I want to be a miner - no windows......

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Days 6 and 7 in Madrid

Monday in our part of Madrid was so quiet especially after the bustle and hustle of Sunday where I am sure every single person in Madrid was out and about. In the morning, remembering that morning is late here (!) we went to Plaza De Oriente and to the royal palace - Palacio Real - where we enjoyed the gardens and the sunshine.

While we were there we saw the horses arrive and be unloaded and getting ready for something - no idea what and we could only look through the gate.

We wondered were they went because by the time we gt back up to the top they had disappeared but when we wandered back to our apartment, there they were in the Plaza De Ville all lined up with the band and rolled out carpets and a lot of ho ha so we waited to see what was causing the traffic dramas etc and along came the President of Mozambique - as a band member told us - 1 hour for 1 minute....

At night we went to Algarabia (La Rioja) Restaurant - opens at 9.30pm - for dinner.  This lovely restaurant is all about the food and wine from the north - the chef chatted to us which added to the enjoyment- one of the highlights was the grilled asparagus in a fine pastry.

Tuesday we didn't take any photos but we spent a long time exploring the art at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza - one of the largest (possibly the largest) private art collection in the world now owned by Spain- set out in chronological order and we enjoyed seeing the development and changes in art as we strolled around. It is tiring to see the entire collection and you always skip some things - be so much better to pop in from time to time.

To finish our lovely week off we went to la pizarra for dinner - This was where we had lunch on Sunday and Ian wanted to try the pisto in real with the fried egg on top and I wanted to revisit the salad with goats cheese - both were yummy indeed. What we love about these sorts of restaurants and why we go to Cantina and Borelo in Perth is because the food is wonderful, the staff and fabulous and they care passionately about what they do. At la pizarra, our waiter from Sunday was the chef last night and he came out to chat to us, the waitress was so friendly and helpful and suggested she talk to us in Spanish (our brains would have been sore) and the owner, who is obviously very passionate about it all, talked to us as well. If you come to Madrid we would say - go there - just off the Calle Mayor.

So - it's farewell from us in Madrid and yes Doreen - you can relax - Ian has his beanie on. I hope you have enjoyed our little sojourn. Today we are off back to London, a very busy day tomorrow and then back to Perth on Friday. Ever hopeful of an upgrade. On Saturday we will be home and back to work - lots of orders so we will be busy- hopefully I have answered every email which has appeared in the in box -  in London I will reading emails etc but not blog. When we are back I will have some real photos as Ian has taken a few with his camera.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Day 5 in Madrid

On Sunday we walked and walked and walked. In the morning we went to El Rastro- the biggest flea market in Europe - loads of stuff you wouldn't want but they say you will always find something - the crowds were huge and the market stretched over an enormous area. Not just tourists either.
This is when we came in and we were fascinated with what was happening in this square - discovered they were trading cards - now that IS a long time ago.El Rastro means 'the stain' and apparently that was where Madrid's main meat market was and the name refers to te trail of blood left behind by animals dragged down the hill.
This lady aka the organ grinder was doing a roaring trade and had to keep stopping to clean out her money bowl and transfer her loot to her purse.

Very hard to get through the crowds - if you look you can see the crowds right up  the top of this street.
A matter of pushing and shoving a bit but in the midst of it I did find a lovely little stall and I  didbuy a few bargains - 6 pairs of socks for 6 euros for  one thing.
It was not so much the product which I saw later but the clever packaging and the other gorgeous goodies this girl had - velvet handbags and little bracelets etc - it was a pleasure to look at all the goodies and they were very very busy.

After all that congestion we had lunch at La Pizarra near our apartment which was delightful - the waiter was so very helpful - we had ensalada with goats cheese which I shall have to make back home and an omelette and e brought us a pisto to try.

Then we went off to explore the Museo Del Prado to find entry is free from 5 to 8pm so we lay on the grass along with a few thousand others and enjoyed the sunshine. At 5pm I have never seen such a long queue and we didn't get in until nearly 6pm. Well worth the visit though - got to see some fabulous art including Velazquez and Goya - the paintings you have only ever seen in books come to life.

Off for more explore today.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Day 4 in Madrid

Saturday we went to Toledo on the train. On the way to the station we passed this statue - not sure of its title but very striking. The whole works goes right around and looks like some sort of solidarity

Atocha Station, where we caught the train, is an irn and glass relic from the 19th century - with wonderful exotic plants and a huge turtle colony.
and here is Ian shopping - ha ha....
A couple of shots of Toledo - a very old walled city - we caught the tourist bus which drove us around and left us in the centre. Lots of tourists - I would hate to be there in the summer. You will have to turn your head or your computer on its side to see these next 2pics - I cannot turn them around in my eepc sorry.
finally - the train station at Toledo - pretty spectacular for a train station. The trains were all full - they must run even more in the summer.
more adventures later - I have managed to get a day behind.

Thanks for all the lovely emails about Max - we appreciate it. Max was Ian's big brother - apparently Ian is now the godfather of the family - yikes...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Day 3 in Madrid

Most of the morning of day 3 was spent coming and going to the internet place off Calle Huertas. Because we are flying back to London with Mr O'Leary - aka Ryan Air - we have to have printed out boarding passes and check in on-line. Without the paper stuff we would have to pay an extra 30pounds each. We saw an internet cafe telling u to print our boarding passes so off we went to discover you have to fill in all the necessary trivia such as passport expiry date. Now I have a head storagae spot where I keep loads of trivia but Ian wasn't sure I was right so back we came to check. Of course I was right.At least Calle Huertas is a wonderful street to wander up and down - old Madrid is packed with little streets like this.

Next to show my felted and stitched piece - for all the stuff I have out on the table it is  just as well I have something to show. I am doing some drawing each day - this is a discipline really even though some people make it seem so easy.
I am having fun with the couronne stick - we sold all we took to Ally Pally although I think there are a few at home still. Certainly sold all the flower stitchers we took and all of my books. I was rather flattered that the Embroiderers' Guild Bookshop had them both as featured books on their stand. Nearly finished the next one. I am going to make the above into a book cover. Don't you love the hand dyed felt the piece sits on? These will be arriving about the same time as us - new Felt Trios - really yummy.

After our trivial morning (well it starts late here), we went to a Trattoria where the staff were wonderful and the food the same. We had a special lunch for Max - with toasts to him and Kazuko and Bruce as, like us, they couldn't be in Reefton on Friday. Vale Max and rest in peace. You drew the short straw and it really wasn't fair. We will be in Reefton later on to see everyone. So pleased we were able to see Max in August when we went to Okarito and to talk to him before we went to London. Life is difficult at times.

Then at 10pm we went to a Flamenco show for which we hadno preconceived ideas. Smokey, grubby packed venue (luckily there was a fire extinguisher hanging on the wall next to our table)- we rather enjoyed it. It seems that whoever sings loudest and stamps the most, wins. The young girl was brilliant - the energy and passion enormous. I am sure she sleeps well every night. These are my new red shoes - what do you think? couldn't resist....

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Day 2 in Madrid

We are starting to get into the hang of things here in Madrid - sleep in late - lunch around 3 - 4pm and dinner around 10pm (that's when most of the good folk of Perth are in bed but do note that it is still nice and light at 8pm here in Autumn). We are staying in Calle Mayor which is pretty well in the heart of Old Madrid and we are so impressed with how clean the city is - no rubbish anywhere - the streets are so clean - not like Paris or London for sure. This is the Plaza Mayor - it is so clean - they hose it out at 3am every morning - I could hear what I thought was rain in the middle of the night. it s full of people wandering, sitting, eating, entertainment etc all the time. first laid out in 1619, it has been used for many different purposes from burnings at the stake to public hangings to bullfights (up to 50,000 people would cram in) to now a place of beauty really. There are sme wonderful frescoes on one section.
We have been doing a lot of walking - well wandering - it is easy to get around on foot and there are little laneways everywhere. We went to the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia mainly to see Picasso's Guernica which was much bigger than I though it would be. There are also lots of his studies leading up to the painting. It is a very powerful painting and we are bursting to read more about the Spanish Civil War but that will to wait as all the books I found are in Spanish and since we now only know about 3 words.... One thing though - man never learns from history.

Just behind our apartment building is the Mercado de San Miguel - the last surviving example in the capital of a marketplace constructed from iron. It is extremely popular as a market where you can but a glass of wine and various tapas and enjoy yourself. We went about 9.30pm and it was heaving. You can but fresh fish, fruit and vegetables and flowers to take away but also a great little array of tapas and desserts of course. And coffee too... The Canadian couple from Toronto we met on our 11 hour bus trip asked why they didn't have something like that in Toronto - I think it would be fabulous anywhere.

Our knees and tired legs from sitting on the bus have finally recovered and we are so much enjoying walking around and the general ambience of Madrid. More excitements to come. up in our apartment late at night it is great to sit and watch the world go by.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day 1 in Madrid

Still resting our weary legs from sitting on plane, standing at show and definitely distorted on bus, we had a relaxing, recovery day yesterday. First we hopped in the lift at our apartment - about the size of a triangle - some clever manufacturing here - just enough room for we 2 and 2 skinny people or even 3....

Then we took the easy option and hopped on  the tourist bus, sat upstairs and nodded off in the sun. But it was good for catching our bearings.

After that we had a spot of lunch at Plaza Mayor which is very close to us. No bullfights, executions or trials of the inquisition these days - just Ian fnishing his glass of red.

I have taken over the table with my stuff but the view is wonderful from our window on the 6th floor and inspiring to work. My couronne stick has been in operation and some felting underway.

Today we are off to see Picasso and more.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

an adventure

What could this be you wonder? So did we. After spending months organising a sleeper train from Paris to Madrid, we caught the train from London to Paris and rocked up at the Austerlitz train station to see not a mention of said train. When Ian finally asked he was told no train to Madrid and we went into a semi state of shock thinking we had been done when we bought the tickets on line. We didn't even think about what next? No explanations - no apologies but somehow 4 buses appeared and we had a long 10 hour trip to the border.
This sign on the bus door which reads Irin was the most info we actually received. On the way we stopped a couple of times at what we would call roadhouses and I know people complain  about aussie roadhouses but they have nothing on these places. Fortunately I have a bit of foresight to buy 2 rolls at the station before we hopped on the bus. The buses managed to get lost but they finally dropped us off to catch a train to Madrid and we arrived early afternoon desperate for a shower at least. Much harder for those who are passing through etc and we chatted to a coupleon their honeymoon - they won't forget the night!

Anyway we are now in our lovely apartment in old Madrid - on the 6th floor and this is the lounge looking out onto a great vista. Slept well last night after tapas and Rioja.
One of the toilets is very Morroccan and I have claimed it as my own. Stain glass window and a a tiny hand basin. Now that we have sorted out how to turn the elements on we have had our coffee and done the washing and we are off to explore.

Ally Pally was wonderful as always - our stand looked glorious with all of its colour. We only ever have  a tiny stand and it always seems strange without all of our stuff but much of what we had certainly has gone to new homes.
It was fabulous to catch up with our friends and enjoy meals out etc - Annette and Terry came on Sunday night - they took our big suitcase away to store until we get back. Very difficult to do the internet in Muswell Hill but we are back to normal now and I have answered all the emails and cleared the decks.
Off to explore today but after a second cup of coffee.

I have found quite a few new goodies which I am very pleased with - see what we see here.....


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