Saturday, 30 August 2008

Toongi Quilt Show

I've been following other bloggers visits to quilt shows - Houston, the Festival of Quilts in England, even the Sydney Quilt Show... and have wished I could be there.
But, then again, those bloggers don't get to visit the Toongi Quilt Show, and I did!

Toongi Hall is 26km south of Dubbo in Western NSW. For any of you who watched the show Outback House on ABC TV, you may like to know that "Oxley Downs" is only a couple of kilometres away from Toongi. The hall is in the middle of paddocks, and has served as a meeting place for the surrounding farms for many years. Here are some shots of the surrounds -

And this is the hall...

A group of quilters from the area hold a quilt show every couple of years. The hall is packed with quilts, local shops and craftspeople set up stalls, and they serve absolutely delicious scones with jam and cream for morning and afternoon tea.
This is inside the hall...

And here's a closer look at some of the quilts. I love the chooks with boots! And if you need a translation of "chooks", they're chickens in the rest of the English speaking world. Chooks is a much better name for these, though...
The photo doesn't do justice to the beautiful applique on this one. It's covered in flowers and fairies.
And this is a very pretty cot quilt. The centre of each block has been embroidered.
So, I've had a lovely day with a couple of friends and can claim to have visited a quilt show that most of my blogging friends will never have the opportunity to see (grin).

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Memories of Japan

The walls of the kitchen / dining area have finally been painted, so I'm going through the process of working out what's going back up on the walls, what is being added, and what is going to be put away.

One of the pieces that's definitely going back up is this quilt which I made after my trip to Japan about 10 years ago to visit my son while he was living there. It holds memories of the time I spent with him in Matsue, a fairly small town on the west coast, where he was teaching English in a junior high school and I spent days exploring the town and the outskirts of it. I caused a minor sensation almost everywhere I went, as a middleaged non-Japanese woman whizzing along on the bike he had borrowed for me! I loved exploring the local shops and this quilt contains some of my finds - the traditional indigo fabrics, the fish motifs and the samurai helmet motif all made from fabric. The kimono are a reminder of the night spent at his supervisor's house where we were treated to a wonderful traditional dinner. The supervisor's wife explained to me that she was currently training to be a "dresser" at weddings. The traditional wedding kimonos consist of a number of layers, which all need to sit "just right" on the body, and the tying of the obi is an art in itself. She suggested that she could dress me in some kimonos, so that she could practise and we could get some photos. It resulted in quite a bit of hilarity - and some photos of me looking extremely fat - as we put the kimonos on over the clothes I was already wearing!

Torben (my son) and I then spent two weeks backpacking, travelling by a mix of bullet train and local transport, and staying in ryokan (the Japanese equivalents of B&Bs). So the quilt contains new and secondhand fabrics (silks and cottons) found in places such as Kyoto, Nagasaki and Hagi. It was springtime, and the cherry blossom was at its height, especially in Kyoto where an afternoon spent following the Philosopher's Path beside the canal and under the blossoming trees is a vivid and favourite memory.

This quilt has used only a fraction of the fabrics I found - it's amazing how much can be stuffed into a backpack that already looks full to bursting! One day I'll use some more of it...

Friday, 8 August 2008

Get Ready, Get Set...

The bride approved! So, the baskets are now finished along with the two garters (one to keep, one to throw) and my part of the wedding is all done. Ben (my husband) is still slaving away over the montage of still photos that they have requested for the start of their wedding video. The photos are of the bride and groom growing up in different parts of the world and he's matching them so that each set of photos shows them doing similar things. He's doing a great job, and I'm sure that they'll be thrilled with it.
As for me, I'm just so glad that I bought this gorgeous ribbon edged with hearts when I spotted it in Sydney a couple of months ago. I had a few minutes after a meeting and before I had to dash to the airport to catch my plane home. So, I went into Kinokuniya bookshop to have a browse. Kinokuniya, the Sydney outlet of a Japanese chain of bookshops is one of my favourite Sydney CBD shops. It and David Jones Food Hall call a siren song to me every time! This ribbon was waiting for me in the stationery section and I just couldn't resist it. I thought I was going to use it to wrap the wedding gift, but it proved ideal for both the garters and the baskets.
I had a lovely time making these - I had a hard time stopping, and the top edge of the organza on the baskets has been beaded as well, and I really like the organza ribbon roses on the sides.