Travel Feed

I pressed the little send button

I have been debating with myself about taking a trip to South America later on this year.  I have had a few health problems, which seem to be under control but I worry about leaving my husband.  He has had the serious health problems.  But I might not get this chance again, so I have sent off my reservation request to travel to Guatemala latter in the year.  This is a trip with my friend Pam and you can read all about it on her blog here.

The colours that shine from Pam's photo's just call to me.  I want to see the embroidery.

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(image from I am Pam Holland)

The weaving,  which I have admired for ages..

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(image from I am Pam Holland)

I used to be an intrepid traveler but over the past few years haven't been anywhere very much.  A broken arm and foot being the main reason.  So I have committed to hitting the road again.  My great aunt rode a camel around the pyramids  to celebrate her 80th birthday and although I'm not nearly that age I did so admire her spirit.  Maybe this will be the first of many trips.


The world and travel

This is  going to be my travel year, or, I hope it is going to be my travel year.  With everything that is happening in the USA what the year will bring is very uncertain and I, like many others, watch unfolding events  there with dismay.  If sane heads prevail, my plans for the year are , Sydney in June to see my family, then onto Japan in August, followed by Huston USA in Oct./Nov for the International Quilt Festival.  Then on to Guatemala in South America.

You might ask why Guatemala?  Well friend Pam is taking a group there and I plan to join them.  I had been tossing the idea around for a while and then I received this wonderful gift from her.

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This is a 'Huipil ' which comes from Guatemala.  It is a vintage piece from the highlands around Lake Atitlan.  The Mayan women usually wear their traje (traditional dress), which consists of a huipol (blouse), corte, (skirt) and Faja (belt).  These designs date back to before the Spanish Invasion.  in the 1600's.

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I am surprised by just how heavy the fabric is. The blouse is made of two pieces of fabric, woven on a back strap loom and then joined with embroidery across the centre to achieve the width needed to make a garment.

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 The embroidery design in then transferred onto the fabric and stitched.

Back of stitching.  You can see how the neck has been scalloped and then faced.

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Front of stitching.

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Close up of stitching.

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I love this piece and would also like to buy one with the bird embroidery on it.

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You can see lots of other examples here.




Finally, the shopping

I wandered off to get back to the main square and finally found a bench where I could sit and consult Google on my phone about fabric shops in the CBD. I found a reference to a group of shops in an arcade and as luck would have it I was sitting just across the road from it.

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After climbing the stairs up to the second floor I found L’ucello’s fancy goods and Haberdashary. It is a beautiful little shop.

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I was perspiring so profusely that I didn’t want to touch the fabrics but I was able to buy some lovely pieces and they had a wonderful selection of pure wool felt, I bought quite a colour range of these. Up the hall I found the Kimono shop but I had all the Japanese fabrics that I need so just had a look here.

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By now it was 4:30pm so I walked to the tram stop and after a bit of a wait got a very crowded tram back to near the apartment. That last bit of walking back was terrible. I got into the apartment to find my daughter had given up the heat long before me. We sat and had a glass of wine and a rest before heading out for dinner.

As this was our last night we wanted to try one of the bars and found a very busy one next to the Princess Theatre. It was full of exotic looking creatures both male and female and we made out way to the back of the bar that was air conditioned. (I’m past sitting in the heat to be seen.) We had a pleasant meal and a few drinks and then headed home again. Gee it was good to be cool.

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It came to our last day in Melbourne and finally the sun came up blazing into the sky. It lit all the windows in the sky scrapers with fire but I was just too tired to get out of bed to get my camera so this will just be a memory that I will carry with me in my mind.

We are finally getting the lie of the city and where everything is. Now it was me to leave, wouldn’t you know? I had a final wander around, went into a shop, come out and was completely lost. I had to ask the direction I was facing. After feeling rather stupid I made it back to where I said I would meet my daughter. This is one time I was glad that I am so pedantic, as I was nearly late, thinking I was early. I must have caught the time setter on my watch and wound it back.

We got a taxi to the airport with plenty of time. I was interested to see that some of the planes had figureheads painted on them. I wonder if these will be cut off and kept like the old see ones.

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We drove the 2 hours home and there was my island waiting for me.  No noise, just the birds, wind and sea.  Now it is time to get back to stitching.

Still shopping, and other things (Continued)

Returning to my time in Melbourne.

By this time it was getting very hot, and I live in the heat, but this was a dry scorching type of heat that burns your lungs every time you take a breath. Non of the trams I was on were  air conditioned and the windows did not open, so I was glad to get off at Fitzroy Gardens. I thought a walk through the park amongst all the trees would cool me down. It didn’t.

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Fitz 4

I was headed for the St. Mary MacKillop heritage centre.  This is housed in a beautiful old victorian era house. It was air conditioned inside but I was finding the heat very distressing by this time. After all the walking my heart rate was up too high and I find it difficult to control my body temperature.

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The house is a peaceful and inspirational space. At the back of the shop there was a gallery, an open space with a wall of glass looking out onto a secluded square. I sat there in the cool and recovered. It is a restful, contemplative place and I was able to recover my equilibrium before venturing out into the heat again.

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Mary Mac Killop was an inspirational person.  She let nothing get in the way of what she thought was right and if she saw a need she acted to fullfil it.  In 1871 she was excommunicated but after a visit to Rome this was reversed.  I have often wondered why this happened and searching the records it reveals that she had a pedophile priest removed and returned to Ireland.  This brought retribution down on her and her sisters. The order was disbanded and the sisters put out on the street.   With all the controversy that is in our courts, all over the world today, it is good to know that there were members of the church who stood up against this behaviour, no matter what the cost.  

After leaving here I had to walk and again that heat was a problem and I didn’t have a hat either. It was just too hot to try and walk all the way back to the apartment in the middle of the day so I got on a city circle tram to go back to the shopping district. On the way I noticed an alley full of graffetti so hopped off the tram to take some photos.

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The graffetti just didn’t have that cutting edge of social comment that I had remembered from the past but there were some interesting bits.

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There were only two pieces that commented on social issues.

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Every church in the city had banners and notice boards that welcomed refugees.  In some churches there were stalls with food and clothing and offers of legal help.   This is one thing that marks Melbourne as being different from other Australian Cities, it's commitment to social justice.




Melbourne - More shopping

It was SO hot, 39 degrees C and there was a hot dry wind blowing all the time on some days while we were in Melbourne. I was never so thankful for the air conditioning. But it came to my last shopping day and I needed to buy fabric to take back as travelers squares for my quilting friends. I had been searching the internet for days looking for shops that were in traveling distance from the city. That is, I could get there by tram.

But first we wanted to see the Chinese Museum. It is just down the road from the apartment and every other time we had been there it had been closed.

You enter via a narrow alley and

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It is in an old building that rambles over 4 floors.

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There was an exhibition about the gold rush days, some info on Nth Q’d and some interesting artifacts. I loved this old embroidered costume, and the dragons. The embroidery on the costume was beautiful but hard to photograph.  It was mostly couching of gold threads and the needlework was perfection.

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Each of the scales on the dragons were perfect.



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Most of the immigrants came from southern China and this is where they returned when their old dragon needed to be replaced.

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The problem was that in the interveening  time the cultural revolution had taken place and no one knew how to make dragons anymore. They finally found the son of the dragon maker who said he would try to make it although it was over 30 years since one had been made. They sent lots of photos of their original dragon and finally a new one was shipped off. It is only awakened at Chinese New Year and for the Momba Festival.

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Here my daughter and I parted ways. She to do some shopping and me to my patchwork shop.I had finally settled on “Hatched and Patched” which was about a half hour away by tram. I got a tram to the central city and then changed onto another tram for the journey. When I got there I found the shop had been taken over by an “Ethical Grocer”. So I turned around and waited for another tram back to the city. Somehow I had a feeling that finding a fabric shop was a doomed enterprise.



Melbourne - Japanese design

One place I was determined to visit during my time in Melbourne was Zazari + ziguzagu.
This establishment has antique Japanese and Chinese Furniture and art with some African pieces as well. As soon as I entered I wanted to buy everything but I kept my eyes focused on the textiles at the back of the store.  On the way back there I did notice this bronze  hare and

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this  antique sewing box.  These boxes were over $500 each, so I kept walking.

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Beautiful antique textiles. Silks, Cotton, Hemp. I choose some antique indigo hemp and mosquito cloth to do some Kogin stitching on. I bought my daughter an African necklace and my grand children some small  antique dolls.

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Then, right at the back of the shop, under other fabrics I spotted some Boro pieces. Again I wanted them all but settled on a short jacket.

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It is worn and patched.

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It has been Sashiko stitched to attach the patching fabrics,

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Some of the seams are coming apart but this gives one a insight into how they were stitched together.

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On the wrist band of one of the sleeves there is a small metal tab from a pair of Japanese sox that are worn with thongs. From the inscription on this it would appear that this is well over 100 years old.

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I think the jacket was probably pre 1950 but I couldn’t be sure of it’s exact age. Now it is my treasure and I intend to hang it in my new bedroom.  Good thing this shop is in Melbourne and not in Brisbane. I would be very poor otherwise.  But there is still the temptation of the online shop.  Oh dear.

Melbourne - 200 years of Fashion Exhibition

This exhibition has thrown up a whole lot of research that I have to do. The pieces in the exhibition were lovely. They were beautifully displayed and there were parts of the exhibition, those that coincided with the time I was a Buyer, that brought back some great memories. I was instantly able to name the designers of each work in this era without even looking at the labels.   Unfortunately I don't have a lot of images as they are on my daughters camera.  So I will put up what I have here and post the others at a later date.

This is a knitted piece designed by Jenny Kee in the 1970's.  I was interested to see that the actual knitting was done by a Danish knitter. I often wondered who would have had to skills in Australia to do it here back then. 

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She even had leggings made which was very new.  This kind of colour work has come back into vogue today.


There were a number of old dresses from the 1800's.  It is sobering to think that Melbourne back then was one ot the richest cities in the world due to the amount of gold that had been found.

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I love the detailing on this bodice.  I suspect that the actual embroidery was done in France.  It looks like silk tambour work that is still done there.


When it came to the current designers represented my daughter was surprised that these were peoples who's clothes were in my wardrobe.  Some pieces by Katie Pye, that I hadn't worn, I have given to her.  I think she was going to use the material for something else but as they still have all the sales labels on them I could see her reconsidering.   Katie painted a lot of her abstract designs directly onto the fabric.  I have always liked her work.

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The other designer based in Brisbane who I buy from is Eastern & Pearson. I have been following them before they were discovered by the French fashion scene.

AstTheir attention to detail really sets them apart.  Every garment is made from lovely fabrics and their attention to detail results in a beautifully finished  

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East detail

What made me very uncomfortable about the exhibition was the inaccuracy of the information presented. I have come across this before when it comes to Fashion exhibits. I believe that Galleries and Museums have a responsibility to present ‘accurate’ information in their guides. They produce beautiful publications to accompany the exhibition and some times the information included just isn’t accurate. Yet these works go on to become a reference.

So this is the research that I have to undertake. It will include the years in which I was actively involved in the industry and will detail the work that I was personally involved in and the people I worked with. This shouldn’t be too difficult as most of the memorable fashion events made front page news in the Sydney Newspapers and was reported on in the local woman’s magazines. It was also written about in the trade journals. My boss at the time was a man named Phillip Jordon. He was an associate director of the company and his work predated those presented as “the first” in the exhibition by almost 20 years in some instances.  I was quite angry at first that he was given no recognition for his work. But who knew about it?   Most of those men intimately involved died in the AIDS epidemic and being single men didn’t have families to relate their stories.

So yet another quest is added to my list.


I got up early this morning to do some photography but the sun was still asleep. It is usually bright by this time at home. I am wondering if the sun will come up with a rush? No it kind of just slid into sight. It was grey and overcast and no good for photos anyway.

We went to visit a friend of my daughters who lives in an inner suburb of Melbourne. We negotiated the trams and arrived 10 minutes before the time we had set. She lives in an old house and has a productive vegetable garden. It is the end of summer and the garden is now on the point of going to seed, still it has a ramshackle beauty about it.

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Zweet pea

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And then here is another balcony I can see from my window.  I think these flamingos would really like to be inside.



Melbourne 2

On the first day we headed out to get breakfast. Google Earth was consulted and there seemed to be a number of places to eat nearby. But we decided to wander and see where the whim took up. We passed through the main area

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which had been yarn bombed.  When traveling in the tram I noticed another area that had been 'lace bombed'.

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I have been to Melbourne numerous times in the past. Back in the ’70’s I would fly down or sometimes come by rail, on buying trips for the company I worked for. In those days Melbourne was where all the fashion manufacturers’ were based. It was always hectic running from one show room to the next. All those places seem to have been relocated. Then, when I was teaching I would come to Conferences where I would present papers I had written, that was stressful but it was also interesting to talk to other people in my field. So, I thought that I knew my way around the city, but, it must be about 8 or 9 years since I was last here and things have changed. The most noticeable being the increase of people on the street. There are lots more people. Some are tourists but most are residents.


I remembered the old alley ways that used to wriggle between the buildings and went in search of these. Before you could stroll through them at a leisurely pace. There were a few coffee shops and lots of graffetti.


Now they are a hum of activity. You have to line up to get into the good places. There has been an influx of Asian and Middle Eastern businesses and these just add to the colour of the place. This is reflected in the food with bread rolls and rice wrapped fillings on sale at the same establishment.

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And what about all these soups.

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I love that these old apartment buildings are full of people again.


There were always a lot of arcades but again they were rather sedate.


Now they are alive with people and some of the most interesting shops. I love the Dr. Suess art gallery

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and this tea room was very popular.


Just look at the cakes!

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By the time we had finished lunch the noise was really getting to me so we headed for Fitzroy Gardens. I have an old photograph of my Mother and Father standing outside “Captain Cook’s (father’s) Cottage”. I think this must have been taken in the 1940’s when my father was still working for the airforce.

Mum & dad

There were a number of weddings taking place in the park and we walked to the cottage. On the way I noticed that most of the trees were collared.

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Last visit these trees were alive with possums, they were everywhere. Looks like the problem got worse and this is the solution .

I have been to the cottage before and love it’s simple charm.

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It is the first time that Laura has been here and I saw the camera working flat out.

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By this time it was after 4pm and I had been walking since 8am. My feet and legs were telling me I had to take a rest, I BADLY needed to rest. We walked for a half hour back to the apartment, bought some food at the small shop next door and then I just fell into bed.
I’m not as young as I used to be.


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On the way here we drove and picked up my daughter and her dog.  She was coming with me and Chester was going to the island.  We managed the traffic without too many delays and booked in at the airport with plenty of time to have dinner before the flight.  The first thing I noticed was the noise.  All I hear are birds, the wind and the waves on the island now there were loud speakers, people trying to be heard over the hub bub and all other kinds of background noise.


We had an uneventful flight down to Melbourne but as they have day light saving found that we had lost an hour during the flight.  This meant that we missed our shuttle bus because it had left an hour earlier.  So we got a taxi to our accommodation, which cost $70 !!  I went to pay with my credit card, which my husband has assured me had plenty of money on it, only to have it rejected. Not a good start.  Good thing I had got some cash.  The same thing happened at the hotel, credit card rejected.  Before we left Brisbane I had transferred some money onto my Debit card as a back up, just as well that I did.  It took until the next day and a number of frantic phone calls to my husband before he realised that he hadn't paid off the credit card but had been blissfully charging up things for the building extensions.  All the lights, all the tiles etc.  Thousands of dollars and he forgot!!!   As it was Friday when he made the transfers we will have to wait until today until the money arrives in the account. 

Anyway,  the accommodation is very good.  I took a one bedroom apartment on the edge of the CBD and it is spacious with great views over Parliament House and the city.  I was surprised at the number of apartments around us and also at the number of families that live right in the city.  It is some time since I have traveled out of Brisbane and lots of people live in the city there so I shouldn't have been surprised that there has been a move back to city living here.  Still, my eyes are draw to the balconies and windows that I can see.


When I got up I could see a cherry picker with some men inspecting the outside of Parliament House.  There were two workmen in their overalls and hard hats and another man who had lots of paper in his hands and NO hard hat.  A bureaucrat?


I do like sitting up here above the birds watching them dive into the canyons between the buildings and then come shooting up into the clear air.  It is so nice and quiet in the apartment, not so when you go out onto the balcony but quiet here.  This will be my refuge from all the people and noise that I intend to venture out into.