Friday, February 12, 2016

A trip to Japan...Part 1

About 25 years ago I lived in Japan for a couple of years teaching English. I always wanted to go back one day to see my Japanese friends and revisit familiar places.  One of the things also on my to-do list was to go to the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival which is always held in January each year.   I took my 14 year old daughter with me so she could see a little bit of what had captured my heart all those years ago.  We stayed at the Hotel Niwa which was a 5 minute walk from the Tokyo Dome where the festival is held. 

I had a rough schedule of what we planned to do with nothing planned for the day after we got there. It seemed like a great opportunity to meet Alyce from Blossom Heart Quilts who lives in Tokyo. We met at Yuzawaya at Tsudanuma which was conveniently on the nearest train line.  This store is like Spotlight or JoAnns, but different! Lots of cute Japanese fabrics, Yuwa, Echino and of course Liberty! I bought some Liberty for a dress and for an infinity scarf.  It was almost a bit overwhelming...

Lunch with Alyce  at Sukiya post shopping!

Sarah and I bid our farewells then headed to the Tokyo Sea Life Park as an aquarium was on Sarah's to-do list.   It was interesting to see all the different types of fish and they also had a penguin enclosure.  However, the tanks were small and this did not sit well with me.

Sarah at the entrance to the aquarium

We caught the train from there to Akihabara, the famed electronics town, although it seems to be more well known for its anime and maid cafes now.  We were desperate for a cold drink so popped into a cafe. One of the things that is still pretty evident in Japan is the smoking in public areas and cafes. I remember when I lived there it seemed like everyone smoked and you could smoke anywhere.  While now a lot of places are smoke free, there are still a lot of restaurants and cafes where patrons can smoke inside. We quickly headed out again as the smell of cigarette smoke was overpowering.  This continued to be a pattern throughout our time there!

After a wander around we both felt the need for sushi...I many can't come to Japan and not have sushi!  What I love about Japan is all the plastic food in the totally makes things easy when ordering.

We settled upon a modest looking place that seemed to be reasonable in its prices.

And then it was back to the hotel on the train as the next day was the day of the Quilt Festival.  The train system is just so amazing in Japan. There are many different companies running lines all across the city and there's a train every few minutes. I discovered a fabulous site Hyperdia.   You punch in where you want to go and your departing station and it brings up all the possible options with the cost and what platform the train will leave from.  The best thing I did was have data on my phone, the Hyperdia app and Google maps!  While we never braved the stations in rush hour I think Sarah was a little overwhelmed at the amount of people on the trains. It's hard to prepare someone for that when she lives in a  town of 15,000 and our whole population is only 4 million!

Part 2...The Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival

Friday, March 20, 2015

Recent Adventures: Quilt Con - Part 4

For me though, Quilt Con wasn't about the quilts or the amazing shops; it was about meeting the people I have known online for years, along with meeting the designers and quilters that I admire and respect.  It was almost surreal meeting and talking with everybody.

A girl has to eat so we popped out to one of the many food trucks just outside the convention centre. Denyse Schmidt had just enjoyed a burger here too.

We then wandered back to the quilt hall and who should we bump into but Victoria Findlay Wolfe.

So excited to meet Yvonne Campbell too, a fellow swapper

Rashida Coleman-Hale

Yoshiko Jinzenji

I was lucky enough to get into Elizabeth Hartman's workshop Patchwork City Sampler. Elizabeth was one of the first modern quilters I discovered and I love her work. Her first book was the first quilting book I bought.  She is so delightful and easy to talk to.  

We were also fortunate in that we got to hang out with Lizzy House for a while as we planned her upcoming trip to New Zealand to teach the Meadow quilt.

me, Rachel Lizzy and Adrianne 

I went to 2 of Angela Walter's lectures which were both just incredible. I am so inspired after hearing her talk. Of course I had to buy her book as well.

me and Angela

Adrianne (@onthewindyside), Becca (@cleaverr), Liz (@scrappyquilts) and Rachel

Monica (@buttoncounter), Rachel, Becca (@cleaverr), Kelsey (@everydayfray) and me

Anne (@playcrafts), Gillian, Katrina (@khcalgary), me, Kelsey and Amanda (@everydayfray), Rachel

Me, Debbie (@aquilterstable) and Rachel

Krista (schnitzelandboo), Sandi (craftyplanner), me and Rachel

The other amazing and emotional part of Quilt Con was hearing the Gee's Bend Quilters talk and sing their amazing songs. They were the key note speakers and I think nearly everyone there had a tear at one stage or another.  So humbling to hear them talk.  They talked about their lives while growing up; that they made quilts to keep warm out of whatever they had in the house.  They used them to keep the draughts out and to keep warm at night. "It was common to have 13 or 14 quilts on the bed at night to keep warm."  And interspersed with their tales were their voices united in song singing about their faith, about their lives and their values.

I took the time to wander through the Gees Bend exhibition there and watch the video that was playing.

So that was Quilt Con in a flash!! I met so many more people, saw so much more, made deeper friendships and ate incredible food.  Oh, and I bought a lot of fabric!!  I had the most amazing time that cannot be captured in a blog post.   Quilt Con is now an annual year it is in Pasadena and the following year it is in Savannah. I am definitely going to Savannah.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Recent adventures: Quilt Con Part 3

So we made it to Austin....the city of live music, barbecue, margaritas, food trucks and tex-mex. 

Out and about posing with a guitar statue on Congress Ave

We explored a little of Congress Ave, the main thoroughfare in Austin.  What was obvious fairly quickly is that music is a big part of life here.  Loads of icons and statues relating to music, hundreds of music bars, restaurants, and eateries.  

Interesting bar activities!! What do they get up to in Austin?

We had arranged to meet Ginny, Karen and Anne for lunch on our first day there, so we headed to a great Mexican restaurant.  Awesome to see Anne again and it was a first time meeting for Ginny and Karen.  We had so much fun and it was like we had known one another for ages.  This was one of my fav memories of Quilt Con...casual, relaxed, good fun, and lots of laughs.

me, Ginny, Karen, Anne and Rachel

After Quilt Con registration where we mingled and met online friends and made new friends,  the 4 Kiwis joined the Australian contingent for dinner. It was a fusion restaurant with sushi and Tex-Mex! Strange combo but it totally worked!

Fish tacos....amazingly divine.

And then Thursday was here and it was time for Quilt Con.  I had enrolled in one workshop and a few lectures, and had Thursday mainly free. Rachel and I decided to start with the Quilt Show. It was hard to know where to start, so I just wandered.  There were so many beautiful amazing quilts. The winners are all posted on the MQG website, but also among my favs were some that I was drawn to for the colours in them, the design or the description of how they came to be.

Gypsy Wife by Catherine Mosely

Gaggle of Geese by Janice Ryan

Geometric Rainbow by Nicole Daksiewicz

Building Bridges by Jacquie Gering

Iceberg by Crystal McGann

Starry Eyed  by Caroline Fairbanks-Critchfield

Phased Circles by Michelle Wilkie

Peace by Leanne Chahley

Christine's World by Luke Haynes

Fade into Gray by Stephanie Ruyle

Face #1 by Melissa Averinos

Rocket 8D by Latifah Saafir

Icicles by Do.Good.Stitches Portland, Orgeon

Sunset Stripes by Do.Good.Stitches, Seattle, Washington

One Third Street Neighbourhood, by Amy Stevenson

Best in Show: Kathy York's i Quilt

And the final instalment tomorrow....


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