Monday, 28 November 2011

More from Hoi An

The silk collection has grown a wee bit – it is much harder to get raw silk than I imagined.

We have visited some Art and Craft Workshops on a tour of historical Hoi An. He first was a lantern making one. These large bamboo frames are covered with silk fabric. Last night we explored the town a bit more and  hey were hanging everywhere looking magnificent, but my camera didn’t catch them well.

Other young girls were making smaller table lanterns – this was great to see these being as I made these with the Vietnamese children that I once taught back at home many years ago. They were a big part of the Vietnamese Autumn Festival that we celebrated with our Vietnamese students. We made them in the same process but our ones we made were hanging ones so they could be paraded.

Then there was this style of lantern which is cord woven around the frames and looking very colourful, The full sized version is the traditional, but they are now making some that are just half versions so they can go onto the wall and sit flush.

This lady was making a colourful woven sleeping mat at great speed. She worked with a team mate who passed over the coloured length ready on the shuttle  to thread through the loom.

So colourful.

Next stop is Saigon or Ho Chi Min City - not sure what textiles related things I will see there.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Silk In Hoi An

We are now in Hoi An. Coming in to this city was exciting – well for me – there were huge advertising boards all along the highway and all of them were advertising silk shops!!!

This is how my collection of raw silk started in Hanoi – just three colours and one of them is cream as you can see. So it is time for more variety.

I think I have a bed runner in mind for the end of our bed and a long landscape shaped wall hanging for above the bed head. I think the runner will be geometric and the hanging will have some appliqu̩ on as well Рwho knows at this stage Рit is such a vague idea that I have.
One stop in old Hoi An was to a silk factory where a lovely Vietnamese lady took us through the process of silk production. These are fat silk worms munching away on mulberry leaves – they get a new batch of leaves to munch on every three hours – these ones are 19 days old and nearly ready to go into cocoons. Most start spinning cocoons after about 23 days and it takes them about four days to spin it rotating their body in a figure eight direction over 300,000 times.

Once in cocoons they are gently placed in these racks – the two colours are because there are two different varieties of silk worm breed in this factory. Some are kept to go full cycle and turn into moths to start the next generation of worms off. Others are taken for their silk.

These cocoons have been chosen for silk production and dropped gently into hot water to kill the worm and release the silk fibre. A strand  is taken from four to six cocoons and twisted together to make one thread  and wound onto the big reel on this machine – done by hand here.

These reels of thread are then ready to be dyed – the white and the yellow are in the natural state and the blue has been dyed.

Then it is off to the weaving machine – this one was electronic and noisy, but fast. It was producing silk which has the crosswise threads of one colour and the length threads of another to give a shot effect.

Other thread were kept for the ladies doing the traditional silk embroideries.

Watch for progress as we are back into town tonight and into the night market. So who 
knows what we will find - more silk products and fabric I suspect.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Vietnamese Embroidery

We are now in Central Vietnam in a lovely city called Hue, having flown down from Hanoi. 
Before leaving Hanoi we drove down to Halong Bay where we spent overnight cruising 
on an historic replica Junk, out on this magical World Heritage Site.

On the way to and from Halong Bay we stopped at several places where local young women were working on embroideries. The quality of the stitching does vary as obviously they are stitched by so many different people. 

 In some the background is totally stitched too while 
others just the subject is stitched. The boy on the bike is the only part stitched on this one.

In Hue we were taken to a very classy shop and workshop where the women were making the double-sided embroideries – the back is as good as the front – they are totally reversible. They take many months to make these pieces and some were even the amazing double sided versions that many of us saw the Exhibition at the Temple out by Botany, Auckland, New Zealand. These two are working on a double sided one and it will take them four months to complete it. The background fabric is see through and is stretched onto the frame really, really tightly. They are stitching with fine silk thread.

Others were quicker and easier to make and were more for the average tourist market 
rather than the fine embroidery connoisseur. These were framed as pictures, sold as
just stitcheries or made into bags. This is a close up of he pansy bag below.

Next stop is Hoi An famous for silk. I start my collection of raw silk in the Old Quarter 
of Hanoi, but I definitely need some more.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Day Two In Sapa

This Blog post has been a bit delayed as the system has been playing but I found
 a new way in - I hope it lasts!

On the second day in Sapa we headed off on another trek – this one was shorter
but more uphill and down dale. We are headed down there!

We started off in the markets in Sapa township – these were a produce market where the locals picked up their fresh meat and vegetables each day, a clothes market for modern clothing and the traditional wholesale area where traditional clothing was available. It was fun to see the local ladies buying up before heading out onto the streets to sell their wares.

So I did have to do a bit of shopping here too – but came back after the walk so as not to hold up the others who were not really interested in old textiles  - can’t understand that!!!!! So I bought some old pieces from a Red Dzao lady. These are clothing pieces worn around the neck but she wanted me to have them for wallhangings. The red version is the one that we saw more of being sold in the streets and of course they were new.

My Red Dzao lady was very happy to pose for a photo  - in fact she added more 
interest to her clothing for the occasion.

She was busy at her treadle sewing machine along with lots of others producing 
pieces for the market.

We were heading to CatCat which is another Black Hmong Village – but we had no followers this time. On the way we saw buffalo grazing – these are prized in Vietnam as they are 
used for working the fields and a good way to make money – they are worth the same as a modern motorbike when sold in the livestock markets.

We saw indigo plants growing on the hillsides – all Black Hmong clothing is indigo dyed. 
These bed covers were for sale – they were a mixture of plain indigo fabric, pieced 
areas and embroidery panels.

The items that the Black Hmong ladies had in their baskets were mostly small bags. 
Some were hand embroidered while others were obviously machine done like the one this young girl is selling us.

The Black Hmong have certainly got their sales techniques fine tuned whereas the Red Dzao people are much more private – they specialise in providing Home Stays in their Villages
for the tourists. We only saw a few of them selling their wares in Sapa Township and they 
were a little more hassling with lots of “buy from me, buy from me” and no other conversation. The Hmong ladies have such a friendly approach and make you feel as though they are genuinely interested in you and where you come from! And they engage you for long time chatting and are happy to answer any questions that you have.

That is it from the Northern Hill Tribes.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Sapa - Vietnamese Hmong Villages

Hi there from Sapa in Northern Vietnam. We have spent two days trekking from hill tribe village to hill tribe village and it has been great. 

One lady and her friend started chatting to us outside the hotel and while we were wandering around Sapa Village before joining the walking tour. Unbeknown to me this is their ploy - I was now her "friend" for the rest of the day. But she was lovely - friendly, not hassling, spoke good English, was happy to chat about her culture and lifestyle and happy to pose for photos.

This is the traditional band of followers on the walk - Hmong women - including my new found friend. Their husband's bring them into Sapa in the early morning and they walk home with a tourist group hoping to make some sales at lunchtime - our group was not that successful for them as I was the only one to buy.

My new 'friend' stayed close by all the way and helped me when the track got a bit rough - the helping hand was always welcome and I did want to buy. 

As you can see even baby comes along for the ride.

They didn't put any pressure on until we sat down to lunch in her village - this is the traditional time to purchase. And by the time we got to her village I had decided what I wanted to buy - believe it or not a set of traditional clothing - a child's as it was smaller to pack and old rather than new. But as I suspected she didn't have that in her basket as most tourists buy the embroidered bags - trust me to be different. But while we had lunch she was happy to go off 
and get what I wanted!!!! They it was gentle bargaining time - she was very sweet and a pleasure to buy from.

Below is another Hmong lady sitting outside our hotel sewing while she waits for a tourist who might like to buy from her. We got talking to her and did buy a couple of hand embroidered bags from her. She is stitching the insert that goes into the sleeve of her outfit. No time is wasted - she has a portable stitching project just like us! And she was happy to show and to explain what she was doing - we learnt so much from these ladies. I guess most tourists don't that much interest in their handwork.

Her friend was joining long pieces of hemp fibre together ready to be woven into fabric and dyed with indigo back in the village - these women worked away at this as they walked along - they started the day with a large hank of fibre hanging around her shoulders and by the end of the morning it had all been joined and wound into her hand neatly. She too was happy to be photographed and explained and demonstrated the process of joining the fibre lengths together.

When we stopped on the walk to the village for drinks the women would settle down to embroidery - there was no hassling to buy while we were walking - just when we got to their village at lunchtime. Such patience as we left Sapa at 9.30 and got to their village - Lao Chai -  at about 1.00pm.

Well that is the day with the Hmong ladies - they certainly added another level of interest and a personal touch to the walk.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Vietnamese Embroidery

Hi there from Hanoi - today we took a day trip out to the ancient capital of Vietnam, Hoa Lu. 
The highlight was a  trip in sampan up the Tam Coc river. We went through some amazing limestone caves on the two hour trip. 

And as we are fast learning the Vietnamese never miss an opportunity for a sale - on the way back out came  the local embroideries, table cloths, T-shirts, etc for sale. I was pretty easily persuaded to buy a couple of hand long stitch embroideries on black fabric made by local women.

I am sure I can feel a quilt of some shape coming on with a collection of these put together with 
our Shot Cottons from the shop or maybe some silk I get here - who knows.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Next Big 1800s Block

I have made some progress today on the next large block for the 1800s quilt - I need to 
make four of the block that I post d yesterday. So today I thought I would show you the
fabric that I chose for the next lozenge shape and then the lozenge so you got an idea 
n how this clever block is made using a striped fabric.

The striped 1800s reproduction fabric.

The lozenge piece ready to add to the design.It is one piece of fussy cut fabric.
Check out yesterday's post where it fits in the block.

Friday, 11 November 2011

1800s First Large Blcok

Sorry that you haven't heard much from me over the last fortnight.
It was Calico Christmas - a local Quilt Show last weekend which has kept me a bit busy. 
We had the shop there and had a great time over the three days.

As you can see we had a bit of a Christmas theme this year mixed in with 
our favourite taupe fabrics.

But I have finished off all the small blocks for the up-coming 1800s Block of the Month and I have got one of the large blocks made.

I just love the effect of the striped fabric in the lozenge shape around this little star block. 
It makes it look more complex than it actually is.

I am off on a few weeks holiday next week. We are going to Vietnam and I hope to 
post some photos as we go.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

1800s Block Progress

Sorry I haven't posted for a while - I have been busy hand quilting my Japanese Block quilt 
and my Amish quilt so there has been nothing new to show you. 
But in between I have made a few more 1880s blocks, so here they are.

I need to make four of each of these and then the little ones will be done.

It is Calico Christmas Quilt Show this weekend so I won't get much if any sewing done. 
But I do look forward to catching up with lots of you there. It is at Albany Rugby Stadium 
on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.