Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Beautiful Barcelona

We were so fortunate recently to have the opportunity to take a trip to Barcelona and Lisbon. We hadn't been to Spain or Portugal before and given that these days we live on the opposite side of the globe, the temptation to cram a few more places into the available fortnight was great. However we managed to resist in the interests of  really getting a feel for the two cities and not racing round like mad things. Some of the time in Barcelona was taken up conferencing for Peter, which was another reason not to try to visit Seville, Madrid, Cordoba, Granada or the host of other possibilities.
We're so glad we didn't try to spread ourselves too thin.

I'll post here on our highlights of Barcelona and leave Lisbon for a separate post.
We stayed in an Air BNB apartment in the old city area of El Born and I'd really recommend that area. We could walk to pretty much everywhere we wanted to go- that said, be aware that we love to walk and walked a pretty long way on several days. Walking and soaking up the sights is pretty much my favourite way to get a feel for a new place.

On our first day just after arriving we just took a short walk in our local area to orient ourselves. Although that was easier said than done. The area is a maze of laneways which is fine except that at times the grills are down over the shopfronts and then later it feels entirely different and can be difficult to get your bearings as chic shops and cafés are revealed behind. The hours of operation took a bit of getting used to with everything closing  during siesta time from 1-4pm

It's all very pedestrian friendly and the narrow atmospheric lanes open out often onto little squares

There are medieval and gothic churches
And many many galleries to explore.

We went to a great guitar concert one evening in the Palau de la Musica; and given the state of our jet lag it was just as well the concert included some lively Flamenco and the ceiling in the hall was a famous art nouveau/ modernist sensation!

I bought an art passport online which gave me discounted entry to several of the highest profile galleries
and that's worthwhile if you want to visit more than three I think I worked out.

Barcelona is both a very modern, efficient well planned city and an ancient historical place.
On our first full day we grabbed a ticket on one of the three hop on hop off tourist open top bus routes to a get an overview of the city. We found that a great way to get more widely oriented to the city.  We took the red route that went around Montjuïc to the West 

We passed by several sights that we returned to later, including some of Gaudi's apartments, Miro's massive mosaic clad phallus sculpture and several museums and galleries on Montjuïc itself as well as the Olympic stadium and things which we felt we saw enough from the bus.

Our Barcelona highlights for the week were without doubt gaining insight into Gaudi's amazing creative genius.

La Sagrada Familia is the cathedral which is still being built. I expected it to be striking, but I was completely blown away!

The facades are one thing... I thought the one above looked at first glance like a cake extravagantly and slightly wildly iced with Royal icing. It depicts The Nativity and has lots of amazing detail to examine; but my favourite was the Passion Facade which is in an altogether different style and very evocative and symbolic.

Take a look at Judas' kiss of betrayal on the bottom right below. You can see the serpent curling out from behind his robe...

(The audio guide is fantastic for understanding the work and focussing on all the different aspects of the whole building.)

But the interior moved me to tears! Even as a work in progress, I was entirely flabbergasted. Photos cannot do it justice. The quality of the light from the stained glass windows and the scale, but most of  all the extraordinary creativity and imagination realised here has to be seen to be believed!

You can ascend the towers and see the extraordinarily detailed work continuing on the roof 

and get some stunning views of Barcelona too.

The school Gaudi designed for the workers children demonstrates on a smaller scale how he used curves in all his designs to great effect.


Don't miss the crypt where workshops are still located  and the museum gives insight into many aspects of Gaudi's design for the cathedral.

We wandered back to our apartment (a bit tired and footsore by the end we have to admit) through residential suburbs, past more Gaudi and other modernist designs; top end shops; markets; cobbled streets and squares.

Another day we visited the Picasso Museum which was outstanding. Buy your tickets online and skip the loooong queues. Don't expect to view his most famous works, but rather a journey through his development as an artist from a very talented youth through his boundary breaking adult life. Fascinating!

We took the metro one day most of the way out to Parc Guell, another of Gaudi's amazing undertakings, this was intended as a private residential estate for several well to do families. It never got off the ground (no pun intended!), but they built several of the public spaces before it failed, including a school and the gatehouse and porters lodge

and an amazing space intended for communal markets with leaning pillars and a domed mosaic ceiling

With a terrace above affording stunning views back towards Barcelona

There is beautiful organic landscaping throughout the park.

After this Peter was conferencing and I took the opportunity to go to many wonderful art galleries and learn about Spanish art from Gothic through to modern in several stunning galleries also reflecting different era.

In the evenings we wandered and ate tapas and people watched and came across several events associated with La Mercé festival which began while we were there. There was this procession of giant figures

and free concerts at several outdoor venues.

I happened across traditional dancing in the square near our apartment one morning

And the brick pattern on the wall behind the dancers was not lost on me for quilt inspiration!

All in all a fascinating and vibrant city, to which we hope to return one day. There are many more layers to explore.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Zippy Pouch Love

Fun to have a long weekend for Labour Weekend here in NZ and some unexpected sewing time on Saturday to whip up this zippy pouch for a friend's birthday yesterday.

I used Anna's tried and true Open Wide Pouch tutorial.
I had a canvas like remnant with these whacko trees from Ikea which is so whimsical and fun.

And I lined it with an Architextures piece, with an accent for the zip pull from another one of my favourite colours and prints. Love Carolyn Friedlander's fabrics! I managed to resist buying her last range (Doe) since I haven't used up the Architextures and Botanics yet; but I may come to regret that decision, since she's about to bring out yet another stunning collection. I'm just trying not to buy too much fabric which I don't have a specific plan for... On the other hand it's so great having something perfect on hand when inspiration strikes.

I think the wee gift was well received and these pouches are so useful so hopefully it'll be put to good use.

What's your plan for an ideal stash? How do your intentions work in reality? What size cut do you buy and do you make rules for yourself? Do share!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Putting on Old Jeans for the Festival

My entry for this Bloggers' Quilt Festival is this quilt which regular visitors to my blog will have seen before.

Each block is 16" square and the whole is 258" around the perimeter, so I'm entering in the large quilt category.

This quilt has been in the queue for a number of years really as I've collected an ever bigger pile of the family's jeans. I guess most people have a kind of jeans hierarchy? One has a pair of newish smartish jeans and then a Saturday pair or two, often mended and comfortably dented and then a gardening/ walking the dog (who's good at retrieving a slobbery sandy ball) pair and then, if you're me, a painting or irredeemably dirty job pair, then I often cut them off for shorts for a season or two, then they can become a quilt. Sometimes this full cycle is interrupted in the case of kids who grow out of them before they're worn out and they wait to be passed on to another sibling or cousin. Sometimes by this time we've looked away and the next kid is suddenly too big, or the jeans are too straight, or too flared or just not the thing. Then- they can become a quilt; or even if the whole jeans are generally bitsy, some parts can be salvaged.

This block was inspired by the ceiling in our local concert hall

Gratuitous shot of our Lab/ GSP cross: Pepi

It was quick to piece and put together and I like the way you can see our history in them. These are all items we've worn, with the exception of the stripe, which is left over fabric from a shift dress I made our daughter when she was young and the lightest dusty blue which was another from my stash.
I deliberately left the unpicked seam lines showing and some bits with worn knees or even the odd stain.

This lovely heavy quilt was just going to be a family sofa quilt, but our son really liked it and his 21st quilt wasn't quite going according to plan, so I was happy to allow this one to fit the bill. It'll be lovely and warm for his student flat. I had planned to back it with a vintage floral brushed cotton gifted from my mum's stash, but Sam preferred this subtly textured gray, so I'll put the floral to use on another quilt in due course. I added a back pocket from an old favourite pair of my husband's and the label is tucked inside the pocket

I quilted in the ditch around each piece and with a double line around each block in jeans yellow to echo the binding, which is a Carolyn Friedlander Botanics print

Happy Festival viewing! I missed the last one, so am looking forward to viewing the entries this time.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Q4 Finish Along

If this post looks familiar, that's because it is largely unchanged from last quarter's Finish Along! These projects are all the languishing ones from around the place which would be great to resolve.  Mostly they're UFOs because there's some design or other problem with them...I managed one finish and have added a new project plus a Christmas gift and hopefully there will be net loss by the end of the year...

1. Have a quilt worth of cross blocks here, but I need to resolve the colour scheme which I liked better before I added the rust colours? Thoughts welcome!


2. Have finished this quilt except for the binding. Was considering cutting it and resetting it- that discussion is for another day- which is why the quilt is still a UFO.  

3 This quilt is from the Simply Solids Bee that I was in a few years ago. I have 12 blocks of varying  sizes due to everyone's 1/4" seam being different! Can't face remaking them all- not such a good choice for a bee block- so a problem...!

But I'm dying to see the secondary pattern emerge so maybe I can think of something.

4. This was an early effort at paper piecing and I'd like to do something with this orphan block. Not quite square because I failed to print two of the pieces at 100%. Again it'd be good to have another go and see the secondary pattern emerge.

Then from last quarter these next few...

5. A quilt with these shot cottons has had a change of plan.

6. Another bag featuring this fabric

7. Widen and complete this oven Mitt. This is only the front (or back)

8. A table runner (promised about 3 years ago) for my sister in law- design problem here...

9. Bags for our Yaktrax- often used in the ice this winter.

Then the alluring new projects:

10. A leather tote bag

11. Another quilt in the Gum Tree series (so far numbering 1!!) I have the fabric and am thinking of a chevron based design.

12. A Grunge quilt inspired by the walls in the Wallander TV series.

13. This is an especially nice one! My beautiful and creative daughter has been doing a bit of free form embroidery lately and made me this most lovely piece which I'd like to make into a zippy pouch for myself. I'm thinking of using the Architextures green for the lining.

14. Last on this quarter's little list (ahem!) is a couple of pot holders for gifts.

I'm looking forward to posting on our recent trip to Barcelona and Lisbon as soon as I get a chance.
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