Thursday, March 31, 2011

After Kensington Palace...

I took this shot of my friends as we left the exhibit. It was a bit windy, but out of the wind and in the sun it was very nice.We walked across Kensington Park to the Prince Albert Memorial. I only took a photo from the back because the front had scaffoldingThe park was beautiful and very springlike.We then took the bus to Harrods.This place is over the top! We went to the food court and had tea. Then we wandered around, bought some tea and some savory buns.This egg is actually for sale--for a huge price. I can't imagine.We took the tube home in rush hour--an experience in and of itself.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kensington Palace

On a beautiful sunny day we went to Kensington Palace to see the Enchanted Palace event/exhibit. It was an amazing day.This is the front of Kensington Palace. Charles and Di lived here, as did the Queen Mother.This is the Orangerie where we had a scrumptious lunch. I was warm in the sun so we ate outside. (Mushroom and onion quiche with a salad, elderflower presse to drink, and a huge meringue with raspberries and whipped cream for dessert!) While we were eating a small helicopter landed nearby and someone important (or royal) got out with some security guards.The entrance to the Enchanted Palace. The exhibit/event/display was evocative and at times eerie. Seven princesses who lived there each had a room in the display. Several of them had sad lives. There were lots of collages, artworks, embroideries and little details to discover. Some of the displays were made by children. Some items were from the palace's past. Several rooms had scrapbooks full of interesting things. You could explore for hours and probably miss some details.I took this picture of a doll in a large cabinet in the entry, before the "no photos" rule took effect. Many rooms had actresses acting as (rather uppity) maids. Most had "guards" who turned out to be mines of wonderful information about the items on display and on the palace and it's history.The no-photos rule was suspended in the "throne room" where you could sit on this completely knitted throne and make a wish. I had seen it before on line but hadn't realized it would be in the exhibit I was to see. It's really cool.A close up of the back of the chair.Me being royal and sitting in the chair--we all took our turn. Note the knitted candle sticks and candles. More to come...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Liberty of London

No vacation is complete without shopping. I visited Liberty of London. On the way I saw this shoe shop. Very browse-worthy. These colorful gentlemen were outside a huge toy store (they were there all day long, too). They were encouraging visitors to stop into the shop.On to Liberty's. This is the central atrium inside.Below is the elevator. It was amazing!Home again--here are my goodies. The carefully sealed bag...The carefully wrapped fabric...Voila! (two half-meter pieces of cotton lawn and a spool of ribbon) The haberdashery department was full of temptations. I was extremely restrained.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cloth House and Carnaby Street

Recommended by Materialistic, I made my way to the Cloth House. On my way there, as I got off the bus, I saw these very cute purses made from felt balls.The Cloth House had interesting and unusual fabrics and trims. Some antique yardage and trims, some imported from, I think, India (I didn't look at them closely). Here's a shelf of trims. I had a great time browsing there and choosing a couple of souvenirs. Rolls and bolts of all types of fabrics were everywhere. After I left the shop, I found my way to Soho and Carnaby street, a pleasant surprise. It brought back many memories of the 60s, when Carnaby St. was the fashion center.It is still full of fashionable shops and shoppers.Here's my shopping bag from the Cloth House...and my haul...some nice woven gingham, a ribbon and some trims, and, if you look closely on the white bag, a button.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

My home away from home

A bit about where I am. I'm staying with friends who have graciously put me up in their office/library. This is the view from my window.and in the other direction (it's a bay window).In the week since I took this, that faintly yellow tree has blossomed gloriously--it's golden now.This is the view I have from my bed. The tapestry is from the Wissa Wassef Art Center. I really am enjoying it.And this is the view of the porch, overlooking the gardens.Today I did something I've long wanted to do--I got a henna tattoo in the Stables Market in Camden. (Warning: this site has loud sound.)

Friday, March 25, 2011

V&A Crewel--Cewel Friday

Talk about inspiration! I got a chance to see some of the items I've seen pictured in books! It was great.The crewel embroidered bed hanging above was housed next to the imported (from India) Palampore below, to show the influence of one on the other. From my reading, the influence seemed to go both ways, with the British sending designs to India that they felt had a proper "Oriental style" (most likely derived from Chinese and Japanese imports). All of the imports, earlier and later, impacted on designs in England. And the Indians took the designs they were given and made them their own. The results are wonderful. Below is more of the painted palampore.The palampore's exotic mounds above compared to the English crewel mounds below.Another crewel piece on display.

The day, and my new crewel book, inspired me to bring out my sampler and rip. (of course I'd packed it!) I'd begun the slit at the top of the bag with "true" buttonhole stitch (as opposed to blanket stitch). I didn't like it. I ripped and then stitched the outer edge (the uncut edge) with a row of split stitch. My first attempt didn't have this row of stitches and the outer edge looked very ragged. Then I began stitching again and I'm much happier. My outer edge is much smoother and the practice with this new-to-me stitch has made it a bit more even. Not as even as I like, but better. This is just one color, something to get me going, and to allow for the cut edge of the pocket opening. And the first sampler is to include buttonhole/blanket stitches.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I spent a day at the V&A. I'd been there before but couldn't tear myself away from the textile wing (except for tea in the Morris Room, well worth the visit). This time the textile wing is closed so I visited the British Galleries. Never fear, plenty of textiles there.The light was very dim by the cases with textiles. All of my pictures came out black until I played in Photoshop--so the quality isn't the best. I think the dim light helped the garments with metal and spangles really sparkle.This glove had frills of metal-thread bobbin lace.The embroideries were very fine--their gros-point needlepoint was equivalent to what we consider petit-point. Most of the stitches looked impossibly tiny. Look at the fine fillings in this piece.The above design is for a mirror frame. It is unfinished and shows what a fine drawing the embroiderer worked from. The detail is amazing and you can see that level of detail was kept in the finished embroidery. Sure puts me to shame!I saw plenty of crewel, saving that for a later post. On the way out I stopped in the gift shop for postcards.And a book I'd been promising myself since I saw Mary Corbet's post on it on Needle 'n Thread.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Day with the Doctor

Doctor Who, that is. We went to the Doctor Who Experience and it was quite an experience. If you're at all a Doctor Who fan and have a chance--this is well worth a visit.All of the Doctors were there along with many companions and loads of bad guys. I got to ride in a Tardis as it careened through space, sound like a Cyberman (above), revisit the old and new Tardis "command console," and generally have a great time. (there was lots more, too.)Me with my favorite Doctor incarnation. Doctor number 4, Tom Baker.The Head of Boe. I really liked Boe--he was a great guy. We finished our day up with a picnic in the park. I kept finding myself just grinning all day.


On Thursday, after a day of jet lag, I put on my tourist hat and went to Westminster Abbey. I took a guided tour and it was wonderful. There were a lot of textiles around, if you looked. Most of the altar covers, backdrops were raw linen cross stitched in red. This, I was told by our guide, was due to Lent. There were also multitudes of needlepointed kneelers. The patterns were awesome, the ones I saw in the Quoir mostly geometric, but, wow, there were a lot! (The guide, Peter, and I discussed the kneelers. He wanted to know whether they were tapestry or cross stitch. Definitely tapestry. He said the kneelers at his church were cross stitch and he knew that for sure because he'd stitched two!)No photos were allowed inside. I took this window in the Cloisters area where photos were allowed.

There was also plenty of discussion about the upcoming royal wedding. We were shown the traditional route of such processionals and where weddings traditionally take place.

This is a view from one side of the Cloisters to the other. The walk through the cloisters included a small chapel, a museum with some lovely embroidered clothing on royal effigies of the past, a snack bar and souvenir stand, loads of school children eating lunch. They led out to some gardens.Below is one. the fountain is designed to be soothing to patients in the infirmary. After buying the requisite souvenirs at the gift shop, I strolled over to St. James's Park and crossed it at the bridge. This is the entrance map.In spite of the chilly overcast day the park was full of people, school children, flowers and birds. I think these might be a kind of waterfowl--they were begging food next to the water.Just look at the daffodils and cherry trees!And swans--in addition, the park had several other large water birds, some of which I couldn't identify, but might be pelicans (or storks if they go into the water). Some had long beaks.Then I walked down Marlborough St, past Pall Mall to St. James's Street and on to Piccadilly, looking into the shop windows of all the posh shops. And last, I toured Fortnum and Mason's. I began at the top floor and worked my way down, floor by floor. By far the most interesting to me was the ground floor, with it's spectacular Easter candy display, teas and marmalades. I stopped for a "posh" tea there (my term). Here's the spread:It was every bit as good as it looks. And my weary feet welcomed the break. More souvenir shopping then I walked up to Piccadilly Circus to the tube to head back to my home away from home.