Sunday, 25 March 2012

Gallivanting abroad

Another week where I have been out and about - it makes it seem like I always go to things but I am really a stay-at-home most of the time.

This weekend we had a short break to The Netherlands where I attended the Arnhem Dollshouse show and also went to see the XX Small antique dollshouse exhibition in The Hague.  We had a brilliant time and there was lots of shopping and stash amassing.

Before we went, I couldn't resist cutting in to my Makower London fabric that I bought last weekend.  I made up a drawstring knitting project bag using this tutorial.   I used two colours on the outside, and some sheep fabric from my stash for the lining.  In this construction photo, you can see all three fabrics.

And here is the finished article, a useful size for sock knitting.






I also did some work on the next project from our quilting club's UFO Challenge.  This month it is an 'easy' lone star that was supposed to be a quick project.  It's probably about 5 years since I cut the diamonds out of Kaffe Fassett fabric  and set them with a green background.  It's sat there ever since, so this week I was looking at what border or setting to use.  I had cut a narrow red border to put around it, but hadn't sewn it on yet, then when I was looking through my stash I found this flower border pink fabric.  I rather like the over-the-top pink and flower effect of butting it straight up to the centre square with no interim border.  It would then make a large cot quilt or small lap quilt, and look a bit like flower borders around a 'lawn'.


Arnhem Dollshouse Show


I last went to the Arnhem show about 20 years ago - my only memory is of how disgustingly smoky it was as everyone, customers and vendors alike, were smoking like chimneys.  I could only bear it for about 45 minutes and I'm not sure I even bought anything.

What a different visit this was!  The show was in the wonderful 15th century gothic church the Eusebiuskerk in the centre of Arnhem, for the last time as it turned out since they will move next year to a new location. And of course no-one is smoking inside the show now.  Our hotel, the NH Rijnhotel, was doing a special rate for dollshouse attendees.  I wasn't expecting much as it looks like a tired concrete hotel in pictures, but it turned out to be clean, friendly, with superior food, and we even had a private terrace overlooking the Rhine river where we put our feet up while we sipped drinks each night. It was about a 15 minute walk back into town, but no hardship as it was level along the river.  We did some sightseeing Friday night and Saturday morning, enjoying some of the historic buildings that survived the war, as well as some more recent imaginative buildings like this thatched residential house.  We even stumbled across a windmill just outside the centre.




Then I went into the show while DH went off to explore some of the military monuments and relics.  It was much larger than I was expecting, laid out all over the floor of the immense church in a bit of a tangle which made it a challenge to visit in a logical fashion.  One of the first rooms I went into had a wonderful display of 1:12 room boxes from guest artist Sylvia de Groot, including a lovely Cape Cod style beach hut, and this really amazing Turkish hammam which had a domed roof over the central pool.


I was surprised at the diversity and generally high standard of the show.  When European traders come to the London Kensington dollshouse show, sometimes their taste can seem a little over the top to my eyes, and the prices are generally very high.  But the prices at this show were generally fairly reasonable and indeed there were some rather astonishing bargain.   I really enjoyed looking around as there were so many traders that were new to me, and spent a rather exhausting three hours in the show (including one trip out to the cash machine to top up as almost nobody was accepting credit cards).

I took the following photos in our hotel room which as usual with hotel rooms wasn't very well lit.

(above) This is handmade furniture from Loes Snoodijk, in a Arts and Crafts style.  I bought the bar in two scales as I am wondering if the smaller one will fit in my Fairfield.  The pieces were fairly reasonably priced and I liked their slightly unusual designs.  They aren't as well finished as some other furniture makers' pieces but came with all the accessories shown and the drawers and doors all work.  The desk closes up to a slanted front.


(above) The handknit fairisle sweaters in exquisitely small stitches were my bargain of the century.  They had a price above them which was obviously the price for the pattern, and I asked how much the sweaters were.  The lady quoted the price that was written on the placard.  I just looked at her.  9.50 euros.  That's less than £8, for hours of work.  I picked up all of the cardigans to look through to see which one I wanted, and the woman behind me who had overheard this revelation panicked and squeaked "You're not buying all of them!!"  Apparently the trader's niece knits them, and the trader didn't seem to think that the price was low at all.  I saw worse knitting on other stands for four times the price.  I would have bought more if there had been more colours to my taste.  Sorry but I can't remember the name of the stand.  Those will go in my knitting shop, and the spools of thread and the miniature needlecard from another trader will go in the quilting shop.  The basket of knitting (which also has a packet of needles not in the photo) and the bobbin lace cushion on a stand were both from Bibaminis.

(above) The laser cut piece of paper-thin plywood will make up into a castle for my Fairfield boy's room, from Houten Miniaturen, who had a whole stand of amazing fairy-like constructions in laser cut wood, everything from entire nativity scenes to tiny shop scenes stocked with dozens of accessories not much larger than the head of a pin.  I thought even the castle looked hard to build, but they assure me it isn't hard and are going to email me instructions in English.  The handpainted traditional wooden basket and souvenir dollshouse shopping bag came from another anonymous stall, and the kit from Sylvia's will make up into a 50s-style sewing machine for my quilting shop.



(above three)  These are all from a stall selling the most tiny china objects, and I was so busy choosing that I don't think I got a business card.  The piggy bank in the top picture is about the size of a grain of rice, and the lid of the pink box and of the Delft box both open up.  The '144th' scale bathroom makes up into quite a cute room box although larger than 144th.  The tea pot with lift-off lid and four cups and saucers are 1:24th scale I think - I managed to break the spout off when getting it out to show my DH so will have to glue that back on.  The Egyptian plaque is for the Egyptian museum in my Vic-war-gency house, and the flower decoration could go in there too.

Then I met up with DH, and after an amazing Dutch-style high tea at a cafe, we went out to explore and shop.  The selection of flowers which will work for 1:24 scale came from a big railway modelling shop, and the variegated Regia sock yarn came from a knitting shop called Steekje Los at 25 Hommelstraat which had a medium selection of sock yarns and novelty yarns.  I also spent some time drooling inside a wonderful woodworkers and cabinetmakers shop which had all kinds of hand and power tools.

We found a big Hobbycraft-style craft store which had much more reasonable prices than Hobbycraft, called Pipoo's, and I picked up some sheets of scrapbooking paper to be dollshouse wallpaper and to go on the outside of my Georgian room box.  The sun was shining all this time which made it a lovely day to wander around.




We saw several wonderful Easter displays, especially in chocolate shops where we saw this three-foot-high chocolate egg dollshouse which was all fully edible apart from the figures.



XXSmall Exhibition

Today, we took the train from Arnhem to The Hague, where we visited the XX Small exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum.  This was the last day of the exhibition and it turned out to be a lot more extensive than I thought it would be.  It was a collection of museum miniature pieces from several European countries, focusing on how these tell a story of what life was like in times past, and sprawled through several rooms in a very confusing layout. There was a big article on the exhibition in the January 2012 issue of Dollshouse & Miniature Scene magazine which you may have seen.  It was everything from antique dollshouses and baby cabinets through to apprentice pieces, an extensive collection of miniature silver objects, and many dressed dolls.  Some of the workmanship was just so amazing that it seemed impossible:  linen underclothes sewn with stitches barely visible to the naked eye, a cherry pit that was hollowed out and contained a 500-piece gold dinner set that looked like golden pepper sprinkled across the mat, exquisitely carved paper-thin ivory fretwork, displays of dozens of miniature blue & white china vases, dollshouses that were about 12 feet high, even an exhibition of Barbies wearing vintage couture outfits from the 50s and 60s. DH didn't think he would like the visit and ended up being fairly interested.  In addition, several of the exhibition rooms were actually historic period rooms that were presumably brought from elsewhere to be installed in the museum.  Well worth visiting, plus we had a very nice lunch in the museum cafe before getting the train to the airport to come home. Unfortunately I didn't get any photos of the exhibition, I don't think they were allowed.

Shopping wasn't quite finished because at the airport was a giftshop from the Rijksmuseum which had a whole line of fridge magnets in the shape of Dutch houses, cut from wood.  I spent so long debating which ones I could afford to bring home for my collection of house-shaped fridge magnets that we had to sprint a bit to get to our gate on time.  Ooops.  Here they are on my display board, where they look very nice but now I need another display board from Ikea as it is all getting a bit crowded.




This is turning into a very long post so I will just say that commuter knitting this week was the second Debbie Bliss wristwarmer which is almost finished, I'm just doing the thumb now.  Travel knitting was still the endless edging on the Fan Stitch Half Circle Shawl, plus I made a start on a sock from the Japanese stitching sock book that I bought a few weeks ago.  I once again successfully brought my wooden circulars on board the plane, so was able to knit on both flights as well as on our train journeys in Holland and on our terrace at the hotel.



2 comments:

Daisy said...

That sounds like such a cool trip. Love the tiny little jumper...

sylvia said...

Thank you for the nice words about my show,
Regards Sylvia

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