Monday, 19 November 2012

A short break in Madrid

Slightly late with this post as we were away for the weekend on a short break to Madrid to visit the Tom Bishop Miniatures show.  I’d really enjoyed a visit to his great Chicago show several years ago, and have been to his smaller London show a few times, so I was curious to see what the Madrid show would be like.

I enjoyed it but I wouldn’t say it was worth a special trip.  We turned it into a short city break, so while I was in the show, DH walked through Retiro Park and visited the Prado which he really enjoyed.  We had a fabulous tapas meal Saturday night, and on Sunday we took the Metro into town to walk around the city centre.  We visited a coin and stamp market in Plaza Mayor, walked past the Royal Palace, visited a genuine Egyptian temple relocated from Egypt, walked around the Tapas quarter and enjoyed delicious paella for lunch.  It felt like a proper holiday.

The show is in two basement convention rooms at the Hotel Convencion, a large and typically bland international hotel with a large breakfast buffet included in the special show rate.  It was easy to reach the hotel as it is near the Airport Express bus stop.  It took me about two hours to go around the show once, although I was skipping some stalls that weren’t of interest.  The show is mostly accessories, with very few houses, but there were some top quality furniture makers and a couple of top quality doll makers also.  Most stands were very stylishly presented, with much more flair than a typical British show, lots of colour co-ordination and attractive layouts.

Downsides are that the door-to-door trip was over six hours and there was a screaming baby on both flights, so another time I think it would be better to have a two night break.  Travel is definitely not romantic any more, and the idea that we are so close to the continent that we can just pop over is shot down in endless queuing and waiting to be shuffled in and out of cramped confines.  The show itself has narrow aisles (only about six feet) which were frequently clogged, leading to a lot of shoving as people pushed their way through, and it was far too warm.  However, the vendors were all very friendly, and I enjoyed seeing different items from several European countries, as well as a few American dealers, one Canadian and one Australian.  The language barrier wasn’t an issue, I got by fine with gesturing and being shown amounts on calculators etc.

I picked up a lovely glass dressing set from a stand specialising in lamp worked glass items. 

 From another stall I bought two waste bins, a basket and a kitchen pad all decorated with decoupage. 

 I bought a log-cabin style stitched cushion for my quilting shop, and from another stall a ‘sewing’ basket and a Pins tin. 

From a stand full of charming Fimo dolls and bears, I bought a cute rabbit in two sizes (the smaller one for the Fairfield house). I thought the cardigan has been impressed with a knitted texture, but it turns out to be actually a tiny cardigan made of knit fabric.  So cute!

And from a stall full of lovely printed textiles, I purchased two pillows, a lovely jug decorated with roses, and a candlesnuffer.

I had to start a new knitting project for the plane, as none of my other projects were sufficiently portable with plane-safe wooden needles.  Still being in love with the luscious softness of the  Debbie Bliss Angel Print yarn, I looked up an easy lace shawl pattern and settled on the Featherduster pattern.  I cast on on my Friday lunch hour in case airport security needed to see knitting on the needles and was able to complete almost two repeats of Chart B on the plane journeys.  Knitting with this yarn is strange, the strands are like gossamer yet the fuzzy halo is so profuse that it can be hard to differentiate the stitches on the needle.  Luckily the lace pattern is easy to keep track of, and dropped stitches just hang in place attached by all the matted fuzziness.  The resulting knitting is a silken, lightweight, luscious, fuzzy, squishable web.  I’m not sure how much the lace pattern is going to show up, but the feather-and-fan variant is pulling the colour variegations into attractive waves.

Earlier in the week, I finished DH’s Christmas present socks, made from more luscious silky yarn from the Mean Girls Yarn Club Episode 4.  I haven’t blocked them yet but I think I don’t even need to, the stitching has come out so evenly in this lovely yarn.

I also finished the two snowmen that I started last weekend.  I knit these in DK weight yarn as opposed to the 4-ply in the pattern, so mine have come out about five inches high.  They are very cute, I will keep one and gift the other one to m-i-l for Christmas.

I didn’t get much quilting done this week, with only two sessions on the frame, but I am almost finished stippling on the baby Fan Quilt.  It’s looking less and less likely that I will get through my pile of tops in time to take the frame down for Christmas.  DH has bravely said that I can leave it up over Christmas, but that will mean nowhere to put the Christmas tree which DS isn’t happy about.  If our house sale goes through next summer, then this could be the last Christmas in this house, making me feel even more guilty about disrupting family rituals.  But if I take the frame down, it probably won’t go up again until we get moved into a new house which could be as long as a couple of years if we rent for a while during the search. I feel very conflicted.

I need to finish up my printed panel waistcoat so that I can wear it to sewing club next weekend.  I’ve attached the lining and turned it through, but I still need to close the lining side seams and then top stitch all the edges.    I also started knitting a pair of fingerless mitts with the Carezza Alpaca I bought, but I’m going to pull it out as I feel the needles I’m using are too big.  I want a closer-knit fabric for warmth and more stability.  The ball band specifies 5.5mm and I was using 4.5mm but I think I might go down to a 3.5mm and see what it’s like.  I want a fabric like the sample in the shop, which was almost like a soft lightweight felt.

I blocked my Eyelet Jumper pieces and was disappointed to find that they were too big, particularly the front and back.  In the end, I chucked the wet pieces into the dryer in the hopes that the mercerised cotton would shrink a bit.  It did, but the pieces are still generous in size.   Hopefully it isn't going to look too bad when it's made up.

Hope you had a great week too!

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