Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bangkok: Sampeng Market (This ain't JoAnn's)

With all the flooding going on in Thailand right now, Bangkok has been on my mind a lot lately. I felt the urge to go back and share some of the happy times I had there this summer. It's resilient city, and I know, with time, it will recover. My heart goes out to the good people in this trying time.

Crafty Treasures from Thailand

When I was in Bangkok this summer, one of my favorite days was the crafty "girl's day out" my Thai hostess invited me to. We left the husbands and her kids snoring away, and were on the road by 8 a.m. to discover the crafty treasures awaiting us in the labyrinthine corridors of the Sampeng Market.

Sampeng Market

Located in Chinatown, this market tends to be a bit off the tourist trail. Though, if you have a crafting bone in your body, Sampeng is a must-see. It's jam-packed with fabrics, notions, yarns, and beads, as well as hair decorations, school supplies, toys, clothing, housewares, and "exotic" snacks (oh, how I miss you, salted snow plums).  Even better, it's all relatively inexpensive, though it really helped that I was with a local who could help me haggle.

Sampeng Bead Store 2

Our first crafty stop was at one of the biggest bead stores in the market. I was drawn in by the walls lined with bags of colorful sequins, and followed the glittery trail back to find a cavernous room lined with sacks of rhinestones and beads. It took me a bit to explain to the nice employees that I wanted smaller quantities of beads, not smaller sizes of beads themselves, but once I did I walked out with some gorgeous rhinestones and hand-made polymer clay flowers.

Sampeng Bead Store 1

 After a bit more shopping for hair accessories and gifts (as well as a new pair of embroidery scissors to replace the ones confiscated in Taipei), we stopped for lunch. We simply stepped out of the flow of traffic to a noodle vendor, and perched ourselves at the wee stall-side table while they cooked up our meal on the spot.

Sampeng Lunch

I have to admit, I felt a bit like an adult sitting at a child's table, though by then I was getting used to being the biggest person around. You can see just how little the stools were from the background of this picture. Comfy for Thais, not so much for plus-size Farang women.

Sampeng Noodles 2

After a tasty lunch, we browsed some more. I was in high shopping mode. I picked up a Japanese quilting magazine for my mom, tons of beautifully patterned cotton fabric, numerous spools of thread, and some fine crochet yarn for my friend back home. It was a beautiful, crafty haul.

Sampeng Yarns

I haven't begun projects with most of the materials yet, but I'm waiting for the right ideas to strike. These are once-in-a-lifetime treasures for me, so when I finally do make something, I want it to be the right something.

Fabrics from Thailand

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Reminder to the Writer

A little reminder

A little reminder I stitched up to put by my writing desk. Made with Sublime Stitching's Sexy Librarians pattern set (and non-bleeding floss).

I did the majority of the stitching during my downtime in Bangkok this summer. I'm really glad I took it with me. It may sound hokey, but crafting does provide a common bond across language and culture barriers. My host's Thai mother-in-law perked up when she saw me pull out my hoop and thread, and scurried to show me the crochet she was working on. Suddenly, we had something we could "talk" about, even with just smiles and appreciative sounds.

A little tip to crafters traveling internationally: be sure to check the carry-on regulations for all the airports you're connecting to. Though my pretty little gold scissors were okay at SFO, they were confiscated at our connecting flight in Taipei. Oh well.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tara McPherson Embroidery

Tara McPherson Stitching

I'm doing a little catch-up with the embroidery posts. Though I haven't been sharing, I've still been stitching.

I do most of my stitching while my husband reads to me, and now that the semester's well under way there's lots of evenings spent curled up reading and stitching. Especially since we're currently in book two of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. So lots of good books = lots of fun stitching.

This is one I finished back in July. Tara McPherson is one of my favorite visual artists (so much so that I hunted down all 10 issues of the Vertigo comic The Witching, and I have to say, sadly, that her covers were the best part). So, I was over the moon when Sublime Stitching brought her on as a guest artist to make a pattern pack.

I carefully selected my colors, deciding on a rich, jewel-toned palette for this piece. It was a simple enough design, so the colors would really make it pop. It does. I loved how it came out...until I went to wash the finished piece.

You can't tell in very well from the photo, but the colors actually ran. I'd used a batch of no-name floss and the pink and purple bled permanently into the snowy white fabric.

At first, I was crushed. This was my first encounter with floss-color-bleed ruining a piece, and of course it had to be on the Tara McPherson pattern I'd waited so long to stitch.

However, the more I look at it, the more I like the look. It seems appropriate for this figure to have a hazy purple halo and a heart who's color bleeds gently across her chest. Thematically, it works.

I'm still not sure if I'm going to hoop her and add her to the growing wall of stitch, but at least I've come to peace with her.

Moral of this story: check to see if you floss will bleed when you try a new brand. Especially a no-name brand.