Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Antwerpen, Belgium

First, let me share the toilet in Ted's house--I love it! And 'sew' fun for a quilter to have.

My final shot at Ted's before I joined up with my hubby and family and the softball group (only 165 people!). I didn't have a patch cord for my camera (I borrowed one from Ted's husband while there), so I wasn't able to post the rest of my trip. I mean, who wants to look at a blog with no pictures? :) So all of this is a bit dated.

I led a group of 18 to Antwerp for the day. What a nice 1 1/2 hour train ride from Schiedam (near Rotterdam) to Antwerp. I've done this 3 other times, so told people to sit back and relax and they don't need to worry about the stops in between and to get off the train when it completely stops in Centraal Antwerpen station. It's a big, beautiful building with a curved ceiling and awesome stained glass windows. I am SO glad Ted went with me on this trip, because I went to the bathroom and when I came out, she kept saying, Karen-this is it, we need to get off! I said-no, we need to be IN the building! Then I saw the sign that said, Centraal Antwerpen BUT we weren't in the building! I told our group to hurry and get off and thought I'll just have to figure out where we are when we are off the train--but this is NOT what we normally do! So, we all got off in the nick of time (it only stopped for 1 minute). Then we climbed all the stairs to the ground level and THERE I saw the OTHER train that we normally take, sitting at the top of the station, inside! We apparently were on a train that went on to Brussels!

Okay--my day didn't start off well--but it will get better! :) The very first thing you encounter when leaving the station is the Diamond District. How lucky for us, huh? Well, not this year as our dollar is worth so little this time! $1 = 57 cent Euro. Not a good thing--but it's fun to look at windows and windows of diamonds. I took the group to Diamond Land for a brief tour on how they get the diamonds. While they did that, Ted and I did a little other shopping and touring and of course, had to have a freshly baked Belgium Waffle--complete with powdered sugar. Messy, but worth it! I told the group that we were going to be on the hunt for a quilt shop we had heard about. The one I normally go to, Calico House, (no website) was closed because they were moving. We heard this other shop, Lana's Patchwork was only a 20 minute walk from the train station. So, after the group did the diamond tour, 6 joined us for our quilt shop hunt.

ARE WE THERE YET??? one half hour later, we are still walking in the damp, drizzly rain and wondering how much farther we had to go. Well, after 45 minutes, we found it! Lana's Patchwork.

It was a nice shop, and more than just a quilt shop. It had lots of nice yarns and various needlework supplies, as well as American fabrics, (lots of Kaffe Fassett). Bummer--we can get those at home for a MUCH cheaper price! It's a wonder people quilt over in Europe at all. About $25/yard is what they pay for OUR fabric. No wonder they do a lot of handwork and quilting and spend a few years on a quilt. There's no way they could make several a year like some here do.

We ended up taking the tram back to the center of town where we walked along Meir St. (a pedestrian shopping street), and to the old town center. We saw lots of chocolate shops (and bought some for family back home) and lace shops and all kinds of little cute shops. De Kathedral is a gorgeous Catholic church that should not be missed while in this part of town. We headed back to my most favorite restaurant in Antwerp, the Argentinian Beef place, where they have beef shish kabobs that absolutely melt in your mouth. And of course the yummy fries that they have all over Europe! Did you read that we HEADED there? I pointed it out across the street while we were first walking in the city to the group. However, when we got there to actually eat.........................................

it was boarded up!! LOL I may have to give up my tour guide job--I wasn't doing so well! We took a walk around the corner and found a similar place, so not all was lost. We all made it back to the train station in time to head back to the Netherlands--minus a few bucks/euros. :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Dear Jane progress

On the quilty side...I did bring my Dear Jane, not sure if I'd be able to work on it, but when I was with Ted at her Open House, I finished one block and did another complete one. So...hey Pam--how are YOU doing? :)

I also have been doing some knitting--I'm NOT a knitter--so what I'm doing isn't hardly worth taking a picture of it! LOL I will show it when it's done--IF I get it done. Oh well, I can have high hopes!

This post was originally written about 4 days ago while I was still with Ted. I forgot my camera patch cord to the computer, so now I can no longer post pictures until I return home. Her husband happened to have one that worked for me while I was staying with her. I have since met up with my husband and family and 165 of our best friends! Just kidding-but he does bring 165 people with him to Holland (50 athletes and the rest of them are parents and friends) to play in the Softball Indoor World Cup. I helped on Thursday getting people checked in, etc. Friday we took them to Amsterdam for the day. The athletes played on Saturday, so then I took a group of people that didn't want to watch games all day to Antwerp. I'll write about that day when I can show some pictures--what an adventure! Today is the end of the tournament and then we load the whole group up to head to Paris for 4 days. Since I'll have no pictures to share the next days or so, I'll wait until I get back to share our adventures. And ONE did include a LONG trek to find a quilt shop!

tot ziens!

more hats from Zuid Beveland

This 'overhat' --or one worn on special holidays or Sundays is from Zuid Beveland (in Zeeland) and was worn by the Protestants. It has a large brim that is rounded. I was able to get one made in the late 1800's and is all hand made lace. The shop owner purchased 3 hats from a family that had elderly parents that passed away and they didn't want the hats! Ted claims that these hats are museum quality.
This hat is also from Zuid Beveland, but was worn by the Katholiks (Catholics). Instead of being a large round brim, it has a very large square brim. It, too, is handmade lace and very old. In fact, the hats made from the hand made lace taking almost one year to make one, were not made after WWII--about 1945. I debated on getting two hats from the same area--especially since they were a little on the pricey side. But then I figured this may be my only chance to even get a hat, let alone an old one, so I splurged. I took these 2 pictures in the museum--they showed better than the pictures I took.
This 'kindermuts' (child's hat with a tail) is from Arnemuiden and was worn on special occasions like weddings, etc. It was starched to death and I wondered why it wouldn't scratch a baby--but he said that it was worn over other clothing, but yes, they really wore them that stiff. In fact, he tried to sell me the special starch to make it that way. He is only one of the few that carried that starch. I told thanks, but no thanks as I didn't intend to ever wash it!

I have a few other hats, but I need better conditions to photograph them. Spending 20 minutes to get a picture to look like the real thing, and I gave up! :)

But now I've shown you 6 out of 10 that I got. Again--I was tickled to death! I read an article online in the "Windmill" about how the 'shelf life' of local Dutch costumes is only twenty years from expiry. They will only be able to be seen in museums within one generation. So..I better hurry!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Quilt Shop in Brielle

't Quiltgebeuren

Friday was an Open House for the Quilt Shop in Brielle for quilter's to sign up for new classes. Ted was offering classes and 3 day "Quilt Study" courses (an intense 3 day course normally done in 6 sessions. So I went with her to the Quilt Shop, 't Quiltgebeuren, since I was able to meet the owner, Willy, in Houston this past November. I was curious to see her shop of almost 3 years. She's a lot of fun and found her shop one of those that say, 'come in and stay awhile!'. She had a fancy coffee/cappacino machine in the corner with a table with goodies on it, encouraging quilter's to sit and chat. We first had to take the ferry across the river (or drive all the way around to a tunnel)--so that was a first for me!After spending the morning in the shop, I was so glad that I went. I looked up at one point and thought, 'I know that lady!" And sure enough--it was someone from Belgium (she was about 2 hours away from the quilt shop) that I had taken a week long class with in France! what a surprise! And then 3 other ladies that I have met through Ted also came in. So, I felt so at home! I later took a walk around the little village of Brielle and I just reconfirmed how much I LOVE Holland and all it's quaint villages. Here's what I came to on my first corner..

A flower vendor (so typical!) and a building from the mid 1600's across the street. I walked on the bridge over the canal and took a picture of 't Quiltgebeuren from a distance. She is right on the canal street. Her building is the one with the awning. Willy and her husband (our caterer for the day) own the building and they live in the loft upstairs. I loved it. She runs the shop with her daughter and daughter in law. And it is a VERY nice shop! If you get anywhere close to this area, it's definitely worth the visit. I've been to a few quilt shops in Europe and hers was the best by far!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Hello from the Netherlands!

It's been a whirlwind since the end of the year. I got sick the day after my birthday, and spent some days on the couch. But I still had to do food last weekend for the big softball tournament my husband puts on each year at this time. Then last Tuesday I left for the Netherlands to stay with my friend in s.'Gravenzande (a small seaside village south of the Hague).
Being of Dutch ancestry, it's always fun to come and discover more of my family's culture. One thing that really fascinated me was when I discovered that there is more than one type of Dutch 'hat'. The one that everyone is familiar with is the one from the province of Vollendam. But there are 12 provinces in the Netherlands with several of them having hats that are unique to them. So I decided that it was something that I would like to collect. My friend Ted (her nickname) and I have been touring the different provinces on each of my visits to secure an authentic hat from the area. We have visited several museums and I have, at home, hats from Vollendam, Marken, Staphorst, and Spakenburg. I'll show pictures of those later. In the meantime, we decided on this trip to visit the Zeeland area. Zeeland used to be a series of small islands and was flooded in 1952 in which thousands were killed. That started the 'Delta Works'project, in which dams were created to lower when storms were coming in from sea so it would seal off the area. They are very well known and the engineering so magnificent, that the Dutch engineers were called into the US after Hurricane Katrina to maybe help New Orleans solve their problems. Anyway, Zeeland is now connected more and is known for tourism (they have wonderful beaches and natural parks), fishing (especially the mussels) and farming (apples, onions and potatoes).
Off we go to Middleburg, the capital of Zeeland, to the newly opened 'Zeeuws Museum'. It was closed for 7 years to be totally re-done, structure wise and content. It's a contemporary look at what was in the past. It was very nicely done and nice exhibits, but we only saw a few costumes and just the hats in nice showcases. And no such luck with finding a hat from that area. We happened to ask a clerk if she knew of any place that sold hats and she couldn't think of any. Someone overheard us and told us of a small shop just 5 km away, in Arnemuiden.
Arnemuiden is a very small village and we had no trouble finding the shop, de Troye. What a little gem! The owner was 75 years old and a wealth of information! He said when he no longer runs the shop, there is no one to take over and more than likely the area hats will no longer be made. In fact, most of what I was able to purchase was second hand, purchased from families that had older parents or whatever pass away and the family no longer wanted these old things. I'll show them separately.
The first set that I purchased was from the actual village of Armemuiden. Because Zeeland was once comprised of several small islands, several of the areas had their own costume. They typically had an underhat (ondermuts) (so graciously modeled by my friend!)that was worn on a daily basis and then an overhat (bovenmuts) that was worn on Sundays and special occasions. The set even had a 3rd bonnet, a satin blue bonnet, (blauwe tussenmuts) that was worn in between the layers to show a bit of color. And then what I found to be a real hoot was the little extra 'jewelry' they had. They were gold (or gold plated) spirals (oorijzers-ear irons) that were pinned on the inside of the hats and had charms on the ends. To get an idea of what it all looked like together, I took a picture of a doll with full costume.

Such a fun time we had in this little shop. My next post will be on the hats from the Walcheren area. Armemuiden is actually a village in this province, but remember they used to be separate.

So, I'm off for the day...more coming!