11 hours ago
Wednesday, 5 August 2015
China - part 12 - patchwork day 2
The students started their Corner in the Cabin blocks in the morning, working with strips of slightly different widths and choosing the fabric order themselves. All the blocks had a red square as the starting point but otherwise every block was individual. My idea was that we should aim to have enough blocks to make two quilts - a quilt as you go quilt plus a second quilt that I would bring back to the UK to be longarm quilted and enter into a UK quilt show. For these blocks, we switched over to using the Aurifil threads Alex Veronelli kindly sent us - a big 'Thank You' to Aurifil for sponsoring our threads for this project. I wanted the students sewing with the best materials for this.
The finished blocks were impressive! We pushed on, with the aim of most of the students making two blocks. Yesterday, we had got around the small number of machines by using the industrial sewing machines in the next classroom, but there were so many problems with tension, I had the students use the Singer machines only today. The students were working on improving their seam allowances today. I had them using a wider seam allowance than the usual quarter inch (6mm), more like 3/8in (1cm), but still using the standard machine foot like a quarter inch foot, because I wanted to make sure we had enough blocks with good seam allowances that wouldn't pull apart on the longarm frame.
At lunchtime, the staff went to another excellent restaurant.
Corn on the cob is a popular food here, as is omlette.
It was market day and I had a short walk in the market with Rae, the English teacher from the high school next door to the college, who was helping me with translation for the remaining three days of the course. All kinds of things were being sold, from vegetables and chickens to embroidery.
On the other side of the bridge, there was a stall selling embroidery patterns for traditional Maonan baby carriers. These paper patterns are stuck to the velveteen background and the satin stitches go over the paper, so the paper stays inside, rather like the Miao embroidery I saw a few days ago.
The approach was very much 'mix and match'. These patterns are cut by hand with a knife, through numerous layers of paper simultaneously. Rae helped me choose. She is one of the Buyi people rather than Maonan, but she knew a lot about Maonan designs. A full set of patterns cost 20 Yuan - about £2. The pattern seller rolled each set up in a page recycled from a magazine, and tied around the roll with a piece of string unravelled from an old shopping sack - great recycling.
The popular colours are very bright threads, even some day glo threads.
There were exotic plants for sale. These would grow outdoors here, at least in summer.
There were several stalls selling traditional Chinese medicines.
Here, I bought a lucky charm for 10 Yuan. The seller placed various things including a Guanyin (Kannon Buddha) charm, rice, red powder and a faux old coin into a paper wrapper, swirled it around some incence in front of the Buddhas and put it into a heart shaped leatherette holder stamped with my Chinese zodiac year, before crimping the holder closed with a stapler and adding a long red thread from the Buddha.
The bookstall seemed to have a lot of almanacs and books about Feng Shui, guessing by the images on the covers.
A stall selling ready stitched baby carriers. They had machine and hand sewn ones.
This is the detail of the one I bought. It was probably the most expensive one on the stall and the stitch is a kind of bullion stitch, which is apparently the most highly regarded stitch among the Maonan.
Rae negotiated the price for me, to 350 Yuan (about £35). That would be quite a lot of money here, so a new baby carrier would be a significant investment for a family, probably the equivalent of buying a push chair here.
I saw this purple one on another stall later - it was more my taste than the one I bought, but less typical of the main styles.
This seller was assembling baby carriers on her stall.
There are far more motorbikes and scooters on the roads here, plus these amazing motorbike/mini truck hybrids. They are perfect on the narrow tracks that used to lead to many villages and great in town too. I wish we had them in the UK.
The food here is incredibly fresh, especially the vegetables. A couple of days before, I went to a small supermarket and there were no frozen vegetables on sale.
Not just food, but also household essentials, like packs of toilet paper on sale.
Pintang is a mixture of very new buildings, others that look up to 40 years old and the occasional very old building mixed in among newer places. There are very few like this though.
Most streets look more like this - very modern.
After lunch, we tried something new...