Tuesday 28 October 2014

Meet Gail's Patchwork Emporium - Ballarat

The third stop on our Ballarat itinerary was to the famous Gail's Patchwork Emporium.  This was my first visit although both Mum and Jess had been here before. 
Gail's Patchwork Emporium is one of Australia's oldest quilt stores and is situated in Sebastopol, a suburb of Ballarat, Victoria.  It was established back in 1981 and has won numerous awards for excellent customer service, design and decoration, outstanding contribution to the patchwork and quilting industry and tourism. 
Gail's stocks thousands of cotton fabrics; exotic trims; ribbons; patterns (including Judy Niemeyer); hundreds of patchwork/quilting, applique and mixed media books; and a large selection of sewing accessories (including a good range of Clover products).  Amongst her delectable array of fabrics, I noticed that Gail's has a very good selection of delicious batiks. 
In the thread department she stocks: Superior Threads, YLI, Valdani, Cosmo (but not their variegated threads) and Cottage Garden Threads. 
I think I went "WOW!" when I walked through the front door!  I was told that I would be impressed with this store and I certainly was!  The shop extends way further to the back part of this photo - there are a further 3 rooms full of fabric and other accessories.  What Gail has listed on her website is just a small snippet of what she has in her shop!

I'm so sorry I didn't realise I had taken so few photos inside the store - I was too distracted by all the pretties.  I will DEFINITELY be coming back here. 

A lovely display of Ric Rac toys sits proudly near the front door.  Jodie's patterns can also be purchased from Gail's.

 Gail's Patchwork Emporium
131 Yarrowee Street
Sebastopol, Victoria, 3556, Australia
Opening Hours:
Mon - Sat 10-5
Gail's Patchwork Emporium have their annual sale with lots of new decorations, fabrics, books and trims that they are renowned for. 
1 - 31 December 2014
20% off all stock.
10am - 5pm Mon to Sat
Groups & Buses Welcome.
My stash from Gail's - I purchased a charm pack of Bonnie & Camille's new range "Daysail" and some meterage of "Grunge" in Mint by Basic Grey for Moda; some Aubergine/Eggplant coloured fabric for a quilt and Mum bought me a new Clover Seam Ripper.

Meet The Crafty Squirrel - Ballarat

The second stop on our Ballarat itinerary was to The Crafty Squirrel - I even brought my little green secret squirrel along for the visit!

My little green secret squirrel was very excited to visit this store!

The Crafty Squirrel is the little corner shop and studio of designer/maker Morgan Wills.  As well as her own work you will find a wonderful mix of unique and eclectic gifts, craft kits and items, homewares, vintage fabrics, and haberdashery which has been collected from around the world.  There is also an amazing amount of squirrel themed items for sale in the store. (Julie you will LOVE this shop!!!!!)
Owner - Morgan Wills

I am so grateful that Morgan gave me permission to take photographs as there are so many treasures in this shop.  If I'd had more money on me I could've and would've gone mental but I was very good and stuck to my strict budget.  She does have an online store though....

The Crafty Squirrel
Cnr Errard & Urquhart Streets
Ballarat Central, Victoria, Australia
Opening Hours:
Thursday & Friday: 10am - 5pm
Saturday: 10am - 4pm

My stash from The Crafty Squirrel - I purchased many squirrel items, a Dandelyne brooch kit, and a gorgeous metal vintage needle box.
My little green squirrel is happy that he now has a girlfriend - yes I now have a Secret Squirrel AND a Crafty Squirrel!  I should have a very productive household from now on LOL ;0)

Sunday 26 October 2014

Meet the Cotton Factory - Ballarat

On the corner of Clyde and Brougham Streets in Ballarat sits a lovely white washed studio.  It looks innocent and quiet from the outside in its idyllic peaceful setting, but don't let that fool you because all the fun and excitement happens within the inside of these walls!  This is a very special studio which is famed throughout Instagram-land amongst the crafting and quilting communities.
Many famous names are known to frequent this address including (but not limited to): Ric Rac, Sarah Fielke, Kaffe Fassett, Tula Pink, Emma Jean Jansen, Gail Pan, Amy Butler, Joel Dewberry and Heather Ross. 
What is this amazing place you may ask?  It is the Cotton Factory of course!

Cotton Factory is the brain child of owner Alison von Bibra.  It is described as being a community sewing space within Ballarat which "offers space for people to come and sit, sew, knit, learn and connect with other crafty types".  The Cotton Factory offers classes in various types of craft including sewing, quilting, crochet, toy making, and handbag making.  They also host children's parties where children can "leave with something they have created themselves and new skills."  
Cotton Factory offers a selection of monthly clubs such as Aurifil, Cosmo and various designer fabric clubsWhen on the premises you can use the Studio space, attend classes or pick up supplies. Credit card facilities are available.

For those of you who are unable to visit in person, Cotton Factory has a small selection of items for sale via their website and also advertises items for sale via their Instagram Sale account . 
Owner - Alison von Bibra

Barbara and Jess shopping at the Cotton Factory

A quilting class in progress at the Cotton Factory

Sarah Fielke's "Enchanted" Quilt is currently on display.  Her "Enchanted" fabric range is available here for purchase together with kits and the pattern for this quilt.

View from the classroom area looking at the shop (left)
View from the classroom area looking at the shop (right)

Saturday 25 October 2014

Catching up with Jess in Ballarat

I had the most awesome day on Thursday!  I drove down to Ballarat with my co-pilot Mum (it's about 1.5 hours drive south west of Bendigo), and met up with my gorgeous "Quilty Sister" Jess as she was passing through on her recent road-trip from Queensland to Melbourne (she's on the home trek now).
Jess & Fiona aka "Scrappy n Happy" & "Bendigo Lioness"

Bendigo (where I live) is the top town marked on the map - it is about 1.5 hours drive from here to Ballarat.
We had arranged to meet up at Alison's shop - the Cotton Factory, and Jess had also arranged to meet up with Jodie from Ric Rac.  This was the first time I had physically met any of them (although we often chat online) and we had a lot of laughs!
Jess & Jodie from "Ric Rac"
(can you see Alison photo-bombing in the background?)
Alison (Cotton Factory), Jodie (Ric Rac), Fiona (Bendigo Lioness) & Jess (Scrappy N Happy)
 After our visit, strange posts started to appear on Instagram...
posted by Alison
posted by Jodie
Apparently I "cook, sew, have great hair & I give good muffin"... oh deary deary me...

After we left the Cotton Factory, Jess joined Mum and I as we visited the Crafty Squirrel and Gail's Patchwork Emporium.  It was here that we bid farewell to Jess. Mum and I then headed off to get some lunch and then had coffee & macarons at McCafe.  We squeezed in a quick visit to the Elephant Patch before leaving Ballarat for the journey back to Bendigo.  I will detail these visits in coming posts over the next few days, including our stop on the way home at Maldon. 
Macarons & Coffee for afternoon tea at MacDonalds
The Next Day:

I know that Jess hasn't had a chance to open the box of presents that I gave her yet, but these are the gorgeous goodies which she so generously gave to me (I didn't get a chance to open them until the following day):

My first ever box of Aurifil!  I was absolutely blown away when I saw these!!!!!   Yes, I cried!  Absolutely ecstatic!

A very yummy box of chocolate truffles from Yarra Valley Chocolaterie
The flavours are: Zingy Lime, Strawberry Delight and Marble Mint.

She also gave me some Cottage Garden Threads, some Tula Pink squirrel ribbon and a copy of the new release from the International Assembly.

I will post more details on each of the shops that we visited on our day out over the coming days; but meanwhile I will introduce you to Jodie & Jess.
Meet Jodie.  Jodie from Ric Rac is a toy maker based in Ballarat and she creates the most adorable toys from various fabrics including felt.  Her newest patterns "Bruce" the crafty carrier and "Tea Set" have just been released.  Please click on the link below to visit her blog and there is a link there to her store where you can purchase her patterns.  Her patterns can also be found in many quilt stores throughout Australia.
Click to visit Ric Rac
Meet Jess. Jess (Scrappy n Happy) is a Queensland based Quilter, Sewer, Mum & Blogger and is one of the most loveliest people I have ever met.  She is also a member of the Quilty Sisters.  Please click on the link below to visit her Blog.  Links to her Etsy shop and Instagram can be found on her blog. (Sorry Jess I borrowed this photo from your Instagram profile.)
Click to visit Scrappy n Happy

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Do It In Deni! My day out with Probus to Deniliquin.

I don't usually post articles about travel on here (as that was a previous life when I still had my health & was able to live life), but late last week my elderly parents invited me to join their Probus group on a day trip to Deniliquin.  The deal - if I would be their photographer, I could have a day out of the house including lunch.  Yes, I am so desperately broke I will work for food!
Where is Deniliquin?  Deniliquin, known locally as "Deni",  is a town in the Riverina region of New South Wales close to the border with Victoria (Australia). Deniliquin is located at the intersection of the Riverina and Cobb Highway approximately 725 kilometres south west of the state capital, Sydney and 285 kilometres north of Melbourne, and is 171 kilometres NE of Bendigo (see map - Bendigo is the blue dot).

Deniliquin has much to offer, whether you are into utes (for which they are famous for), history, sport, bushwalking, camping, fishing, bird watching or learning about life in rural Australia.  Deniliquin enjoys a warm climate with more sunshine hours each year than the Gold Coast.  Summer temperatures average 31.8C, spring & autumn average 23.7C and winter is a mild 15.4C

We left very early in the morning and had a brief toilet stop at Echuca on the way north.  We arrived at Deniliquin late morning.

Our first stop was at the Visitor Centre & Peppin Heritage Centre.  Originally the Deniliquin Public School, it was renamed the Peppin Heritage Centre in honour of the Peppin family and the influence they had on the founding of the Australian Merino industry.  The centre's museum includes a history of the Peppin Merino, an original ram shed, the Wanganella Gaol, the Struggle for Water exhibition and the latest permanent exhibition titled "Squatters, Surveyors and Selectors - Settlement along the Edward", which covers the history of stations along the Edward River.

"TransmUTE" - this FB Holden Ute was transformed into a work of art by the local community and was unveiled in 2008.  It celebrates Deniliquin's famous Ute Muster.  The mosaic sculpture design depicts the local landscape, agriculture, river, sunset, sky and much more.


The "SHOD" - this giant half of a bullock shoe was erected in 2009 as a tribute to the pioneer bullockies. 

Me in camouflage with a local art exhibition inside the Visitor Centre. 
I chose the right skirt to wear that day! LOL

A Peppin Merino Ram - he looks a bit stuffed to me!

Peppin Heritage Centre

Peppin Heritage Centre

Following our visit we were taken on a leisurely coach tour around the township with a couple of local guides. 
View of the Edward River
View of the Edward River
The "Ute on the Pole" - in 1999, Deniliquin held the inaugural "Play on the Plains" Festival and a part of the festival was to attract as many utes as possible.  A Guinness World Record was set with 2839 utes turning up!  In 2010, 10152 utes were counted! The iconic WB Holden Ute complete with engine, bulbar, stickers and aerials was erected in 2000 and confirms that Deniliquin is the Ute Capital of the World.  It is situated in Charlotte Street, on the edge of the Edward River and beside the National Bridge.
A close up of the "Ute on a Pole"

Here's me showing off my fantastic parking skills!

The Deniliquin Ute Muster Site is approximately 2kms from town on the Conargo Road.  The gates are a must see!  The festival has been held on this site since 2002 and as the event has grown so has the infrastructure which can be seen.   The Festival also features the Guinness Book of Records Blue Singlet Count, which now stands at 3500, and the Australian National Circle Work Championships.  The event features two days jam packed with entertainment - live music concerts, trade sites, sports driving area, bull rides, bogan spotting, and a host of other entertainment for the whole family on the NSW Labour Day Weekend in October.  For further information visit: www.deniutemuster.com.au
  Lunch was at the Globe Hotel (grilled fish and salad for me).
Our lunch venue - The Globe Hotel
Grilled Barramundi and salad for me.
Our group spread over 4 or 5 tables.

Following lunch was an afternoon visit to the local Historical Society Museum including  hosted afternoon tea.  Located at the end of Macauley Street, the former Police Inspector's Residence has been fully restored and has a fantastic display of life in Deniliquin, from the early days to the present, as well as extensive historical records.  The highlight for me was the small collection of antique irons and sewing machines and the beautiful rose garden.

Deniliquin Historical Society

Vintage EMU Sewing machine & table
Vintage SINGER Sewing machine & table
Hand powered SINGER Sewing Machine
Heritage Society's Rose Garden
Heritage Society's Rose Garden
Heritage Society's Rose Garden
Afternoon tea at the Heritage Society
An Iced Vovo biscuit!  I haven't seen one of those for years.  Shame it wasn't gluten-free!
I *HAD* to include this photo.  These are my parents - fondly referred to as Dad and Mum.  In typical fashion Dad is reaching for more cake whilst Mum looks on with a look of disdain on her face. Bwahahahahahaha
"Disdain" - the feeling that someone or something is unworthy of one's consideration or respect.
I was going to make a joke about "Probus members all being retired dentists so that I can't show you their faces"; but I know a lot of people outside of Australia would not have seen that TV ad and would not "get" the joke.  Anyway, here's a group shot during the end of day speeches. I was meandering around the museum whilst they were eating cake hence I was caught off guard and at the back of the room.

On the drive back to Bendigo, my mother entertained us by reading "Sam The Lamb" - a cute kiddies colouring-in book about the Australian Wool Industry.  You can download your own copy of this cute little book via the SAM THE LAMB website. 
Barbara reads "Sam the Lamb"
Wool may be used to knit and crochet!
Traffic jam!
Cows on the loose
Welcome back to Victoria!  We crossed the state border from Moama to Echuca.
Turn right to Bendigo...
After Dad insisted on showing our coach driver a "short cut" back to Bendigo, we eventually arrived back into town early evening.  A very exhausting day for me but I was so grateful to escape the confines of my house & of Bendigo, even if only for a day.
Many thanks to the Strathdale Probus Group and Deniliquin Tourism.  Information sourced from Deniliquin Tourism & Deniliquin Visitor Information Centre. http://www.denitourism.com.au/
"Do it in Deni" on the Edward River.