Tag Archives: travel

Mission San Miguel Arcangel and its Loom

My vacation is long since over but I want share a few pictures from Mission San Miguel Arcangel, located in San Luis Obispo county in California. Just off the highway, this mission is in an agriculturally rich area. There must also be an army base nearby, based on uniformed personnel we saw eating at nearby Leo’s Cafe.


The loom below was part of a display of how the mission operated. Sadly it’s not in a usable state.

Buying Fabric in San Francisco

Front of Frabric Outlet store showing signage

Here’s what it looks like from the outside

I made a visit to Fabric Outlet in the Mission District of San Francisco in order to post a review as a community service to you all.

In truth, I was was pretty keen to to see the place as it had such good reviews on line.

I’d been to the Mission District before, where Fabric Outlet is located, in order to visit Gracias Madre vegan Mexican restaurant, which Tinkerer and I were invited to on a previous holiday after requesting an authentic San Francisco dining experience. I loved Gracias Madre but I think it’s fair to say that Tinkerer regards vegan cheese as a bridge too far.

I remembered the area around the 16th and Mission BART station as grimy and impoverished. This time I visited in the mid-morning and I found the area downright unpleasant.

If you decide to visit, wear closed shoes, or at least your Birkenstocks to get your feet off the ground a bit. I understand that homelessness and poverty are complex problems to solve, but getting a street cleaner out on a regular basis should be manageable by the local authorities. The stench of urine around the BART station was overwhelming. And don’t get me started on the pigeons. If you have a bird phobia at all, stay away.

Interior view of fabric Outlet showing rolls of ribbon

And the inside

It was a short walk to Fabric Outlet and I recommend visiting if you have a need for a specialty fabric or anything unusual such as fake fur, or leather, or sequins. The range is excellent and includes notions, patterns and upholstery fabric. Prices seemed reasonable to my inexperienced eyes and they had a 40% off promotion running on the day I visited. Sadly for me the promotion didn’t include oil cloth, which was the one thing I was looking to buy.

The style of the store was also more human than you might find at a fabric store at a suburban mall, perhaps due to it being located in a basement and having fewer bright lights to dazzle you.

The only fabric I brought home that day was a couple of metres of new quilting type fabric from Thrift Town next door. I’m still not sure if it is 100% cotton or a blend, but as I’m planning to use it for rug weaving I’m happy either way.



A Warm Welcome at In Between Stitches in Livermore, CA

Quilt samples on display, pineapple quilt and bolts of fabric

Not usually my cup of tea but I even thought these pineapples were cute.

I bought a $4 silicone thimble at In Between Stitches and I received a warm welcome on a 38 C degree day, which I believe is 100 F. Regardless of your measurement system, I think we can agree that’s a hot a hot day. Hot enough for ice cream, but that came later.

If the weather was warm, the welcome at In Between Stitches was equally so. I met one of the owners who took the time to chat with me, told me which is her favourite quilting magazine, wished me a good visit to California and even sent me away with a complimentary copy of Better Homes and Gardens Quilt Sampler Magazine from 2010 in which their store was featured. This is easily the most authentic and friendly response I’ve had when I’ve mentioned this blog to any quilt store proprietor, in any country and I am thankful and appreciative. These people do so much more than parrot ‘Have a nice day’ when you leave.

Cutting area inside the store with work in progress and quilts hanging on the wall behind
They offer classes, have a beautifully designed shop and the samples are to my mind tasteful and inspiring. If you’re in the Livermore area, visit this shop at 2190 First St. You won’t regret it.

Photos were taken with permission.

A Virtual Friend becomes a Real One in Virginia City, NV

Court House at Virginia City, NV

Court House at Virginia City, NV

This weekend I had the pleasure of meeting one of my virtual friends Michelle, who blogs at Sleepy Cat Hollow. We started following each other’s WordPress blogs some years ago, then exchanged a mail or two and connected on that other social networking site.

This weekend we got to meet Michelle and her lovely husband. They were kind enough to introduce us to geocaching and to the historic silver mining town of Virginia City in Nevada. It was delightful to have the opportunity to turn a virtual friend into a real one and to meet some people with a knowledge of the area that goes back to their childhood years. 

Thank you Michelle and Lee.

A Visit to Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Supplies

img_0363In the interest of research I made a trip to Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Supplies at Pacific Commons in Fremont, California. The location is quite beautiful, as you can see from this car park photo. It feels like those hills follow you wherever you go in these parts, and they are spectacular to look at, particularly when the setting sun exaggerates the contours of the land by casting deep shadows. I got to Pacific Commons by bus, itself an adventure in this state where the car, SUV and truck reign supreme.

Shelving units at Jo-Ann's

It’s a spacious store

Generally I’m finding bus travel to be convenient and easy, though sometimes you can be faced with some serious walks just to get from one place to another once you reach your destination, particularly when you are going to a new shopping centre in a suburban location. It appears the planners assumed you would be driving, rather than walking, from one shop to the next.

I had read about Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores  as a place where many sewers get their fabric. The range was large and the whole shop was huge.  Many blog posts mentioned  making purchases only with a coupon and I could see why, as prices seemed to be on the high side. Financially, you’d definitely better off buying fabric in Bangkok though no shop I have seen in Bangkok could match Jo-Ann’s for range. And then there’s the cost of the air ticket…

Bolts of unpatterned fabrics on display shelvesThe selection of upholstery fabric was really impressive and it was good to see both upholstery fabric, fashion fabric and quilting fabric all in the same shop. That doesn’t tend to happen in Australia or New Zealand.

I bought a couple of dress patterns and some crochet cotton to continue my band weaving using a finer weight yarn, in the hope it will give me a better finish.

The checkout operator generously let me use my 40% off coupon even though it hadn’t downloaded correctly to my phone. Full marks for customer service on that one.


A different kind of gold in the Victorian Goldfields

My kind of gold – fibre from Bendigo Woollen Mills and historic kilns at Bendigo Potteries.  

three balls of carpet wool from Bendigo Woolen Mills

Carpet Wool

Carpet wool seems to be a rare commodity these days. I am not aware of any wool processing plants that still make carpet wool in either New Zealand or Australia. When I see some rug wool on sale I tend to grab it. In the case of the lovely blue wool in the photo above, I took all they had in stock, which was ten 50g balls. There was no more of any colour on the shelves. For good measure I also grabbed a couple of cones of 3ply which weaves up beautifully in scarves. Having said that, Bendigo Wollen Mills cater to knitters much more than weavers and have some beautiful yarns.

The photos below are from the nearby Bendigo Potteries where a miner was digging for gold but found clay and decided to return to his original trade of being a potter. 


two brick bottle kilns and a horizontal kiln  at Bendig Potteries

I learned that these are called Bottle Kilns

close up of a brick bottle kiln at Bendigo Potteries

Bottle Kiln


Jim Thompson House and Jim Thompson Factory Shop – Bangkok

Boiling Silk Cocoons at the Jim Thompson House Museum

Boiling Silk Cocoons at the Jim Thompson House Museum

The Jim Thompson story is a fascinating one. A trained architect and former CIA agent, he is credited with reviving the Thai silk industry in the period after World War II. He settled in Bangkok and transported traditional teak houses from regional locations to form his home, collecting an art collection at the same time. In 1967 he disappeared in mysterious circumstances. His Bangkok home is now the Thai House and Museum and visiting it richly rewards the visitor.

The museum can only be visited as part of a guided visit. The experience is well-managed so you get just enough time to have a look around before your are shepherded on to make way for the next group. It’s a popular tourist destination that does get busy, helped, I imagine by its central location within an easy walk of the National Stadium BTS Sky Train station and the ever popular MBK shopping centre.

There is a loom on site, but it has not been restored to working condition so the insights for the weaver are few, though they did have a beautiful young woman to spin silk and pose for photographs.

Silk Spinner at Jim Thompson House Museum

Look at the Girl, not the background

The other side of the Jim Thompson story are the Jim Thompson retail outlets which sell silk fabrics, scarves, clothing, bags and homewares. These retail outlets are dotted around places that tourist frequent, including on the museum grounds and Bangkok airport. Prices are high and for the bargain (or at least discount) hunter, there are six factory sales outlets in tourist friendly locations around Thailand, including Bangkok.

We visited the Jim Thompson Factory Shop in Bangkok and found it to be a good retail experience. The outlet shop  has a good range of upholstery fabrics in silk, linen and more, plus furnishing items.


The address is 153 Sukhumvit Soi 93. To get there on public transport take the BTS Sky Train to Bang Chak station, use  Exit 5, then walk up Soi 93. You can’t miss the Jim Thompson Factory Shop as it’s a stand alone four or five storey building on the left hand side of the road and it has the name out the front.

The view from Bang Chak BTS Sky Train stop

The view from Bang Chak BTS Sky Train stop

The Jim Thompson Factory Shop is open daily 9am- 6pm. If you are looking for high quality, well packaged gift or souvenir items, this is a good place to go.