Chania’s Folklore Museum

When I travel I love to visit museums that feature local handicrafts and costumes. I found a little gem of a museum in the back streets of Chania’s old town on the island of Crete. It was developed by Irini Koumandraki who displays historic pieces of embroidery, applique and lace in vignettes alongside old irons, farm utensils and crockery. It’s charming and protected by Irini’s ten year old dog who likes to check out any visitors.

Best of all was talking to Irini about her own work (see the first five photos) which she makes entirely by machine with silk threads (see the photo of her thread stash). “It is all just in my head,” she said, “I don’t have a pattern!” I bought the olive tree piece for my own collection and in driving around Crete I realised that Irini has got the tree just right with it’s numerous scraggy trunks and the purple hued leaves.

Santorini, Greece

What can I say Santorini, Greece is as beautiful as they say with the white and blue buildings radiating light as they bask in the hot sun. The town of Oia is where you’ll find the quintessential blue domed buildings; Fira has white/cream domes but it’s where you’ll see the donkey steps and the huge cruise ships moored out in the bay.

The most excitement of the day was taking the two hour ferry ride from Rethymno, Crete (near where we were staying) to Santorini Island. The ferry had more passengers than cars so the vehicle decks were used to sort out the hundreds of people as they quickly got on and off the boat. And I mean QUICKLY – the ferry docked with its bay doors open and the passengers got off while others got on (see photo). This all took minutes and then the ferry left as the bay doors were raised!

Then we were collected by buses and had to drive up the cliff face on a twisty road full of other traffic – a bit scary if you were on the seaward side of the bus!

Fabulous time in Crete

At the end of August, my husband, our girls and our sons-in-law spent a week in Crete, Greece. We don’t often travel together but this year it was a perfect mix of beaches, hikes (the kids!), good food, archaeological sites and a visit to the very, very over populated Santorini (see next blog post). Never thought Crete would be so mountainous (it made for some very interesting drives) and I absolutely loved the pink sand at Elafonisi Beach.

Wish I could afford a pen!

As part of my Alpine Experience embroidery retreat (see last blog post) we had a day trip to Chamonix. The saner part of the group decided to go shopping which included a lovely outdoor market. The more adventurous spirits, myself included, decided to take a two part gondola ride to get close to the top of Mont Blanc. It was breathtaking and bloody cold at the summit but worth the long queues and the scary gondola ride that took us, at one point, about six feet (2 m) from a rock face.

Bliss in the French Alps

In August I had the good fortune to attend embroidery classes with Nicola Jarvis in Les Carroz, France. It wasn’t just any old class. The Alpine Experience classes are a cut above with magnificent accommodations and fabulous meals offered in the setting of two chalets high up in the French Alps. The week starts and ends with transport from Geneva airport so that, from beginning to end, there is nothing to think about but embroidery! Thanks to Nadine and Mark for a wonderful week!

Nicola Jarvis is a superb teacher – she lets the students work at their own pace and on their own projects which incorporate her designs, of course. She gives a short stitch lesson to one or two students, then offers thread colour choices to another but still has time for a heartwarming chat or a personalised art lesson. Her kits are beautifully designed and screen printed making it easy to follow the various elements.