Saturday, November 28, 2009

A great time at the Craft Retreat! – Part 3 (22nd November 2009)

We got up really early that Sunday morning as Corine said that she will start me off early on my bag so that I can get as much done as possible, this being the last day of the retreat.

I was down at the 1st floor foyer ready with my sewing machine and sewing things at 8.00am, all excited to get started on another exciting day at the retreat.

After helping out to get things organised a bit for the day, I immediately got started on the ABC bag which Sheet Lin had already kindly cut to size.

When I first saw the bag, I thought that it was going to be an easy bag to make, especially when Corine said that it only took her two hours to complete it. Errr…..thanks for the vote of confidence, Corine, but I think Corine forgot one very fundamental element - and that is the fact that I am only a novice at making this kind of bags, unlike her who is already an expert! LOL! *wink*

So, how long did I actually take to do the bag which is supposed to be as easy as A..B..C..? SIX HOURS! And even then the bag wasn’t fully completed as I still have the hand sewing part to do. LOL!

The handiwork in my rush to complete it? Errr….don’t even ask! LOL! It must have been my worst! *grin* But, I am glad that at least I managed to complete it at a level where I could understand the technique on how to do it.

I definitely will have to do another piece, this time, at a normal pace, so that I can make proper notes for future reference.

By the way, I finally know how to make the zippered pocket! I have been wanting to learn how to make the zippered pocket for the longest time, and finally Corine taught me how to do it! I am so excited! *grin*

While doing the bag at the retreat, I made notes by taking photographs for almost every step, but I would need to go through them again and redo my `notes’ so that I can understand it better when I need to do the bag again.

I also took photographic notes for the four Face Bag, but not as detailed as the ABC bag as it only occurred to me halfway through making the Four Face bag on how to go about taking notes without spending too much time writing as I rushed to complete the bag.

In the mean time while I was busy and having fun at the retreat, my hubby and Aiman was also having fun hiking Bukit Bendera. Aiman called me from time to time to report to me on his progress.

My hubby said that it took a lot to motivate a boy to take a four and a half hour hike. He said that he learnt a lot about himself as a father too. *smile*

I am so proud of my two boys! More so when my hubby said that Aiman was threathened and chased by an aggresive alpha male leader of the pack monkey. It was a new but frightening experience for him but he took it in his stride, although, according to my hubby, he cried a bit, but he would not let my hubby relate it to me out of embarassment. *grin*

After completing the ABC bag at about 3.30pm, and rushing through lunch of McD Prosperity Burger ordered by Niza (thanks, Niza, for the lunch!), I immediately got started on the Lacey Tote bag.

I wanted to get as much done as possible so that at the end of the retreat, I will feel satisfied and happy that I have accomplished so much even though over a short span of time. At least I have something to show for, despite the crisis that we have had to go through and make every sen and time spent worth it.

I did not manage to get the Lacey Tote done by the time it was time for the retreat to end, but Corine gave me enough tips for me to be able to go home and complete the bag. I also took lots of photographs of the sample bag so that I have something to refer to should I need to.

Here are some photos of some of the bags which Corine will be offering to teach next year! I just can't wait! I just hope that I can find the time to come to Penang to learn all these lovely bags from her!

By the way, there was also an Etui class being taught by Agnes.

I had wanted to learn how to make this too, but Agnes adviced me to concentrate on the bags as Corine is in Penang and I might not have another chance so soon to come to Penang again.

Whereas the Etui can be learnt later as Agnes is in Kuala Lumpur.

Soon it was time to pack up, and things were buzzing around with the organizers getting things together. Goodbyes were said to those who were not able to join us for the BBQ at Corine’s house that night.

I did not want to leave the foyer of the hotel where the retreat was taking place so soon despite having packed up all my things. I was starting to experience a withdrawal symptom.

What do you expect when, the last 3 days, you have been
spending time together among friends who share the same passion as you, having so much fun together, doing things we simply love and don't mind spending all day doing it!

Note: above photos taken from Troy16 Flickr Album. You can see more here.

I was leaving behind friends I have not met for a very long time. Even though Azie, Leena and Roz live in the Klang Valley, it is not easy for us to get the opportunity to meet like what we did the last 3 days. It's not easy to meet up with Niza either as she lives in Nibong Tebal. I hope to meet Zarina again when I next fly in to Penang for work, even if it is just for a short while. Hopefully I will also have another chance to drop by Corine's Little Hut Shop!

Corine has taught me so much, but there is still plenty that I still need to learn!

Despite completing one bag and having two bags halfway done, I feel that I have not learnt enough or accomplished much. I have lots still to learn and I hope that Corine will still open her doors to me to learn a lot more.

I still have the Friendship Girl and the Hexagon bag to make, and Corine has promised me that she will teach me the next time that she is down here in Kuala Lumpur. I just can’t wait. I just hope that it doesn’t clash with my other commitments here in KL.

There is so much that I want to do and learn, but there is so little time to do it……… *sigh*

The retreat ended with a BBQ at Corine’s house which we almost didn’t make it when we simply could not find our way there. Niza and Corine had to come get us. *grin*

Thanks, Niza and Corine!

Seen here with me, are, from left, Niza, Leena and Roz. Azie had left by the 7.00pm flight earlier that day.

We had a great time at the BBQ, but had an even better time looking at all the lovely quilts which Corine showed us as she got Roz, Niza and Leena settled in for the night.

Wish I could have joined them for an all night girls’ night! LOL! *wink*

I bet all they could talk about all night long was the retreat! I am envious!

I was even more envious when Niza called me the next morning to tell me that they are doing another day of crafting at Corine’s little Hut Shop as Leena and Roz wanted to do more bags while they waited for their flight back to KL.

If I hadn’t felt guilty for `neglecting’ my son and hubby for the last 3 days, I would probably have wanted to join them. *wink* In fact, when Niza called me in the morning, my hubby had taken my son to the swimming pool, and I think I would have walked to Corine’s house had the house just been a walking distance to the hotel! LOL!

But, it would have been a rush as we had to check out of the hotel by 12.00noon. I also had the packing to do. So, to pacify myself, I set up my machine in the hotel room and worked on my Four Face Bag as I waited for Aiman and hubby to come back from swimming. *grin*

We left for Kuala Lumpur at 2.00pm after having lunch at the hotel restaurant, and arrived safely at 7.00pm.

It was a great Crafting Retreat weekend. I had so much fun, and I leant so much!

I really hope that there will be more of such retreat in the future. In fact, I asked Corine if we could have one here in KL, and she said sure, for as long as I am willing to be the organiser. Hmm…why not, huh? *wink* My hubby believes that there is a market yet to be tapped and is all for my wanting to organize one. Thanks, Dia, for your support! Hugs!

I must thank Niza, Ina and Corine so much for inviting me to this retreat. I can’t thank you all enough for the great time that I had, and for all the great knowledge that I gained during those 3 days.

BTW, thanks, Ina, for the yummy chocolate cake! Yum!

Thanks to Roslind too for her patience to teach students like me who can only crawl while others run! LOL!

It was so good to finally meet Leena in person ofter so many years of communicating online and only now having the chance to meet up. Good to meet up with Azie and Roz too. We should meet more often, but, yes, I know, everyone is busy with work and the other more important aspects of their lives. *wink* Maybe we should try to meet up at least once a month for a crafting day? *wink*

Thank you so much, Dia, for allowing me to join the retreat and joining me in Penang to give Aiman a holiday. Thank you for making it possible for me to stay on despite the crisis at home on the first day of your arrival in Penang, but I hope that you have had a great time too in Penang hiking up Bukit Bendara with Aiman.

Thanks, everyone! It’s been great!

Want to see how the other two bags look like? Check out my next posting! *wink*

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A great time at the Craft Retreat! – Part 2 (21st November 2009)

I hardly slept the night before worrying about the house that was left in darkness and without electricity, but at the same time excited about today as today I will be starting on a bag or two, depending on how fast I can work on each bag.

The night before, after much discussion with my hubby, we finally decided that my hubby will take the first flight out of Penang the next morning so that he can get to an electrician as early as possible. We did think about driving back, all 3 of us, but, we figured, if we drive back, by the time we reach Kuala Lumpur, it might be too late to get an electrician to come over, it being a Saturday.

By going by this 4th option, I still get to go for the retreat *smile*, but my son might not yet be able to have his holiday (my hubby had planned on taking him hiking) but he gets to play his PSP and toys all day (I am sure he likes that! LOL!) while I sit in class.

Aiman is used to sitting and waiting, playing his PSP and toys, in between reading a book and doing his workbook, as we have trained him since he was 4 years old to sit and wait for us as we go for a reflexology, go online at Starbucks, or whenever I take him to my sewing classes as we have no maid, or, we don’t feel comfortable leaving him with the maid at home when we did have a maid some 3 years ago.

My hubby took the 7.15am flight back to Subang Jaya, and within a few hours, he managed to get the problem fixed.

It seems that the storm had hit our circuit breaker. My hubby said that it is the most expensive circuit breaker, when you add the flight tickets to and fro Penang and the 4 taxi rides to and fro Penang airport and the Subang Airport ! LOL!

Thanks, Dia, for making the flight back to Subang to resolve the problem so that I can stay for the retreat and Aiman can have his holiday! Muaaahhh!

My hubby took the 5.30pm flight back to Penang. More on that later.

Anyway, back to the retreat, after breakfast with just my son, we made our way to the 1st floor of the hotel for the 2nd day of the retreat. I had to explain to Corine and Niza that I have no choice but to have Aiman with me in class today as the other choice would be that I would have had to go back to Kuala Lumpur today.

Corine and Niza were very understanding, and were in fact, concerned that Aiman might not be comfortable and might get restless. But, Aiman came prepared with his workbook, a story book, his toys and PSP. I have mentally prepared him the night before and again over breakfast that he is not to complain of being bored while I work on my bags as the only other option is that he will have to go back to Kuala Lumpur with his Abah.

Aiman took a corner of the room where I set up my sewing machine and, I must say that I am very proud of him as he was really well behaved and he did not complain at all, but just played quietly with his toys and PSP. I was able to fully concentrate on my bag making class.

I think it was a dream come true for him to be able to play his PSP almost all day as at any other time, he is only allowed to play his PSP on weekends and for only 1 -2 hours a day. So, it was a day where we both got our wish – Aiman, to be able to play his PSP all day, and I was able to work on my bag.

I worked on the Four Face Bag guided by Sheet Lin, Corine’s right hand teaching assistant, if I may call her that.

As I had bought 4 bag kits to make, and Corine wanted to make sure that I am able to complete as many of the kits as possible during the reteat, she got her maid to come in and help to do the ironing for everyone. Now isn't that nice!

Sheet Lin also helped me to get started on the second bag while I worked on my first bag as she cut out all the fabrics to size for the second bag which is the ABC bag.

Seen here is Sheet Lin (by the window), Niza (in orange), Liyana (Zarina's daughter) and Chin Fong.

By the time it was lunch time, I was only half-way through my Four Face bag.

I won’t be able to continue working on it in the afternoon as I wanted to attend the trapunto class which starts at 1.30pm. I will have to continue after the trapunto class if I am done early.

We took a break at about 1.00pm to have lunch at the hotel restaurant (lunch was not part of the package retreat), but service at the hotel was really slow. We had ordered Kampung Fried Rice and Fried Kuay Teow, but, after half an hour, only then were we served but only the Fried Rice. The chef had burnt our order of Fried Kuay Teow!

The waiter apologized and asked us if he could order us another Fried Rice to replace the Fried Kuay Teow. But, as I was already late for my class, I told him that I will share the fried rice with my son.

We ate our lunch in a rush before I had to pack up my things at the bag making class to go to the next class across the foyer, which is the trapunto class.

As the class was tight with many participants, Aiman had to squeeze himself between the other participants’ craft bags and sewing baskets, but he quickly made himself comfortable. It was like he was playing house! LOL!

He in fact found a friend in one of the participant’s daughter and they hit it off almost immediately despite the girl being only 5 years old. So comfortable were they of each other that they started to run around the packed classroom that I had to `chase’ both of them out of the classroom to play at the foyer. LOL!

I am glad that the retreat was held at Vistana Hotel where the foyer was not that big, and since Corine had taken up the whole foyer to set up her quilt exhibition and also her shop and Kelvin’s, that even though Aiman and Jasy, Aiman’s new found friend, were going in and out of the classroom and playing in the foyer, there were familiar people around to keep an eye on them. But, even then, I kept calling out to Aiman to make sure that he doesn’t wander too far away from me.

I almost did not want to take up the trapunto class that day when the day before in the Basic Machine Quilting Class, my quilting was like so hopeless and going no where.

Trapunto is supposed to be the next step, or the intermediate level of free motion quilting. So, how can I, someone who have yet to master the basics go into the intermediate, right? *grin*

But, I am glad that I finally decided to take the class anyway. I think I did much better in this class than I did the in the basic class yesterday. Don’t believe me, see my completed trapunto.

Not bad, huh? LOL! *wink* But, I still have a long way to go before I will get this perfected, but, it’s a good start.

BTW, while I was in the trapunto class who should drop by but Janet, all the way from Ipoh! She had come to pick up her daughter at USM and decided to drop by Vistana Hotel since she knew that I was going to be around and also she wanted to check out the craft retreat.

Janet, you should have stayed and taken a class or two. It would have been fun, I am sure. Maybe next time when we have one in Kuala Lumpur, OK? *wink*

Since I managed to complete the trapunto class at 4.00pm, I went back to the bag making class to try to complete my Four Face bag. I realized that there wasn’t much more that I needed to do to get the bag completed, and Sheet Lin showed me the rest that I needed to do which I could do at my own time.

I then took the opportunity to get Corine to tell me what I need to do to prepare for the ABC bag which I hope to do for the next day. Corine also briefed me on what I should do for the Friendship Girl, a sun bonnet sue appliqué piece, and also on what I should prepare for the Lacey Tote, another bag I hope to have time to do tomorrow.

Seen here, new on the second day, placed in the foyer, is this Sun Bonnet Sue piece which I have been wanting to do for the longest time. I had bought a starter kit, which Corine calls The Friendship Girl kit, to learn how to make one from Corine, but time was simply not on my side. I didn't even managed to get started on it despite taking back the kit to work on it in the hotel room. It's a huge piece but I hope to someday make a similar one.

I also bought another kit, a hexagon bag, but, I have a feeling I won’t have time for it, going by the speed I was making the Four Face bag today. I think I was being very ambitious when I bought the 4 kits! LOL! There is so much that I want to do……….

We got back into the hotel room at 5.30 pm when Aiman started getting restless when he knew that his Abah had boarded the 5.30 pm flight back to Penang.

As a reward for being such a well behave boy all day, I allowed him to do what he wanted to do, but only after he had done his workbook.

He said that he wanted to play bubble bath in the bath tub, since I don’t fancy going down and waiting for him by the pool since it looked like it was going to rain.

My hubby arrived at 7.00pm with a box of very rich donuts from The Big Apple Donut shop which he had bought at Subang Airport.

We dived into that while we waited to go out for dinner.

That night, we decided to take it easy and went to Pesta Pulau Pinang which had just started that day at 6.00pm. When we got there at about 8.00pm, the place was still not yet very crowded. In fact, it didn’t look anything like there was a `pesta’ going on.

Anyway, since everyone was hungry, the first place we headed to was to look for something to eat.

We sat at the first eating place that we found and ordered our food. My hubby ordered Nasi Ayam Golek, while I ordered the plain Nasi Ayam.

Aiman, as usual, ordered his favourite dish of Fried Kuay Teow.

After dinner, we made our way to the entertainment part of the `pesta’ which was the rides.

The first ride which my son and hubby took was this roller coaster ride.

My hubby said that he is starting to feel old taking all these rides but did it anyway for our son. *grin*

Next, all 3 of us took the Euro Wheel Ride.

I managed to take some pictures of Penang at night from the very top of the wheel.

After that, Aiman decided that he wanted to go on the bumper car ride.

I think he needed some practice on how to press on the gas pedal and on how to maneuver the car. Notice how he is being bumped by others? LOL! But, I think he had a good time.


After that, we just walked around the carnival grounds.

I took a photo of this wax monk who looked so real, I almost thought that he was going to move at any time! LOL!

We left the carnival grounds at around 10.00pm after buying some tit bits to bring home to my MIL and neighbour who has been kind to look after our house while we were away.

End of Day Two.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A great time at the Craft Retreat! – Part 1

I cannot even begin to tell you what a great time I had at the Craft Retreat, or Quilters’ Gathering as some may call it, in Penang from the 20th to the 22nd of November, because it simply cannot be described in words the fun that we had, but tell you I must, for I want to share with you the excitement I had the last 3 days!

There were also some crisis and more excitement of a different nature that took place while we were in Penang, but read on to know more….

I took a flight on Thursday night as I don’t want to be late for the retreat in case the morning flight might get delayed, as the retreat starts at 9.00am.

My hubby and son sent me off at Subang airport where, after checking in, we had a quick dinner, before I was on my way to Penang by Fireflyz. It was delayed by 20 minutes and because of that, even before the passengers could sit down and put on their seat belts, the plane started to move into position to fly off.

I think it was kind of dangerous as some passengers were swaying back and forth due the weight of the luggage which they had not yet managed to keep in the overhead compartment or below their seats.

Anyway, the one hour flight was a smooth one except for the bumpy landing.

Initially Zarina was supposed to pick me up at the airport, but she called while I was doing my prayers at the airport to say that her son, Iman, suddenly had very high fever and was taking him to the hospital. They had only just flown home this morning from a trip to China where the flu H1N1 is considered to be quite serious and thus did not want to take any chances.

I was concerned too about Iman and told her to go ahead and do what any mother would do and that she need not have to worry about me. I will make my way to the hotel by taxi.

I got into the hotel room at close to 10.00 pm, and after refreshing myself, I made a call to my hubby and son before retiring for the night, anticipating the excitement for the next day.

I was up early, and after breakfast, made my way down to the first floor of the hotel to register for my first day at the retreat.

When I got there at 8.30 am, the foyer of the 1st floor hotel was already buzzing with activities.

I met up with Niza who was busy getting things in order. I also met up with Corine who welcomed me warmly and immediately made me feel at home and at ease around unfamiliar people. I am kind of a shy person, you know! LOL! *wink*

Upon registering, I was given a name tag and a small kit for a purse. Niza then brought me to the quilting class so that I can choose a seat which has been set up with a BERNINA sewing machine as my hubby was only bringing my JANOME when he drove down that morning.

I did not bring anything much with me that morning except for a pair of scissors, ruler, pencils, pens, a small notebook, a box of pins and a roller cutter. I even forgot to pack up the threads with me! LOL!

Most of my sewing things were brought by my hubby when he arrived sometime in the afternoon.

As class was only to start at 9.00am, I took the opportunity to take some photographs of the buzzing foyer,.

I also looked at the bags being displayed to make my choice for the bag making class later today or tomorrow.

The first order of the day was the Basic Machine Quilting class. The class was taught by Roselind who was specially flown in all the way from Kuching.

She not only taught us the basic quilting motifs, but also taught us about the different types of battings, needles and threads used in quilting.

Even though I had already taken the basic quilting class with Kelvin some 6 months ago, but, due to lack of practice, my curves look more like squares and my squares were going all over the place. My swirls? They look like as if they are swirling to the sky! LOL!

The morning class went well as I was still feeling very fresh and excited. I sat next to this lady, Haslina Haroon from USM, who happens to be a reader of my blog.

It is nice to meet up with readers of my blog as it gives a face to the anonymous readers, and they no longer become strangers.

Just as we broke off for lunch at 1.30pm, my hubby called to say that he has arrived in Penang and was looking for the hotel. Perfect timing!

I went over to a mamak restaurant behind the hotel with Niza, Leena, Azie and Roz to pack up lunch as we did not have that much time to sit down at the restaurant to eat as class was to begin again at 2.15pm.

I rushed back to the hotel to get my hubby and son settled into the hotel room before going back to class.

I did not have time to have lunch, and I think working on a hungry tummy showed in my work when my quilting just went haywire and I simply could not get any of the motifs to look anything like what it should be despite already knowing the basics.

I was glad when we broke for tea and I could get a bite to eat. My quilting did not improve much though after tea, as I think I was already tired after a whole morning of quilting.

My shoulders were starting to ache, and they did say that when doing quilting, you need to be relaxed and take lots of breaks to make your quilting look good. I think I have exceeded my quilting limit for the day! LOL!

When I got back into the hotel room at 5.30pm, my hubby was on the phone with our neighbour, Mr Lau. It seems that there was a big thunderstorm in Subang Jaya, and power was out in our house. Mr Lau had tried in vain for almost an hour already to try to get the power up again, but it kept tripping back.

He then called his trusted electrician to see if it can get fixed. But, despite all efforts, he finally had to give up when it was starting to get too dark to see anything.

My hubby and I sat down to discuss our options. One, was to try to get my father-in-law to come with his electrician to try to fix it as our neighour’s electrician already has another job the next morning outstation. Two, is to have to trouble our neighbour again to wait at the house while we get my hubby’s cousin’s regular electrician to come over (the cousin stays nearby) to try to fix it.

The 3rd option, and probably the most painful (I have to miss my much anticipated retreat, not to mention the amount of money already spent for the retreat and flight ticket, and Aiman and hubby do not get to go on a holiday planned weeks ahead), but the least inconvenient to other people as we need not have to depend on people to help us out, was for all of us to pack up and go home first thing tomorrow morning.

As much as I wanted to stay, as I have been looking forward to this retreat for the past one month, but I was also very worried about the house. I figured I wouldn’t be able to enjoy myself anyway if we had stayed on in Penang while the house is in darkness, not to mention that the food in the fridge would go bad and the fishes in the aquarium might die.

My biggest worry, however, is that it might invite temptations from `uninvited guest’, seeing that the house is dark and quite.

So, finally what did we decided on? Read Part 2 in the next posting…….

In the mean time, as we are no longer in the mood to go out and eat due to the crisis, my hubby went out to get dinner for him and Aiman while I had the Nasi Kandar I had bought earlier for lunch, and then we went to bed.

End of Day One