Uzbekistan Collection Started

I have just started on my intended new collection of work.

When we were in Uzbekistan we went to Nukus in the north of the country. There isn’t really much there apart from the Savitsky collection.

It hosts the world’s second largest collection of Russian avant garde art (after the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg). It is also home to one of the largest collections of archeological objects and folk, applied and contemporary art originating from Central Asia.

I loved some of the art work on show.

Here is a new Journal Quilt with the required half inch square of orange, featuring my daughter looking at the work. It is painted with little bits of applique. It is the first bit of painting I have done on any quilts for a while. I love it for lots of reasons.


Last weekend I was playing with cutting paper to make designs based on Suzani’s

Here is the first of several quilts to come – it’s quite big. Now it needs quilting. It was really just a bit of an experiment but has given me lots more ideas



More teaching more quilts

I seem, finally, to have a little bit of time to catch up, not to put my feet up, but to be able to reply to emails etc, and plan courses properly.

I made my Message quilt

The words say

“Embroidery is a reaffirmation of identity, a setting down of the past. Embroidery gives us a sense of belonging, connects us to our land and gives us an identity”

I found these words in a Palestinian embroidery book a couple of years ago and had them made into a thermofax screen. My friend Elisabeth kindly translated them for me.


I’ve been working on some small hand stitched projects and have been cutting felt hexagons to make small book covers and pin cushions

The hexagons are 3/4″ on each side


I saw this in a recent “Living”magazine, after I made mine. Not sure of the date of the magazine but maybe i am “on trend” with my work


I’ve done a little playing using some of my Israeli photos of the women in Bat Yam


This weekend I was teaching a residential retreat for Stitch Retreats in Leicestershire

It was great to be able to have so much time for students to play with my Interchange Applique technique (and the food and company was good too!)

Here are some photos of their work. i can see on the photos that some are missing.

Some fabulous work!


Beautiful sun rise one of the mornings


On the way down to Leicester I called in to see some friends and we went out for lunch. Such a treat to have some real Indian food – delicious!


Anne and I have been working on a sardines theme, although I had to stop, as other things seem to be more important. Here are some photos of Anne’s work, that she showed me. They are beautifully neat and very small compared to my quilts


Finally here is a new A3 quilt I have made today as a sample for the CQ Challenge.

More info to come later





Laghmani Embroidery at Alsace

Last week i went to the 22nd European Patchwork Meeting at Sainte Marie Aux Mines in Alsace France. It was as always a fun occasion – i really go to see my friends, share experiences, drink wine and eat some good food. There were some fabulous quilts on show but my computer is full so i am struggling to post any photos of the quilts

One of the exhibitions I really enjoyed visiting was the Afghanistan collection of embroidery. It was appropriate as I was reading “The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul” by Deborah Rodriguez – now finished. Loved it!

I have met Pascale Goldenberg several times and have considered participating in one of the challenges to help promote the work she is doing in Afghanistan. I promised her I would write a blog post about her work

There are 200 embroiderers who embroider 8 cm squares to earn a living

More can be found on the website

You can see them in the background of her photo. She sets challenges that involve buying one of the squares and inserting into a small quilt and adding some more embroidery or quilting. They are then shown around Europe


Here are the ones I bought


So i am going to entry the Message competition – I have to include one of the squares and add some more embroidery. It must be in French and must include a messageimg_1523

This is the square I am going to useimg_1527

I promised to share this post to try to encourage more entries from the UK as there were none at the exhibition

Tomorrow I will add another post about some of the other exhibitions and share a couple of my new pieces of work – that’s if I can sort my computer out – or delete some of the many photos I have



Last Uzbek photos

Next we had to find somewhere to stay. Very few tourists go to fergana – there were some posh hotels and a homestay in an ex soviet block. Eventually we found Valentina’s a bed and breakfast place owned by an older Russian lady dressed in a very colourful sun dress with a silk flower in her hair hanging out of the window, beckoning us to come in

Kitch  decor, big bunches of silk flowers, shiny wall paper all for 15$ a night.

Showered and ready to go we walked to the bazaar or area where you can get a taxi to catch a shared taxi to the biggest market in the area that is only on on a Sunday and a Thursday.


We bought old silk, new Ikat cotton, China, plates, necklaces, rope etc

We looked at the guide book to see where to go for some food or a drink

Cafe Bravo

Here is the menu translated into English


The unexpected can happen when travelling. Everyone at the cafe seemed very friendly and their English was good.

One of the owners of the cafe came to chat to us – the word had got around that there were some English women in the cafe. There were no other tourists about.

He really wanted to practice his English

It was lovely we drank large glasses of beer for 40p listening to George Esra and Lady Gaga

A very pleasant evening

For our last day we planned an ambitious day

We met up with Aibek, his friend and driver took us to the silk factory, having potato Comsa’s for breakfast, then on to the Craft Centre in Margalan, back to Fergana for coffee and cake. We then took a taxi to Rishon to see the ceramics museum and on to Kokand


A lovely day and it was good to talk about life in Uzbekistan

–  most families eat at home

– meals seem to be bread based ( day old Bread seems to be ok if you like eating leather)

– bread is eaten with everything – it all looks good but tastes awful


– girls marry young are slim when they get married but soon become fat

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– food is disgusting most of the time – very fatty, very greasy and desperately needs some herbs and spices. Everything is meat based.

– there are fresh vegetables in the market so all the ingredients are there but the food is just so bad!



Salad is generally just sliced tomato and the odd bit of cucumber and sliced onion

So give me middle eastern Israeli food any day and I’ll pass on central Asian food!!

So with a very long taxi our trip came to an end

Another amazing trip!

Just a few thoughts

We travel very light, washing our clothes as we go. This gives us the freedom to carry our bags all day if need be. (It will be good to wear some different clothes this week)

Keep fit and you can travel like a teenager!

It cost very little, so I can go again and again

Have confidence, and trust your gut feeling


The people are so lovely and hospitable


It is such a police state it is so safe

The buildings are amazing

The craft work is everywhere

The hot weather just suits me

Internet is so so slow

Pattern is everywhere!!

So where next



I will be going to Norway teaching on  a cruise next July

Maybe Mexico?

Now I need to think, reflect, organise my photos, make some quilts, reorganise my website ……the list is endless….but on a cold dark night I will think of those beautiful days in Khiva and the colourful markets in Fergana, 

More Uzbekistan photos

On the third night we moved and treated ourselves to a a boutique hotel, with beautiful rooms. It was low season so there was plenty of space in the hotels and we were often the only ones there


Hotel Bibi Khanum – absolutely beautiful!

Owner speaks fluent English

Out of season means hot during the day but I did not find it too hot and it was very pleasant at night   – not too hot at all.

There are so many beautiful buildings and shops in Bukhara


We stumbled across a fabulous collection of ethnic textiles in a shop


More amazing buildings everywhere



More markets and street stalls


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It seems that everyone gets Ill in Uzbekistan –

We usually manage to eat lots of street food but the only street food to eat is a comsa – like a pasty. Sometimes delicious, sometimes leather like pastry.

So it was my turn – very very sick – serves me right really as the day before I had said I never got sick

The  next day the 7 hour taxi ride to Khiva on very bumpy roads was hard when you feel so sick!


Was Khiva really going to be worth going to?

We checked into another basic hotel. The room was cheap and it was clean. The breakfast bread stale, but the melon and eggs delicious.

In the hotel an older man the owner was slobbing around the hotel in his tracky bottoms but his son’s English was really good and he was keen to practice – he gave me some lessons on how to use my iPhone 6 – I love these travel moments.

Khiva is just beautiful and I took hundreds of photos – it is lovely – no cars – it felt like Khiva hadn’t changed much in 20 years


We spent a lovely day going around all the sights in Khiva. I had wanted to take the iconic picture of Khiva in the evening sun but the watch tower was closed for a special event. I’m happy with the photos I did take.

More markets etc




The next day we headed off in a taxi to Nukus with the usual taxi driver, driving very fast and no seat belts – that’s not true there are seat belts but no body chooses to use them and in the back seat it is impossible to find the catch. I was laughed at when I automatically put my seat belt on when I sat in the front.

The only reason for going to Nukus was to see the Savitsky collection. I was at first, a little disappointed as I had expected more ethnographic textiles however there is an amazing collection of Avant Guarde Russian art work there, and well worth visiting



Here are just some photos

Nukus is a god forsaken place – the reason for the collection being hidden there 

There is really nothing else in the town, Katie was feeling sick now so there was nothing else to do but sit and wait for our flight to Tashkent

It was about 37 degrees

Arriving into Tashkent at 23.00, we did the usual hassle for a taxi, checked into a trendy hostel that appeared to be in the middle of now where. The guy on the desk could speak very little English.


We set the alarm for 5.45 so that we could get the flight at 7.30 to Fergana

It all seems a good idea when booking it all.

Stepping out of the hostel at 6.00am we had no idea where we were, no one seemed to be about, we walked towards what seemed like a main road and eventually found a taxi.

The airport seemed a little closer that it had been a few hours earlier, – he had taken us to the International not the domestic airline! Another taxi and we arrived in time!

We arrived into Fergana with no money left. Lots of notes makes you think you have loads of money

Before we could do anything we needed some money, a taxi took us to the bazaar where the black market money exchangers usually are. They don’t really like pounds sterling but with a few phone calls and a little persuasion we managed always to exchange our money.

So many photos – more to come

More Uzbek travels

We were up early and walked to the spot where it was possible to get a shared taxi to to Urget.

At the market we eventually found the old textiles section – buying a couple of pieces was quite stressful as everyone really wanted us to buy something and we had to bargain hard.

I bought some braid and and a small modern piece – no bargaining needed for this and they were really cheap


On the way home we visited Konigil to see paper being made and got the bus back. Getting a local bus always causes lots of local watching us. Bus fare about 10p for a 40minute ride.

More markets


With plenty of time in Samarkand we visited mosques etc. It was really one of those, pinch yourself times – were we really standing in front of such magnificent buildings?


We stumbled across the craft centre in Samarkand – beautiful shops


On our 3rd day I thought maybe we should make some plans, no one speaks much English but the hostel owners son was helpful and suggested if we wanted to book an internal flight the only way to do it would be to go to an agent.

How we’re going to pay for a flight?

There is really only one note in circulation  a 1000 som note worth about 13p. If you are lucky you may get a 500 and really lucky if you can get hold of a 5000, so whenever you exchange any money say £50 you get a brick load.

So to book our 2 internal flights meant a taxi ride out to Samarkand airport to pay and book the flights. What an archaic system.


I tried to pay with a credit card but the only one that I was able to use was my Halifax visa debit card.

They tried 5 of my different cards

Booking a train ticket was also difficult – through an agent we managed to get 2 vip tickets to Bukhara departing at lunchtime.


Vip meant a coffee in the lounge and a tea on the train.

At 4 in the afternoon we arrived into Bukhara – we stayed in a cheap hotel- 10$ a night each including breakfast. I know that seems really cheap – it was nice, and for breakfast we had porridge and eggs,


Uzbek adventures

One day at a time…..

 I am often asked about some of my trips? 

Do you need to go with a group?

Is it possible to organise a trip yourself?

I have written up my experiences of independent travel in a country such as Uzbekistan 

Is it all about confidence, experience of travel, being with someone you trust, or is it all about having a high level of tolerance of discomfort? 

I have included lots of my photos – they speak for themselves and don’t really need any explanation

Why do I love independent travel so much….a sense of freedom, seeing what I want and when I want, at my speed

Above all it is about people watching, looking around me, seeing and being part of the the unexpected 

I love to stay in cheap hostels and hotels, travel on local buses and trains etc I could travel in protected luxury and stay in much more expensive hotels but I like the budget option – people talk to you more, they don’t see you as a posh westerner and someone who should be ripped off but just a normal person.

Here goes….

I am getting closer to 60 years old than I really want to be  but I can put a rucksack on my back, sleep in cheap hotels,  can walk at least 35,000 steps a day, so maybe I’m really only 25.

The last few months have been so stressful that I decided it was time for a bit of a treat, and to feel free from everyday responsibilities.

My Daughter had booked a week off work. We usually try to have an interesting holiday ( always good for her if mum – or this time granny was paying)

I have always wanted to go to Uzbekistan ( along with Mexico, Guatemala, and Ghana) so we found some cheap flights departing on a Friday night – an overnight flight arriving into Tashkent early in the morning. With Festival of Quilts taking up lots of my time to get everything ready I had had no time to really do any research. Whenever I tried to find train times etc different websites gave different times – even the guy on seat61 said – don’t trust any timetable.

In the end we just decided to go with nothing at all booked. I had the lonely planet – Uzbekistan chapter of Central Asia guide book downloaded on to my phone.

The only thing I was really concerned about was the money situation. I changes £20 into dollars  and took some pounds and euros.

This was a good decision but it would have been better to have taken all dollars

Arriving at Tashkent we went straight to the bazaar in a taxi, we had had very little sleep as the airline would not serve any food until the seat belt sign had been turned off. 3 hours after dinner, breakfast was served.

As we had expected the taxi driver was hasseling us to change money on the black market with him. We didn’t but actually his rate was the going rate.

The bazaar was a good place to start and we saw some fabulous craft work and just watched it all happen around us. There were no other tourists anywhere.


Tashkent is a city with many modern buildings and seemed quite big.

After the bazaar we made a visit to the applied arts museum – a very tranquil  place and a good introduction to the arts of Uzbekistan


We planned to stay our first night in Samarkand so that we could go to the very big bazaar in Urget on a Sunday.

We took a shared taxi to Samarkand


Our $20 lasted all day – it was going to be a cheap holiday!

We stayed our first night at Emir,s B and B. Room was lovely and so was the breakfast in the courtyard. All for £13 each, and right next to a beautiful mosque and near Registan square


more to follow….