Arena Travel Blog

  • Philippa Naylor Q&A

    Philippa Naylor is an award winning quilter and textile artist. She combines her technical expertise and designer training to produce intricately pieced, applique or whole-cloth quilts which are heavily machine quilted often utilising trapunto. This week we speak to Philippa about her first love of garment making, how she can’t live without her Bernina machine, and how she ended up selling hand made Christmas decorations in Saudi Arabi!

    Hi Philippa, we are very excited about you leading your first ever quilting trip to Italy. Tell us how you discovered quilting and how you first became passionate about it.

    I'm not sure there is an easy answer to this. I have always loved textiles of all kinds, and have sewn from a young age. After finishing A' levels I trained at Manchester Polytechnic, for 4 years, to become a clothing designer. I worked in industry as a lingerie designer and then moved to Saudi Arabia in 1989 with my husband (who was an English language teacher) and set up a wedding and evening dress business. I was in Saudi selling Christmas decorations (that I had made) at a bazaar. The lady on the next stall was advertising her quilting classes and 'encouraged' me to sign up for one (she did this for several hours). In the end I gave in and agreed to go on one of her courses. And of course I loved the whole process. That was in 1996.
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  • Crafty New Year Resolutions

    With the New Year approaching here at Stitchtopia HQ we have decided to make a resolution that is easy to keep; to be more ‘crafty’!

    Our experts have had the same idea and between them plan to learn new techniques, knit more and use their stash of supplies on making fun projects. Read on to see what other crafty New Year resolutions our experts are promising to keep!

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  • Mandy Shaw Q&A

    This week we have been speaking to the fantastic UK textile designer and quilting tutor, Mandy Shaw on how she fell head over heels in love with quilting, her plans for Christmas and she spills the beans on her crafting plans for 2017.

    Mandy, you are a well know personality in the world of crafting and are the owner of an internet based company Dandelion Designs. Tell us how you discovered quilting and how you first became passionate about it.

    I have always made things since a little girl. My dolls and teddy bears were very important to me and I would make their clothes and bedding. I made my first patchwork quilt in the early eighties, while my friends were out dancing I was sewing! And then as soon as I started my family I adorned my home and children with homemade crafts of all varieties.
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  • News From the Bridge Room in Madeira

    Host report by Barry & Maggie Watts

    Have some madeira, m'dear
    You really have nothing to fear
    I'm not trying to tempt you, that wouldn't be right
    You shouldn't drink spirits at this time of night
    Have some madeira, m'dear

    Madeira, roughly 500 miles south of Portugal and 500 miles west of Morocco, was one of the first discoveries of Henry the Navigator in 1419 but it is now discovered by over a million tourists a year. The Capital, Funchal, historically a safe port for vessels heading to South Africa and South America is today a popular stopover for commercial and trans-Atlantic passenger cruises between Europe, the Caribbean and North Africa. Continue reading

  • Get Hooked in Florence - report by Carol Meldrum

    What more could you ask for, a trip to Florence with like minded folk, dedicated to crochet and knitting, chatting and swapping stories, passing on skills and generally having a good time!

    We flew into Pisa from London, then a short coach trip on towards our luxury hotel in the heart of the city where we would be based for the next 5 days. Not wanting to waste any time we ventured out to explore our surroundings, track down a few yarn stores and grab a bite to eat.

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