Stitchtopia Highlights of 2017

We’ve had a very busy year here at Stitchtopia, we’ve travelled across the globe from Saigon to Yorkshire and we’ve made some amazing memories along the way! We’ve taken toboggan rides, giggled our way through a ‘laughter yoga’ session and tried our hand at so many traditional crafts in the places we’ve visited. Take a look at just some of our wonderful tours from 2017…


We kicked off 2017 with a trip to Japan with Janice Gunner. We visited the studios of quilters, painters and fabric dyers to name a few and had the chance to try our hand at so many traditional techniques such as stencil dyeing, kumihimo braiding and Itajime dyeing! Of course, we also visited the Tokyo Quilt Festival – the quilts on display were fascinating and we used the opportunity to stock up on natural dyed fabric, thread and buttons to take back home! We tasted some fabulous Japanese food and didn’t miss an opportunity for some retail therapy – fabric style! What a fabulous start to the year! See the full trip on Janice’s Blog


In February, we headed to the lush green island of Madeira for a quilting retreat with Karin Hellaby. The group of ladies enjoyed working on their quilting projects in the Portuguese sunshine as well as experiencing market shopping in the islands capital of Funchal, dicing with death on the famous Wicker Basket Monte Toboggan and enjoying an evening of traditional folklore! See more of this trip on Karin’s blog and if it looks like your cup of tea, take a peek at our Madeiran Quilting Retreat departing in Oct 2018!

India - pat

We were lucky enough to travel to India TWICE in March 2017, the first tour being led by expert Pat Archibald. We were delighted to welcome Pat Archibald to our Stitchtopia family as this was her first tour with us, and what an introduction! We had a fabulous time exploring India with visits to stunning landmarks such as the Taj Mahal and India Gate. We joined in with the Festival of Colour celebrations (which got very messy!) and, as an added bonus, we even had the chance to visit some of the locations where “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” was filmed!


Mandy Shaw led our second Stitchtopia departure to India and another opportunity to enjoy the colourful textiles and cultural wonders this beautiful country has to offer! We visited colourful craft markets and local craftsmen to learn about traditional Indian crafts and we also spent a memorable day with women in Udaipur’s rural, tribal and urban areas, exchanging ideas and connecting through the universal language of stitching! You can see from Mandy’s photos just how colourful and vibrant India is!


Just a month later and Mandy Shaw was back on a plane, ready for another Stitchtopia adventure, this time – Verona! The colourful Italian scenery was great inspiration for our projects and a visit to the Verona Tessile really got our creative juices flowing! This exhibition transforms the city into a diffused museum of textile art with exhibits located in museums, churches and other beautiful locations throughout the city – it really was wonderful to see!


We had barely stepped off the plane before the fun started in South Africa! Within an hour of arrival, we found ourselves on the top of Table Mountain, enjoying some some fabulous views! The following days were spent admiring the scenery and wildlife (some of which we had never seen before!), exchanging ideas with local quilters and quilting guilds, and visiting community projects where quilting is making a very positive impact! This wonderful tour ended in Port Elizabeth with two exciting days at the South African National Quilt Festival! See more of this trip on Karin’s blog.


We visited the Faroe Islands many times in 2017 as we know how much our crafters love this peaceful location. In August, we headed out for a textile version of our popular knitting tour with Karin Hellaby. We visited local crafters such as local textile designer Poulina Jóanesardóttir who has her own weaving workshop and has taught weaving for many years. It’s clear to see how inspired the Faroese crafters are by their surroundings and after admiring the natural beauty ourselves, we can definitely understand why! See more of this trip on Karin’s blog.


This unique and unforgettable quilting adventure took us across the glorious autumnal splendours of New England and Canada with Mandy Shaw. We visited the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell and the Bennington Museum, home of the Jane Stickle quilt, and had the chance for some retail therapy in America’s favourite quilting store – the renowned Keepsake Quilt Shop! Throughout the tour we followed in the footsteps of civil rights activist Harriet Tubman, learning about her extraordinary story all the way through to Canada where she finally secured her freedom. We celebrated with an amazing visit to Niagara Falls, one of the greatest sights of the New World! Read all about Mandy’s trip here.


In November, Pat Archibald led a group of eager crafters on our first visit to Vietnam. This vibrant once in a lifetime destination did not disappoint! We visited silk farms, weaving villages and lantern workshops, met skilled local craftspeople who shared their knowledge, we joined in with a ‘Laughter Yoga’ session and even tried some Tai-Chi on deck in Ha Long Bay! Of course, we didn’t miss an opportunity for a spot of shopping and loved seeing the traditional handicrafts, textiles and ceramics on offer at the colourful markets. The tour was such a fabulous success that we will be returning in 2018 (click here for details) and we can’t wait! Read Pat’s Vietnam blog here.


Our final trip of 2017 was a very festive treat- we headed out to Germany for a Christmas Market extravaganza with Karin Hellaby! During the 5 day trip, we got the chance to explore Strasbourg, Heidelberg & Cologne and stitch some festive bunting whilst watching the snow fall outside! The streets and squares were illuminated with festive lights and fragranced with the delicious scent of festive street-side cuisine. We spent our days strolling the markets, shopping for handmade gifts and sipping Gluhwein to keep us warm! Check out our blog post here.