hello again

Really have no good excuses as to why I haven't posted since August. I won't bother giving any except to say that other things have preoccupied my mind and time. I'm actually only here now because I was just given a one-day reprieve until our holiday visitors start arriving, so I thought I'd squeeze in some long overdue blogging.

My latest knitting projects include a pair of mittens for a Facebook Pay It Forward project, a Shalom cardi-vest shown below still wet on the blocking mat, and Silver Streak, a cardi-wrap still in progress.

Last month, some knitting buddies and I went up to the Torrance Fiber Fest and I cheated on my yarn diet to acquire some gorgeous Malabrigo Silky Merino. Kelie has more photos of our road trip here.

And just a few days ago, our weekly knitting group held our annual White Elephant and I ended up with some lovely Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock.

And then Wendy gave me this beautiful Araucania Ruca that she picked up during her NYC trip. It's made of 100% sugar cane - so cool and so perfect for my inner pastry chef - love it!

Well, I should really stop procrastinating and get back to getting the house ready for our houseguests. Happy Holidays everyone!


various states of incompletion

After my last post and promises to start blogging anew, I came down with a terrible cold which, along with the heat and humidity, put me out of commission again. But I'm back now with photos to share! I finished my Swirl Shawl and started blocking it. The one set of mats I bought from Knitpicks isn't enough to accommodate the whole piece so I'm having to do it in stages.

Swirl Shawl in mid-block

In preparation for Stitch and Pitch last month, I started a cotton camisole so I would have a small item to work on instead of the above unwieldy shawl. Kelie has some photos of our group at the game in her post here.

Victoria Tank from Interweave Knits Summer 2004

In a fit of A.D.D. and to give my wrists a break from knitting cotton, I also started a small shawl/scarf (sharf? scawl?) yesterday. I highly recommend Malabrigo Sock yarn - it's so soft and squishy and a joy to knit. The pattern is Springtime Bandit but I'm changing it so it's mostly stockinette, inspired by two other modified projects I saw on Ravelry, also here and here.

my bandito sharf in progress



It's been a bummer of a couple weeks, culminating in my grandfather's passing. I have been in too much of a funk to post anything for awhile but finally am starting to snap out of it. More photos of Paris and my creative endeavors to come - for now, here are some bits and pieces that have helped reinvigorate my spirits lately...

ingenious cardboard spinning wheel

free printable affirmations
by kind over matter (isn't that the BEST name?); check out their other great freebies, too (esp. love the garden and quotation cards)

free pattern by spud & chloe for a knitted cupcake pincushion

antique keys made of quilling paper

a great reason to add to your yarn stash

amazing embroidery sampler by amy of inspire company - look closely for the fabulous marie antoinette!

french musician named claire denamur - I heard one of her songs on a commercial recently and then came across this music video (she's not on US iTunes yet but I put in a request to add her):


les puces

We visited two flea markets (marchés aux puces) in Paris; one at Porte de Vanves and the other at Porte de Clignancourt (the latter is also known as Saint Ouen flea market). I had been to the one at Vanves on a previous trip but didn't have time to go to St. Ouen so I was really looking forward to checking it out this time around.

Vanves was still great - I like the ambience and friendly vendors and the fact that it's small enough to cover in a few hours. This is the one I recommend going to if you are short on time or don't want to be overwhelmed. Within walking distance is a small used and antique book market, too.

Le Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves

my purchases

near closing time, I picked these up from boxes of free stuff on the sidewalk!

Le Marché du Livre Ancien et d’Occasion @ Parc George Bressens

St. Ouen is HUGE and made up of several different markets with a multitude of vendors in each one (here's a great site with useful tips for visitors). We got there early and walked through it pretty quickly since a lot of sellers weren't open yet or perhaps closed since the following two days were holidays. I liken the atmosphere at St. Ouen to an antique mall - the vendors I tried to negotiate with outright refused. Even though I spoke French to them, there's no question that I'm a tourist which made me wonder if they only or are more likely to haggle with locals. I'm glad I went and experienced it but don't think it will be my first choice on our next visit to Paris.

many vendors were closed

gorgeous chandelier

vintage designer handbags and luggage

beads being sold by the (small) cup for 16 Euros - about $22

vintage paper house

can't imagine where this would go in your house or yard
but it made me think of the statue from the show Lost :)

If you can't make it out to les puces or don't crave the thrill of the hunt, allow me to direct you to this fabulous little store full of vintage finds...Au Petit Bonheur la Chance (13, Rue Saint-Paul, 4th arr.; open everyday except Tuesday & Wednesday). It's packed full of goodies like kitchenware, old signs, paper ephemera, and more.

my purchases from au petit bonheur la chance


hidden kitchen

Hidden Kitchen is an underground supper club run by Braden and Laura, a young American couple. I had read several positive reviews on the internet, so once we finalized our travel details earlier this year, I immediately emailed to make a reservation. I thought it would be a nice break for hubby, who doesn't speak any French, to be able to converse with someone other than myself.

We started with champagne cocktails while waiting for everyone to arrive and then were seated for ten courses with seven wine pairings. It turned out to be a wonderful evening with a room full of amiable strangers, mostly American tourists (and talk about small world...one of the couples seated beside us lives in Solana Beach which is adjacent to us here in Del Mar!) I highly recommend Hidden Kitchen for a unique dining experience in Paris.

lovely atmosphere

amuse-bouche: squid ink cracker w/onions (pickled, I think)

fava bean raviolo w/sweet pea & herb sauce

poached egg w/chilled white asparagus & parmigiano mornay sauce

seared salmon w/rhubarb bay leaf sauce & kohlrabi lime slaw

pan fried mackerel w/apricot barley & poppy seed cucmbers

deconstructed mint julep palate cleanser: bourbon gelatin topped w/sorbet
(much more sophisticated than the jello shots we had in college!)

herbed stuffed pork roulade w/white bean salad & fried artichoke

beet salad (w/a fun trompe l'œil beet made from a cherry & lettuce leaves)

rhubarb mint sorbet w/shortbread cake & strawberries

petits fours (yes, that is a rice krispie treat!)

post-dinner conversation

Braden & Laura's dog, Tati


l'église de la Madeleine

If you've been shopping around Place de la Madeleine and need a place to recharge, descend to The Counter at Fauchon where you can have a light meal at the bar in an air-conditioned room. Prices are medium-high but the food quality is good. While you wait for your order, check out their collection of pricey wine and spirits. Afterward, head back upstairs to purchase gourmet gifts to bring home.

pink and black Fauchon décor

salade niçoise - 10 euros

salade de fruits w/refreshing passionfruit granita - 6 euros

Rémy Martin Louis XIII - 2300 euros

Champagne Roederer Cristal - 3500 euros

various Cognac A.E. Dor; the 1889 vintage is 7000 euros!


DIY paris style

Finally some posts for my fellow crafters! We visited (well, I visited and hubby kindly joined me and helped take pictures!) lots of stores and here are a few of my favorite spots to find craft supplies in Paris.

First is Mokuba - you may have seen this Japanese brand of ribbons here in the US, too. It was so nice to be in a store full of only beautiful ribbon - just heavenly.

La Droguerie (which means "hardware store") sells yarns, beads, and other craft notions. Hubby managed to get a few photos of the yarn section before being reprimanded for taking pictures inside the store. Not sure what was up with the no photography rule...perhaps they have problems with piracy?

my purchases

Entrée Des Fournisseurs is another charming store located in a nice courtyard. Check out their lovely website, too.

There are two department stores in Paris that are known for their craft sections. BHV and Bon Marché which houses a branch of La Droguerie. After being yelled at one too many times in various stores, hubby tried to be less conspicuous with the camera which resulted in some fuzzier shots, but you get the idea!

yarn and buttons at Bon Marché

fun plywood shapes at BHV ready to decorate

It took two trips to make it to Ultramod (3 & 4, Rue de Choiseul, 2nd arr.) but it was worth it - for some reason the store was closed the first time we went so we made a second trek out there. There are two parts to it on opposite sides of the street and both are packed with vintage goodies like fabric, trim, and millinery supplies.

The area at the foot of the Sacré Cœur is chock full of fabric and trim shops. It was overwhelming and I think requires the guide of a local to navigate and find what you need. If you only have time to visit one store there, don't miss Le Marché St Pierre, the ultimate fabric retail establishment with 6 floors!

the six-storied Le Marché St Pierre

trim stores in the neighborhood

a store for all your Solid Gold dancer needs! should we
be worried that the name of the store is American 2?

I managed to make it to only one true yarn store called Chatmaille. It was tiny (which is why my personal photographer didn't follow me inside!) but nicely organized with commercial European yarns like Katia, Gedifra, and Bouton D'Or. One thing that is very different from what we knitters here are used to...no yarn-petting allowed! As a matter of fact, full-service was pretty much standard in most stores, craft and otherwise. If you think about it, it's actually nice because the merchandise remains in pristine condition before you purchase it, an especially nice thing when it comes to food items.

cute yarn skein door handle

located in the Montmartre neighborhood