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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Fabric and yarn shopping

I have just had a great day out with friends Moira and Lesley to the fabric shop Tissus Renard in Niort. The shop is on the industrial estate just outside of Niort and is packed with buttons, trimmings, fabric and budget yarns. The weather was disgusting with torrential rain and a howling gale so we made the most of staying in one building and managed to spend nearly two hours browsing and buying...... It is one of those places that you really need a list for, otherwise you just buy for the sake of it, which I did!
a lovely piece of thick spotty oilcloth that was a remnant and will definitely be useful for something

12 balls of pure cotton knitting yarn, which I can add to the other 100 I have stashed away

three rolls of ribbon that I couldn't live without

and a huge piece of tweedy fabric that was just too good a bargain to miss..............

Monday, 29 April 2013

A weekend in Paris

decorative tiling in the back streets of Montparnasse
Culli and I have just come back from a brilliant weekend in Paris, it was cold, grey and windy but that didn't put us off. We travelled up by train on Thursday morning and arrived just in time for lunch at a little back street Chinese (very tasty noodles, egg fried rice, beef in oyster sauce and sweet and sour chicken) for the bargain price of 10 euros including a drink.
Chinese lunch
Fuelled up for an afternoon of culture we took the metro up to the Champs Elysees to drop off Culli's passport to be renewed then back on the metro to the maritime museum. An eclectic mix of model ships from all ages, the first diving suit, paintings and torpedos, but well worth a visit.
torpedo at the maritime museum

the first ever diving suit circa 1880


Back on the metro under the river to meet up with daughter Amy, her husband James and New Zealand mate Andrew. Their hotel is near Invalide in a lovely area of pedestrianised streets lined with bars restaurants and gorgeous shops.

After supper of steak and chips we leave them downing Mojitos in a cosy little bar and head back to our hotel in the relatively peaceful area of Montparnasse.
Saturday morning we meet up with Amy, James and Andrew at the Dome des Invalides for a visit to Napoleon's tomb and the military museum, a few sore heads I think, the Mojitos were followed by porn star martinis which come with champagne chasers..............!
Napoleon's tomb

The boys opt for World wars 1 and 2 in the Military museum, interesting (and a little surprising) to see from a French viewpoint! But some wonderful uniforms and geometric gardens.
Croque Monsieur
baked camembert with charcuterie and cornichons
We find a lovely little bistro for lunch with red check table cloths and filled to capacity. After lunch we walk up to the Champs Elysees. Amy, James and Andrew go for a bit of retail therapy and Culli and I hop on an open top bus, it was freezing. However, after many trips to Paris over the years I now feel that I really know it.
dream on............!

posters for sale on the banks of the Seine
There is an Italian tradition that has spread to Paris where lovers attach a padlock to a bridge and chuck the key in the river, thus ensuring eternal love, how romantic. This bridge is now completely covered with padlocks, bike chains, handcuffs..........

 The window displays are just fantastic, there is a shop for everything

beautifully packaged macaroons
shoes and bags
dogs who are tired of shopping
silver spoons
We stopped off at Notre Dame and wandered through the flower market up to the Hotel de Ville for the Couture Exhibition, but sadly the queue snaked away into the distance, so we gave up and hopped back on the bus. A slow wander up to Opera for a bit of window shopping and then on to Harry's Bar to meet the others and knock back an eye wateringly strong/expensive G&T, followed by a fairly mediocre and equally expensive dinner at the Grand Cafe, no cocktails tonight!
Harry's Bar
seafood take away at the Grand Cafe
Opera at night
Sunday morning Andrew is off early to catch his flight to Singapore and Amy and James making the most of a child free lie-in, so Culli and I go to my favourite place the Musee d'Orsay. Following a useful tip we started at the top this time and worked downwards, so enjoyed the Impressionists to their full extent, followed by the beautiful drawings of Degas and Van Gogh paintings.
a welcome beer
Lunch with Amy and James just around the corner from their hotel before they head off to the Eurostar, then we catch another bus to Montmartre for a wander. Back to Montparnasse for the trip home.
Lots of inspiration, but not time for knitting all I achieved was a few rows of crochet.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Spring at La Verderie

la Verderie
At last Spring seems to be here.

I have just been for a walk with BeBop in glorious sunshine and clear blue skies, it is the day after St George's day and the dandelions seem to have changed overnight from brilliant yellow to white fluffy balls, the bluebells are starting to come out and there is blossom everywhere.

We have a few days rest before the next knitting and crochet retreat at La Verderie which starts on 5th May, there is still one space available if anyone fancies a last minute escape to sunny France? Spend the week relaxing with your knitting or crochet, pick up some new tips or have a go at machine knitting. For further information send an email to Sue or visit the Knitting Holidays in France website here.

Monday, 22 April 2013

April knitting retreat

A section of my crochet throw

On Thursday morning we visited Saintes for a bit more shopping. After a long browse in the stationery and book shop we wandered down through the pedestrianised streets to one of the lovely chocolate shops so that Shelagh and Fiona could buy gifts to take home. In the afternoon the girls from my craft group came along to join us, it was a fairly noisy few hours with 12 of us working on various knitting, sewing and crochet projects and all talking at once, but the new studio proved to be the perfect venue. Fiona bravely started on her Fairisle slipover and managed to do the first block of pattern with no mistakes in spite of the various conversations going on around her.
After supper of chicken stuffed with mushroom and pancetta and tarte tatin we settled down to watch the final episode of Star Wars.
masterclass in picking up for necklines and ribs

start of Fiona's fairisle
Friday was the final full day, sunny but a bit cooler. Fiona was keen to have a go on my knitting machine so I gave a quick crash course. It is a fairly ancient chunky machine that I bought second hand many years ago and was already missing some parts, however, it still works and is a great way of using up the stash quickly. She soon got the hang of working the machine and went off hoping to find one on ebay as soon as she got home. We also had a quick masterclass in picking up and knitting stitches around necklines. After lunch we went to visit Veronique, one of the ladies from my craft group who wanted to show Fiona her beautiful cross stitch samplers and pictures, worked on the finest aida and hardanger.
dancing reindeer

Sheelagh's crochet dishcloth

In the evening we had a final show and tell to see what had been achieved through the week and it was fairly impressive. Shelagh felt that although she had un-ravelled a fair bit, she has finally mastered crochet having completed her dishcloth and made a start on her stripey cushion cover and crochet throw. Fiona had finished the back of her chunky jacket with the intarsia reindeer, started the fairisle slipover, completed a hot water bottle cover and then settled down in the evening to knit bags for the sweets she had bought to give as gifts. I was happy to have completed my little crochet throw and have made a start on a crochet cushion cover.
On Saturday morning we set off early under a cloudless sky for the trip to Bordeaux and their return flight to Luton, it has been a really lovely relaxing week and I am looking forward to the next visitors on the May retreat (we still have one space available for the 4th - 9th May if anyone would like a last minute holiday, see here!)