Friday, 29 June 2012


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There's something that makes super adorable children even more charming when they are speaking perfect French. What is taking me years of stumbling, stuttering and butchering they are rattling off properly and correctly in their little voices.


Irrationally jealous, I am.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Neh-neh. I got something you can't have.


Henri le Roux caramels. You can get a sachet of assorted flavors to figure out what speaks to you (Green Tea! Fig! Passionfruit!) but what you really don't want to mess around with is the Salted Butter Caramels- called "CBS" Caramels au Beurre Salé. Oh. Oh. Oh. They are the most perfect of confections. I have had several incarnations of salt caramels (lots of good ones, including one from Long Island that was swoon-worthy, and one made from goats milk), and this is really something else, with a perfect balance of saltiness to crunch on. Addictive as hell.

His chocolates aren't to shabby either. The shop and the presentation is fantastic...very clean and minimalist, leaving you clear to take in the smells.

It's a good thing that these are prohibitively expensive (and rightly so as they are truly the best of the best). If I could have free access my jaws would be glued shut permanently with caramels and a terrible speech impediment would develop. Not ideal when my second language is challenging enough without a caramel lodged in my teeth.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


Paris 2012

I love how you can find a quiet corner right smack in the middle of the city. The Palais Royal is practically across the street from the Louvre, yet you wouldn't guess it. It's a little hidden, but all the old buildings and arcades makes a nice buffer from the rest of the city. The mornings are best as the tourist hoards aren't yet out and about, a couple cafes might serve you a petit dejeuner if you know where to seek them out, and lots of families are out playing in the jardins. The city has an almost dream-like quality to it in the gray and fog, which is practically an everyday occurrence.

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Tuesday, 26 June 2012

FO: Pogona

The quest for a closet full of elegant neckwear continues.


This was was a simple affair, knit up quickly and it used all but a couple of yards of a skein of sock yarn. I love small shawls that are maybe not quite functional for winter warmth, but for a breezy dressy addition to your every day. It's essential here, where you can pretty much spot the tourist based on the fact that they are not wearing scarves. It's almost a little obscene to see a bare neck at this's like leaving the house without your pants. Scarf up!


It also doesn't get terribly warm here, so having constant cozy comfort doesn't hurt. I know, my dear friends and New Yorkers. You grow jealous at my 11 month knitwear use. Yes, in August it might get steamy here, but so far it's been sweat-free. Apart from an ocasional day where it might hit 75 degrees in the afternoon sun, it's far enough north in longitude so that I haven't had to go a day without a light jacket. I am a lover of summertime and hot weather, but I'm finding this a rather pleasant change over last summer and the 116 degree day where I decided that if I stand in front of the oven for a couple hours and stew a chicken, if only so it would feel much cooler when I move away from the oven.


Anyway. The shawl. Another Stephen West creation. Easy peasy. Just knit and purl. You start out with a paired increases, and as the shawl grows, you make more, so it ends up being a series of wedges, with the largest one in the middle. Yes, it's small, but after blocking it stretched out to be big enough to wrap around and stay wrapped, and that's all I really want. It's got gorgeous drape, and it's a good excuse to break out a nice skein of handpainted yarn that you've been hoarding. The top edging is a little tight by design, but it doesn't bother me.


I don't have proper blocking equipment- it all amounts to a few pins and hair clips at this point. Mine blocked out nicely, although the samples look like they were less pointed on the ends. I still view this whole moving and living in a strange land experience as if I'm just going camping, and dealing with the little discomforts of going without.


The yarn is Sanguine Gryphon Bugga! in the color "Shelob". It's very soft. I used almost the entire skein...I might have had 2 or 3 yards left over, but I kept knitting until I almost ran out before doing a couple rows of the garter edging. I've worn this a ton already. I didn't pack or bring too many of the shawls and scarves I've made over the years, rightly guessing that I would dive into creating more of them.

WED_3161 The pictures were taken at the Chateau Fontainebleau, where there are loads of rock climbers bouldering up huge stones dropped randomly by glaciers throughout the great forest around it.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Ode to the Internet

Oh, my lovely internet...I bow to it and kiss its ring and delight in its many wonders.

After nearly a month without it (I'm told this isn't unheard of), I am so happy to have it back. It was getting really hairy. I'm usually pretty self-sufficient and I regularly shun technology. I go on vacations without it, as my annual retreat into the Maine woods meant no electricity for years (out of habit, even when we got electricity, I made it a rule to leave the gagets at home). I dislike smart phones and their temperamental fits, and I hate being dependent on GPS when a map will do just fine. Still...moving to a new place, not knowing where anything was or what was going on was really hard to deal with. Also...since I was pretty sure living in the middle of a populous European country meant that I wouldn't be without, I had scanned and PDF'ed all the necessary administrative documents I would have needed. Totally useless.

Trying to set up school, trying to meet up with people, trying to meet new people, finding measurement conversions, applying for my residency permit, order basic utilities...pretty much impossible. To make matters worse, the phone is bundled with the internet, so I didn't have one of those either.

So what did I do?


Sure, it meant showing up at the train station blindly and maybe waiting a little bit longer. It meant having to spot someone in a crowd at an appointed time. It meant spending a lot of time wondering where I was, what the closest metro station was, and not knowing what was going on in the world.

I did survive though. Neat, huh? I just don't want to do it again willingly.

We did move into a posh apartment though. I like it, especially now that I can be entertained at a moment's notice by endless cat videos (and I don't even particularly care for cats).

The best part was when our shipment crate arrived. The delivery men were understandably grumpy at the walk up (they had been promised an elevator) but the treasures revealed once they left made my life a bit easier.


Oh, look at that. I surprised myself with a whole tote of pretty yarn. Very little rhyme or reason to it. I'm sure I'll survive and get by on it though. Oddly, whenever I was packing it must have been a nice spring day as I packed lots of pinks and purples. Not my usual palate, but everything is in merinos and silks and cormos and cashmeres, so really now. There is no bad color.

There were lots of clothes, including winter coats that I didn't want to have to buy again even though they take up a ton of space. I think the best surprise I left myself were bathrobes. It tickled me to no end that I thought to pack those. It's not as warm here as it is in New York, and it's quite drab most days, so having a cozy warm robe to shulff around the house in with your morning latte was a brilliant idea.

Also, my knives. I was pretty fed up with all the cheap Ikea knives that came standard with every furnished place we stayed. Sawing through bread without ruining it, trying to chop carrots without losing a digit, peeling a turnip without severing an artery, slicing a tomato without turning it into sauce. All these are terrible tasks without proper, sharp knives. I had brought my entire block of professional chef's knives, a couple of paring knives and a really handy bread knife, all of which I sharpen at least weekly. They make the kitchen feel like home.

Sunday, 10 June 2012


Did you know that in Paris it takes 2+ weeks to get your internet and phone service set up, even if there is an existing line for that service installed? Also, the process is all full of loopholes and red tape and more red tape, and a lot of people shaking their heads and letting you know that nothing you want is possible. I think my teeth might be grit down to little nubs by the time everything is over with. I'm hoping the insanity will be over with soon.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

FO: Ripley Hat

I made this quite a while ago, while I was still in New York. I wanted to get rid of a few single skeins of yarn I had, as it seemed wasteful to pack them away in storage and bring them with me, as it wouldn't take very long to turn them into a real garment.

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This was a skein of long-discontinued, super luxurious Gaia Worsted from the Sanguine Gryphon. The color was "Dew on the Dragonfly". It's 55% silk, 45% cashmere and it just melts in your hands, and it's a precious little 150 yards in a skein. I needed a special something I could whip up quick that would show off the lovely color, and take advantage of how soft and lovely the yarn was.


A quick search around and I remembered a pattern I had been wanting to do for a bit: the Ripley Hat by Ysolda. It had a couple variations you could do, and some optional folds to make the hat slouchier. A perfect way to use up limited yardage.


The pattern was straight forward and a quick knit- even with all the extra folds it took me just a couple days. I opted for the slouchy version with a lacy brim. I packed it in my suitcase and it really came in handy in Iceland. Maybe not the most rugged piece to wear there, but it actually wasn't too cold so it suit my purpose just fine.

Added bonus being that the silk is water replant enough to keep my ears dry in heavy mist/light drizzle.


Friday, 8 June 2012

Lock and Key

On several of the bridges here, you'll see the link fencing guardrails completely plastered with padlocks. They all have inscriptions on them. Basically, you are supposed to write the name of your love on the lock, attach it to the bridge and throw away the key to guarantee lifelong togetherness.

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A nice sentiment, and I would like to think that it's creating a nice sandbar of tiny keys somewhere downstream along the Seine.

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Thursday, 7 June 2012

Le Chat

The place we stayed in for our first month here used to be a grand old hotel, in a neighborhood full of grand old hotels. At one point it was turned them into apartment units, but the place retains a bit of the grandness it once had. Soaring lobby ceilings and stained glass gives you a clue that behind the mouldy smell and threadbare carpets and yellowing plaster, it was probably a posh place to stay at one point.

I'm not a cat person at all, but I was charmed by the fact there is a resident cat.


Wednesday, 6 June 2012


Bryan has a really fantastic view of the Opera house from his office.

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It's not really all that stunning on a cloudy day, but at night it's all lit up and magic looking.

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It gets dark so late here (right now we are edging past 10pm) so I haven't gotten a chance to get up there at night with my camera to document it, and it's only illuminated when there is an event going on. One night I'll get my timing right.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Chalk Art

There is a man who sets himself up on the pavement across from the Louvre almost every weekend.

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He makes large-scale art in the square with chalk.

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He's out there almost every weekend, making a different piece each time. On this particular day, it was threatening to rain and ruin what he's done so far, but he continued to work.

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A couple hours later, I checked in on him.

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Monday, 4 June 2012

Sunny Montmartre

I stand by my decision to not live in Montmartre.


It's lovely, for sure. Picture-book pretty. The hilly streets with adorable shops and cafes and charming old apartments, everything winding up to a glaringly white and ornately scalloped basilica.


We worked our way towards the top, getting very lost in the process as the streets here are a little skewed...but we weren't in a hurry and there was lots of good stuff to see along the way. As long as you keep going uphill, you really aren't that lost.


There was a small but good Dalí museum. They had a lot of his later work, wonderfully weird sculptures, doodles,illustrations and a great deal of intimate photographs taken by a close friend. Not as nightmare-inducing as the R Crumb exhibit we saw at the Modern a couple weeks ago, but spend too much time in a surrealist's mind and you start to get a little weird yourself.

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There's flea markets that you actually want to buy stuff, more Grand Prix de la Meilleure award winners than any other neighborhood, and a tiny vineyard right across from the Cabaret where Picasso and his cronies were known to spend a great deal of their time.

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They have also apparently declared Miles Davis as their patron saint. Nice.


Its a bit of a zoo here on the weekends, with some streets nearly impassable and clogged with tourist getting their caricatures drawn by street artist. The musicians and street performers do make for a lively and fun scene.

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It wasn't an orignal part of the city plan, but rather a town on the outskirts that got absorbed eventually as Paris expanded. It retains the feeling of a village within a city.

Sunday, 3 June 2012


Right before I packed up and moved from Brooklyn, I had an insane urge to make a few bulky-yarn projects in order to:

1. Use up the bulky-yarn stash. I think all new knitters go through a phase where the answer is "bulky yarn" to all their yarn questions. It's fast all right. But damn, if you could get something to look flattering on something other than a waif, you deserve an award.

2. Justify my use of knitting time as making visual progress at a time when I felt like I was getting no where and spending my days on endless hold-music calls. Most of these things were all knitted in the course of an afternoon, and in one case, in the time it took for AT&T to dick me around and not resolve anything at all, even though I was asking nicely.

First up: a handspun cowl. It started out as a braid of Corriedale/Alpaca blend from Spunky Eclectic in the "Thunderstorm" colorway.

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Great colors...nice and moody.

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Spun it up as a chunky 2-ply.

Then I learned a fantastic new technique...the Mobius cowl.

It's a little tricky to get started, but it's simple once you do it. Randomly altering your knit and purl rows makes for interesting texture, and there are tons of different ways to make this your own.


I loved it so much, I went ahead and dug up bags of scarps of some Rowan Biggy Print (which may or may not have been in my stash for more than 7 years) and made a stripy, ultra bulky one on size 17 needles.


It's enormously warm, and I love the texture that the thick-and-thin yarn produced. I randomly alternated the two colors I had until I ran out of yarn, and poof! it's magic! Really, it would have been pushing it if I invested two hours in this.

So I kept on rolling with the Biggy Print, and made a mistake-rib scarf with what I had left:

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The pattern (if you could call it that) is Franciose from "French Girl Knits". Mine came out short, so a pin or a button might be added at some point.

One more:

A VERY GLITZY alpaca batt from Loop!

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I bought this ages ago, when I first started spindle-spinning. 2006 or '07. I spun it up pretty quickly, but then the yarn just sat in a bin for all these years. Shameful!

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Spun up and plied, I only had 74 yards.

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So I made a wee necktie out of it, based on this pattern (which called for laceweight yarn).


It does need a good blocking, but it used up all my yarn. Mission accomplished.

I felt clean and purged when that was done. No more odd skeins of overweight yarn to slow me down! Overly warm neckware to the rescue.