Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Ah, New York

I have mixed emotions of, "wow, that's great I had the foresight to get out of that place" and wishing I was there to mix cocktails and whip up a huge meal to get everyone together and in a better place mentally. Cities by the sea are ofttimes right in the way of these big, uncaring storms. As it's been pointed out and tested time and time again, New Yorkers are a resilient bunch.

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Anyway...I'm traveling for a bit, and I'll have lots of pictures and stories for you soon, and I will be doing so with much panache and bundled in knitwear. Ciao for now!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Autumn

The trees here don't turn brilliant scarlet and gold. My east-coast lifestyle has always been a spoil of color before winter sets in, yet in Paris, the leaves turn brown and fall off. What an anticlimactic way to say goodbye to the sun for a few months!

However, the produce scene has more than redeemed the autumnal feeling I crave that the trees usually set off.

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While I have yet to find apple-cider donuts (sigh, beignets) I have been busily cooking and eating my way through autumn. Every trip to the market sets off ooohs and ahhs and I generally end up carrying home much more than I planned to. Kilos of crispy-bright apples and pears, bunches of green cabbage, squash and pumpkin. My entire apartment permanently smells of garlic and onions as that is what goes into almost every meal now. I miss having a food processor and my big-ass kitchen aid mixer, but I am making due and having a real creative renaissance in the kitchen.

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I've even been super lucky and found a vendor at the Bastille Market that has enormous bunches of kale:

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Slugs seem to love it too, as I found several lurking in the folds of the leaves when I was washing and chopping it up. Squidgy! But I had several kale-based meals this week and have more in the freezer for later. Thank you to Kristen at the Kale Project for her hard work in this department! She sends out alerts when kale is spotted in a market in the city, and she's been working with farmers to convince them that there is a market for big bunches of bitter greens.

One of my only complaints about the produce here is that there is almost no bitter greens (kale and collards and rabe) and no hot peppers. The French don't really care for spice, and for whatever reason, the good stuff just never made it into their daily menus. I can usually find swiss chard, but not the pretty rainbow variety you get in the states. I can occasionally find bok choy. Alas, I can not really truly complain. Everything is brilliantly fresh and other than those few unavailable items, the variety is downright stunning.

Don't even get me started on the cheese.

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Monday, 22 October 2012

FO: Memories in Lichen

Hey, remember that time I went to Iceland and I ate lichen? Great story. Good memories anyway.

I finished something kind of big and time consuming. I brought a tote of lace and sock weight yarn with me when I moved and I'm forcing myself to knit it all. Sweaters on teeny tiny needles! No more of those instant-gratification projects of yesteryear, I have space and shipping constraints to think about. This sweater has been done for a bit, I was just waiting and waiting for a somewhat not rainy day out to wear it out. Who wants to be sodden by wet wool anyway? Still, it was on the needles for quite a while.

The pattern is called "Memories in Lichen" by Elizabeth Rislove Etler. Despite it being a little complicated, I loved the details and the fit and just had to make it.

From my stash, I had three skeins of Sanguine Gryphon Skinny Bugga in a precious blue "Bomber Worm".

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For the underskirt, a skein of Gaia Lace in "Cobblestone Mazes".

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I cast this top on way back in June. I wanted a pretty summery top to traipse around in. Ah, but the rain came and didn't stop until August, and by that time I was most definitely sick a big pile of wool on my lap, so it went into the time-out pile. The lace panel skirt was not hard per say, but it did take your full attention. I just don't really spend too much time fully attuned to my knitting, so it seemed to drag on forever.

The underskrit was easy, and well worth it. I contemplated just picking up stitches and doing a ruffle at the bottom edge, but then you would always have to wear a cami underneath anyway, so I slogged through a mile of lace-weight cashmere/silk blend stockinette stitch to make it. I remember sitting in a sweltering movie theater (true fact: going to the movies here in July means you will probably be cooler outside) and trying to figure out just what the hell was up with this batman character and exiting the theater with a great deal of underskirt done. Magic, I tell you.

Once that was done it was all easy-peasy. The neck has an i-cord edging that I really liked- it gives it a very fished look. The sleeves I fudged a bit as I couldn't really figure out the instructions, but oh, short row sleeves never hurt anyone, so I just stuck to my tried-and-true method. I don't think I have enough of the gaia lace yarn leftover to make ruffled sleeves, so they are plain for now.

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So here we are, finished and blocked. It would probably be a little warm for a summer top with all that lovely cashmere and silk against your skin but it could easily be layered. It doesn't get terribly hot in Paris anyway, but it seems like this fall doesn't get brusquely cold either. I will eventually go ice skating in this and I won't fall once and it will be glorious.

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I love it.

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It fits, it drapes, it's warm and pretty. Both layers pilled up a little bit where my cross-body bag hits my hip, but I snipped those off quick and it seems to have mellowed out with the pills. It's soft and cozy and I will wear it a lot.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Monday, 15 October 2012

In the Kitchen

I feel incredibly lucky to have all these great markets around me. This is the time of year that begs for days in the kitchen.

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I've been buying lots of wild mushrooms. They are so inexpensive here!

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I paid a pittance for a kilo of chanterelles- the equivalent of $7 US. That's a whole lot of shrooms. There are so many varieties of mushrooms that I don't know the Anglicized name for, of that I have just never even seen before. I'm not going to get sick of them any time soon.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

First Sundays

The First Sunday of the Month is Free Museum Day in Paris. Most major halls open their doors to the public, with just a wait to get through the security line.

Which, because of its popularity, can be quite long, and they will cut the line off at the end of the day.

Which is exactly why we were smug with glee last Sunday afternoon as we were the last people to be let into the d'Orsay museum and had to endure dozens of people trying to whine their way into line.

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I hope there is another picture out there somewhere of me on the other side of the ropes, looking victorious.

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Afterwards, a walk though the Tulleries.

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The goats are still there!

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We have officially entered gray sky season, so the warmth of the sun brought the world outside for a few brief hours.

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Friday, 12 October 2012

Brunch

While traditional American brunch has taken Paris by storm in recent years, I'm finding that I'm craving the simpler, Parisian late-morning breakfast.

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Not too shabby.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Nuit Blanche

Last Saturday night was the Nuit Blanche festival in Paris- The "White Night".

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Museums, galleries, churches, and institutes all stay open all night, with the metro running all night to accommodate. There's lots of concerts, both official and unofficial, and thousands of people come out and stay out all night for the occasion.

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While some of the lines were really long- who wants to go to the Pompidou at 2am? lots of people, apparently- some of the smaller happenings were nice, if not a little weird.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

FO: Springtime Bandit

I have no idea how I had the capacity to *eff this shawl up as badly as I did. It's a first for me.

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I had four gorgeous skeins of The Fiber Company's Canopy Worsted in a gentle light blue shade called "Palm Bud". A lovely blend of bamboo, alpaca and merino, I was waiting for a special project to hit me. I finally settled on the equally lovely Springtime Bandit Shawl. Thousands of other people have made this shawl and raved about it, and it's well-known as a simple and fast item to knit.

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"This is *effing easy!" I remember saying to myself as I cast on. Months of teeny tiny gauge projects on size 0 and 2 needles made the worsted weight yarn feel like rope (soft, lovely rope), and it just flew along. I did the called-for Four pattern repeats, puzzled over why I was still on my first skein of yarn, and did two more repeats, just for fun. I thought the shawl was shaping up a little oddly, but, hey, whatever, most knitting surprises me in the end anyway.

Two days later, off the needles, I had my answer.

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I had only made one side of the shawl. I totally read the charts wrong when I gave them the quick, "This is Cake" glance-over, and only did half the charts. So. The way the shawl is now constructed, what is supposed to be the top edge is now the bottom point. What is the bottom lace chart is the only part of the shawl that I can get to be a long, flat edge. It's upside-down.

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I am genius. Hear me roar. This is getting ripped back and re-made into something a bit saner.

*Grandma is known to stop by the old blog on occasion, and I can't bring myself to say the eff word in front of her. effing, effing effing, effing. Guess who I learned words like this from, Grandma? Your daughter, that's who. True story.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

La Défense

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A little bit of 6th ave in Manhattan, just outside of Paris in the aire urbaine.

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La Défense is the business end of Paris. I recently spend an afternoon wandering around in the canyons. Unlike midtown, the whole main axis is a pedestrian plaza, so it's much quieter than you would expect. The grand arch completes the straight line of monuments called Axe historique that start with the Louvre, the Concord monument, down the Champs Élysées, through the Arc de Triomphe.

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It's a little sterile, with malls and mall shops and mall food, and even a giant shop that is described as "The French WalMart".

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I did something that I never, ever do...I grabbed a sandwich and a bag of chips at Pret a Manger (I didn't even know they had these in Paris!) and sat on the steps of the grand arch with the working people and had a nice sunshiny lunch.

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There's a lot of really big companies out here...there isn't a whole lot of vertical office space in Paris, so they moved the office park way out to the 'burbs.

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Towers, glass, metal, abstract sculptures. Just not what you would expect in Paris.

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Monday, 8 October 2012

Musée du quai Branly is Creepy.

There are so many museums in Paris, I don't think I've even begun to scratch the surface of the scene yet.

There was an exhibit on Chinese cooking that was closing at the musée du quai Branly. I had never been, but it's the museum devoted to non-Western art and culture. It's right in the shadow of the eiffel tower in a big, sprawling modern building.

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The Chinese exhibit was mostly about the cooking vessels, and we were totally disappointed at the fact that they missed the tie-in by selling the museum-famished masses dumplings and noodles at the end of the hall. You can't show me pictures like this, expect me to walk away without shaking in terror with the thought where will my next dumpling come from?

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We wandered the permanent collection for a bit, and then headed over to the new special exhibit on human hair.

It started out all nice and lovely. Movie stars and their gorgeous tresses, marble sculptures of different ethnicities and their hairstyles. I knew things were getting weird when we hit the Native American trophy scalps on display. And then...

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Shrunken heads! Real, once-live shrunken heads from the Amazon!

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Maybe not something you would see every day. They also had some whole mummified people.

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Hair is creepy.