Friday, 28 August 2015

Playing list – Quilting books

As the kids are still around, I don’t get much opportunities in my sewing room.  A bit of knitting with Alice, a couple of hours stolen here and there, so as a consequence I don’t have much to show.  However, as I was reorganising my room, I pulled of a few books I bought recently.  All happy reads, all inspiring, just need to find many more hours in my day, or stop sleeping (that would be 8 hours gain), or stop driving to school (another 3 hours gain)…


In no favourite order, here is my recent pick:

  • The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt 1930s – Kerry Green (from Verykerryberry on Instagram and her blog) is about to start a Farmer’s Wife QAL  using this book and I’ve decided that I would love to play along.  Although I do need another project like I need the plague (weird expression, where does it come from?)… So I’ve got the book, I’ve got some 30’s fabrics.  Wish me luck, hopefully I’ll enjoy and finish it.
  • Handmade Style by Anna Graham (aka Noodlehead) – I’ve made one of Anna Graham’s bag, the Beetle Super tote.  And I was smitten by the pattern, how well written it was, and how painless it was to sew the bag.  So I had to have the book.  I’ve already made a little bag from the book (you can see HERE on my Instafeed).  There are many more projects I want to sew: a travel case, a wallet, a few bags…
  • Free-Motion Quilting with Angela Walters – you might remember that I’ve been diagnosed with a ‘Quilting-blockage’…  This is a very bad affliction,especially as I have several tops waiting to be finished.  But as Angela Walters (Quilting is my therapy) herself said “A finished top is better than a perfect quilt top”.  I know it all come with practice and I am hopeful I’ll be able to overcome my blockage.  The book is full of nice easy designs and tips to combine them.
  • Sew Organized for Busy Girls by Heidi Staple (her blog - Fabric Mutt) -  the first section of the book is about getting organised, finding time to sew.  Then the second part of the book brings some very cute little projects (you might have seen the Deluxe Pincushion around the web).  To me it feels that the book is more for young mothers with very little time or sewing beginners.  Still it is a very stylish, pretty book.
  • Double Wedding Ring Quilts and 15 Minutes of Play by Victoria Finlay Wolf.  Back in December, Victoria came to our Guild to teach “15 Minutes of Play”.  Being a scrappy-quilt kind of girl's that was the perfect workshop. I had been following Victoria's blog in the past, and it was lovely to meet her in person - she is such a fun, friendly lady.
  • Quilt Lovely - 15 Vibrant Projects by Jen Kingwell – may I blame my friend René for this purchase? or should I assume plain responsibility?  René had brought this book to one of our Crafty Tuesday and then she made this pillow from the book. Being a scrappy-quilt kind of girl (as mentioned above), it was love at first sight… so many projects to tackle… so little time…
    scrapbooking papers4 

Lastly, Alabama Studio Sewing + Design - I should probably do a full post on this one.  I wanted this book for a long time, but always thought that I will never make any of the garments presented.  Not that the garments' construction would be difficult, but could you really imagine appliqué and re-embellish intricate tiny patterns on a large piece of knit, all by hand, before making a T-shirt?  But the book is so stylish, the pictures, the drawings, the colours...  Go and explore Alabama Chanin website, I really love the atmosphere, it's clean, it's organic.  I think I will have to find an opportunity to visit The Factory, and gift myself with some of their organic cotton jersey.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015


We spent a lot of time travelling this Summer.  It was all nice, exciting, fun… but as a consequence, I did not get a lot of time to spend in my Sewing Room (which looks like a disaster zone right now).
Back in July, when Juliette and I stayed in Paris for a couple of days, we went to the Droguerie, one early morning.  Early morning is the best time to go to La Droguerie, it is not busy yet, and you get to spent as much time as you want with the sales assistant who’s helping you.  I did not plan on buying anything special but one needs to stay opened to any opportunity :).
So in addition, to a Squirrel sticker for Juliette’s backpack, a nice top pattern and a dress patterns book…  I also got some pretty nice yarn, Kaleido.  Kaleido is 92% Bamboo, 8% Linen.  The yarn is very soft, it does not split when knitted.
The pattern, Evisa, is a top-down cardigan, all in garter stitches.  So super easy, but a bit on the boring side, all those knit rows…  On the bright side of things, it has been an easy, no brainer knit.
Corail cardi La Droguerie
I made one small modification to the pattern.  I liked the look of the 2 stockinette stitches going down the shoulders, and decided to carry on the look all the way to the bottom of the cardigan, adding a bit of interest and structure.
Corail cardi La Droguerie1
Now, I need to run to the Post Office and mail this to my little Grand God Daughter.

Monday, 17 August 2015

My Playlist - Books

Well we are back, have been back for more than a week, back to school too.  I was hoping to re-establish some kind of routine here, but I guess I’m not there yet.  My two oldest are still at home, so the routine can wait!

It’s been some time since I review my Playlist.  I should do this more often, but I feel that I haven’t been too lucky with my book-picking recently (have I already said that before).  So here we are.

First, the good stuff.  I love, love, love a dark police thriller (un Polar in French).  If it’s Swedish, Danish it’s even better.  Remember the Millennium series.  I think I found something in the same line with Jussi Adler Olsen and Department Q.  Department Q is ran by a grumpy sad inspector, he makes me think of Wallender is some ways.  His assistant Assad has a hidden past, speaks little Danish but has pretty good police skills.  And later in the series, they are joined by Rose, a secretary with a double (or more) personality.  Then there are their cases, cold cases and very dark, almost making you lost hope in the human nature.

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Now the bad stuff.  First let me explain, I’ve tried something new, I’ve tried an audio-book.  It felt a bit strange at first, and maybe I shouldn’t put is in my reading list, but it is not a podcast either.  So I checked out Outlander.  Everybody has been talking about this series, so why not.  And if I liked it there was the TV show too.  First point, I found it a bit difficult to follow the narration, then I realised that I could not read while listening an audio-book -  that makes sense, it is not multitasking, it is over tasking.  However, I can knit and listen, I can sew and listen and best of all I can drive and listen without using the same areas of my brain twice.  Second point, call me picky, but the narrative voice got me very annoyed, very fast… “Oh Jaaamiie…”

Still, I like the first book.  The concept of time travel is interesting, the setting in historic Scotland appealed to me.  BUT… I have major problem with the ‘sex scenes’.  I’m not prude at all (I’m French), but I couldn’t stand those parts: the languorous narrative voice, the naff situations… My point being either the scene adds something to the situation and you make it good, or you skip it. all together  Nonetheless, I managed to the end of the third book which is not good at all: Claire the main character, who had managed to travel back to her time period, comes back to the past after a-20-year absence, has learnt nothing about the past, the situations are far-fetched, the story telling very repetitive.   I’m glad I crafted and drove while listening, at least my time was not wasted.  And by the way, the TV show is not better.  I guess the main characters have been casted for their sex appeal (more sex scenes…)

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However, I’m still going to give another try at audio-books, this time I’m trying Stephen Kings’ 11/22/63 (another time travel story).  Wish me luck.

Finally the ‘I-have-mixed-feeling’ stuff.  It is another first for me, self help book – Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.  I’ve seen her TED Talk before starting reading this book and I liked her message about vulnerability, being ‘good-enough’, connections, sense of belonging and wholehearted people.  It is more detailed in her book which is entertaining to read, and I can really relate to her message.  And I wonder whether it does defeat the point of self-help book, If at first you agree with the content, do you really get any new ideas from it?  Still it is interesting and if you don’t have time for the book the TED talk gives a lot of information.

I had more luck with my craft books and my cooking books.  I’ll come back to these very soon.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

The benefits of road-trip holidays

I know, I know when it comes to my kids I am probably not the most objective person  (I’m sure most, if not all, mothers are proud of their kids).  What I want to say is that I am proud of them, not for their achievements (which I am of course), but for their loving personalities and most of all for how they care about each others.

We’ve been ‘stuck’ together, in the same car, in the same hotel rooms for now 2 weeks, and apart for the very rare ‘name-calling’ incidents, they still seem to like each other.

Our Far West road trip10I think our road-trip holidays help us to reconnect and still be a ‘normal’ family even thought we live apart most of the year.  We started going on road trips when Juliette was just 2.  We went to Canada, Italy (twice), Japan, Vietnam, Australia, the States (now for the fourth time).

I might feel a bit nostalgic.  As the kids are growing up, I know it is going to be more and more difficult to have these bits of time just for ourselves.  Soon they will be heading to their adults’ life.  On a side note,  we had an interesting discussion today, they were all imagining their lives, maybe in Japan, or somewhere in Europe, unless it was in Australia or in the States… and it made me smile to remember that my big adventure, with my first job, was to go to Paris, just 3 hours away from my home town…

I just hope that these holidays will have engraved a solid sense belonging to each other and no boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, work obligation, hard-time will take them apart, or not for long anyway.  I hope they will support each other wherever their lives take them.   I hope they will take time to have fun together because it makes the best memories.

Our Far West road trip9 Our Far West road trip12 Our Far West road trip11

And I hope they will remember to take silly family selfies!Our Far West road trip13

Saturday, 1 August 2015


Amongst the ‘thousands’ 500+ of pictures I’ve taken, here are a few postcards.  We’ve drove quite a lot and each day has brought some magnificent points of view.Our Far West road trip8 Our Far West road trip7 Our Far West road trip6 Our Far West road trip5 Our Far West road trip4 Our Far West road trip3