Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Some break under pressure…

…others bake under pressure!  It’s been a weird kind of week-end, for no special reason.  So after having been unpleasant to my family, I resorted to a more ‘healthy’ fix, I BAKED.

chocolate chips cookies with caramel

Those are Chocolate chips cookies shaped into little cups, filled with salted caramel sauce, covered with semi-sweet chocolate ganache.

I’ve used a trusted recipe from Martha Stewart for the cookies: here to get it.  I’ve baked this a zillion times, but I think it’s time to re-invent it and make it with less sugar.  I dropped spoons of dough in a tiny muffin tray, then once the cookies were baked, but still warm, I press the centre with a wooden tool to shape them into cups.

Next the salted caramel sauce, I’ve used a recipe from this year Great British Bake Off.  Here it is (go to step 6 for the How-to).  And finally, for the ganache, I melted a bar semi-sweet chocolate, added some cream and piped it over the filled cups.  I think my piping skills need some improvement and I should work on my ganache too as it did not stay glossy after being in the fridge.

Apart from that, you’ll be happy to know that we did not eat them all, it was far too sweet…

chocolate chips cookies with caramel1

Also the crankiness is gone, and I’m going to blame my initial mood on the full moon.

Friday, 14 October 2016

London express – Fall edition

When your kids live in London, it is almost compulsory to do regular visits to England.  So a couple of weeks ago, I went there to make sure that they were well settled.  And yes, they were settled and already engaged in very busy student life (read: not much time for mom’s stuff, already booked with parties and friends’ stuff – and honestly, I am glad they were …

So after checking their accommodations, ordering some home supplies – how many hangers does one need?  is breakfast without a toaster possible?  how many inches of shelves space are needed?… I planned a couple of museum visits.

First stop, the Fashion and Textiles Museum.  I think it is probably one of my favourite museum in London.  I am not a great museum goer, but anything around textiles get me excided.  The TCM is quite small and from my previous visit it looks like the exhibitions always follow a similar setting: gowns/costumes on the ground floor with a single route to see them, then a few more on the first floor and finally a gallery of pictures.  I’ve seen an exhibition around Kaffe Fasset there, and another one on British designers to HM the queen.  The current exhibition is 1920 Jazz Age, 1920’s fashion, and as usual the display is great, the collection of pictures beautiful.

London Express - Fall edition2

London Express - Fall edition3

Next stop, the Victoria and Albert Museum for Undressed: a brief history of underwear.  I wouldn’t say I enjoyed this exhibition as much as the one at the FTM.  It was far more busy, everything was behind glass with reflection of the surrounding, and taking pictures was not authorised.  I took a couple of pictures of garments from their permanent exhibition.  I think I have something for the 50s…

London Express - Fall edition4

And this is Tottenham Court Road Station, the tube station by Victor’s home.  The mosaics are from Edouardo Paolozzi, check here to find out more.

London Express - Fall edition

And just one last set of pictures, the weather was gorgeous, not cold yet with a beautiful autumn light.

London Express - Fall edition1

Who said that the weather was gloomy in London?

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

The vivid blanket

When I drafted this post it started like this I'm going to try something new and have some kind of regular (ish) post on a regular subject. Sundays are going to be for Knitting. Obviously it did not work as plan...  As much as I like blogging and the memories it carries,  I seem incapable to channel enough motivation to come back here at least once a week.  Let me know if you have any recommendation to overcome this.

Well, back on the subject. Last time, I've shown you some magic knitting, this time is for the Vivid blanket. I've seen it all over the web.  Ok, maybe not all over the web, but at least on my favourite social networks,  Instagram and Ravelry.

Vivid Blanket

Vivid blanket is a pattern Emily Wessel the designer behind Tin Can Knits. It's a little bit lacy depending of your yarn choice.  After experimenting, I found that for me the best and fastest way to knit these, was to start on 4 double points needles, then switch to circular needle for the outer border.

I've use some Balmoral yarn (72% wool, 25% alpaca, 3% silk) from Sirdar which I had in my stash for ever; it has actually been discounted which is a shame because my blanket looks a bit too short.  I've made 25 squares, the dimensions are 34” square. 

Vivid Blanket1

I'm not quite sure how to go from there. Shall I find some similar weight yarn and make more squares? Shall I add a border in garter stitches? What would be a good finished size?  And anyway, what use have I for this in Florida?  I might opt for more squares as it makes it a pretty portable project. When I start working on this back in March, I was able to finish a square per day.  So one more row around the actual blanket means 24 more squares.  That’s totally feasible.  I could probably work on this while travelling, small, portable project.

To be continued…
  Vivid Blanket2

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Knitting magic

My goddaughter sent me this picture a while ago with a message which sounds like she was challenging me. That was enough to get me started.

Desktop4Pictures taken by my Goddaughter, somewhere in New Zeland

A quick search on Ravelry later, and I had this star pattern in mind. Rather than knitting the baby blanket, I've decided on making a scarf: I added garter stitches before and after the motive and on each sides. I also reworked the pattern in order to have a full big star on the centre.

And now, are you ready for some magic?  Depending on the angle you look at the scarf, you can either see white and black stripes or stars. Magic!

Magic knitting1

How does it work?  It is actually quite simple and clever. You need two contrasting colours of yarn, alternating 2 rows from each colour. The background row, in my case the dark one, is Knit on the front side, Purl on the back. The design colour, is Purl on the front, Knit on the back.  Knitting those 2 sets of rows will give a stripe texture piece. In order to create the motive, the Purl and Knit stitches are reversed where the motive happens.

Do find out more, you should go and check Pat Ashforth and Steve Plummer’s website.  Their work is super impressive, so detailed with so much craftsmanship, precise planning... They are sharing some very informative tutorials on how to draft a pattern from a picture.

Here is my very humble contribution to the world of illusion knitting.

scrapbooking papers6


Monday, 19 September 2016

The Dove blouse

There are a few things I tend to shy away from.  Things like mystery quilt, swap with total stranger or pattern testing.  Not that I don’t like to do any of these, but I am not a super fast maker and I tend to start a new project on impulse.  Well, I sign for a pattern testing on an impulse…  When I read that Megan Nielsen was looking for testers for her new pattern my thoughts went: ‘why not?’ – ‘but her patterns are for young people, and I am not’ – ‘let’s register, anyway there’s going to be too many testers, I won’t be chosen!’…  And guess what?  I made it to the testers team!

So here is Dove, made from some cotton/linen bought at my local shop, the Sewing Studio (I think the fabric might still be in stock).  Was linen a good choice for this blouse?  NO because it wrinkles like mad and I had to iron far to many times during the construction.  YES, because it gives the garment a Bo-ho look that I love.

Dove has a V-neck, comes with 3 different sleeves: elbow, flare and bell sleeves (I made version 2 – flare sleeves).  I wasn’t quite sure about the flare or bell sleeves.  But again, the idea of testing a pattern was also to get out of my comfort zone.

Dove has a high-low curved hemline.  Did I mention before that I did not like high-low hemline?  I was WRONG.  I LOVE the high-low curved on this blouse, again the Bo-ho feel.

Dove test


Dove test1

Construction wise, it went like a breath.  The instructions are clear, going through each step in details (that’s why I love Indie patterns so much!).  The curved hem and the neck are faced which gives a nice, clean finish.  I had to grade the pattern as busty-me would not fit in the larger size, adding 3 inches.  It works well around the bust, but I think the shoulders are slightly too big now.  I am planning to make another one, and this time I’ll do a FBA and probably lower the French dart, and still add a bit of ease at the back.  I might also have to shorten the sleeves, they are cut in the bias and they have ‘grown’ since I made it.

I am so pleased and thankful to have been part of Megan Nielsen pattern testing. I probably would never have picked this pattern for myself and I would have been so wrong.  It is lovely, the lines are modern and flattering and I learnt that I am still young enough to be hipster ;).

There is a round up of the Dove Pattern testers on Megan’s blog, you can found it here.  There’s also an Instagram handle #MNDove.

NB.  have you notice my necklace?  I made it!  It is a fairly easy knotting project: glass and silver beads with contrasting silk thread, Buddha head stone and homemade embroidery cotton tassel.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Amazing people

Quilts made out of 93 blocks donated to the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild – finished size 66x66

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen this picture.  You might have liked it or even commented on it.  For all the Likes and the Comments, thank you, thank you so much.  This is probably one of my most popular entries on Instagram.  As much as I enjoy the attention, it has also made me reflect on a few things.

First, I really wish I had not made this quilt, I really wish the #QuiltsforPulse had no meaning, I really wish that there was nobody to receive those quilts, I really wish that the event which has made quilters from all over the world sew hearts had NEVER NEVER happened, that none of us had spent this summer wild amazed by this tragedy, that we did not have to congratulate ourselves for the enormous flow of generosity, being overwhelmed by everyone’s response to this drive.

Secondly, if you follow our Guild blog or receive our Guild newsletter, you might have seen the stats associated to the #QuiltsforPulse drive, but I am not sure it can encompass the scale of the project. 
This morning was our monthly meeting and the normally empty tables at the back of the room overflowed with quilts.  I don’t think anyone can really grasp how much work our committee members have been putting into organising the smooth running of this project.

From receiving the quilts and blocks, opening the mail (and getting rid of the packaging),
From sorting the blocks and organising them into kits to be sewn,
From coordinating the distribution of blocks to be pieced together, tops to be quilted, backings to be assembled, finished quilts to be bound and labelled (I went to pick up some quilts at the back of a parking lot and felt like a dodgy dealer ;),
From taking pictures of every single quilt for further documentation,
From coordinating with the various organisations involved with the victims and their families, and other people affected,
From working with suppliers so we have enough batting, thread, fabric to work on the quilts,
From organising thank you messages to quilters,
From keeping us informed of the progress,
From keeping us motivated, moving things along…

There are some amazing people behind all of this, working, giving their time and energy to ensure that all the received donations are given back to those who have suffered.  I want to express my gratitude and respect to all of them: they’ve been working and are still working to make sure that this worldwide act of generosity is passed around.  This drive would NOT have been successful without them.

If you want to see more of the quilts, have further details, go an explore some of those links:,,  Or go here and register to the Guild’s newsletter and here for the past issues.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Stash intake

Fullscreen capture 27072016 112933.bmp
According to my google search, it looks like ‘stash’ is some kind of secret, shameful thing.  Really?  Why? When it comes to my stash, I don’t feel any shame.  I love my stash and all the possibilities that come with all my pretty fabrics.

While travelling in Oregon and Washington States, I had the chance to visit a couple of Quilt Stores and I couldn’t resist some shopping!


First stop, pre-road trip, the Sewing Studio.  This is my go-to shop for dressmaking.  There’s a nice large section of fashion fabric.  And I love the quilting cotton section too.  I needed some background fabric to carry on working on my Alturas applique (progress here), but I also found some gorgeous canvas linen from Cotton+Steel.  I’ve got plan for you!


Some more Cotton+Steel.  I’ve been waiting for a long time for From Porto with Love line.  I love those cats so much.  The rest is Juliette’s choices.  She wants me to make pillow cases and pencil cases (already done, two of them).  That’s not a lot of fabric considering I’ve visited 3 shops:  Modern Domestic in Portland.  I love this shop, very clean and light, there are little glass cabinets with tools’ display, lots of modern quilts and some garment fabric.  In Salem, I got some Anna Maria Horner’ from Quilted Forest.  The store is in a 50’s style building, there are quilts hanging all over the place, there was a nice mix of modern and traditional fabrics.  Such a shame it is closing down after 116 years in business.  Finally, I bought a pattern and a calendar at the Stitchin’ Post in Sisters.  I missed the Sisters outdoor Quilt Show by just a week, but still got to enjoy some quilts at superstore (yes, quilts above the vegetable aisle or the cheese section).


Last week, I went to New York while Philippe was on a business trip in Washington.  I HAD to go to the Garment District.  I spent a whole afternoon going from shop to shop, and I think I might have spent 3 hours at Mood Fabric.  I had read that the experience could be overwhelming so I went prepared with some project ideas.  This store is massive, the staff is very helpful and friendly and knowledgeable.  Here is what I brought back: some sportswear stretching fabric, some black corduroy, a little piece of silk, some soft checked shirting cotton and 2 pieces of lace (because I couldn’t resist).


And to come full circle, I was back to the Sewing Studio this week-end for a special event: Rifle Paper Co fabric debut.  That was a super cool event with an interview of Anna Bond, the founder of Rifle Paper Co, some samples made out of Les Fleurs line and plenty of fabric to buy.  As you can see, I’ve been super reasonable.

I hardly buy so much fabric in such a short spam of time.  So I had to come with a plan to ensure that the pile does not stay untouched for too long.

Sewing project.xlsx - Excel 16082016 100947

I also drew a few conclusions from these recent purchases:
  • I am developing some kind of addiction to linen canvas and to Cotton+Steel.
  • My girls are still at the top of my priorities, but I’m not too far from the top of the list.
  • I am going to spend a lot of quality time in my sewing room.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Etat d’ame

I've been away from this place for a month now, it was an unplanned absence (and it has been noticed at least by one of my reader ;). 

Honestly, during this past month, it felt that my world has been shattered, not shattered in big visible way.  It's more my inner world which has shifted. 

For many many summers, our holidays rhymed with family road trips. Actually, this blog started with posts about our first road trip in the States, way back in 2007. It was written with 6 hands, Alice, philippe and myself.  But this year, things changed, and there are signs of more changes to come. 

It started with Victor's graduation in early July.  He's soon going to be on his way to college. The same weekend, we celebrated Philippe's and Juliette's birthdays, the five of us, plus one. The 'plus-one' being Alice's boyfriend.  He seems a gentle caring person and a nice addition to our family circle (hopefully, he feels the same about us). 

Then Alice took off for a summer-long internship and wasn't able to come with us. Good opportunity shouldn't be turned off, so we road-tripped in Oregon without her, making me feel somehow guilty and not fully embracing the experience.

Finally, Juliette, who's a junior this year (a junior!) went for a week long workshop in Art college. The clock is ticking here too and Senior year and college visits are going to be upon us very soon.

All positive events, so why am I feeling off?  Probably because my life as I have been used to is shifting, changing. You can argue that we've been through many, many changes, moving around the world as we did.  Until now, I’ve been Philippe’s wife, the kids’ mother.  My days, my life has been shaped by theirs, from where we’re living to what we’re going to eat for dinner. 

Once again, nothing dramatic, I just need to re-evaluate, re-adjust and carry on.

It is somehow scary, but I am also feeling some kind of accomplishment when I see how they have turned out (and I know the job is not done yet).

Dinner at the Waldorf

In other news, my Grand-Mother is 95 today.