Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Knitographer X Paris part two - Montmartre fabric shopping

First of all, I must be completely honest. I only purchased five pieces of fabric and three skeins of sock yarn on my entire trip. Three of the pieces of fabric were sold as coupons - 3 metre cuts of fabric, and husband kindly turned up at just the right time to 1) take some photos with me in them to prove that I really was in Paris and 2) take the fabric home with him!

He very patiently followed me around for an hour or so in Montmartre, where there is a whole street dedicated to fabric shopping. 

The shops were big and small, with so much to choose from that I practically panicked and couldn't really decide. I wandered through Tissus Reine and Sacres Coupons and Dreyfus Marche St Pierre.

There were knits and wovens, silks and heavy weight coating, shirting and chiffons , prints and patterns, something for everyone.

And of course I found a little yarn shop tucked away on a narrow street near the marche.

Stitching Up Paris was an amazing guide to all of these stores, I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy if you're visiting the city!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Knitographer X Paris part one

Bonjour mes amis! It's 6.25am and the jet-lag is doing its thing, so what better time to write a little post about my adventures over the last month. I had hoped to be a bit more productive with blogging on my trip, and do a bit more knitting too, but in the end, Paris won out, and all spare time was spent exploring. This post isn't going to cover the crafty stuff - I have a stack of that to share and will do so over the next few days, but here are a couple of highlights.

Amazing passages with tiny independent shops. This is the Passage du Grand Cerf, where you can find the lovely knitting shop Lil Weasel

Street markets. These go on for kilometres on a Sunday and where everyone in the city does their grocery shopping. I cannot stop thinking about the cheese stalls. 

The most amazing thing that happened on my trip (aside from just Paris in general) was my husband showing up as a surprise at my student residence, for a weekend! He flew over from New Zealand for four days, without telling me his plans. This is him practising his French and ordering baguettes at one of the Sunday markets.

Cool cultural stuff. In Paris, people read books on the Metro, rather than staring at phones. They go to free Chopin concerts in the Jardin du Luxumbourg on sunny afternoons. The museums are insane. 

My favourite "Jo being a tourist" moment - lunch at the Cafe des Deux Moulins, the very same cafe where Amelie worked in my favourite film.

My university campus. This was the view to get to class. After a couple of weeks being in a place, you get into a bit of a routine, then you see the Eiffel Tower and remember that you're studying - in Paris.

People having picnics everywhere. This is the Canal St Martin, one of my favourite spots.

Density done well. In my other life I work in local government, so I have a nerdy interest in city living and urban planning. Parisians having the small-living-space and well functioning city thing down. Transport is amazing, people's dining rooms are in cafes and bistros, and you don't need a car. Sure, Paris is a lot older than my city and has had much more time and a much bigger population to require denser living, but as someone who loves urban living, I thing you can still have a high quality of life if you have a little apartment. I've come home with so many ideas!

More soon on the crafty stuff.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Knitographer in the UK

Apologies for the radio silence of the past couple of weeks - last week I journeyed 28 hours to the opposite side of the world and spent every jetlagged moment catching up with friends and family before heading to Paris.

I did manage to spend a great day in London looking at all things crafty and vintage around Islington with a dear friend who shares a love of knitting. In one little area we checked out several amazing vintage shops, excellent spots for brunch and the mecca of knitting in London - Loop.

This is one of the most beautifully curated yarn stores I've visited, with a fantastic range of yarns from Brooklyn Tweed, Quince & Co and many more. I was very excited to see hanks of The Uncommon Thread in real life, and decided to treat myself to a beautiful grey sock yarn for some mittens - I hear the weather is horrendous back home and I might need to make some in time for my return.

Then there was a visit to Liberty. Just amazing. No words except that I can't describe how overwhelmed I felt! I bought a couple of one metre offcuts that are just beautiful, although I'm not quite sure what to do with them just yet.

My crafting highlight of the past week though definitely has to be making tote bags with my cousins on a bright pink sewing machine. I picked up some cheap pillow cases and we got making just like I learned at Sew Love Tea Do a couple of years ago. It was incredibly fun and I think my little cousins are really excited by sewing!

Now I'm in Paris and spent the last couple of days settling into student residences, having orientation and starting class. It's been very busy but a great adventure so far, and now that I'm getting into a routine I should have a bit more time to explore soon!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Boyfriend Beanie number two!

Been a bit useless with blogging for the last couple of weeks. Today was the last day of work before the Paris adventure begins next week, and the last little while has been consumed by life admin and catching up with people. I've been doing a bit of knitting, including starting my Equilibrium Cardigan in lovely Outlaw Yarn

I have also managed to finish another Boyfriend Beanie with Vintage Purls sock yarn. I figure since I'm heading to the northern summer, Husband will need to keep warm while I'm away. I'm really loving that pattern and how simple it looks. I'll probably steal this one when I get back!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Stash Less Challenge #4 and Woolfest 2016

I think it's quite fitting that the most recent Stash Less Challenge posted was called Stop Shopping. Today was Auckland's annual Woolfest, pretty much the only big fibre event that's open to the general public each year. And I did buy some stuff. I gave myself a $100 budget to buy yarn for a cardigan. 

From previous Stash Less posts, it's become pretty apparent that my stash doesn't serve all of my needs. It doesn't have any DK or worsted weight in quantities big enough for a cardigan or sweater, and with my favourite grey cardigan falling to pieces and lots of holes in my navy blue one, it is time to knit myself something that will last a bit longer than anything I've bought from a shop. 

So today, I went to Woolfest with a strict budget and with a specific pattern in mind, Equilibrium from Pompom Quarterly's Spring 2016 issue.

I didn't have a specific colour in mind, other than it whatever colour I chose had to work with a good chunk of the items in my wardrobe. I thought I'd go with my usual grey or navy, but decided that a work horse didn't have to be in one of my go-to tones. And against my usual choices, I went for a very very pale pink alpaca merino blend from Outlaw Yarns. I got the last five skeins, totalling exactly $100, with just enough for my cardigan. I've used this yarn before for my Camp Fire Scarf, and love the way it knits up. It will make a great cardigan.

So what does my spending today have to do with stopping shopping? Well, first of all, this is the only yarn I've purchased this year. That's six months of no yarn buying, and only knitting from the stash. I'm at the point now where I'm not shopping for the sake of shopping. I'm shopping because I need a new cardigan, already have the pattern, and have nothing in the stash that's suitable. That's a pretty big deal for me.

This year I have purchased fabric, but everything I've purchased has been used. And I'm really happy that I'm buying yarn and fabric to use, and that I've put more thought into its purchase, instead of just buying something that I like the look of. 

And today there was a lot that I liked the look of!


Like all of this lovely Rosewood Wool. It was my first time seeing it all in person, and it's just beautiful. I have a few future ideas for this yarn, that need to be formulated a bit further before I start spending. 

That orange! So good!

And it was great to have a good look at the lovely Brooklyn Tweed at Holland Road Yarn Co's stall. I've been a huge admirer of their yarns and patterns, and I'm keen to save some extra pennies for a shawl or scarf.

And then there is one of my all time favourites, Spinning a Yarn. I have two skeins of a dark blue (similar to that in the photo) sitting in the stash, but I think I need one skein in another colour for a potential shawl. The difficulty is picking the colour. That golden yellow is amazing, and so is that pink... 

I'll have lots of time on my trip to do some brainstorming and think about what projects I want to make next, whether I want to design my own, and what yarn I can use from the stash to keep my spending down. For now, I'll finish the beanie I'm working on, and get started on the cardigan.

Friday, May 27, 2016

The skirt length question

I'm a lover of midi length skirts. The ones that swish around your knees a bit, or flow a little longer. What I haven't figured out yet is how to make one that I really love.

Over the last couple of weeks I've messed around with some fabric I got for $1 at a fair in Queenstown, trying to make the perfect skirt. I've figured out that you need a flowing fabric for a nice midi skirt - not the cotton I started with. My first attempt (with about seven different goes at inserting the zip...) was the perfect length but the fabric just didn't flow like I wanted it to. 

I wore it for a week until I decided it needed significant shortening.

Nine inches later and it's much more like a Tilly and the Buttons' Clemence Skirt. I used the Clemence instructions in Love at First Stitch to make the waistband and attach it to the body of the skirt. Instead of cutting several pattern pieces for the front and the back, I just folded my big piece of fabric in half and joined it together to have one seam instead of two, and inserted the zip into this. 

And for the first time ever, I used a French seam! I think this is going to be my new solution until an overlocker is purchased after my trip. I really like the finish, it's very neat and I think it will work really well on a lot of other projects!

I'm really happy with the new length. It's much more versatile and for a grand total of $5 for the right colour thread, a zip and the fabric, this might just be my cheapest make yet!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The countdown begins

It suddenly dawned on me this week that it's May. And today it dawned on me that I've only got 42 days to go until my trip to Paris. Which is great, but also a bit terrifying.

The last time I visited Paris was 10 years ago, when I was 19. I spent three days there with cousins and aunties, and I had an amazing time. It was the middle of winter but the days were very clear and crisp. What really sticks out for me this time is I'm travelling by myself, and going to school with people who will be the same age as I was when I last visited the city. It's also really got me thinking about my wardrobe... 

I want to make sure I pack appropriately - summer, but also studying with young people in the most glam city in the world is really making me think about what stuff I have in my drawers and what I'll need to take. I'm essentially going to be living a student life for almost a month, so my usual work wear won't cut it. I also want to pack lightly - I have dates with plenty of yarn and fabric shops and will want to bring some stuff back with me.

I'm thinking I need comfy, versatile clothes. Maybe a couple of dresses made out of knit fabric to avoid ironing (this is a really just a good excuse to make another Kielo dress in some t-shirting). I've got myself some pants for the 24 hour flight, and a couple of good quality t-shirts and singlets (AS Colour - my go-to for affordable basics with ethical sourcing). 

Given it's Paris, ordinarily I would probably dress really fancy the whole time, but as I'll be kicking around on a university campus and staying in student residences, I think more casual is the way to go.  I'll throw in a couple of knits for good measure - any one have any packing advice?