January 31, 2011

Yarn shop travelogue: Paris (again!)

Updating my list of Parisian yarn shops with two more stores.

This lovely shop is located in a passage couvert near Les Halles -- you will find European yarns (Anny Blatt, Bouton d'Or, Fonty, Katia, Plassard for example) and other brands (Malabrigo, Noro, Debbie Bliss, Cascade). There's something to find in every nook and cranny! I spent quite some time there fondling yarns, choosing buttons, and looking at sewing fabric (especially Liberty fabric and bias). There's a very comfortable couch if you wish to take your time and browse the book selection.

This is an old-fashioned mercerie meaning that you tell the salesperson what item you wish to look at and she will bring it to you. This store is packed to the brim with knitting, sewing, cross-stitch, and embroidery supplies. I recommend looking at the list of yarns on the blog before proceeding to the store for fear of missing out on something: Holst Garn, Fonty, Habu, Fleece Artist/Handmaiden, Rowan, Debbie Bliss,...

January 30, 2011

Vogue Knitting Live - Part 2

Now let's move on to the "I can't believe I was standing this close to knitting royalty" part of the weekend.

- Anna Hrachovec of Mochimochi displayed some of her work in the Gallery and was signing copies of her book. I love to read her blog but seeing her work in real-life made me appreciate the detail that goes into all these little creatures, houses, skyscrapers!

- I got my copy of "Vintage Modern Knits" fresh off the press and autographed by Courtney Kelley and Kate Gagnon Osborn, of Kelbourne Woolens. They're on a book tour so try to catch them and maybe take a class too!

- While at the Knitty City booth, I bought a cute project bag with "Elijah" that Ysolda Teague was nice enough to sign. She had pictures of her upcoming book, Little Red in the City, to show on her iPad.

- When I found myself in the elevator with Kristin Nicholas, I started babbling about her book "Color by Kristin" and how it was too bad that the first issue of Nashua Handknits magazine featuring her was out-of-print. Seeing that she's in western Massachusetts, I'll try to take a class with her at Webs later this year to prove that I'm not usually that incoherent.

- Last but not least, I attended Clara's lecture entitled "The State of the Yarn Union Address". Cat Bordhi told me to record snippets on my phone but I don't think that snippets would have done justice to Clara's well-prepared remarks.

Having only taken up knitting seriously in 2004, I did not know about the knitting industry in the pre-KR and pre-Knitty days and how the yarn companies, knitting magazines, and designers interacted. The lecture gave me a lot to mull over on how to best support brick-and-mortar yarn stores and larger yarn companies along with indie designers and small hand-dyers...

Vogue Knitting Live - Part 1

View from the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir

I am destined to blog about knitting events that occurred a while ago. My reason for not blogging about VKL until now? Snow. And more snow. And they're calling for more snow this week. So before I fly to sunny Charlotte Amalie, let me tell you about my weekend in New York City.

Saturday morning started with the "Luxury Yarn Workshop" taught by Margaret Radcliffe. Using our homework swatches knitted out of various non-wool fibers as guinea pigs, we tugged every which way to understand stretch, memory, and biasing. We then learnt techniques to stabilize the knitted fabric and the borders, what sweater constructions work best with non-wool fibers, and how to try all these nifty things on a swatch. Margaret Radcliffe was a great instructor -- well-organized, patient, and enthusiastic.

(Begin rant: I'd like more of my fellow knitting students to realize that teachers (yes, even knitting teachers) have material that they need to cover in the class which means sticking to a syllabus and schedule is important. Interrupting the teacher by asking questions not directly related to the class or having side conversations is not helpful. End rant)

At lunch time I met up with other KR members (or as Mary said, "the KR ladies who lunch"): it was nice to catch up, the next KR retreat seems so far away! We exchanged class info, market purchases, and project specs. After lunch, some headed back to classes, some ventured to the marketplace.

My favorite booths at the marketplace were:

- Kinokuniya: if you're ever near the New York Public Library and Bryant Park, you need to stop by this Japanese bookstore and browse the knitting/sewing books on the lower floor. The selection can be overwhelming so it was nice to have a small but carefully-chosen selection at their booth.

- Bijou Basin Ranch: I had already purchased some of their yarns (Bijou Bliss and Lhasa wilderness) but Kris and Jane were taunting us with a skein of Gobi at the retreat so I had to remedy that, not to mention that there were some great coupons on the Bijou Basin website. I even got a free Gobi cowl pattern and a cool mug with my purchases. If I had more time, I would have enjoyed their lovely set up where you could sit down and swatch their yarns.

- Knitty City: not only did I stop by the booth but I also went to the actual store on Saturday afternoon. Though I wasn't able to meet Felicia Lo of SweetGeorgia Yarns fame, I stocked up on her yarns at Knitty City. Pearl remembers me even though I only stop by her store once in a while when we visit NYC, she has an amazing visual memory!

January 12, 2011

Défi 13 de janvier: reines et princesses

Patron: Barcelona skirt d'Amy Butler
Tissu: Free Spirit

Ma princesse ce mois-ci est Cendrillon! Le mois dernier, je suis allée à Stitch House pour suivre le cours "Sew Intensive" et réaliser mon premier projet de couture. J'ai appris à suivre un patron, couper le tissu correctement, coudre les pièces, assembler la doublure et mettre une fermeture éclair.

Alors, pourquoi cette jupe est-elle destinée à Cendrillon? La taille que j'ai choisie est trop grande pour moi donc cette jupe ne me va pas. Il va falloir que le prince trouve à qui appartient cette jupe! En attendant de savoir à qui la donner (à moins de rajouter des fronces), je n'ai pas fini l'ourlet pour le tissu extérieur et la doublure...

Les déguisements des autres participantes sont ICI!

January 09, 2011

Iceland Trip - Random cuteness

And to finish, some random pictures of what we brought back!

Souvenir Bear with fairisle scarf and hat
Notecards with Icelandic stitch patterns

Three little elves by Kata

Two round-bottom glasses
A radish-paper bowl
For more cool Icelandic designs, visit the artists galleries at Kraum and Kirsuberjatréð

Iceland Trip - Knitting goods

As I mentioned in my previous post, I bought some Icelandic sweaters. As a knitter, I tend not to buy other people's knitting ("hey, I could knit this myself!") but one makes exceptions when it comes to cottage industries and items of historical/cultural value such as the qiviut/silk hat I bought from the Oomingmak coop in Anchorage or these sweaters.

Alafoss is a big Lopi yarn outlet located outside of Reykjavik, I wasn't able to get there during my trip but they have a small store in the city where I spotted this vest. I think it was knitted with Lett Lopi and would look good with a black long-sleeved shirt.

Most of the cardigans at the Handknitting association were knitted with Alafoss Lopi or several strands of Plötulopi so they were a little too heavy for me. So I bought a lighter-weight cardigan by Farmers Market.

I saw many cardigans during the trip but this one stole my heart at the Keflavik airport as we were leaving: it has a hood with color details, it's not too heavy, it has snap-on buttons covered by a button band, and there's some blue in it!

On the yarn front, I got some Loðband to make a shawl out of Lucinda Guy's Northern Knits, several skeins of Lett Lopi to make fairisle mittens, and six plates of Plötulopi to make Freyja (free pattern on the Knitting Iceland's website).

All the books/DVD in this picture (except the Lopi pattern book) can be bought at the Handknitting association as well as Eymundsson bookstores.

- The two people behind Knitting Iceland, the online knitting magazine and knitting tour company, are Helene Magnusson and Ragnheiður Eiríksdóttir (Ragga). I found the English version of Helene's book in Iceland as "Icelandic Color Knitting". In the US, the book's title is "Iceland knitting: Using Rose Patterns" and was reviewed in KR here. You can buy Ragga's DVD on how to knit your own Icelandic sweater on the Knitting Iceland etsy store.
- I bought my copy of Iceland Knits before my trip directly from the authors. A second book already came out in Icelandic, I'm hoping that the English translation will be available in the near future.
- The book on the top right is all about knitting mittens. Although it is in Icelandic, I think that I can use a basic mitten pattern and use the charts provided in the book.

January 08, 2011

Iceland Trip - Knits Spotting (part 2)

The Handknitting association of Iceland has several locations in Reykjavik. I recommend going to the location on Skólavörðustígur since that's the location that sells yarn, has the largest selection of hand-knitted items, and it is located on a street with many design/crafty stores.

The first three pictures are the window displays at the Laugavegur location.

Aren't these little felted elves cute? I liked them so much that I bought three of them in various colors (you'll see them in an upcoming post).

This last picture is of the Skólavörðustígur location. Click on it to see more details:
- in the foreground you can see the plates of unspun Lopi (Plötulopi)
- behind them, there are rows of many beautiful hand-knitted sweaters.
- all the way in the back you can spot the cubes of yarn for purchase (Alafoss Lopi, Lett Lopi, Loðband, and Plötulopi among others)

Iceland Trip - Knits Spotting (part 1)

Almost every store in Reykjavik that I walked by was selling some item (hat, mittens, scarf, sweater) hand-knitted using Icelandic yarn. But the best part was definitely seeing all these beautiful traditional Icelandic sweaters with yoke colorwork -- I'll show you the hand-knitted sweaters that I bought in another post.

Varma is a popular clothing brand that sells hand-knitted lace scarves and hand-knitted fair-isle accessories.

Window display of Storkurinn

Unfortunately, most of the yarn stores were closed during our visit because of the end-of-year holidays but I was able to peek at Storkurinn (which sells yarn as well as fabric) and Erla. Both stores are easy to find on Laugavegur (one of the main shopping streets) or off of it.

Iceland Trip - Sights (part 3)

Here are some pictures of the Southwest coast of Iceland.

Sólheimajökull glacier

If you're in good physical shape, you can sign up for a 3 hour tour and walk on the ice field with some glacier guides.

On our way to the glacier, we drove by many areas that were flooded due to the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in April-May 2010 that stopped European air-travel for a while.


These are impressive basalt columns visible from this black sand beach or from the village of Vik.

After a stop at the Skogar folk museum, we saw two waterfalls, Skógafoss (above) and Seljalandsfoss (behind which you can walk during summertime).

Iceland Trip - Sights (part 2)

On our second day, we went on a day excursion for the famous Golden Circle.

The first stop is the Gullfoss waterfall area, which is really composed of two waterfalls. Part of the waterfall was frozen when we were there.

The second stop is the Geysir geothermal area, where you can see the original Geysir from which the word "Geyser" originated. It's not very active right now but you will also see Strokkur, a geyser that bubbles and erupts every five minutes, and the Blesi pool (above).

The last stop on the Golden Circle is the Þingvellir National Park. This is where the Eurasian and North-American tectonic plates meet and you can clearly see the rifts between the plates (you'll see two rifts as there is a no-man's land being created between the two plates that are several kilometres apart).

Iceland Trip - Sights (part 1)

We spent four days in Iceland on our way back from Paris -- here are some pictures that I promised to share with my KR friends. We didn't take many pictures because of the lack of daylight (it was really bright only between 11am and 3pm) and the ones we took are not great because of the cloudy weather (we only had our point-and-shoot camera). But I hope it gives you an idea of what we saw!

Hallgrímskirkja at sunrise

Reykjavík house with festive lights

The Blue Lagoon
(My Christmas present from Boy was getting an in-water massage treatment. It was heavenly to float in the warm water and get pampered!)

The Blue Lagoon at sunset