Thursday, June 23, 2016

Marly Round Box

I did mention in my Sajou stash post that I'd already opened up my Marly kit. What I should have said really was that it was finished. Not only is the stitching completed, I've also finished it and glued it to the tin can that came with it.

The designed is inspired by the Marly motif from a fabric printed by the Oberkampf royal manufactory, which is now the Toile de Jouy museum. The kit came with more than enough thread to stitch a flower and diamond. I think I could probably stitch a second one with the thread that was leftover if I had more of the dark blue thread.

The instructions said to center and lay the cardboard disc on the back of the stitched piece and then cut around it. Once that's done, the fabric is cut perpendicularly all around the circle and then the edges are glued. I didn't particularly want to do that. The result comes out really flat. Instead I used the finishing method I learned from Katherine Drummond, lacing the back. But first I added a little stuffing just to give it a little oomph.

As I had mentioned in my previous post on this, the Sajou Retors du Nord thread was lovely to stitch with. I really wish we'd had the chance to try it while at the shop, I think many of us would have bought some. However, be warned! I notice on their website that the thread is not colorfast. Sajou, to be more environmentally friendly, decided not to use the highly polluting treatments that it would require to make their thread colorfast. The thread can be washed in water with a temperature of up to 40 degrees Celsius, just not boiling water or bleach. But then again, don't we all use cold water to wash our pieces?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

WIPocalypse 2016 – June

This month's theme is: Do you find yourself more productive with stitching in summer or winter? I've answered this question before. I'm still more productive in winter than summer, however I'm finding that since we've fixed up our backyard, I've been spending more time outside stitching.

No update on Bramble and the Rose.
No Update
Ink Circles - The Bramble and the Rose
Still hidden away poor dragons.

No Update
Teresa Wentzler - Tracery Dragons

Nothing to see here either :P
No Update
Satin Stitches - Donna's Fantasy Lace

I did most of my stitching on Fandango. Since it's nice and sunny outside, it's the ideal time to work on some whitework. I've been plugging away at the satin stitch border which you can see at the top. I'm thinking I should finish up all the satin stitching before I move onto the border. I'll leave the squares to the end.

I also worked on Sfilati Fantasia, finishing all the filling stitches except for one. That last one is going to bother me. I had a hard time following the teachers instructions both on paper and in person.

Monday, June 20, 2016

French Needle Paris 2016 - Thoughts

Lisa had asked us all to fill out a form to give her our thoughts on this first French Needle tour. I thought I would share it will all of you, but I think it was clear from my previous posts that I was VERY happy.

First of all the trip exceeded my expectations. Lisa and Karine were amazing hosts. I was a little hesitant since I didn't know anyone in the group going in, but I had so much fun at the end. I don't think I got homesick at all. We had an amazing group of ladies and our common interest of embroidery brought us together. It's been four weeks since we came back and we are still in contact with each other, swapping progress reports and ideas. I'm really hoping we get the chance to see each other again. Maybe in Paris for a reunion tour ;)

The hotel we were staying at was amazing. It was a really small place located in the Latin Quarter and was very french. Even though it wasn't one of those huge 5 star hotels, I think we enjoyed it more because it was small and homey. It didn't have a touristy feel to it and was away from all the crowds which I loved.

Our tour guide was as awesome as his name. If you are ever looking for a tour guide, Vincent's your man. Every morning he would come pick up us and take us around Paris in a mini bus. On the way to the current day's activity he would tell us stories of each district and history of the city. Our favorite part was to hear him talk about "La Terreur". I think I learned more about French history on this trip than I did at school. And it wasn't the type of touristy facts that gets spit out by rote. Vincent would research the places we would be visiting and point out things that different member of the group would find interesting. And if he didn't have an answer for us, he always got back to us with one. Awesome Guide also offered transportation to and from the airport.

We did have a very tight schedule. There was so much to see and I will admit that it was sometimes annoying that we couldn't stop in certain places or had to rush in others. But that is the price we pay when we go with a tour group. It just means that now I know where to go on my next Paris trip.

The food was great in the sense that we were trying real Parisian food where Parisians ate. Not a single tourist trap in sight and I would enjoy going back to any of the restaurants we ate at. My favorites I think would be Au Port du Salut (black truffles and dessert), Bouillon Racine (the soup) and Laduree (macaron!). A plus, they did try to offer choices for those who don't eat red meat, which was great :) One thing I think we would have all loved to see was more salads/vegetables, but that's only because we're not used to all the heavy french meals. This we mentioned to Vincent and the very next day, we got a salad at lunch :)

I think we enjoyed all the activities that were scheduled for us in one way or the other.

  • Cluny Museum: I think this should be added to the itinerary, if only as a suggested activity on the first day for those interested. The tapestries are well worth the visit.
  • Sajou: Loved going to the shop. I spent a fortune but I loved every minute of it.
  • Class at Sajou: I think this class needs to be rethought. I liked the fact they were offering a whitework class (you all know me), but considering the fact that this type of embroidery doesn't work well with the Sajou thread they had picked... I think what they should have done was pick a more appropriate embroidery technique or maybe even just a Sajou pattern that allows us to try out all their different threads. For example, if I had tried the Retors du Nord thread at the shop I would have bought more of it.
  • Lesage: I would love to say that we should have taken a lunevill class, but even I will admit that would have taken way too much time out of the trip. So I would say keep the ribbon embroidery class. We learned so much just from the teachers and the experience of stitching at Lesage is priceless :)
  • Droguerie and Mokuba: Loved both shops! Wish I bought more ribbon.
  • Passage de Paris: Great walking excursion. Would have loved to have more time to explore.
  • Au ver a soie: We all enjoyed buying the thread, but if that's all we wanted we could have bought online. I think we were there more to learn about the history of the company and how thread is made. Maybe next time try to have someone else give the talk? Or just replace this activity with something else entirely.
  • Choir at Notre Dame de Paris: Lovely idea and not something we can often experience.
  • Versailles Malmaison: I'm actually glad Versailles got replaced with Malmaison. Versailles would have been very crowded and very touristy, and that's not what we were there for. Because we were all travelers and not tourists :P I will admit I wish we had more time to walk around the gardens though (and yet it doesn't trump having tea with Frédérique)
  • Musée de la Toile de Jouy: Very interesting.
  • Tea with Frédérique: This is most likely a one off thing, but we all enjoyed it immensely.
  • Fashion Forward: The exhibit was very interesting, but I found that the guide was trying to give us too much information. I liked the exhibit, but would have been fine just going through it without a guide.
  • Dinner with Helene Le Berre: One of the best parts of the trip. I loved meeting her in person. Although I wish she wasn't sitting so far :(
  • Basilique du Sacré-Cœur: I know we snuck that in, but I think it should be something that is added. Kind of like going to Mount Royal at night when visiting Montreal. It gives a lovely view of the city.
  • Musée Nissim de Camondo: Great museum to visit.
  • Laduree and free time: Karine offered to make reservations for lunch at Laduree, which was amazing, but it does take away from free time as the restaurant is very busy. I didn't really care, but for those who were making plans to (re-)visit other locations, they didn't have time.
  • Bateaux Parisiens: Great dinner experience, but maybe move it to a different night when we don't have to wake up super early the next day to take a plane. I got a little queasy towards the end from the constant rocking when people were getting off, but I think I was the only one.
If anyone is interested in the French Needle tour, definitely contact Lisa at She already has a waiting list of people for the next tour. This is a trip of a lifetime and a great way to experience a city with other people who share your interests.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

French Needle Paris 2016 - Day 6

Saturday, May 28 was our "last" day in Paris. I woke up sad to know that we were leaving with so much still to see and happy as well to be going home soon. The day started out lovely, we went to Parc Monceau and had a lovely walk.

There were many people there, some exercising

Other just enjoying a walk in the morning.

After our little walk, we went to the Musée Nissim de Camondo. The museum is housed inside a mansion that was built in 1911 by the Comte Moïse de Camondo, a banker. He had requested his architect to design it patterned to the Petit Trianon (built 1762-1768) of Versailles, but with modern conveniences of course :)

The Comte, after the loss of his son in World War I, bequeathed the house and it's contents to Les Arts Décoratifs who turned it into a museum in 1935. The inside of the house still looks like a private home. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures inside, I was running out of batteries :( One of the ladies is sending me a copy of her pictures, so maybe one day I will update this post.

After this tour we were supposed to have some free time and be on our own for lunch. However, we all opted to go to Laduree. The lovely Karine made reservations for us and so the tour bus dropped us their location on the Champs-Elysées.

The restaurant which is located on the second floor is decorated in the rococo style which is lovely.

But after sitting there for the duration of lunch, I realized that I could never live in a house like this.

After lunch was cleared, we waited to order dessert with anticipation.

I had their 1001 Nuits tea and a millefeuille fraise. Both were fantastic and I actually wish I had bought some of the tea.

I took a picture of the tea pot, because I love the pot holder. We all thought it was an excellent finishing idea for a small cross stitch project.

Since we were at Laduree, I took the opportunity to get some macarons. I bought some for friends and bought this box for the family. I love all the little couture tools on it.

While we were at lunch the weather turned and it started to pour. Knowing we didn't have a lot of time before we had to go back to the hotel, Karine, Carolyn and I decided to walk along les Champs and visit the couture houses. We went into Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana, Chanel, Ralph Lauren and Dior. My favorites were Dolce and Gabbana (you can see two of their dresses below), and Dior.

Dolce and Gabbana was delightfully over the top with lots of beading and gorgeous buttons, while Dior was sophisticated and understated. If only I had a million dollars... Who am I kidding I would probably spend it on stash :P

Dinner that night was on the river Seine. It was lovely and we had a beautiful view of the Eiffel tower at night. We were quite lucky that it had stopped raining, and especially with our timing. As some of you have heard, a few days later with the rain they had been experiencing, the river Seine flooded.

This concludes my trip to Paris. I was up very early the next day, all packed up and ready to go home. I made sure to keep my stash close by the whole trip back ;)

Friday, June 17, 2016

French Needle Paris 2016 - Day 5 part 2

Because the last post was so heavy with images, I didn't want this to get lost. Friday night's dinner was at La Mascotte in Montmartre. Dinner that night was very special. We had a guest join us, Hélène Le Berre who is a needlework designer and illustrator.

If you are not familiar with Hélène's work, I would suggest you look at this video (It's in French) or just google her. Hélène graduated with a degree in Arts specializing in embroidery hoping to become a costume designer. She started her career with the French magazine De fil en aiguille, collaborating with others on books which she enjoyed, and later went on to free lance. She has a huge number of books already published, and they are all typically french with lovely pictures and finishing ideas.

She has even collaborated with Lisa, the owner of the The French Needle and the organizer of this trip, to design a pattern for the shop. Isn't it pretty? I could definitely see this hanging in my room.

My one biggest regret is that I forgot to bring my copy of Les Oiseaux with me for her to sign. I didn't remember till I was on the train to Toronto >.<

Although most of her books are cross stitch, she enjoys many other forms and even teaches out of her studio. For dinner she showed up wearing a blouse that she had embroidered herself with ribbon and wool.

Unfortunately, they sat Hélène at the other end of the table so I wasn't able to talk to her until the end of the dinner.

But she did bring her latest book with her for us to look at. It is called Icônes de mode and is now on my wishlist :) Here I am showing the book to the ladies sitting with me at the other end. After dinner, Hélène came over to sit next to me so we could talk a little which was AWESOME! I love her work, especially her color palette. Hopefully one day when I make it back to France, I will be able to go visit her studio and maybe take a class.

After dinner we convinced the driver to take us for a little drive. He took us up to the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur.

It is set on a mountain, so we had a lovely view of Paris in the evening.

French Needle Paris 2016 - Day 5 part 1

Friday, May 27 was another sunny day. We went back to Lesage for the second part of our class. The last time we were there, my ribbon embroidery piece looked like this:

By the end of the class, we had all the bigger flowers finished. There are still a little work left to do, including a little beading.

I really should take it out and finish it. I think five ladies of the group have already finished theirs. We've all promised to finish it :) Mine is still in it's packaging.

Afterwards it was lunch at a lovely restaurant decorated in the art nouveau style, La Fermette Marbeuf.

Once lunch has been eaten (the crème brûlée was yummy!), we went to the Louvre Museum. Sort of. Did you know that the Louvre had a Museum of Decoratifs Arts? They currently have an exhibit called Fashion Forward showcasing three centuries of fashion. I have even more pictures than this, so if anyone is interested I can share a link :)

Update 2016/07/18: Our teacher Annie Penin posted an article on the fashion forward exhibit here and here.