"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."- Leonardo da Vinci


Dîner En Blanc

Have you ever been to Paris? It’s a magical city. I have visited a few times now, and it’s forever surprising, always beautiful and increasingly fascinating. I do not think I will ever have enough of it.

One of my favorite memories, is of walking through the streets one night and coming upon this huge gathering of people. There were hundreds of tables set up, all draped in white tablecloths, lights, flowers, music, everyone dressed in white as well, sitting down, having supper under the stars. A mesmerizing picture. 

For years I wondered about this gathering, until a couple of years ago when I heard about “Dîner en Blanc”. Are you familiar with it? It’s an outdoor picnic, in a secret location that changes every year. You dress in white, bring your own table, chairs, and food. You set up, have dinner, after which there is dancing, and it all wraps up at 23:00, when you gather your things and return home. I cannot tell you how much fun it is. We have participated twice now, and it is the perfect date night outing. It’s now being organized in lots of cities around the world. 

I really enjoy the anticipation, the planning that goes into it. Thinking of what type of food to bring (we opted for sushi this year), what to wear, how to decorate the table, it all adds to the excitement of the event.

via Instagram 

What does this have to do with knitting? Well, nothing to be honest, except that, even though the event is usually scheduled at some time in August, I do live in Montreal, and the weather can be  capricious. That made me think, a beautiful occasion such as this deserves a knit. Something beautiful to grab in case it’s chilly. Something special enough for such an event. I am planning on having it ready for next year’s Diner, and I have narrowed it down to  the following 3 patterns. Which is your favourite?



Design Mom Feature

Do you have go-to blogs? Blogs you always refer to when you have a question, blogs that you check in on daily?

I have a few, one of my favorites being “Design Mom”. Gabrielle manages to cover so many topics I am interested in, like parenting, decorating and travel.  Her stories of living in France were amazing.  She also has these fantastic columns about “Living with kids” and “Birth Stories”, stories that you can get lost in, and almost always relate to.

I only quickly mentioned it on the blog, but my daughter was a preemie. She was born 12 weeks early, and spent 2 months in the NICU. It was a very difficult time for us. Not something that I openly shared or felt able to discuss at the time. But a year and a half later, after reading one of the birth stories shared by another reader on the Design Mom blog, I felt ready to write about it. So I started writing, and it felt good, cathartic to write it all out. At first, I simply wrote it all out because I thought it would help me heal from this trauma, because that is what this experience was, but once I finished, I thought that by sharing it, my story may help someone else going through something similar, give them hope, or maybe even help them heal. So I sent it to Gabrielle, and  to my surprise, she found it interesting enough to publish on her blog.

I am of course honoured, and thrilled, and a little terrified…..

If you guys are curious, hop on over to her blog to read about Sienna’s story.


Boston Getaway

Summer is in full swing here, and we have already gone away on our vacation, returned, spend another lovely week at home, and are now back at work. It almost feels like summer is over. Almost, but not quite. I am determined to make the best of every remaining sun-filled day.

Our vacation this year was spent in beautiful Boston. It is not our first time in this city, and because we enjoyed it so much the first time, we wanted to re-visit it. It is the kind of city that offers countless options for activities that are fun to do with children, lots of which are free.

I thought I’d tell you about my top choices.

By far, our favorite experience was the Boston Public Library. Their Children’s section is huge, with a play-area for the young ones, and of course rows upon rows of books to explore and immerse yourself in. We spend a few wonderful hours exploring it all, discovered a few new favoritesThere are computers at  the children’s disposal, with reading apps and games, which were a big hit as well.

The Library itself is a beautiful building from the late 1800’s with marble halls, impressive murals, creaky floors, wrought iron spiral ladders,floor to ceiling bookcases. It is filled with the sound of pages turning, and respectful whispers. The knowledge contained within those walls seems almost tangible. My son was in awe of the sheer amount of books, and was incredibly excited to explore the map-room, where you can admire maps depicting imaginary worlds written about in some of my favorite novels, by Jules Verne, and series such as “Harry Potter”, “The Chronicles of Narnia”, “Lord of the Rings”, “Neverland” , but also rare, antique geographical ones.  To make our experience complete, we were fortunate enough to catch a concert in the Courtyard, which this time was given by 2 singers from the Boston Lyric Opera. They were great at engaging the children and making it relatable and fun for them. A day that was a success all around.

A relaxing place to explore is Boston Common, a wonderful green space, perfect for spending the day on a picnic blanket, watching the kids splash away in the Frog Pond (which is a wading pool), perfect for cooling off. For the younger traveler,  the Tadpole playground is irresistible, with more water works and climbing opportunities. We ate a delicious lunch by Brewer Fountain, where a food truck named Clover Food lab was stationed. It is a lovely place, with café tables, umbrellas and a lovely view of the golden dome of the Massachusetts State house. We were even treated to a piano concert.

Once you are ready for further exploration you can walk over to the Public Gardens, where kids are lined up to take photos with the bronze statues of the “Make way for Ducklings” stars. If you feel like spending a few dollars you can take the Swan boats on the pond, but if not, you can just walk through the park admiring the surroundings.

Another day was spent exploring the waterfront. There is lovely Columbus park, right by the water, after which you can walk around the harbor front, and admire the docked boats and yachts. If hunger strikes, Quincy market is just across the street, busy and teeming with people, but offering lots of choices for lunch. Once satiated, you could head back to the harbor, where there are numerous cruises to choose from. An inexpensive alternative is taking the Charlestown Ferry,  which is a 10  minute ride over to the over to the Charlestown Navy Yard, an interesting place to explore with kids.

We took a day to drive out to Hyannis and spend a lazy few hours at Kalmus beach. It was amazing. The water was surprisingly warm, the breeze was refreshing, not a cloud in the sky, and I did not want to leave. The smell of saltwater does this to me every time.

The rest of the week we spent visiting the Museum of Science, The New England Aquarium, The Museum of fine arts, and simply exploring Boston neighborhoods. I loved the fact that the whole week we were there, we only once used public transportation, and managed to reach all of our destinations by foot. Boston is such a pedestrian- friendly city.

You will never run out of interesting things to see or do, that is for sure. 


Keeping record

The school year is out. The begin of summer vacation was greeted with relief and joy. No more homework, no more stress, no more negotiating playtime. I am sure you can relate.

On the last day of school, Aidan came home with a backpack bursting with art-projects. Which I love, it’s always great to see what he’s been up to. And of course he has an emotional attachment to most of his drawings.  We have binders full, from daycare to preschool, Kindergarten, and now Grade one, I’ve been keeping it all. It was a matter of time before I had to make a decision as to….. where to put it all?

Aidan is showing a bit of an interest in photography. He always asks for my camera to play around and take his own shots. He’s also claimed my old Ipod as his own, and is practicing writing emails to us, which to be honest is great practice for his spelling, and makes for some adorable correspondence. Along with writing he’s been taking photos. That gave me an idea.

I decided to sit with him, go through our massive collection of drawings, select his favorites and photograph them. Pinterest has an abundance of ideas on how to de-clutter and store you kids artwork. Initially I was going to create a collage, similar to this, but then..... I thought of something else. 

I created Aidan his own Instagram account. A private one of course, that I manage, but where he can upload his photos. Not just his artwork, but other pictures he takes. He always sees me using my account, and asks questions, so I thought he’d have fun with his own.

And as a bonus, later on, I will be able to use a service like Printstagram Or Blurb To turn his photos into magnets, a calendar or a book even.

He’s very excited about the idea, and we’re looking forward to immortalizing our summer adventures. Lazy afternoons spent in the backyard, biking around the neighborhood, exploring new corners, probably some selfies. It will be cute to see them all from his point of view.


Svalbard Progress

Svalbard…isn’t it a great name? I don’t know why, but the name is what caught my attention to begin with. Not the ideal way to choose a knitting pattern I agree, but in this case the look did not disappoint either. Svalbard is a Norwegian archipelago. I believe that loosely translated it says pointy mountains. What a perfect name for a knitting pattern, don’t you agree?  Scandinavia, mountains, snow-covered peaks….all of these images make me want to pick up the needles and knit away.

I initially planned on having the cardigan finished for my return to work, but as so often happens, things came up, and I started late. I had found the perfect shade of yarn, a warm, sunny, mustardy color, a yarn that I think will perfectly compliment this pattern. 

Then I started reading the instructions. Right away, I noticed that this was going to require some serious concentration, as you are keeping track of several types of increases at the same time and different types of patterns for the front, back and sleeves. The cardigan is knit in what is called a Cartridge rib, which is simply a succession of K3, P1 stitches, strategically aligned to create this wonderful texture, so I thought, really? How hard can this be?

Famous last words. I started, and almost immediately stopped when it came to setting up the sleeve stitches. The diagram included with the pattern, did nothing to lift the mystery for me. I read through project notes, and noticed I was not the only one confused, so I emailed Brooklyn Tweed Support for guidance. In less then an hour I had an answer with detailed row-by-row, stitch-by –stitch instructions. If that is not support, I don’t know what is!

I was determined however to understand the instructions, and not just blindly follow them, so in the end I made up a diagram to help me along.

I will post it here for any knitters that may come across the same issue to use. After all, knitters help each other, don’t we?

Once you get it, the yoke starts growing quite quickly. And then you can knit along until your next challenge pops up...the sleeves. I had to ask for help for a second time, and it was swift and concise, and it even came with photos. I am still working on a diagram for that, and will be posting it soon.

I cannot wait to show you the finished project, it's my new favorite.


The city that never sleeps

I could not resist giving you a glimpse of our recent NYC get-away. Babysitters are hard to come by, so when my mom agreed to watch the kids for 3 days, we jumped at the opportunity to plan a little excursion. New York was a logical choice for us, I never get enough of this city. There is always more to see, more to do.

This time around, we walked the high line, explored the West Village, got our first taste of Brooklyn, and enjoyed our first Broadway show. It was a relaxing, yet exhausting getaway.

New York never disappoints. 
It also does not need words.
So enjoy the photos.


TTTKAL 2015, a project accomplished

You are going to get a kick out of this one. As I mentioned previously, I decided sort of last minute to join into Shannon's TTTKAL 2015. I have a ridiculously busy schedule these days, so I only committed to a little top for my daughter. Surely I thought, I could do this!

And I am proud to say that I did. Finish in time, blocked and ends woven in. I managed to snap a few shots while my little one was napping, and I made the deadline! Ok, the extended one, but a deadline nevertheless.

I have to say that I am proud of the ever-growing collection of handknits she has. (And at the same time I feel terrible that I have not knit anything for my son in....a while.)

The discussion on the thread today turned to heirlooms, and loving grandmothers knitting and sewing away. It seems most of us have fond memories of just that. I wish I had a photo of my grandmother knitting, but alas there are none. Still, knitting will forever be linked with her, and that is so immensely special to me.

But I digress. Back to my Ruffaluffagus. Once the photos were snapped, I was ready to have her wear it for Father's day this weekend. I thought I'd just try it on, to make sure it was perfect. I had measured after all, but it's always good to double-check. I have had my experiences with measuring

You may have guessed it by now....it does not fit! It seems that once I added the collar everything tightened. I can fix it of course, and I will, but it's one of those moments when you let out a well-deserved swear-word.