Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Off to Roussillon, err, Lourmarin

It's voting time again over at Rachel's for the Stiched in Color Celebrate Color competition.

My tumbler quilt made it through to the final round, as did my lovely friend Eva's Fall Colour Pillow. There are plenty of things to oggle in the four categories - please do click through and vote for those that take your fancy!


The other weekend we were all set to take a drive deep into the Luberon Valley when we encountered the main road in blocked off at Lourmarin. Now, in France there are roads blocked off (which everyone ignores and drives around the signs) and there are Roads Blocked Off. Given that people, actual French people, were turning around, we thought maybe this was the real deal.


Then we realised the detour would add somewhere between 30 - 45 mins onto our drive. It was close to lunch time, four children in the car, catastrophe looming...the mister and I could see the Château de Lourmarin in the rear view mirror which we still hadn't visited. So Lourmarin it was.


The castle was built in the 15th and 16th centuries (on the ruins of a 12th century fortress) and all the rooms are decorated with fancy castle trappings from the 15th to 19th centuries.


No photos allowed inside again - I missed the sign and got in trouble for clicking away willy-nilly in the kitchen. Oops.

Inside this tall tower:


Was the most amazing staircase:

I declared the stairs not technically inside. I guess they agreed because no one told me off.

Each stair is like a stone fan blade that sits on top of the previous - as they stack to form the staircase and the groovy spiral the goes up the centre. Here: some super cool person wrote a paper on it and they put the diagrams on the wall.

Nerds rock.

Other good things about the castle: they have a treasure hunt questionnaire to keep the kids interested as you go from room to room, plus you get discounted entry to other attractions in the area if you hold on to your tickets. Excellent.


After galavanting around the castle we had a spot of lunch in the town and then had a look around. Even though we'd been to Lourmarin before, there's always something new to be found.


The drive home was particularly lovely with bright autumn sunshine all about.

I've never seen artichokes growing before (I've lead a sheltered existence).


Aren't they pretty?


Cannot be tamed*:


As for today, I am still contemplating this stitcherisation. Don't think it will turn out as planned, but that might not be such a bad thing:


I guess we'll see in the end.

* Not really. I obeyed the sign and found a different artichoke field to stomp around in. Miley Cyrus would be ashamed.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Renoir and Biot

I know I'm jumping around a bit here, but can I take you back to Antibes?

Our second day there we journeyed a little further afield to the Musée Renoir in Cagnes-sur-Mer, followed by an afternoon in the town of Biot (pronounced Bee-ot). Both are only about a 20 min drive to the north of Antibes.

Farmhouse in the grounds at the Musée Renoir

The Musée was Renoir's home from 1907 until his death in 1919. He lived there with his wife and three sons, and various other artist friends who passed through. You can see works (paintings and sculptures) from Renoir and his mates, as well as his preserved studio.

The back's a bit boring.

Much nicer from the front.

There was some film footage on a television in one of the rooms, showing Renoir in his 70s, painting. He was wheelchair bound with severe arthritis by then, his hand completely bent over, finger-tips to wrist. But he still went on working. I loved that he would ask his house maids to strip off and model for him, perhaps this explains his work ethic.

The house is set in a lovely old olive grove with trees that are who knows how many hundreds of years old. The kids loved it and could run around playing while the mister and I took turns at going through the house.


Out the front of the maison is a formal orange grove, complete with sculpture.


In a few places around the grounds they've set up Renoir's paintings overlooking the views he used to create them. I thought this was a brilliant idea - it felt pretty special to be standing on the same earth, looking at same vista that the old fella himself had painted.


After a lovely morning we headed to nearby Biot, which is well known for its glass (there is a factory you can tour there, we didn't get around to it).

First things first: lunch. Then a bit of a wander. We found a nice playground up in the old part of town and I skulked off to take some pictures.

Cool mosaic map in the old town.

Cobblestones galore


A lovely splash of colour here

And there

Street art



You can see why we never made it to the glass tour. This is the wrong phase of my life to be buying glass anyway.

Back to the present, I have been doing some hand sewing. This is for a friend:


And today I am doing a little stitching for myself (toddler permitting):


Hope you're all having a great week.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

City Lights

We ventured out into Aix-en-Provence on Friday night for dinner with friends.


It has been so mild here this autumn - this time last year it snowed in our village. We don't even need gloves at the moment which makes taking pictures so much easier.


We were pleasantly surprised to see all the Christmas lights up and the majority of them lit.


The lights on the Rotonde fountain at the top of Cours Mirabeau were particularly gorgeous.


And a few of the little stores for the Christmas market along the Cours were open.


We were surprised to see projected images on the wall behind the Albertas Fountain at midnight.

What's all this about then?

Stopped to have a drool at the macaroon shop's displays.


And then ended the night with a few lazy mojitos. Mmm.


Hope you've all had a great weekend too!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tumbler quilt

Imaginative title, isn't it. I'm a bit tired today, sorry.


This is the quilt I made from tumbler blocks from my Accuquilt Go! baby which I was lucky enough to win over at A Spoonful of Sugar.


I had a bunch of largish Innocent Crush scraps that I wanted to do something with and these blocks turned out to be just the ticket.


A night to crank them all out and then another two (long) nights to sew them all together.


After a great deal of consideration as to how I wanted the colours to work together.


I had to pad it out with some Joel Dewberry Heirloom yellows as my Innocent Crush scraps were lacking in that area. A little Loulouthi blue snuck in there too (I love how well all of AMH's collections play together) :


Then there was a looooong delay as I considered how I wanted to quilt it. I really liked other tumbler block quilts where the quilting zig-zagged following the seams, but knew it wasn't what I wanted for this one. I wanted something that worked with the design as a whole, rather than with the individual pieces.

So after much umming and ahhing and sketching I went with what I called kapow quilting.
So named because it reminds me of cartoon panels whenever a character gets punched. Kapow!

I won't lie, it was a pain in the butt pivoting the quilt at the end of each point - no way I'd use this design for anything bigger than a baby quilt.


The backing continues the Anna Maria Horner theme with a Good Folks flannel in raspberry. Mmm.


Binding is scrappy so that it blends in better with the outer rows of the quilt - I wasn't looking for a frame effect.


I really love the way it turned out and will be more than a little sad when I give this away to someone (I think it's more a little girl quilt).


Final measurements are 36 x 40 inches.


I've entered this in the final month of Stitched in Color's Celebrate Colour competition. Still some time - have you got your entry in?


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