Sunday, April 29, 2012

A quick bonjour from Normandy

  • We're touring around northern France for spring break. 
  •  It's rained every day so far.  
  • It sure is green up here. 
  •  I had two posts drafted, complete with photos and ready to go in my absence. Both were deleted the day the new Blogger Dashboard changed over. I said a very rude word in front of my children.  
  • We went to Camembert today. 
  • It is only by the grace of elastane that I will arrive home in the same clothes I left in. 
  • Wifi is sporadic but I'm still getting around the interwebs; looking forward to catching up with you all when we get back!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Aix-en-Provence Carnaval 2012

This weekend we went to the Aix-en-Provence Carnaval (where I took way too many photos).

Last year was a blast and I'm happy to report this year didn't disappoint either.

We tried to get the same viewing spot as before on the grass around the large Rotonde fountain, but the whole thing had been decorated with fabric and cushions and fenced off:

Feather-filled pillows around the Rotonde Fountain at the 2012 Aix-en-Provence Carnaval, France

With some interesting-looking machines placed in the basin:

Confetti and silly string at the Aix-en-Provence Carnaval

The usual pre-parade festivities were in full swing - namely confetti:


And of course silly string:

Confetti and silly string at the Carnaval in Aix-en-Provence, France

This year's theme was La Fabrique de Rêves or The Dream Factory - explained in the literature as everything to do with the night: the real-life, the cabaret, psychedelic night parties (!), dreams, nightmares, angels and demons.

A lot of stuff to cover and they did that and more!

We started with these harbingers of doom:


Then progressed to the Moulin Rouge:


The guy driving the tractor pulling the cabaret float cracked me up:

grumble, why do I always have to pull the float with the guys dressed up as girls?

Next came the shoe cars:


Pushed by these guys. No VPL here as they're all wearing thongs (Bada-BOOM!)


I have no idea what this is all about:


The mister remarked he must be a bike rider.

Toight like a toiger

Some of the psychedelic party I suspect:


No idea:


I think this fellow represented bedtime stories:


His head is made of books:


This percussion band was one of about four playing throughout the parade. (Does percussion include drums? I can never remember. There were drums and things you shake and things you bang with gongs. That's my technical analysis.)

Colourful costumes at the Aix-en-Provence Carnaval, France

Confetti canons!!


Another big eye, this time in slippers with boxing gloves and angel wings. Still a mystery.


This float was really well made:

Dragon floats at the Carnaval in Aix-en-Provence, France

Great attention to detail. Look at those teeth!

Dragon teeth at the Carnaval in Aix-en-Provence, France

A man-eating tree:


And all his friends


Caged angel or demon?


Isn't confetti in your beard just the worst?

A bearded lady at the Carnaval in Aix-en-Provence, France

More angels:


The Sun King in all his glory (great use for left over gift bows/ribbon - make a wig!)


I think these ladies represented the fires of hell. Or they were advertising KFC Zingers.


Like last year, the floats paused for a while at the Rotonde fountain. The bands were all playing and everyone crowded around to see what the grande finale would be.




Feather explosion at the Carnaval in Aix-en-Provence, France


Raining feathers at the Carnaval in Aix-en-Provence, France

And more feathers!

For the love of poultry, won't someone think of the chickens? Sob.

The pillows (full of feathers) were all thrown into the crowd to encourage a full-on feather brawl!


I only put this one in because I love what King Louis is up to in the background:


This was after we pulled most of the feathers out. We lost him for a while there:


Honestly, it was like nothing I've ever seen before - the mess was spectacular and I have no idea how they cleaned it up. How on earth will they top this next year?


There will be feathers floating through Aix until next Carnaval I suspect. (I wish I'd taken a photo of the kids making feather angels - you know, like snow angels, but in the feathers.)

Confetti canons at the Carnaval in Aix-en-Provence, France

Lots of photos, but I hoped to make you feel like you were there without having to leave your chair or fish feathers out of your bra! 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Flocking Chevrons Quilt

It's fitting that I'm posting this on Friday the 13th - this was not my lucky quilt.


When I saw Jennifer's generously free Chasing Chevrons quilt pattern on her blog That girl...that quilt, I knew immediately I wanted to make it.

Photo from Jennifer's blog That girl...that quilt.

Most of those participating in the quilt-along were using different coloured chevrons on a solid back; I wanted to use white chevrons on a colour gradation background.

I'd had the majority of the very classy Alhambra II line sitting on my shelf waiting for a suitable project, so I dusted it off, added more blues and greens and set to work making all my HSTs.


I pressed all the blocks up on my design wall, colours gradating out from the centre spot, and really didn't like it.

I made them gradate across the quilt, then on the diagonal, and really didn't like it.

I had them gradating from a central line and really didn't like it.

(I'm sorry I didn't keep photos of all these outtakes - I know you guys like to see them. Sorry.)


I was starting to feel a little ill by then. I'd taken a lovely design and fantastic fabric and screwed them both up royally. I've wasted all this fabric, I've wasted all this time, don't you KNOW that blue and green should never be seen without something in between?

Step away from the quilt, Kirsty.

There was nothing for it but to get drunk, trash some cars and invest in some quality buttock tattoos.


I felt a lot better after that (although my bottom was a little sore) and realised one of the blue fabrics I'd added (not from the Alaham II line) was actually the wrong kind of blue and messed up my gradations. I also drew inspiration from Jennifer's pattern itself and laid out a new background in the form of one large gradating chevron. I liked it. Phew.


All laid out it was still a little over the top though - my busy background with the chasing chevrons was too much. I decided to face my chevrons all the same way and it made a big difference. I had to move some of the chevrons so they stood alone (otherwise they turn into zig-zags) but then it was done. Voila, Flocking Chevrons.

I wanted this snuggle-on-the-couch-watching-movies lap quilt to be very soft and drapey. I had a nice flannel sheet for the batting and spent hours online looking for a navy patterned flannel for the back.

No dice. Instead I ordered some Lotta Jansdotter Echo in Moira Navy and crossed my fingers it would be one of those nice soft quilting cottons (it is, beautiful fabric).


It wasn't quite wide enough so I pieced together long strips left over from the top to extend each edge.


I wanted to quilt in white on the front (so it wouldn't mess up my chevrons) and navy on the back. I couldn't get the tension right despite testing and many lines had to be unpicked. I gave up and used white cotton for both sides.

Then I realised that my machine was making some loose stitches - more unpicking, cleaned the machine, changed needle. More loose stitches, more unpicking - my machine did not like the flannel.


So I unbasted the whole thing, removed the flannel, re-basted with cotton batting. (On the bright side, I was then able to sort the tension so I could use white on top and navy underneath). I nearly cried with joy when the quilting was finished.
My simple quilting pattern echoed the chevron.

The binding was the only part that didn't cause me heartache. I pieced a scrappy binding, matching the binding colours to the quilt to create an 'invisible edge' kind of effect. For this reason I sewed my binding strips together on the perpendicular, rather than the diagonal. I was going to machine sew the binding but in the end decided to hand sew it down - I was in need of some zen by this stage!


So, it's done. A bit of a drama but I do think it's come up nicely and most importantly, it's very snuggle worthy. Thank you so much Jennifer for the pattern!

I could say the strongest swearword used during the making of this quilt was flocking, but I think we all know this is a lie.


Have a wonderful, wonderful weekend everyone. Flock on!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Garrigue en Fête at Pont du Gard

Wow, how fast has this week gone? I hope you all had a wonderful Easter!

On Easter Sunday we headed west to the Pont du Gard, where Aidan had invited us to join in the festivities at the Garrigue en Fête.

La Garrigue is the scrubland that exists on the limestone coastlands of the Mediterranean. It has its own particular plants and animals, which this fête celebrated. As an Australian, La Garrigue reminds me of the bush - that mainly dry, low-lying-scrub-with-a-few-trees kind of environment.

La Garrigue with an old aqueduct thrown in for good measure.

We should start with the food, oui?

Aidan ordered us picnic paniers which included all the goodies below:

water, baguette, duck terrine, nougat, salad, onion confit and cheese

As well as a grilled-on-the-spot duck or pork sausage and two cups of wine.

This cheese with the onion/balsamic vinegar confit was pretty darn tasty.


After lunch we took a wander around the river's left bank visiting the various animations set up for entertainment.

This merry-go-round constructed mainly from drift wood had a macabre steampunky vibe going on which surprisingly did nothing to deter the kids.


Two adults from the audience had to power it by bouncing up and down on the see-saw:


While the keeper of the merry-go-round played tunes (Aidan was chuffed when he played Riders on the Storm.)


Horse-drawn carriages took folks on a 10 minute tour of the area for free. I think the best part for the 7 year old was when the horse pooped mid ride. Sheesh, boys.


Isn't the motion and sound of a horse-drawn carriage so soothing? I don't know how all those early pioneers managed to stay awake.


This flamboyant fellow in his birdcage created hairdos for passersby.


Here's the after shot - there was a lot of teasing and hairspray involved so I'm sure she had a good time undoing it all that night.


The petting zoo had goats and sheep and this sweet little spring lamb:


From the where do people think these things up? files were these two ladies in stroller baby costumes. They'd obviously spent a great deal of time around babies as they had the mannerisms and tantrums down pat - very funny. Well, our 2 year old thought they were hilarious.


Of course it was only a matter of time before someone offered the baby a beer:


Into which she carefully dunked her dummy (pacifier):


Mmmm, beer.


The majority of the day was spent enjoying the meal, music and animations, although we did manage a quick walk over to the bridge.


The view:


In other news, I've finally finished Flocking Chevrons and hope to show it to you tomorrow, photos willing.

And check this out - Kim made a camouflage version of the Modern Chevron Quilt. How cool is that?

Hope you're all having a great week; see you soon!


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