Is Heaven in Paris?

Usually when we travel, I spare Kevin the agony of visiting textile or fabric shops, but this trip is so long that I wouldn’t be able to bear 10 weeks without looking at and drooling over fabric.  So when we visited Sacre Cour (Montmartre) in Paris, and stumbled upon Martre St. Pierre, I sent Kevin sightseeing on his own for a while.  That might be a white lie – I had checked with my friend Mimi to find out how to trip over tables of inexpensive fabric.


So what did I find? As you can see, there were rolls and rolls of fabric bins of 3 meter cuts. For anyone who likes to bin-dive, this was the place to be. Generally fabric rolls were sorted by fabric type, but not the bins. It was random ‘find an interesting corner, pull and tug” type of shopping. The fabric stores lined the street with mounds of fabric inside and out. Thankfully it wasn’t raining the day we were there but it was windy and cold. loved the overhead heaters one store provided to keep interested shoppers picking through bins.


What I liked the most was that the stores were full of creative ideas. One store had miniature models wearing outfits – about 20 of them. Next I liked watching people search for fabric with a sketch in hand. Probably saw a dozen or more. I can’t think of a better place to match fabric with a creative design.


Can you guess what I bought? Nothing – nada. Not because there wasn’t fabric to love, but because we are carrying backpacks and mine was full. That doesn’t mean however that I won’t accumulate fabric now that we are settled into an apartment in Avignon for several months.

In fact, if you know of great fabric stores in the south of France, please let me know.


Three Reasons to Visit Rouen, FR


Before this week, I naively admit that I’ve never heard of Rouen, France (north of Paris near Normandy). But now that I’ve been there are really more than 3 reasons to visit this beautiful city; to see the fabulous Rouen Cathedral,to see where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake or to walk through the old town, which is where we stayed.  Amazingly, there are two yarn stores and a huge button store within several blocks of each other.  This is sewing and knitting heaven.

Homo Roussel

this tiny store is up the street from the Joan of Arc Memorial as you go toward the Cathedral.  It has an entire wall of buttons. It’s admirers were just about lining up to get in the store. In particular, two women were there with winter coats with a missing button? my bet is that they found one to match.  In addition there is a small amount of yarn, some cottons and lots do sewing notions. Oh how I wish this store could be in my neighborhood.

In addition there were two knitting store – one a Phildar  store and another with a number of brands.



A Visit to the Bruge Lace Museum


Several days ago we were in Bruges. Not only is it a beautiful medieval city, I learned that at one time this city was the center of the European cloth industry. An outgrowth of that industry was the art of making lace.


Unfortunately this art form is hanging on by a thread. However at the Lace Museum in Bruges There are a handful of women trying to keep lace-making alive. They have a display of exquisite pieces of lace, provide lessons and demo for visitors.

During our visit there were about 20 students from North Carolina who learned basic lace-making, and I was able to sit in with them for a one hour lesson. Wisely, their college professor/tour guide thought it would be good for this group of technology-competent students to learn traditional lace-making. All we did was a 4-thread weave, hardly lace. As with any group, some learned very quickly and others struggled. I was at the midpoint on the learning curve.

As you can see, here some photos of the gorgeous pieces in the museum, and a pix of me fumbling around trying to learn to make lace.



Textiles in Nepal

Women in historic Bhaktapur

Like India, Nepal’s fashion scene is pretty spectacular.  While the clothing is different from your favorite fashionista’s attire, the colors are beautiful and women wear their garments with great pride.

Time for Socialization

Unfortunately, instead of being manufactured in Nepal, using the traditional block printing methods, many of the fabrics are now imported from China.  This causes concern on two fronts: 1)The end of the tradition of block printing and 2)Loss of jobs for persons who work in the textile industry.  Our tour guide spoke of two textile plants recently closed leaving 1400 people unemployed.  As China produces fabric more inexpensively than Nepal, this will continue to occur.  Not to Nepal’s benefit, there are rolling electricity black-outs in most communities which certainly doesn’t benefit this or any other industry.

One of dozens of fabric stores in the Kathmandu Valley

All of the gorgeous fabrics are not cottons as many of the sari’s are also made from polyester.  No matter which fabric, the colors are gorgeous.  Below are several more photos.

Mother is rubbing mustard oil on baby’s hair
Daily trip to the community well to obtain water
Babas in their colorful garments

Fashion in India: Easy on the Eyes

In the past few weeks we had the privilege of traveling in India and Nepal; a countries where we saw thousands of women wearing the gorgeous and elegant “sari”.  Surrounded by all of that fabric, it seems impossible that I would have returned home without a single cut of fabric.  Even my BIL bought 2 Indian sari’s –  essentially 6 yards of fabric, and I’m sure he has never before purchased fabric.  What was wrong with me?


In areas where we traveled in India, there were some but not a large number of fabric and/or sari stores.  Most of the stores had gorgeous and very colorful fabrics with lots of bling, however most fabrics were polyester.  Admittedly, I dreamed of returning from India with bags of silk fabric.  Of course the textile factory we visited had gorgeous silks but at incredibly high prices, even for U.S. fabric stores.  Thus “bags of fabric” didn’t happen.   (Sorry, Karen, I know you really wanted some silk from India.)

With no purchases to show you, I’ll share some photos of the beautiful women of India wearing stunning garments.  They were so easy on the eyes that I couldn’t stop my camera from snapping just one more photo.  Enjoy!






Next time, I’ll discuss Nepal’s textile scene, which is somewhat different than India’s thriving textile industry.

How did that Cruise Wardrobe Work?

It’s been so long since the last post that you probably think I fell off the face of the earth. In reality we were traveling for several weeks, then on a 14 day cruise, visiting our son in Philly and being sick.  The day we got off the cruise ship, both Kevin and I got some type of illness.  Now, two weeks after the cruise ended, we still have a fatigue that seems impossible to shake.

After bragging about the small volume of cruise clothing I tucked in the bottom of my backpack for our recent trip, it only seems fair that I publicly evaluate the plan.  The following are my thoughts, but first a few photos for proof:

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LBD with silk shawl
Silk top, black shawl and LBS (this is my favorite)
LBD with a tube of petal trip basted onto the neckline.

1.  When traveling on land for two weeks, I was incredibly grateful to only have a small bag of formal cruise wear at the bottom of my backpack (aka suitcase).  At each hotel it stayed in the bottom of my bag and I didn’t even look at it until we got onto the cruise ship.

2.  I still smile with delight as I think of our cruise-mates struggling with two suitcases apiece, each nearly the size of a small car.

3. The number of pieces of formal clothing was perfect for four formal nights on the ship; a lbd, a long black skirt, 3 sleeveless tops, 2 silk shawls, one pair of sparkly flats.  In fact I didn’t need one of the silk tops for a formal night.

4. The amount of wrinkling was not insignificant, however after hanging the clothing most of the wrinkles fell out.  Thankfully the ship has a laundry service which was only necessary for the lbd which is made from a poly-rayon-lycra blend.


I didn’t mention that Kevin packed in a similar manner.  Naming it “a suit-in-a-bag”, he packed a Lands’ End wool blazer and pants in a zip-lock bag.   When he hung the pieces, they hardly had any wrinkles.

Kevin’s “Suit-in-a-bag” and me in ruffled tank and LBS (long black skirt)

Cruise Wardrobe in a Bag

No excuses for not posting sooner – blogging mojo has been low.  Just like when I was a kid going to confession, “I’ll try to do better”.

In the next several days we are leaving for a 2 week European vacation followed by a 2 week cruise, followed by Thanksgiving and a wedding in Philly before finding our way back home.  Here’s the dilemma:  We’re budget travelers (within reason that is), not only in how we spend our travel dollars but also in how we pack.  That means my 2600 cc. backpack will be my trusted friend for the next month.  Being a one suitcase kind of person, you can’t imagine the shock-waves that went through my body upon learning that the cruise has 3 formal dinners and 5 semi-formal dinners.  That just doesn’t fit with backpacking.  I’ll tell you more about the plan in a minute, but here, in a 2 gallon ziplock bag, is my dress-clothes cruise wardrobe.

Cruise Wardrobe:

  • A LBD and a long black skirt (LBS) that I can wear with tights or leggings while traveling.
  • 3 sleeveless tops – a black ruffled tank, silk tank left over from my work wardrobe and a lightweight royal Thai silk top from my closet.
  • 3 shawls – 2 silk (one print, one black) and a Pashmina (will be my warm and stylish scarf in cool countries).
  • Wool top with scarf trim (will also wear this while traveling)
  • Chiffon trim that I’ll baste to the LBD neckline for one wearing.
  • Rhinestone brooch.
  • Black sparkly flats (not in the bag).

Here are the pieces of clothing all laid out and ready to pack.

Seems possible to get 8 outfits out of this mix. What do you think?

Travel Wardrobe:

  • Jeans, black pants and a denim skirt.
  • 4 wool knit long sleeve tops
  • 2 very lightweight sweaters for layering
  • Long undies, undies, wool socks, etc
  • Tights and leggings, fleece hoodie, jacket, Pashmina, mittens and gloves.
  • Clogs and a back-up pair of shoes

Wedding attire:

We are cheating on that one.  When Shaun and Deb visited several weeks ago, we sent our wedding clothes with them.  Sure didn’t want to carry that dress around for a month.

Come to think of it, I sure hope the cruise ship has a pressing service or I’m in trouble.

While I don’t sew all of my clothes, this is the first time I’ve traveled with a wardrobe where I’ve sewed every piece of clothing.  Maybe that’s why I haven’t been blogging?  At any rate, I took lots of photos of lessons learned and will share them in future posts.