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Hello World…

Wow, I had been MIA for five months. Thank you readers if you still subscribe to me. First of, there was that demanding job that I took in July. I was so hungry for promotion that I took the new challenge even though I was already in my second trimester. In a hindsight, it was pretty irresponsible of me to do that to my baby. I worked my ass off every night until 10 pm, including weekend. Luckily, I had a very easy pregnancy, only two leg crams, no morning sickness, though I did have a terrible skin rash for a few weeks.

I worked until a day before my labor, my bub chose to show up two and half weeks early. I wasn’t ready of course but ready or not… I can’t believe that I am a mommy now, it’s kind of cool but terrifying, I have to keep the little man alive…talk about the pressure LOL. Anyway, here I present you my two-month old little man, Benjamin Su. Ben was the best christmas present ever. I went to labor on xmas eve and he showed up a day after xmas, 6 lbs 14 oz. Fast forward two months later, he is now 11 lbs, not bad eh?

Here he was, fresh out of my womb

At one week old wearing handknit sweater and beanie

At two months old, pretty cute if I may say so myself, then again all babies are cute 🙂

On the crafty side, I have not done much. I finished a few sweaters for him, a cosette wrap for me and am working on Rocky Coast Cardigan. Sewing is pretty much a thing of the past at least for now. My sewing room is now his nursery. I leave my sewing table, sewing machine and serger in the room. I now use the table primarily as a pumping station. My cutting table is now his changing table, it is too heavy to be moved out and I did not want to spend a gazillion dollars for changing table, it’s all good.

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I just finished Rufus Textured Cardi for my baby boy.

Pattern: Rufus Textured Cardigan from Vintage Baby Knits by Kristen Rengren

Yarn: Berroco Vintage DK  in Chana Dal bought at Bobbins Nest Studio, less than 2 hanks. 50% acrylic, 40% wool and 10% nylon

Needle: US size 5 and 6

Size: 12 months

I knitted most of it while traveling in France, so it is certainly very memorable. The pattern is well-written (or should I say well-adapted from the old vintage pattern) and consists of five pieces (back, front left, front right and two sleeves). I would rather knit in one piece though.  The stitch pattern is easy to memorize and definitely makes the cardigan looks very stylish, my baby boy will look hip in an old man kind of way 🙂

The yarn is squishy and soft, I don’t normally knit with acrylic or acrylic blend but I am trying to be practical since I need to throw it into a machine when my baby soils it. The color is so yummy, jewel tone and perfect for next fall when he’s about 9 – 12 months old.

The cardigan is not completely finished, i still need to put on buttons.

We started our road trip by driving from Paris to Normandy. I am glad renting a car and driving in France is as easy as ABC except for one of the exit that we missed ended up costing us 10 Euro, that’s right my friend, freeway or should I say motorway ain’t cheap. Anyway, we’re happy driving our rental Citroen C5 station wagon, it made sight-seeing less tiring.

A two-hour drive took us to Honfleur, a fishing village full of history. When I said history, I am not talking about 50 year history like how they describe downtown Campbell in my neighborhood. It is way back to the time of William, the conqueror. Honfleur was used as a port to ship supplies during that time

And oh, while I was there I checked out the flea market

It was fun and I got a Noddy picture book for my baby boy for 3 Euro, not bad.

About an hour drive west took us to the WW II beaches. Our first stop is Arromanche, which is a british beach with a very informative D-day museum

 

 

The most amazing of all WW II sites are the American cemetery and Pointe du Hoc (heavily bombed during WW II)

It was somber reading the tombstones, a lot of these men die within a few days of D-day

We stayed overnight in Bayeux after D-day sightseeing so we can check out Bayeux Tapestry. It is an embroidered cloth depicting the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England. It was used as a propaganda tool targeting the illiterate peasants. Nearly 230 ft long, this tapestry is incredible and well-preserved

Since I was not allowed to snap a picture, here is one from this site

At least I got a picture of the museum exterior

We also love the Cathedral, which is bigger than Notre Dame in Paris

Having seen all these, there’s another big site in Normandy that we checked out, the very reason we’re there, Le Mont St-Michel

I was very impressed by that I made it to the top of the Abbey, thanks for all the shops that litter the trail up to the Abbey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before I went on the trip, I did some research on craft shopping. Townmouse has a great post on variety of shops in Paris. Due to time constraint, I decided to focus on hitting one cross-stitch shop and one knitting shop, so I can stock up on great French patterns, rarity in the US. I was not going to concentrate on buying supplies (yarn or fabrics) because they are super expensive and about the same as they are in the US.

Anyway, a 15-minute metro ride from Point Maillot to Bastille took me to Le Bonheur des Dames, possibly the greatest cross-stitch shop in the world

Le Bonheur des Dames

Le Viaduc des Arts, 17 avenue Daumesnil, 75012 Paris

(Metro Bastille or Ledru Rollin)

It was very tiring for me to go up and down the metro station with my big belly and I had to stop a lot to catch my breath but as soon as I saw the shop, it was like discovering an oases.

It is a lovely shop selling mostly cross-stitch kits, patterns and supplies plus some Liberty Fabrics. The shop has a very nice atmosphere and the owner speaks a little english. I love every single books and kits that they sell there, very very chic and French. I wish I could clean up the entire store but I only bought four books. I could not afford the kits (which occupy majority of the shop), they are tres tres expensive. Starting price for a kit is 28 Euro and it can go up to $130 Euro depending on size, I was hoping they will sell me just the patterns but they don’t. Great eye candy though and if you are interested, you can shop online. Here are some kits that I like just to give you an idea

Kitchen towel cross-stitch

Growth chart. With a baby in the belly, I gravitate towards baby stuffs.

If you live in the US, you should feel very grateful that craft supplies are a lot more affordable in this side of the pond. For example, a DMC floss is priced starting from 1.50 Euro in France, you can get it for 33 cent at JoAnn. Regardless, here are my hauls

To tease you a bit, here are some of the patterns from those books

Simple cross-stitch for your kitchen

Farm life in France

Cute period costumes

Needlepoint for your atelier

I knew that I have to have this pattern even before I went to France, perfect for my baby

Another cute pattern from Petits Ecoliers

The second shop that I went to was Le Bon Marche at Left Bank (Rive Gauche), which really is an upscale department store

Le Bon Marche

4 Rue de Sèvres
75007 Paris, France
01 44 39 80 00
Metro Sevres- Babylone and as soon as you exit the metro, the department store is right in front of you

The haberdashery section is located on the third floor and  as soon as the elevator door opens, you feel like you just enter a craft heaven. It pretty much occupies a third of the floor, jam-packed with yarn, fabrics, notions, craft books and kits. All of them are laid out beautifully. Here are some photos

Here is Rowan counter. Basically, each yarn brand has its own counter, manned by specific assistants. Other counters include Phildar, Debbie Bliss and some other yarn brands that I have not heard of. No indie yarn and no fondling for sure, which is why it is more fun to yarn shop in the US

Cute doll-patterns, I saw it somewhere online and did not realize it’s from France

Again, cross-stitch kits are big in France

Wall of buttons

Mr. Su snapping a candid shot while I browsed

BTW, taking photos were apparently not allowed, the security guard came and scolded us 😦

I did not have a chance to go to the fabric districts in Montmatre but check out a recent blog post from Fantastic Toys. Yeah, it was too bad that I did not make it there because I really love that neighborhood and Sacre Coeur.

Babymoon Part 1 – Paris

So, we just got back from a 10-day whirlwind tour of France. We call it our last hurrah before the baby arrives and potentially no more vacation or at least stress-free vacation for life? The trip was so awesome and a much-needed vacation despite a little mishap in the beginning when we scrambled looking for a flight out to Paris as the original flight was canceled due to hurricane Irene. A day late, we managed to find two seats on Air France out of LA. Luckily, I’ve been to Paris so I did not miss much

My second time to Paris, I really only had 24 hours and wanted to focus on doing things that I did not get to do last time and revisit my favorite neighborhood. Paris with its elegant building, very chic neighborhood and parisians at the metro are what charm me. I wanted to soak up that ambiance as much as I can, if only I can bottle it….

As soon as we arrived, we hit the seine with our friends, Koen and Angeline, who made a special trip from Rotterdam to meet us (thanks much guys). We immediately got on the boat tour, which I did not do last time. Oh how I love the breeze as we passed all important spots that started Paris a long long time ago. I was charmed by ile de la cite…Louvre, Notre Dame, pont neuf…

This is how it looks like….cruising the Seine. Pardon the scaffolding on the bridge…ugh, why was it there?

Parisians and tourists alike enjoying a nice afternoon

Passing by Eiffel Tower and just like that you got a glimpse of my tummy for the first time 🙂 That’s right my friend, I’ve gained about 9 lbs when the picture was taken

The boat tour wore us out and we stopped for dinner at Le 6 New York for our first real french meal. I was not disappointed at my Assiette de legume (assortment of veggie) for appetizer and lamb leg for the main course. Just look at the legume presentation, what a work of art.

After dinner, we got to witness the fun thing going on in Paris, Critical Mass on Friday night where people roller-bladed and biked around the city

Such a lively and energetic city

At that point, I was really really tired and jetlag. We decided to stroll pass Champs-Elysees on the way back to our hotel at the Point Maillot. Hmm, I must say, Champs-Elysees is not my cup of tea. It is very touristy and tacky. But, I could not resist snapping a shot by Arc de Triomphe.

We hit the sack after that so that we could have a fresh start the following day. Since, we only had half a day before having to drive to Normandy, I made it a priority to hit a craft store in Bastille and Marais neighborhood (my favorite). I’ll save the craft store trek for another post.

I don’t mind living in this neighborhood

Or in this apartment building

We ended our 24 hours in Paris at the Center Pompidou and got ready to head to Normandy

Baby Blankets

I’ve observed a few babies/toddlers and I noticed that their favorite security thing-y is a blanket. My nephew loves this raggedy blanket that his grandma got from a bank promotion and another friend’s baby boy is also madly in love with his blanket.So, I thought my baby boy might like blankets too and I whip up three.

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They look simple, aren’t they? I actually spent hours binding them since I am hand-stitching each one. It’s a great project while I am in front telly

Pattern: Simple flannel blanket from Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts

Fabrics:

100% cotton flannel fabric from Fabric.com, originally intended to interline my Lady Grey Coat

3 different polka-dot nursery fabrics from Jo-Ann

I am glad I stick to gender-neutral colors

It’s a boy…

The wait is over, I went for my big ultrasound a few days ago and it’s a boy !

Mr. Su and I don’t have a preference with the first one, we want to have one of each. So, we’re not so emotional in the hospital room, which probably puzzled the technician. Regardless, we’re super excited and more importantly, baby looks healthy and every organ is well developed. Not without drama though, my doctor pointed out two bright spots during ultrasound. One by the heart and one by the liver. The one by the heart is normally a sign of down syndrome but quite common among Asian having boys. Additionally, my other pre-natal screening is very negative when it comes to down syndrome so the doctor was not concerned

The one by the liver though was very concerning because it could be a sign of infection. So, I did a blood test to confirm and after an excruciating wait of three days, it’s all good. One of the infection suspects by the way is cat. For you out there, thinking about having a baby, do not consider getting a cat to be on a safe side and if you already have a cat, make sure it stays indoor and get your significant other to change the litter box.

Anyway, I thought I share in case such information is useful to other people. Back to sewing, I made this pair of shoes and bibs for our unborn son.

Booties pattern is from Amy Butler’s Little Stitches for Little Ones (I checked it out from the local library) and the bibs pattern is free from Chickpea Sewing Studio

The fabric is Heather Ross’ Little Dogs, which is now hard to find and I should have stocked up.

The bibs is actually a leftover from baby shower gifts that I made for a bunch pregnant girlfriends having baby boys a few years ago. Back then, I made extra two to keep for myself, I guess it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.