I know what you are thinking: what? more traveling? Well, my husband Dave is a scientist who studies genetic toxicology and was asked by the World Health Organization to come and work on a committee to discuss some chemicals and they would pay his way. And I could go and stay for free, and fly using frequent flier miles, so why not? I thought it would be like Lisbon, where I’d find cute shops selling fun sewing stuff, and when we walked by Mercerie Catherine B (above) on Saturday afternoon, I could hardly wait to go back and explore.
The Manor Dept. Store (my home away from home, because I ate there a lot–picking up sandwiches and meals in their food hall. . . and why doesn’t America have food halls?) had this array of fat meters. I didn’t check the prices on them.
While standing admiring this display of bias tape and ribbons — wound neatly onto cards and not tucked behind cellophane wrappers — I met Roxanne, another quilter, and we had a great discussion. Quilters, the world over, speak the same language. She said most of the quilters she knew in Switzerland ordered their fabrics online.
I did find this small needle minder that I loved, but they were out of the matryoshka kit. Good thing, because the house kit was 65 dollars for a square of linen, a pattern and the threads. Yes. SIXTY-FIVE.
I took a photo of the pattern company who designed that matryoshka kit: Un Chat dans l’aiguille and had fun looking around their website, following some links, which led to more links, and which led me to discover that I’d been doing some of my tried-and-true stitches incorrectly, proving there is always more to learn, at any age. Here’s a link to some of my favorite series of videos in French, and even though it’s not a language I speak, the videos say it all. And some great English videos by Mary Corbet are here. So I left that day empty-handed, but full of admiration for the traditional embroideries found in Europe.
I even went back another day, when I bought half-meters of three different Christmasy looking braids, which I’ll put on the back with my label of the Oh Christmas Quilt (more motivation to finish it!). I still couldn’t bring myself to buy much more than that. And I just looked and admired and loved everything I saw.
I peeked in on the class they were holding, and every woman in there had a portable light, a stand with a hoop for her embroidery and an attached magnifying glass for working those teeny counted cross stitches over fine linen. It really was quite inspiring, and made me think of ways to incorporate more hand stitching into quilting designs. I have a few ideas and will let them percolate, as is my usual after taking in the sights and colors of different places.
But check out what I saw at the flea market on Saturday, the last day before we came home: a Bernina sewing machine. It ran, of course, on 220 voltage and besides that my luggage was already full, but wouldn’t that have been a great souvenir!