Shmoozing In Florence Centrale

Sheila and I started the day slowly by meeting two other of the women in our group (Elaine and Marion) for breakfast here at the B&B. Then the two of us took the #22 bus which stops right outside the B&B into Florence Centrale.

The bus was packed; they weren’t all tourists, many would have been locals heading to somewhere through the city center, which is where we got off – across the street from the main train station.

We mosyed through pedestrian filled narrow streets as we headed toward the Duomo.

Typical Narrow Florence Streets

We stopped at a couple of market stalls near the Station, one with leather goods, didn’t buy anything in spite of some haggling on a leather wallet,  but neither of us could resist the rainbow colored shawl/scarves which called out to us (it had nothing to do with the young persuasive women selling them).

Heading down one of the main streets from the station you can see the Duomo in the distance. Crowds lined up everywhere to get in to view the art and architecture. Since we’d not bought tickets in advance we simply walked slowly around the outside of the buildings – something I hadn’t known was the bell tower is a separate building. Plenty to stop and look at on the outside – the main door to the Cathedral building is spectacular! The whole exterior of the buildings is replete with statues and other decorative sculpture. I can only imagine the interior from photos I’ve seen.

Il Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore

Main Doors of the Duomo

The Duomo Bell Tower

We walked past many small shops, clothing, footwear, handbags (all expensive due to their proximity to the Cathedral). we decided to stroll further from the church to find a street cafe serving lunch. We shared a salad and sandwich which was more than enough to eat.

One shop caught my eye – a small hole-in-the-wall filled with beautifully crafted paper/wood objects – and the artisan creating them.

Shop Of Beautiful Hand Made Paper Objects

The Artisan At Work

The latest fashion accessory, to judge by the number of shops with many on display, is a very fancy bejeweled bra (and panties to go with them). They’re meant to be shown off. (I can’t see me wearing one, however).

Window Shopping

The weather was a sunny 27 – compared to just around 10 at home in Halifax. Lovely for walking slowly and taking in the crowds and sights.

Late in the afternoon we picked up the #22 bus where we had got off and took the scenic route back to where we had embarked in the morning – right outside the hotel.

We’re planning on hooking up for dinner with Elaine and Marion shortly and then we’ll call it a day.

Travel Update!

Waiting At Heathrow

I’ve arrived at Heathrow. I was able to get my connections reworked: in a couple of hours I’ll leave for Zurich then on to Florence arriving, I hope, at 6:25 this evening. No overnight stay in Rome with a 17 hour wait time to fly to Florence.

That’s the good news. The bad news is my bag was checked to Rome (but I’m now not going through Rome). When I checked in with Lufthansa they thought there would be enough time to pull the bag off the Brussels flight and send it along with me to Zurich, then Florence.

Fingers crossed! We’re leaving Florence early Wednesday morning for Meridiana, 35 minutes from Perugia. I might just end up with a whole new summer wardrobe but I’ll miss my spare glasses, my newish sandals and pink Sketchers that are also in that bag.

I HATE travelling.

 

Not A Good Omen!

It’s 9:30 pm and I’m still in Halifax. A problem with the altitude switch on the plane to Montreal (connecting to Munich, then Florence) so after sitting on the runway for over an hour the flight was cancelled.

It ought to be plain how little you gain by getting excited and vexed. You’ll always be late for the previous plane and always in time for the next.” Piet Heine

I spent over an hour on the phone with a patient young Air Canada man who cancelled existing outgoing flights, found me a new set of flights: Halifax – London – Brussels – Rome – and 17 hours later – Florence! Instead of arriving in Florence at noon on April 22, I should arrive about the same time on April 23!

Waiting in the Halifax airport

So now I’m waiting in the departure lounge of the Halifax International Airport for the London flight.

I’ve checked out trains from Rome to Florence. Cost ~ €60 one way, and that may involve a lot of schlepping at both the Rome and Florence ends. The B&B I’m booked at in Florence is a 15 minute cab ride from the Florence airport so I may overnight in Rome at Air Canada’s expense – I’ll see about organizing that when I arrive in London.

I love being places. I HATE the travelling! With a passion!

Italy Adventure About To Begin

I learned about Let’s Go Italy Tours a number of years ago through Catherine Goertz’s New Year’s Travel letter. Linda Kirsch’s Italy Tours was listed. This past fall I contacted Linda about a textile focus tour – there were a few others interested in the same kind of visit so she pulled one together and we’re about to embark.

We’ll be staying at an alpaca farm outside of Perugia – Maridiana! The alpaca look friendly and I’m guessing the scenery will be beautiful. The temperature for the next several days in Perugia: mid 20s (although much cooler at night).

The focus of this trip is textiles and crafts: weaving, bobbin lace, linen, tapestries…. We’ll be visiting many small walled towns in the mountains/hills surrounding Perugia (Umbria). There will also be lots of Italian food and wine!

Our group is small. I contacted the others last week to say Sheila (my sewing friend from Toronto who is joining me on this trip) were arriving mid-afternoon Sunday and hope to run into them before the group meets on  Wednesday.

Sheila and I are planning to shmooze for a couple of days – fabric shops, botanical gardens, and of course the Brunelschi dome (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore) and other architectural and art must-sees in Florence.

I’m about to depart in an hour. I expect to take lots of pictures and to share a few with you each day! So stay tuned.

Navy Twill Pants

I’m heading to Italy in a week. Two days ago I tried on all my summer weight pants – they ended up in two piles – a small pile of those I could zip up comfortably and a much larger one of pants I’ll have to modify in order to button the waistbands. My navy pants were in the “not wearable” pile.

Navy Cotton Twill Pants

So I made a new pair. I knew I’d probably have to make navy pants a couple of months ago so I dug out the navy twill I had in my stash, washed it, and put it aside to work on but didn’t get around to pants-making until yesterday. I used a modification of an old pattern for a culotte adding pockets and reshaping the legs to make a straight leg pant.

Cutting out, adding interfacing, setting up pockets, fly front are all straightforward. The problem with making pants (at least for me) is I have to make them up completely before I can try them on to determine if they actually fit. I cut this pair largish because there was absolutely no give in the width of this fabric and I didn’t want to make the pants too small to fit into. However, they turned out too big in the bum and through the legs. So I did what I’ve done before – put a shaped dart down the centre back of the leg to get rid of much of the fullness below my bum and to narrow the thigh.

The back pockets are typical jeans pockets. I decided not to do inner front pockets – instead I cut out a pocket shape, added a facing to the open edge, then turned under a 1/4″ seam allowance and top stitched the pockets in place on the fronts before they were attached to the back.

I made a couple of further adjustments to the fit today but now the pants are wearable.

Green and Yellow Socks – Finished

I have to say I haven’t really enjoyed knitting these socks. The yarn was lovely in the hand, but the colours weren’t ones I’d have chosen to work with. Furthermore, the skein had the darker green at one end and the strong yellow at the other, graduated from one to the other with more green than yellow.

Green & Yellow Socks

What I did was ball the skein, then separate the yarn into smaller balls of the various colours. What I didn’t account for was the fact that I should have halved each small ball and reserved the second set for the second sock. However, I didn’t do that so there was no way I was going to be able to make two socks that matched.

I kept swapping yarn at somewhat random intervals, sort of matching the colour flow from the first sock to the second.

The yarn before I started knitting – I began the cuff with the teal colour – shouldn’t have done that – it kind of blends but a green cuff would have worked out better.

Green & Yellow Yarn

I did have someone in mind while I was knitting them. Sometime in the next couple of days I’ll put them in the mail to her.

Binding A Quilt

A couple of days ago Melanie McNeil described in her blog how she was binding her latest quilt – “For this particular quilt, I chose to finish the binding by machine rather than by hand.”… I wrote her that I always machine finish the binding (for a host of reasons I won’t go into here), except I use a decorative stitch with variegated thread when I attach the binding on the front.

Let me back up here a bit: many quilters machine stitch the binding to the front of the quilt, then blind stitch the turned binding on the back by hand. However, if you’re going to machine stitch the turned binding edge, then you have to sew the binding to the back of the quilt, turn the binding under on the front (I pin the turned binding, then lightly press it), then machine stitch to secure it to the front.

I’m assuming you already know how to apply a quilt binding. If you don’t, Melanie has very clear instructions with videos, etc. explaining and showing you how to bind a quilt. What I’m offering here, is an alternative for the final stitching to secure the binding to the top of the quilt.

Graduated Stitch – Edited

Here’s a stitched binding on one of my quilts (notice the diagonal fabric join in the binding). What I want you to observe is the stitching I’ve used to attach the binding to the top of the quilt – a stitch that stitches adjacent the edge of the binding and incorporates jump stitches to the right and back which permanently attach the binding edge to the quilt (remember, the binding is already machine sewn to the back using a standard 2.5mm straight stitch – Melanie prefers a longer 3.0mm stitch).

This is what the stitch looks like on my machine screen:

Double Graduated Stitch – Edited

This is my modification of a more complex built-in stitch on my embroidery machine. Here’s the original stitch:

Double Graduated Stitch

I wanted the stitching down the centre to be just to the side of the binding with the cross-over stitches just securing the binding so I used the stitch editor built into my embroidery machine to get rid of the stitches on the left and keep just two forward stitches between the grouping of stitches to the right. It attaches the binding securely and I’m not having to worry about whether I’m getting my straight stitch a consistent needle width from the binding edge. (The decorative stitch also is forgiving on the back of the quilt if it doesn’t align perfectly with the binding edge.)

Here’s another decorative stitch I use frequently:

Honeycomb Stitch – Edited

Below is the “honeycomb” stitch on my machine – I’ve reduced the width quite a bit, and extended the length so the stitch doesn’t extend very far on either side from the binding edge on the quilt front.

Honeycomb Stitch

Here are two other decorative stitches that could work:

Graduated Stitch

My point is it doesn’t take long to machine stitch a binding to the front of a quilt with a decorative stitch and it’s visually a lot more forgiving than trying to stitch the binding with a straight stitch!