Wednesday, 27 May 2009

More "nice"

One of things I love about French is that there are so many expressions wishing people well. Of course everyone knows "Bon appetit" which translates as "Enjoy your meal". Here everyone eats at midday so when my class finishes at 12 and my students leave, everyone wishes each other "bon appetit", which is so nice.

Then there is "bonne journée" - have a nice day. Bonne soirée - have a nice evening. Another famous one: "Bon voyage" - have a good trip. "Bon retour", have a safe journey home. Bon séjour - have a good stay. There are many more which translate directly: Bon anniversaire (Happy birthday), Bonne Année (Happy New Year).

Less well-known expressions include: "Bon courage" - good courage literally. This is a great, encouraging phrase which we might translate as "good luck" but really has nothing to do with luck. Bon courage for your exams for example ("break a leg"), bon courage when dealing with a tricky problem ("chin up"), bon courage when carrying out some particularly difficult task ("hang in there").

"Bonne continuation" means a whole load of things too: keep up the good work, all the best, enjoy the rest of your meal (when it is said at the beginning of the second course), enjoy the rest of your day, the rest of your holiday ...

And then many of my friends use "bon" in almost any situation: bonne promenade (have a good walk), bon mariage (have a good time at the wedding), bon bricolage (enjoy your DIY)!

How lovely to find so many ways of wishing people well!

By the way, here is a photo of an inhabitant of our little village who we saw on a walk today.

Bonne soirée

Tuesday, 26 May 2009


Today I came across an interesting blog on "Artists Newsletter". An artist, Rachel Gomme, is carrying out a cumulative performance in which she unravels and re-knits the same small piece of knitting each day throughout the month of May. She says that she is interested in how the yarn changes and how it affects the work and, linked to that, how we mark and assess time.

I love the idea that knitting is used in art, as art. Some people laugh at me (or try not to, but I notice that!) when I say that I knit. It is still sometimes seen as a kind of irrelevant activity for older people. Some people say how great it is, as though they admire me but wouldn't dare to do it themselves. So artists using knitting can only be a good thing in raising its profile.

I am always trying to find new ways of using knitting. I know that there are others out there who make knitted jewellery, and probably in more innovative ways than me. However, I have so many ideas and I feel that as I create I will understand more fully how the medium can be used. I recognise that it has certain constraints, for example it is much easier to crochet a circular shape than to knit one, but I like the idea of working within these confines and finding ways of solving these types of problems. I think that the fact that I am quite inexperienced in knitting can be an advantage as I don't have a strong idea of what should and shouldn't be done, I just try to go with what I like.

Today I have finished a new necklace and bracelet. The weather was overcast, rainy and dull so I couldn't take proper photos for etsy, but here is a sneak preview of the necklace before I list it tomorrow.

See Rachel Gomme's blog here:

Monday, 25 May 2009

Nice people

Today I have found out about Operation Nice. I saw a badge on la marquise des ange's blog which said "I am very nice". I thought to myself, "Well, this seems to be true", because I met la marquise on etsy yesterday evening and we had a very lovely chat through convos. "I wonder what happens when I click on the badge?", I thought to myself. Will I find a list of nice people? I was very curious. What I actually found was a website which was actively encouraging people to be proactively nice. Check it out for yourself.

This got me thinking. First thought: how great that someone is putting out such a positive message. Second thought: how sad that people have to be encouraged to be nice. Third thought: how great that someone's blog reports and recognises unseen little kindnesses which make a huge difference to our lives. Fourth thought: I should get a badge. Fifth thought: is it strange to call myself nice? Sixth thought: the badge might help others to discover this great idea! So - see the badge on my blog!

By the way, this doesn't mean that I'm nice all the time. But I'm trying to be!

Bonne journée

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Long weekend

So this was a long weekend and for some of it the weather has been gorgeous. I have been working on a new knitting project with some lovely green/blue yarn. Watch this space!

We visited a few of the art exhibitions which were part of the "Artistes à Suivre" events. The most memorable was a group of artists exhibiting at a Domaine which was a beautiful setting with a view over the mountains, some of which are still snow-capped. There was a collective exhibiting in a barn with some interesting photomontages and also pen drawings, but our favourite was an artist from Lille who exhibited in the chapel. He had just finished a residency in the north of France exploring the theme of eating and the meal (very apt in France, I thought!). He took some photographs looking down onto the table while his guests were eating. Visually they worked really well and he explained how he carefully chose the food so that it worked visually in terms of colour and form.

The work he prepared especially for this exhibition was a series of what looked like communion wafers with images printed on them. He explained to us that this had been a very controversial work and many people had discussed it and even been offended by it. He had the idea when he found out that he would be exhibiting in a chapel. There were a variety of images, some more controversial than others, images from art, a photo of the Pope, quotations... all printed with vegetable dye so that they could be eaten. It was interesting work and also interesting to hear that it sparked debate. Art still has the power to shock it seems.

Today was a complete contrast - the 60th birthday party of a friend in a nearby chateau. We spent a happy time relaxing, eating and drinking. Now we're getting ready psychologically for work and school tomorrow!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

A week of firsts

Yesterday I had some good news. I had my first etsy sale! Yeay! Even though it was for a small item (see photo) it feels like I am making a start.

I also found out that my daisy chain necklace is on the front page of the website "indie spotting". It can be seen here:

The other piece of good news was that I am going to be translating a book (from French into English). Although I've done translations before, but this will be the first time I have done a whole book, so that will be interesting. It is about healing through the use of Tibetan singing bowls, so I am sure to learn something too. I have been told that the Dalai Lama will be receiving a copy of the book when it is finished. I am not sure whether to believe this or not but if it is true it is awesome!

Today is the first day of the Artists' Open Studio event I spoke about in my last post. This evening we are going to a "vernissage" or exhibition opening, literally "varnishing". The expression comes from the tradition in the 19th century of putting the last coat of varnish on a painting on the day of the exhibition opening. Apparently at the Royal Academy Turner put the finishing touches on his works (or even repainted them completely) once they were hung. The exhibition we are going to this evening is two villages away from us where there is a little gallery. It will be a time to see friends as well as view the art.

I am making contact with some other people who have etsy shops and are based in France. My plan is to promote them on this blog so watch out for the very first feature coming soon.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Following the artists

Here in France it is Ascension Day tomorrow, which is a public holiday. The French have a great tradition which is called "faire le pont". This means that when a public holiday falls on a Thursday people take Friday off as well and make it a long weekend. (Not so good when you're self-employed and have to work anyway!) So, usually there is no nursery school on Wednesdays but today my son has school so that everyone can have an extra day off on Friday!

So this weekend there are a few events going on in the area. One is called "Artistes à Suivre" (Follow the Artists). This is like an Open Studio event where local artists open their studios and accept visitors. My husband Jonathan usually participates and our village rallies round, offering lunch for sale made with local produce (delicious fresh cheese made with ewe's milk, hand-made sausages ... mmmm). However, this year the committee has changed and they decided that the circuit was getting too large and that is was not possible for people to visit all the artists. So this year the event is taking place on the other side of the valley and maybe next year over here again.

The downside of this is that we won't be involved in all the festivities but the upside is that we can finally go and visit fellow artists in the area, whereas usually we have to stay in the studio to receive visitors.

I will report on how the weekend goes, it is usually quite interesting. Meanwhile, since my husband isn't exhibiting this year I'll give his etsy shop a little promotion. He sells etchings, dry-points and paintings of landscapes, vineyards, vessels, vases and bowls. Check it out here:

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Here comes the sun

We have finally had a sunny weekend here in the south of France. It has changed the mood of everything, we move from interior to exterior spaces with ease, the children are enjoying the freedom of running in and out. Although we've had a lot of rain that's not all bad as the landscape is lush and verdant and the fruit trees we planted this year (apples, cherries, plums and pears) are becoming well-established. Every Spring we complain about the rain and then when summer comes we worry about water shortage. Our village is dependent on a water source coming from the mountains and at the driest time the population of this tiny village swells with holiday makers. Since we have lived here we have been much more aware of the preciousness of basic requirements for life such as water, wood for heating etc.

To celebrate the arrival of the sun this weekend I have made a sunny sunflower necklace which can be found in my etsy shop. (
I hope that you like it.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Etsy addiction

Is there anyone out there like me? I start a new etsy shop and I have to check it every 10 minutes to see if I've got any hearts! It's become a bit of an addiction. When am I going to have time to make my jewellery?!

Today started grey and dull. But by lunchtime the sun came through the clouds and I spent some of the afternoon (in between watching magic tricks) sitting in the sun working on my daisy chain bracelet which will match the necklace in my shop. Knitting and soaking up the sun - bliss.

A friend came round and saw my jewellery. He liked it a lot but wondered whether I could sell enough to make it worthwhile. I tried to explain that it was something I loved and selling it would be a bonus. Creating is something I have to do and if I can share my creations with others who appreciate them that makes me happy.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Announcing New Etsy Shop

I have a new etsy shop called Tramontane Designs. I make accessories for children and adults, mostly knitted, but also using felt and fabrics. I am busy getting feedback and trying to promote it and I would be grateful for your feedback. You will find it here:



Welcome to my blog. I have been thinking for a while that I should start one but have been unsure as to whether my life is interesting enough and my writing eloquent enough. But now I have taken the plunge and will have to learn as I go along.

I really wanted a place to share my passion for knitting and other crafts as well as being able to post images of my creations in order to get feedback. As many of my projects are in the early stages that will have to come later. In the meantime, a little more about me...

I am an English lass living in France with my artist husband and 2 kids. We moved here four years ago (having bought our house 4 years previously and tried to be sensible by taking time to prepare for our new life). I make a living through teaching English to the local French and French to the many local English as well as doing some translation and also design (websites, leaflets, books). One thing I have learned is that you have to be able to multi-task here in order to make a living. So that's what we do. It allows us to have a more laid-back life, spend more time with the kids and live out in the countryside. It doesn't mean that life has no pressures, there are always things to deal with, but we are content here.

So that's me and I look forward to sharing more with you and also receiving your comments.