Tuesday, 28 February 2017

L'amour de la laine... yarn shopping in Paris

I recently took an absolutely wonderful trip to Paris with my partner. We were lucky with mild and dry weather, and spent our three days walking along the Seine, gazing through shop windows, and eating delicious food non-stop. We also called in on several yarn shops, which I'd found by searching 'tricot' (knitting) or 'laine' (wool) on Google Maps.

On the first day we went to Cat'Laine, in a little back street, which had a really nice, varied selection of yarns; I bought some black/grey gradient sock yarn. We also visited Lil' Weasel, a gorgeous yarn boutique in an art nouveau shopping arcade. Lil' Weasel had beautiful displays and slightly more luxurious yarns, including some hand-dyed skeins. I decided to stick with commercially-spun wool sock yarn, and found this pretty shade of blue yarn to knit some lacy spring socks. I'm afraid that we didn't think to take photos in these two shops as, quite simply, we were in a bit of a daze due to getting up at 5am to catch the Eurostar.

Towards the end of our trip, I was wondering out loud whether I should pop back into Lil' Weasel to purchase a sweater-quantity of yarn since it was a such a lovely shop. But whilst checking the map, my partner spotted one more yarn shop I'd saved which I'd forgotten about, and suggested going there instead. So we popped into La Droguerie - and I'm so glad that we did!

Communing with the yarn at La Droguerie
Yarn everywhere!

Knitting needles in a vintage display cabinet
La Droguerie is a haberdashery selling buttons, beads, trimmings, yarn, fabric and patterns. You step in off the street to a dreamy corridor of yarn. Sample skeins of every colour of each yarn are hung up on two walls, wools followed by cotton. On each type, there's a card stating the composition, meterage per 100g, and recommended needle size; dotted around are example garments and swatches knitted from each yarn. At the back of the shop are all the cones of the yarn, which will be wound up for each customer. You select the yarn you want, then tell the shop assistant how many metres you need; s/he calculates the weight, and then winds up your skeins of yarn from the big cones at the back. I had such a great time browsing the yarns, and as you can imagine, they came in wonderful colours.

 After a lot of deliberation, I choose this aran weight wool in a bright jade green, which I will knit into a cardigan. I bought 1000m, so I decided to just take a bit cone home, rather than make the shop assistant wind it all off. This kind of system (taking a sample to the shop assistant at the counter) is common in haberdasheries, but quite unique for yarn shops; the staff were all really helpful and patient.

My partner doesn't frequent haberdasheries or yarn and fabric stores as much as me, and he really enjoyed looking at all the colourful displays, browsing the cards of buttons and jars of beads, and taking photos. It was impossible not to come home with something, and I will treasure my handknitted garments all the more with memories of such a special trip.

Sweet shop bead displays, mirrored ceilings, and an amazing knitted rendition of a Sonia Delaunay painting 

Absolutely beautiful faux astrakhan fur trims

Rainbow buttons

Friday, 24 February 2017

January & February: stress knitting, storm knitting

February has simply flown by, I have no idea how. I've been busy with writing deadlines, preparing for a music examination, rehearsing with a new band, and learning Mandarin Chinese. Along with the deadline-related stress and other pressures in my personal life, I had been feeling really down due to the global political situation, which in my opinion has gone from bad to worse, with a plummeting £ and rising inflation helping nobody. I found myself channelling this sense of frustration and helplessness into my knitting, and in doing so, I completely turned around the energy from negative and destructive to productive and creative.

The green socks are my most recent finished project; I have also made blue socks for myself, and a pair of red lace socks for my partner (which are so bright that they have proved impossible to photograph). I've enjoyed seeing his jolly flashes of red ankles during the last few extremely grey months. I'm happy to have knit up these two balls of sock yarn that I purchased in early December, but am constantly surprised by how differently self-striping yarn knits up, compared to the skein!

In December, I knit a pair of fingerless gloves for my Aunty's Christmas present. I used hand-dyed Shetland yarn from my stash, which I bought in Doncaster in 2013. The pattern is 'Tuuli' from Pom Pom magazine issue 7, a copy that I had some writing published in. I really loved these gloves and was so sad to give them away to her....so in January, I knit a second pair for myself. I made my pair without the turn-up on the cuff, as I was running out of yarn. I really love how incredibly light Shetland yarn is, these gloves are really warm and weigh next to nothing. They've kept me nice and toasty whilst driving in snowstorms and playing the piano in chilly rooms.

I have been thinking of starting a knitting/sewing video podcast, and I'd appreciate any thoughts or advice you had on the matter. Would you watch it? What do you think I should include? Do you have any tips?