Saturday, December 26, 2009

There's No Place Like Hill Country Weavers

Knitting on the Bullet Train to Paris

Hey Y'all,
Well, poor me, I am STILL in France! Earlier in the week, I was on the Riviera, in a little place called Cagnes-Sur-Mer, near Cannes, Nice, and Antibes. Our last full day in town, we hopped the train to Antibes, and walked all over the old port city in the pouring rain and freezing cold. Quite by accident-- or at least not by design-- we stumbled upon a little knit shop. I mean, it was tiny. We popped in-- stopping at knit shops in other cities/states/countries is a favorite pastime of mine. The shop owner was really nice, though we had a hard time communicating. I finally scrawled on a piece of paper Marche d'Tricot which I hoped meant "knit shop" and wrote the url for this blog, trying to explain that I write it. I picked up a couple of balls of this golden yarn to knit up a thank you gift for my friend, who loaned me her apartment in the South of France. The needles I bought were pretty long, and plastic. They actually had much longer needles, no circulars (my preference) in sight.

Christmas Eve, we walked for thirteen hours (!) around Paris. Oh, this really is an incredible city. I took out my knitting at the top of the Eiffel Tower and promptly lost one of those pink rubber pointy needle point covers I use to hold my DPs together when I'm working on socks. This led me to be able to announce to Warren that I had "lost a nipple on the Eiffel Tower." I'm guessing not a lot of folks get to say that. I also knitted at Cafe Carette, where the hot chocolate (chocolat chaud) was so out of this world, so rich and thick, that I honestly wanted to cry. It was one of those moments that instantly sears into the mind, and I know I'll remember it always.

Knitting at the top of the Eiffel Tower

After the hot chocolate, we then tromped up the Champs Elysees, and on to Cathedral d'Notre Dame, where a children's choir gave a concert at 11 pm. We got there at 10 pm (and based on the crowds, we should've got there about 6 pm) and to wait out the hour, I again got out my knitting and worked in the total dark. So this particular sock is like a knitted postcard of sorts.

Christmas Day, I was so wiped out from the day before, I just sat home and worked on the sock, and managed to snap one of my DPs in the process-- but I had a spare. Then today, we headed out to the Jardin d' Luxembourg, and the Left Bank (Rive Gauche) where I picked up yet another bag for my knitting at Shakespeare and Company, an American bookstore in the neighborhood where Hemingway hung out in the 1920's. And then... and, it was off to 9 Rue du Jour, which is the address for La Droguerie, which I'd read on the Internet was maybe the best knit shop in Paris. I got so excited on the way I nearly peed my pants. And it was exciting, just not how I expected it might be.

Knitting over hot chocolat et macaroons

First, I was bummed out when we walked in to see the No Photos sign. How can I accurately report to you all without the benefit of photos?! The place was packed, I mean absolutely jammed with shoppers. And I was beyond confused. There seemed to be three or four distinct lines but no real indication of what line was for which purpose. The store also serves as a bead shop, craft store, and also has a little bit of quilting fabric in addition to the yarn. Warren doesn't speak French, but he is trilingual, and fluent in Spanish, so he has been sort of able to figure stuff out. He tried to guess exactly how one maneuvered La Droguerie, then gave up and went to plop down on a bench while I fingered the goods.

Not that life has to be a competition BUT... Hill Country Weavers has a far more massive selection than LD. Then again, I like to always get a little something as a memento of other stores, so I started looking for some DPs to replace the one I'd broken. I found a rack of needles, some bamboo, but most plastic, and all about seventeen feet long. I did find a few DPs tucked away in a drawer, but wasn't sure if I was rooting through their stock, and felt a little nervous. I found a mitten kit I was thinking about getting, but it was 26 Euros (about $40 USD), and I already just made some hand warmers. Finally, I settled on a little kit that is supposed to yield a knitted cat (le chat). It should be interesting trying to figure out the directions in French/metric.

I stood in one line for a really long time, long enough to realize this was not the checkout line, and also to figure out how the store works. You wait in one line for one of the beautiful clerks-- all of them dressed in some lovely knitted something-- to approach you and ask what you need. Then she takes you to it. THEN you get in another line to pay.

When it was my turn to pay, I asked if the clerk spoke English, and she said "a little," so I explained I write this blog, and asked could I please take some pictures. She said okay, but not any of people. So Warren took a few shots, and we immediately got reprimanded by another woman. I looked at her, flustered that I didn't know how to say in French, "BUT THAT LADY SAID I COULD!!" So I just stood there gesturing like an idiot and turning red, and she said, "Say it in English!!" So I said it in English, and all was repaired, and we took a few more pictures.

I'm glad I got to check out the shop, and I'm glad I still have several more days left to walk around Paris. One of the best parts of all this walking and people-watching is that with the weather being so cold, everyone has trotted out their knits and there is no shortage of smashing sweaters, scarves, and chapeaus to be admired. But I have to say I also will be happy to get back to HCW and just sit in my happy place, and look at our massive happy inventory (and check out all the new Lantern Moon tape measures that apparently came in when I was gone). I'm also psyched because I'm going with Suzanne to market in January, almost the minute I get back from France, so I'll get a sneak peek at all the stuff she'll be selecting for the spring shipments. And bonus points, market happens during my birthday. I am really, really digging all this knit-travel stuff that keeps popping up.

Oh, and just because I'm on the continent doesn't mean I'm knitting continental. I'm still throwing like a maniac, and hope to finish up those socks soon.

Au Revoir,

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