Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tricot Treat!

That's right, I'm treating you to the very most obvious pun on French knitting vocabulary! Because you know me -- I only deal in superlatives, and lately only the guiltiest superlatives: the longest lunch, the earliest bedtime, the bare minimum and, of course, the last minute.
But there is always time to spare for a bit of knitting, especially if it's the easiest possible knitting, like the tube scarf I'm working on in some yarn I bought at La Droguerie, an amazing yarn store I visited in Paris. That's right, the scarf is literally just a tube. See?
I cast on 70 stitches, joined without twisting, and just took off knitting. I'm a little over halfway finished, having just started on my second of 2 skeins. I'm thrilled with the results and a lot less concerned than I expected to be about the simplicity of the "design." I tried various ribbings but was disgusted by my tension problems. I CANNOT get the first purl stitch of the column to look nice! Luckily it turns out that the yarn requires very little from me in order to look beautiful. It's actually two yarns held together (one a 100% bamboo and one a laceweight mohair), an idea I ripped off from a sample scarf hanging on the wall at the store. The friendly clerk helped me coordinate the colors and wound the two strands together in skeins for me, and I was so pleased by my success in conducting this transaction in French that I hardly noticed the price (27 euros, yikes! If only it were dollars!).

Like I said, the store itself is wonderful. It's in the neighborhood of Les Halles and the Saint Eustache cathedral, and it's pretty big for a French store of its kind, or at least seemed so to me. One side is devoted to yarn and patterns, with all the available colors in each yarn hanging unwound from hooks on the wall. Deeper in is a display counter of buttons, most simple and sophisticated but some very silly. On the other side of the store, they sell beads stored in jars like penny candy and embroidery supplies. When I was there, it was crowded and just past twilight, so I did not take any photos. However, a few days later, I was shopping at Printemps and paid a visit to the Phildar boutique on the top floor of the store, and I can show you that, if from a bit of a distance. I wish American department stores gave as much space to craft supplies.
Finally, I made one other yarn purchase back in Dayton that was just as exciting to me as the ones I made in France: my first skein of handspun yarn, made my the mother of one of my oldest friends. Her website is here. She showed me her spinning wheel, her fiber stash in the attic, and her imposing yarn storage room, barricaded with impenetrable walls of rubbermaid containers. From one such container, I chose a lovely blue and orange wool, which Joe says smells nice and wooly. After a bit of experimenting, I chose the Opera scarf pattern, which blessedly consists of just a single row to memorize. I'm in a race against spring with all this scarf knitting. Wish me luck!

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