Saturday, 2 February 2013

Paris flâneur

Wandering Paris

As is my usual practice in Paris, on my latest visit I have been playing the flâneur - or aimless wanderer. In fact, my wanderings are not entirely aimless because I usually have some goal in mind - a park, a monument, a specialty shop of some kind. But I set out with only the vaguest directions and try to find my goal by following my nose.

This is how I discovered a great little bagel shop wandering in the neighbourhood of Luxembourg gardens - Bagels and Brownies on 12 rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs. I often find real gems when I’m lost in Paris.

And such was the case the other day. I had stopped by Kookai Stock on rue Reaumur to check out the sales (slim pickings), and was heading in the general direction of Les Halles. You can tell when you are getting near les Halles because the streets become pedestrianised and the shops get more touristy and tatty.

I popped into one of the passages radiating off rue St Denis (always explore the passages, they are treasure troves).

Passage du Grand Cerf

Within I discovered, quite serendipitously, a new yarn shop! Well, not entirely new - the proprietor told me she had been there for three years. But new for me. It is called Lil Weasel, and as the name suggests, it is a cute little pocket shop, stuffed with crafty goodness. They carry the usual French (Fonty) and British (Debbie Bliss), and some less easy to find American yarn as well (Cascade, Spud & Chloë and Blue Sky Alpaca). And also Lotus yarns from China, bringing us affordable cashmere.

I was quite restrained, and only came away with a pompom maker and a skein of pale blue Cascade baby alpaca chunky.

Then, just around the corner I passed the Frog and Rosbif, an English pub & micro-brewery that I thought deserved a try a bit later. I know you are supposed to eat French food in Paris, but I get plenty of that in Oxford - I’d rather go for the unusual.

The purpose of all this wandering was now almost in sight - La Droguerie on rue du Jour, of course! I’ve discussed La Droguerie before because I always fit in a visit whenever I’m in Paris. But this was the first time I was going to do the full service - buy yarn and a pattern together.

La Droguerie makes you buy their yarn to accompany their patterns, and you have to wait in line for someone to come help you chose yarn for your pattern. When I first entered there was a bit of a fracas over who was next in line. Lots of shouting about how they really need to institute a number system, and how one wouldn’t expect such behavior at La Droguerie. After which the injured party stomped off in a huff without any yarn.

I made sure to find out where the end of the line was. Fortunately there were only two people in front of me so I only waited about half an hour for service. It was well worth the wait - my helper convinced me to match some mustard alpaca with a pale caramel mohair. I would have never thought to put those colours together, but they create a lovely honey mustard effect.

I'm going to knit cape capuche, a short circular cape with a garter stitch cowlneck.

The pattern is included in the book Petites Pièces et Petits Plus Signé. Now I'll be free to use any yarn I like with La Droguerie patterns. Not that I won't take the opportunity to stock up on more of their lovely yarn when I'm next in Paris.