I am convinced that I knitted in another life. I recall the first time my dear friend Anne took me to The Weaving Works in the UDistrict while we were out running errands. It was a beautiful sight: the walls covered in different colors and textures of yarns and the sweaters, scarves and blankets hanging from the rafters. The amazement that a person could take a ball of yarn and create something was overwhelming.
Initially I asked Anne if she would teach me how to knit. She did for about 20 minutes, then honestly said “I really don’t like teaching how to knit” (or something to that affect) and suggested I take a class. The next week I was signed up for Intro to Knitting at The Weaving Works. My teacher was very nice and I learned a lot. She armed me with the knitting bible, Vogue Knitting Quick Reference which I still refer to and keep with me when I’m traveling with a project. My first project was a little sweater for my niece. It seemed simple enough, but with the twists and turns of the v-neck and shoulders, I knew this was not going be easy. But that project has set the tone for my knitting: to pick projects that were out of my comfort zone in order to learn. Granted, I did spend hours at the knitting store getting help and sometimes having to pay for personalized lessons, but it’s all worth it.
Before moving to Paris, people asked me what I thought I would miss most. The first thing I said was “being able to go to a local knitting store and get help with a project.” A few weeks ago, I was getting the knitting bug as I wanted to knit Maxime a Christmas stocking (they don’t really do stockings France).
My first internet search was in French “tricoter Paris”. That was a bit overwhelming as a lot of sewing stores have a knitting/tricoter section, but it’s not like going to a real knitting store. Then I did a search for “best knitting stores in Paris” and got a few blog posts. I took down 2 names, one in the 1st arrondissement and one in the 2nd. The first store I went to was a bust. It was interesting in one way that they had all their own yarn and you bought patterns/yarns together in a set. It was not how I knit and I also couldn’t figure out how to get a salesperson to help me so I left.
If you’re wondering, the way I knit is I find a pattern, go to the knitting store and find yarn that I like, do test gauge swatch (if necessary) to determine which sized needles to knit the project with (you sometimes have to do 2 or 3 of these especially if it’s for an adult sweater or hat), then I begin knitting. Some people just buy yarn that they like and believe they will eventually find projects to go with it. Or they just start knitting a project without doing a test swatch as they figure it will just all work out. That is a bit willy-nilly for my tastes. I do over buy for my projects and have quite a bit of “stash yarn” that I’ve started using up for baby toys.
Back to my knitting store search. The second store, Lil Weasel (all pictured in this post) is in a covered passage and it is simply lovely. Either way you walk to the store front, you are traveling along a historic coverage passage with little frame and jewelry shops, cafés and other delights. The store is very small but there is an excellent selection of yarns and are reasonably priced. They also have a small fabric section with the most tasteful and beautiful prints for children’s clothes and accessories I have ever seen. And the best part is, both of the shop-keepers speak English! They also have a yarn winding station I can use. It’s also important to find out their return/exchange policy and for France it is quite generous: with the receipt and unopened/used yarn I can exchange it at anytime! Since then I have been knitting up a storm. I can’t wait to bring my knitting friends to visit the shop. I have taken Anne’s sage advice and I do not teach people how to knit, but I am happy to help trouble shoot any problems that come their way!