Why Do the Wrong People Travel?

I love to travel, but I hate traveling. I hate the crowds of people pushing each other at the airport, having loud discussions as though no one else could hear them. I don't think that plastic bags should be used as luggage. And just because you can shove more stuff into your bag doesn't mean you should. Oh, and to the woman who cut in front of me in the customs line at Dublin Airport: wear less perfume. The effect of half a bottle at once is more likely to be vomit than delight.
I sound so bitter, and I'm not. I've just gotten back from a fantastic biennial visit to my cousin Stephen in England. That's a fancy word, isn't it, biennial? I last visited there in September 2004, and tried to do everything. Trying to see/do everything in one visit is a great way to tire yourself out and not really see anything well. This was a shorter trip, but almost entirely free form. If I'd been clever, I could have blogged as I went, but I was on vacation and therefore didn't. I didn't check my email either and was rewarded with a hell of a lot of spam when I opened my mailbox this morning.

Here's a brief look at what I did on my vacation:

Yes, my trip to Europe was a stash enhancing expedition. I bought so much yarn while I was over there, that it seemed a miracle when I managed to squeeze it all into my bags. A couple of Stephen's friends are knitters, and they recommended a wool shop called Loop in Islington. We're pretty spoiled here in the States, or perhaps just major cities in the States, because we have loads of yarn shops to choose from. That is not the case in Europe, apparently. Loop is a little shop, very similar to Purl Soho in New York. I was keen to find a shop that carried Colinette yarns, since they're hard to find in the UK, but only 50% the price that they are over here. Well, Loop had enough Giotto to make a big turtleneck sweater (which is called something else entirely in England, can't remember what), as well as gorgeous purple Point Five to make a gift scarf.

I also went to the yarn section at Liberty, which has heaps and heaps of Rowan yarn and books, but no shop assistant in sight. I ended up going to haberdashery to be helped, where I bought a meter of beautiful orange french velvet ribbon to weave into a hat and a couple of Liberty print hankies. Yes, it even said "hankie" on the tag. This turned out to be an excellent impulse purchase, as I later came down with the upper respiratory creeping crud. Those hankies really are handy! I bought some lovely RYC cashmere blend yarn to make Anna Bell's Jemima. I might add a bit of waist-shaping, I'm not sure.

There was also a shopping expedition in Paris, via the Eurostar. The chunnel is pretty amazing, and incredibly mundane as well. The train is only underwater for twenty minutes. It's like taking the Lincoln Tunnel into Manhattan. I'd hoped that they'd put a half-way mark in the Chunnel, as there is in the Lincoln Tunnel, but it isn't lit inside. Nothing to see there. There were a lot of beautiful Norman churches standing in the middle of fields on the way into Paris. I saw a lot of countryside that I would have missed had I flown to Paris. When I remarked upon the churches to Stephen, he pointed out the number of old churches in England. Europe is chockablock with old buildings, castles, and history. What do we have over here? Gas stations and shopping malls. Yawn.

I went to La Droguerie, an excellent yarn shop in the 1er, near L'Eglise St Eustache and Les Halles. I really hate that Metro station, and I'd sort of forgotten how long it takes to get from the platforms to street level. Worth the effort, though. I've read a lot of other American knitters online writing about how hard it is to get waited on at La Droguerie. Well, I had to wait a long time. After about twenty minutes of idly admiring their wares and getting hard, Gallic looks from the cashier, I began to think that I might join the ranks of Americans who couldn't buy anything there. Well, the reason the wait was so long is that they're short of hands (perhaps permanently so), and lavish a lot of attention on their customers. I bought the makings of a cotton wrap cardigan, with lace edging and silk ribbon belt, from an in-house pattern. The yarn is a sophisticated green that is new to La Droguerie this season. I know, I keep swearing off knitting with cotton. But it's just so lovely. I also bought a kit to make a mohair cardigan with mother of pearl buttons in a color described in French as supermarine. Seems as good a description as any in English.
And, to make a scarf, this wool and mohair combination, to be held together. They showed it in a really chic little collared cape, but I don't think I can carry that off in Chicago.
Did lots of other things as well, but I'm still pretty jet lagged. Due to the creeping crud, my ears aren't back to normal. They don't hurt or anything, but it feels like my head has been packed in a jar of cotton balls, like a bottle of aspirin. I probably need more mucacin (or however it's spelled) and a bit of relaxation. Will update again soon.


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