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IMG_0339.JPGI went away! I am back, but I spent ten beautiful days in August in London and Paris, and am left wishing it was longer. They’re both amazing cities. We only spent a night and two days in Paris, but filled that time with beautiful sights and walking and cafes and more walking and tiny glasses of rose and more pretty buildings, and I already want to go back. London was just as wonderful – I love how walkable it is, and the breadth of architecture, and the museums, and the way it’s so similar to NY in some ways, but so different. Coming from the lovely, well-organized, clean Tube with escalators to the gross, smelly subway the next week was something of a shock to my system.

IMG_0486.JPGWe traveled as light as we could – two bags each so there was nothing we’d have to check for the flight – which meant that I had to select knitting projects carefully, and souvenirs even moreso. To make it easier to pick the projects coming with me, I decided that it was a vacation and I was therefore only going to do selfish knitting. I cast on the first of a pair of Smokestack socks that I’d been wanting for some time (I just like to have socks started if I’m getting on a plane, so that I don’t just have pointy metal objects in my bag going through security), and wound a skein of yarn that I’d bought as a souvenir from our trip to Savannah, GA, this past May to become a Shaelyn shawl. The shawl is only 3 repeats in, but also easy to memorize, and I’m really happy with the tonal pinks in the yarn colorway. It’s super soft, and I’m hoping to squeeze an extra repeat in, since I want this shawl as large as I can get it.

IMG_0485.JPGThe first sock was finished shortly after we got home – I knit the toe the weekend after we landed back in the States, and am pleased in a slightly goofy way at how nicely it turned out. I love the cables on the heel flap, and found the pattern lovely and easy to memorize, plus I’m happy with the yarn choice – my stash has lots of sock yarn, but lots of darker colors or single-ply or stripes, none of which would have done the pattern justice. I’ve gotten through the cuff on the second sock now; even knowing how much more knitting I have to do before the holidays, I still want a pair of socks for me. Plus I’m knitting these magic loop (which is the first time I’ve tried the technique), and I like it, so I want to keep going.

IMG_0487.JPGBut even more important than what I knit while there and while on planes is what I found there, right? Part of why we went was for business things for C, which meant I spent the first few days in London mostly by myself. And so yarning I went. First was Liberty of London. I knew it would be full of beautiful, pricey things, and lovely floral fabric, but it was still a bit overwhelming of a store. So many pretty displays! I’m sure I could have spent tons of money on all the pretty things there in thirty seconds had I tried, but decided that I only wanted a little something that said ‘Liberty,’ so I picked out a handkerchief that will surely see use this winter and a retractable measuring tape that’s covered in a pretty floral Liberty print that will surely see use whenever I pull it out of my knitting bag.

IMG_0488.JPGAfter all – why buy soap or a pretty mug that we don’t have space for at home, let alone in the suitcase, when yarn packs so much more easily? And so I was off to Loop! It’s an adorable space, with walls of beautiful yarn. I don’t like to buy yarn while I’m traveling that’s easy enough to find at home or online, so I zeroed in on the more local skeins that are either made from yarn in the UK or dyed there or something that makes them remind me of where I was when I bought the yarn. I came away, very responsibly, with a beautiful light green skein of a fingering-weight wool and silk blend: Eden Cottage Yarns Titus 4-ply, which is dyed in Yorkshire (not London, but considerably closer than where I live, so it counts as local). I also got to talking with one of the women working there about some of the samples up, and wound up purchasing the shop’s book, Juju’s Loops. So many pretty projects, which I can’t wait to knit from. I just need a friend to have a little girl so I can cast on a baby sweater in there that I’ve got my eye on.

The only other yarn shopping I did, in an effort to keep things under control, was at iKnit. It was a very cool shop, with samples and different yarns everywhere I turned. There was so much lace weight the shop had dyed, in so many bases, that I had trouble picking which would be a color I wanted with enough yardage and with the right blend of fibers. I finally gave up and just grabbed the softest thing ever, 800 yards of lace alpaca in an undyed, off-white color. I have no idea what to use it for, but could just pet it forever. I also haven’t ever seen Fyberspates in person, only heard about it online, and the colors were just amazing – so saturated and rich. I picked a dk weight for a hat or cowl or something, in a gorgeous tonal indigo. Now that I’m back, I have to fight startitis and keep working on all the things I’ve got on the needles so that I can dig into the tempting new fiber soon!