Packing for vacation knitting is always stressful for me. I try to avoid the worst case scenario, where I run out of yarn and knitting, but also have to be smart in my packing. An entire suitcase of yarn, needles and notions is not the most ideal scenario for schlepping across Europe. For two weeks I brought along the travelling monkey sock and planned to cast on for the teddy bear blanket. Feeling highly optimistic, I brought 4 balls of blanket yarn with me, just so I would be sure not to run out.
The trip itself was wonderful- but on the knitting front I was one big fat FAIL. It was like Europe sucked away my mojo. I should have known I was in trouble, because it began early. On the flight from Calgary to Barcelona- I cast on for the blanket FOUR times, running into trouble every time. Not enough yarn, too much yarn, dropped stitches in row 1... I couldn't for the life of me get it right. So I put my knitting in my bag, pulled out my book, (Gone With the Wind for you curious people), and didn't look back.
When we got to our hotel outside of Figueres in Spain we had a few days to relax and unwind. Except Gone with the Wind was turning out to be a really fun read, and I kept saying to myself "I"ll work on the cast on tomorrow". That never happened.
EIGHT DAYS LATER... (I know, that has to be some new personal record for me, I can't believe I didn't think about knitting for a whole eight days!) I accidentally wondered into a yarn shop in Barcelona. We were walking in the Gothic district and all of a sudden I look to my left and say "YARN SHOP!"
(Let's pretend I don't look 9 months pregnant in this photo. I need to work on my unflattering posture!) Of course I went in- and was surprised to see almost everything we can get at home, including English books. Very cute shop with a very helpful gentleman who figured out pretty quickly that I didn't speak a lick of Spanish. I wish I could remember the name now- but it was nice to have a little reminder of my hobby that I had all but forgotten.
I had seen SOME things that made me think of knitting while in Spain, for example this really cute Sheep chess board.... (can you see the black sheep in the back? So cute!)
To be fair, it's hard to think of knitting when you need to see stuff like this in Barcelona. (Gaudi's Sangrada Familia- it is all that AND a bag of chips!)
The next day we left for France- and I think wondering into a yarn shop in Barcelona was what I needed because I actually picked up my knitting needles again. We were staying with friends in their MONSTER Paris apartment (not normal for Paris at all... they lucked into some pretty great circumstances). I finally got the cast on to the blanket started and even knit the entire border.
However, the sights of the city distracted me again.... and that was all the progress I made. Not even HALF a ball in.
It wasn't until we got out to Beaune (in the Burgundy wine region), that I even thought about knitting again. Picture it, we're in an incredibly quaint and charming French town, cafes and delicious foods are beckoning and every corner has a wine shop- and out of all of this- I find a Phildar store!!
I was pretty stoked to check out their shop. It was not a typical yarn shop- there's a clothing store in the front, and Phildar yarns and patterns in the back. (You can see the wall of yarn just behind me in the photo.) I was smart this time and didn't buy any French pattern books, knowing full well I'd never figure them out! Phildar had some pretty nice silk yarn that I "hmmed" and "haaed" over- but ultimately decided that the precious room in my suitcase had to be allotted to other souvenirs... like wine. :-)
Beaune also got me thinking about knitting again, in a rather odd place- the Museum of Wine. While we were wondering through the exhibits, I got all excited- as one of them featured tools and clothing worn by early harvesters. And there- before me, were handknit socks.
Pardon the photo, seeing handknit socks in the wild apparently excite me a little bit too much!
As you can probably tell I had a wonderful trip, even if it meant very little knitting was done. On our last day in Paris, as I was doing my hair, and thinking that I was actually looking forward to knitting on the plane ride home, I had an epiphany. Teddy Bears on the blanket was ALL WRONG for the couple I was knitting for. They've been calling their fetus "Little Beef" (in context it makes sense), and I really should be knitting COWS. Of course I couldn't pay sky high prices in the business center to spend some time on Ravelry looking for cows to knit on the ride home, so I had to put my blanket on pause until I had internet access.
I packed the monkey socks instead for the ride. But, I was too distracted by my first class pod and all of it's exciting features to even think about knitting- and once again, as the theme of this trip seems to suggest- I got not a single stitch knit.
Fear not gentle knitters- my arrival home as put me back into regular gear. With the help of this very cute swatch I am once again ready to pick up the needles with avengence!
This is the swatch for the "Little Beef" blanket I'm planning on knitting. The math and figuring out were done yesterday and I even had the MOST SUCCESSFUL CAST ON EVER! (One try! I'm taking it as a sign that making the pattern change was the right call.) I promise that updates and blog posts will return to their frequency- and hopefully soon, we will see another blanket completed.