Last year when I was still home in New Zealand thinking about my new life in Paris I imagined how wonderful it would be to discover knitting boutiques and perhaps join a group of French speaking knitters. Well I’ve found knitting destinations that have me in raptures. The first one I am going to tell you about is L’ Oisive Thé – Salon de Thé.
L’ Oisive Thé is a charming little tea salon cum knitting and wool boutique located in the 13th arondissement at 1 Rue Jean-Marie Jégo. The 13th has a rather village like atmosphere, and feels a long way from the intensity of the historic centre of Paris. By all accounts it’s quite trendy too. The boutique-tea salon itself is very bright and pretty; there’s a tantalising range of skeins of coloured wool displayed on the walls, mostly from artisan suppliers in the USA and UK, and shelves stacked with tins of exotic teas. When you visit you can drink tea, have lunch, brunch or a sweet treat while you ponder on your next knitting (or crochet) project. There is plenty of inspiration for sure.
Every Monday and Wednesday evening at L’ Oisive Thé about 20, maybe 25, fellow tricoteuses (knitters) gather for a knitting soirée. It’s very popular so you book your attendance online in advance on the Ravelry website at the L’ Oisive Thé group page, where you can see who else is going and what knitting dramas and projects are news this week.
Aimee, owner of the tea salon, is the soirée host and a knowledgeable knitter. She is a delightful young American (from Kansas), married to a Frenchman. The first time I went along her friendly welcome put me at ease straightaway and I’ve been back as a Monday night regular ever since. Most attendees are French but I’ve met another American there so I can revert to speaking English if in need.
I only take my very easy knitting projects because while most of my fellow knitters speak good English, it’s good for me to speak French and practise as much as I can, but I have trouble conjugating French verbs on the run while knitting at the same time – unless I want a random holey lace pattern! I can now follow the conversation for the most part and from time to time participate en français. It’s a very convivial atmosphere; other knitters are patient with me and help out when I need a word here and there. Quite often people going past the window stop and peer in at us – it’s like an aquarium one of the knitters said. A couple of weeks ago a France TV channel came along and filmed us in action knitting elbow to elbow around the dinner tables; wool crafts like knitting and crochet are enjoying a real resurgence in interest here too.
Aimee is very internet savvy so you can check out everything about L’ Oisive Thé online (www.loisivethe.com) including purchasing yarns, and she keeps everyone in touch via Facebook and Ravelry and Twitter. So for me it’s a real find; just what I had imagined, and a sense of belonging in a foreign city.