Au Revoir Paris

 

Our Parisian life has been folded up and squeezed into the suitcases, the lids closed (only just) and the destination labels attached. It really is time to say a final goodbye to Paris. We’ll miss every elegant inch of her charm, the way she unfurls her springtime greenery and the unbeatable social buzz of life “en-terrasse.”

Amongst the magnificent monuments and art, the fashion and the fabulousness that Paris offers it is the ordinary life and the people in it that matter most. We are so glad that we fitted in to an ordinary life, that we belonged. Like an ordinary Parisian I queued up for our daily baguette (une tradition pas trop cuit s’il vous plait), responded adequately en francais to the butcher’s interrogation about my intention for cooking the meat he was preparing for me, grumbled with fellow passengers about the stoppages on the metro and even argued successfully with the man behind the counter at La Poste.

For the last few weeks we’ve been saying our farewells to friends, workmates and whanau. We’re terribly sad to say goodbye, but at the same time it reminds us of how special these people have become in our lives and how cherished are the friendships: our language teacher Martine, my knitting friends at Montreuil and my knitting “pupils” at l’OIE – I’ll miss you, and I promise to keep up the French language practice.

I am so grateful to my knitting buddies, les tricopines, at L’Oisivethé who made me part of their tribe. Although I am going to miss the Wednesday night tricot soirée sessions immensely, I have a special project to assuage the yearning to be there: The Tangible Memory blanket.  These knitters started a memory blanket project as a farewell gift back in February, each of them knitting a few squares from their left over and stash yarns before passing it on to the next knitter and the next and the next to join in. They even knitted almost under my nose at knit nights, it was taken to Edinburgh then London and back to Paris, where it was presented to me to take home to New Zealand and finish. Is there a better gift for a knitter – I think not. Merci mille fois mes chѐres amies.20160702_112655

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Tangible Memory Blanket in situ on my knitting chair

For now, it’s farewell to you my regular readers too. Thank you so much for following keirybeesparis, for commenting and helping me belong in the blogging world. Along with Barbara, my dear friend and Stitching up Paris co-author, I will be writing about the Paris stitching scene from time to time over at www.stitchingupparisblog.wordpress.com, and you can find me, @keiryberry on Instagram.

Ka kite ano…………….Keiry

How not to knit a chicken, and other language laughs

Un pull - a jersey

I knitted a jersey

From the other end of the table a sweet little voice said “Ah, I wondered why you were knitting a chicken” and with that the knitters around the table erupted into friendly giggles.

Let me explain: It was knit night at L’ OisiveThé, the café full of knitting friends was abuzz with chatter in French and English. My fellow knitters know I like to practice my language skills and encourage conversation en français. Someone asked me what was I knitting. “Un pull” I replied, or more correctly I intended to reply. A jersey is un pull, a word I know well and use with ease. But clearly, with too much ease and not enough attention to correct pronunciation, because what I actually said was une poule -a chicken – I am knitting a chicken!

Around the table amid chuckles Anglophones practised and Francophones coached the different sounds: pull sounds (more or less) like “pewl” and poule sounds like pool. The words and their sounds are etched in my mind thanks to the impromptu and thoroughly amusing lesson.

It’s not only the French-English traps that generate laughter. English alone has provided plenty of entertainment when accents play a part. During the discussion of summer holiday plans I mentioned to an American friend that some of our knitting colleagues were heading to the Shetlands on a knitting trip. I could tell immediately by the look on her face that we had a translation problem. With my New Zealand accent and her American ears, what do you think she heard? Yep, it sounded like our friends were heading somewhere for a really crap holiday. Quickly clarifying I meant the Shetland Islands north-east of mainland Scotland solved the problem. The Shetlands then made perfect sense for a knitter’s holiday destination.

My Shetland Island Fair Isle inspired vest. A project from 2013

My Shetland Island Fair Isle inspired vest. A project from early 2013

Amusing, inspiring, enlightening and cultural; knit night enriches my Parisian life week after week.

A pattern to my days

Katherine in Berlin

Katherine in Berlin

It’s almost 12 months since I moved to Paris; the time has flown by.  There’s an enjoyable pattern to my week, as well as events that are pinch-me amazing because I couldn’t do them in NZ; like going to Berlin just for the weekend with my daughter Katherine.

All these places I’ve wanted to visit are only a hop away, and the weekend in Berlin had the added bonus of seeing my darling girl.  We had a great time sightseeing, exploring the very hip and trendy boutiques in East Berlin, shopping in the chic West, and I got to see the remains of The Berlin Wall.  The fall of the wall has been a point of inspiration for me during my career.  My friend Collette once bought me a little souvenir piece of it that I kept on my desk to remind me when it was tough going that great and positive change can be achieved.

The moment I realised the wall was covered in used chewing gum.

The moment I realised the wall was covered in used chewing gum.

Remnants of the Berlin Wall at Potsdamer Platz

Remnants of the Berlin Wall at Potsdamer Platz

 

 

The pattern of my week includes social knitting get-togethers.  I’ve joined up with a lovely group of knitters; we meet every Tuesday afternoon at a café that is also a sewing boutique in Montreuil called De Fil en Cafe run by Marianne, who is an expert seamstress.

There are two Kiwis, Barbara and me, (I introduced you to Barbara in my last post), two Englishwomen, Antoinette and Sarah, and Yuko who is Japanese.  Yuko is an expert in all yarn related crafts.  She knits and crochets the most beautiful and delicate garments and accessories.  She’s our coach for anything tricky.  We usually speak in French because that’s the language common to all, though I’m not very good at it, and now Yuko is learning English so we are interchanging between English and French.  Barbara and Antoinette are both professional language teachers so we are in good hands.  It’s a real pleasure meeting up each week to enjoy good company and conversation.

The pattern also includes a French lesson with my lovely tutor Martine every second week.  (I confess there are a few holes in the pattern where the homework is meant to be.)  We usually start with a chat, all in French of course, to catch up on each other’s news.  I always try and incorporate some new vocabulary or a grammar rule that I’m trying to master, just to keep it a notch above a weather conversation.

This week’s new vocab included:

le désespoir = despair

se plaindre, (or gémir) = to groan

Yes I’m talking about les courses de voiliers pour la coupe de l’ America. 

I couldn’t see the actual races live; it was probably just as well, instead I watched a live blog on Stuff and I could feel le désespoir in Trevor McEwen’s words as they popped up on the screen.

Martine has a new Kiwi usage for her English repertoire:  “gutted”

French knitting soiree

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.

Tins of tea

Tins of tea

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.

Tricot soiree

Tricot soiree

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.

knitters in action

knitters in action

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.

Aimee from L'Oisive The

The friendly team from L’ Oisive The at Aiguille-en-fete (Aimee wearing orange scarf)