Well, sometimes it is easy to get side-tracked from my knitting projects and that is what happened.  Instead of starting my French knitting project, I opted to knit a sweater and a hat for the newest member of the family, who was introduced to everyone at Thanksgiving.  The latest issue of Cast On magazine (from TKGA) has a wonderful pattern for an infant that is easy to follow.  I used an organic cotton yarn, Katydid, from Classic Elite Yarns.

Dusty pink organic cotton cardigan (size 6 mos) and matching hat

Dusty pink organic cotton cardigan (size 6 mos) and matching hat

So, now that this Christmas gift is completed, I can get back to the project I have wanted to start for quite a while.  Actually, I have started this project many, many times and have had to unravel all the knitting.  Wrong yarn.  Wrong size.  Last night, I finished the back so I am pumped and ready to dig in and complete this long vest.

The pattern I am using comes from La Droguerie, a French knitting company that has shops in large cities throughout France.  (www.ladroguerie.com)   Each time I go to Paris, I make sure to go to 9, rue du Jour to check out what’s new at La Droguerie.  Besides, this shop is in the old food district of Paris–Les Halles– and walking down the winding streets in this area is a bit like stepping back in time.  The shop gets its name from its former occupant, a pharmacy.  Inside the shop are reminders of the building’s previous life:  yarn is displayed on hooks previously used to display food.  Buttons are displayed in drugstore cases under glass.  Ribbons are along the walls and beads are in apothecary jars.  La Droguerie has its own line of yarns and its own patterns, which are sold either individually or in books.  The pattern I am currently working on comes from the book below:

Petites Pieces et Petits Plus signes:  la droguerie

Petites Pieces et Petits Plus signes: la droguerie

This book has very stylish knitted vests, boleros, sweaters, hats and scarves for children, adolescents and adults.  I have made at least three patterns from this book for little girls and have found them to be easy to follow, even though the instructions are in French.  The adult vest I am working on is called “le gilet long Senlis femme” or Senlis long vest for a woman:

le gilet long Senlis femme

le gilet long Senlis femme

I am knitting this long vest with yarn purchased on our most recent vacation in France.  While visiting a festival for “Les Fruits d’Automme” in Brittany, we found a knit shop and learned that a company has recently started selling yarn from sheep raised on an island off the northwest coast of Brittany:  l’Ile d’Ouessant.  The Ouessant sheep are small.  In fact, I read that they are the smallest sheep in the world.  Anyway, we tracked down a wonderful knitting shop in the town of Bruz, Bretagne, where this yarn is sold.

L’Atelier LDJ (http://site-enova.com/minisite/latelier-ldj/) at 15, place de l’eglise, in Bruz is worth a trip to Brittany.  Beatrice, the owner, sells fabulous yarns and is a delight to talk to.  She does not speak English, but is very patient, as are all French people, with tourists who attempt to converse in French.  I spoke with her over the telephone before driving to Bruz and she made sure to have enough of two colors of yarn for me.  Two colors?? Yes, the Ouessant sheep produce yarn that is either grey (gris) or dark brown (marron foncee).  No dyes are used, so the yarn is a natural color.  It is exactly the right size for the Senlis vest.

Les Toisons Bretonnes, Laine de Bretagne

Les Toisons Bretonnes, Laine de Bretagne

Pelotes of the yarn are sold in 100 gram/200 meter hanks for Size 7 – 8 needles (US).  More info about this yarn:  www.lestoisonsbretonnes@laposte.net

It is definitely time to get started on the two front pieces of the Senlis vest!