Textiles

I know, I still have one more promised story. I figured you’d forgive me if I showed you the textiles I brought home from the fabulous trip. (Besides, I’m dealing with 8-year-old angst here – give me a small break.)

My favorite color in the whole world is green. If you could see both my yarn and fiber stashes, you’d be able to tell this right off the bat. Naturally, the first color I graviate to is…

Here’s my 7.50 euro/kilo yarn. It’s about sport weight, I think. I have no idea what I’ll do with it yet. It’s a lot of yarn for a shawl. On the other hand, it would be a pretty cool, very large shawl. I’m thinking along the lines of Cheryl Oberle or Meg Swanson – an heirloom shawl. I’ll let you know.

On our Thursday with our taxi driver, we went into Sintra. I asked him if he knew where I could get yarn. I wasn’t thinking clearly enough to have brought some with me, so he was confused. When I pantomimed knitting, he didn’t get it. So, I tried weaving – this he knew and lead me to a little shop called Casa Branca. They had every kind of linen textile you could want, from sheets and pillowcases (separately or in sets) to dresses. I picked out this table runner.

It’s folded over in the photo, but it’s about 2 yards long. Here’s a close up of my favorite part…

When I told Hub that I’ll use it for a dresser scarf, he said, “but how’s it gonna get under all the stuff on your dresser?” I elbowed him and told him to shut up.

After lunch, we went into Cascais. It was a lovely little city, but very touristy (right down to the “My parents went to Portugal and all I got was this T-shirt” – swear to god!). Anyway, we went into this little place that reeked of incense and found this tablecloth.

I fell in love immediately. I called Hub over and just shoved it into his hands, “Look at this, these are the exact colors I want in the Louisiana room!” I knew once it was in his hands and he could feel how soft it was and how well woven, it was mine. It’s 200 x 300 cm and should fit on Hub’s huge diningroom table. (It’s his, because he’s been looking for it for about 15 years and just found it at an antique sale last summer.)

The colors are so amazing.

So the walls of the Louisiana room will be the dark red and I think I’ll slip in some gold and orange stripes randomly. Any suggestions for window treatments?

The woman at the counter made sure to tell me it was woven in Morocco and that it was wool with the shinier strips woven of silk. I walked out feeling like I’d just purchased a treasure and couldn’t have been happier.

Where was I?

Okay, I have 3 stories to tell you about my trip (there may be more floating around in my head, but there are definitely 3).

Since we spent all day on Thursday with the taxi driver and my boss. Hub and I spent all day Friday just the 2 of us. I love my husband – really I do, but I am convinced that we should never spend more than 24 consecutive hours together. It’s just not healthy. I get snippy if I’m with anyone for more than 24 hours and with someone who knows how to push my buttons, I get downright bitchy.

Friday morning was fine. He had made it his personal quest that we find yarn in Lisbon. The woman at our hotel told us to either go up to the mall Centro Comercial Amoreiras or go down to the old part of the city, “I’m sure there’s something down there.” We head downhill toward the old part of the city and just drifted for quite a while. We sat in a cafe for a bit and Hub’s day was made when a guy came up and offered him a Rolex “cheeeep.” I had the best chocolate croissant in the world and we continued on.

I was amazed to see all the fabric shops in Lisbon. My theory is that since clothing is so inexpensive, maybe you can have something made for you and pay just a little more than buying something off the rack. Anyway, we went into one of the fabric shops to ask about yarn. I had a ball tucked into my little bag and whipped it out when the counter man came over to me (I still haven’t figured out what the Portugese word for yarn is). The man smiled very big and said, “Up next street, go left. Go left,” and he pointed to the left (natch).

So, up next street we go and then left. The shop was a little sewing notions place. They had every color of elastic in every width I could imagine. Their yarn selection included a 2 foot x 1 foot glass enclosed case that had acrylic baby yarn in 4 colors (green, yellow, white, and blue). I came out of the shop and Hub said, “Nothing, huh?” At this point, I had given up and we just wandered. Then I saw it, across the street in a HUGE storefront there was yarn. Hub said, “Wow, they even have skeins in the window!”

This was the biggest shop of any kind I had seen in all of Lisbon. They had floor to ceiling shelves full of yarn, plus big bags in the center of the shop. I went around putting my hands in every bag. When I had finally decided what color to buy, I approached the counter with my tentative, “Do you speak English?” The elderly lady shook her head and said something to the effect of “What can I do for you?” I pointed to the yarn I had picked out and asked how much. She pointed to one of the signs on the board above the yarn – get this – 7.50 Euros per kilo!!

When I ask what it was, she holds up six fingers and says “Seeex la [wool] and four acreeeleec.” Which I take to mean 60% wool and 40% acrylic. I ask “how much for a sweater?” She points to a spot on her hip bone and asks “about this long?” I nod and she holds up 3 and then 4 fingers and waves her hand around a little. So I pull out 4 skeins and pile them on the counter, pay my 7.50 and tell her obrigado and she smiles a big smile and says “tank you!” The whole thing made me feel good and Hub was relieved that he didn’t have to be on yarn patrol any more.

So, I ask you, why did he turn into walking Nazi that very afternoon? He decides that he wants to go up to the Amoreiras after all. It was uphill from our hotel, and it’s a mall – I DID NOT want to go. Since he had humored me, I was ready to humor him – so we walk uphill. And guess what – it’s a mall. It could be in any city in any country in the world, complete with the McDonald’s and a couple of tacky gag gift-type stores. He hates malls and pretty much as soon as we are in the place, he wants to leave.

So then he decides that we need to walk down to the waterfront because he had seen an English pub that he thought might be a cool place to go. Does he know which way he’s going? Does it matter at all to him that I’m wearing my sandals and not my comfy sneakers? Have I mentioned that he NEVER turns around when he’s lost, but continues to drive in the lost direction? Are you feeling my pain yet? After 2 hours of wandering around this city, I’m tired and cranky. We are in the residential areas and very clearly out of our element. (I’m convinced there’s a network of “menacing old ladies” who monitor everyone who comes into and goes out of their neighborhoods and when you leave their sight, they call the menacing old lady on the next block so she can keep track of you too.)

I’m getting slower and slower and eventually I step up onto a curb without realizing there’s something slippery on this curb. As I’m shifting my weight from right foot to left foot, my left foot slips on the grease. This causes me to stub my right big toe on the cement curb HARD (I did mention I’m wearing sandals right?). What does Hub do? He says, “Keep walking, it won’t hurt as much when you’re walking.” I’m standing on a street corner in a foreign city blinking back tears and he says, “Keep walking.” The weirdest part is, I keep walking (I didn’t start having homicidal thoughts until later).

He finally decides (about 1/2 hour later) that he’s found a suitable restaurant and we can stop walking. (I’d like to take this moment to point out that we did not eat at the English pub because once we got there, he decided it didn’t look as cool as he had originally thought.) I go in and immediately order Sangria and water and dont’ speak to him until 1/2 the Sangria has been ingested. Then I look at my purple toe and say (as menacingly as I can muster) “Oh, you’re going to pay for this!” After dinner, I made him take me to a taxi stand and get me a ride back to the hotel. As of today, most of the purple is gone, but it’s a very tender toe and I’ve pretty much played it up as much as I can.

Whew! That took lots longer than I expected. Can you wait one more day for the last story? It’s a good one, I promise. I also promise to bring pictures tomorrow. Come back, I’ll make it worth your while.

I’m a wanderer, yeah a wanderer…

I’m back and I’m not dead (more on that particular thought later) – just incredibly busy. I had over 300 messages in my e-mail in box; and I even turned off all my lists! It took me almost a whole day to weed through that. Also, why is it people want to leave voice mail messages even though you tell them you won’t be back for a week. I had 11 messages to respond to from voice mail – luckily it only took about an hour to take care of those.

Enough whining – here’s what you really need to know about Lisbon:

1. Lisbon is a warm place, while everyone in North America was enjoying moderate weather, I was getting dressed up in business clothes and having to take a cab for what would be a 10 minute walk to the conference. (My boss was worried about showing up a sweaty mess if we walked.) As a consequence of this warmth, there’s no need for wool yarn. I saw yarn in 4 shops. In 3 of those places, it was sport weight acrylic in pastel colors. More about place #4 later.

2. Don’t eat in the restaurants “section” of Lisbon. There’s a spot near the old part of the city where you’re funneled into this seedy looking area and the wait staff pounces on you and pulls you over to their menu pole. The menu pole consists of the restaurant’s offerings in every possible language you could imagine (seriously – Chinese is right there next to Norwegian). Suck up your fear of “but they won’t understand me because I don’t speak [fill in the blank]” and go where the locals go. Most of the middle aged and younger Portugese speak English and once I figured out that omelet is the same everywhere – I was a happy girl. (As a side note, I don’t eat seafood, so food was limited for me, but the lamb, chicken, and omelets were delicious – avoid the pork. Hub reports that the crab and shrimp were fab and a dish called Cataplana was the living end.)

3. Get Euros before you leave. The rate once you’re there isn’t good. I knew this was going to happen, but ran out of time before the trip.

4. Yes, they are offering you hash in the tourist section. Apparently, lots of people go to Europe to smoke dope (is my naivete showing?). I also heard the the penalties for being caught smoking dope in Portugal are very severe. We did not partake, but were offered at least 5 times on different evenings.

5. Make nice with your taxi driver. Boss and I got into a taxi after the conference on Tuesday and the driver started talking. “I can take you around Lisbon or around the area. We have many palaces, I can take you to see beautiful palaces. You can get a whole day or a half day – whichever you want.” He even had a tour book show he could show us where he’d take us. We “rented” this driver for the whole day on Thursday and he took us on a great tour. He was the nicest man – talked about his son, his life, knew quite a bit about what we were seeing. I highly recommend this.

My pictures are still on the roll, so to speak. So if you must see some cool things, hope over to this website to see pictures of Portugal. We actually went into the Palacio de Queluz in Queluz, Palacio Nacional and Palacio de Pena in Sintra, and the Cabo da Roca. We also shopped a little in Cascais. It was a good trip, exhausting, but good.

I’ll nab a digital camera tonight and take pictures of the yarn and other textiles I bought. I’ll also tell some of the stories – don’t you just love good travel stories?