25 March 2014

The Pesky Poncho, part 1

Last year, I fell in love. Well, sort of. Let's just say I set eyes on a particular crocheted garment whose pattern was conveniently provided by my favourite crochet magazine. None other than... drum roll, please...

the Bergère de France summer poncho!

Just look at it, isn't it absolutely gorgeous? So elegantly bohemian, effortlessly chic. Yes, as soon as I saw it, I knew I would make my own. I could already picture myself wearing it while strolling on the sun-kissed beaches of my native South of France, my first very own handmade crochet garment.

Only little thing... I did not like the colour of the original. Nope, not one bit. You see, unlike the dreamy vision who wears it in the picture, I have a very pale complexion, so put anything remotely beige on me and it's like camouflage. I simply disappear. No, I needed colour, and plenty of it.

My first move was to make a bee-line for the Deramores website and look at what other colours were available in the Bergère de France coton mercérisé line. You can find them here. Pretty enough, but... not what I was looking for. The trouble was, I didn't really know what I was looking for. So I started looking around for a colourful lace weight yarn, without much luck.

A couple of weeks later, I went to Belgium for a music festival and stayed a few nights in the lovely town of Bruges. Well, just around the corner from our hotel, and from this adorable little fellow by the way...

...I found the most amazing yarn shop ever. Although I didn't know it yet, because it was shut. And at that point, as if by providential intervention, the owner, who was still inside, saw me look desperately through the window, took pity on me, and reopened her shop just for me to have a look around. Yes, reader, that she did. I could have kissed her on both cheeks. She was the most adorable little old lady I had ever seen (no, no, I am not biased) and went to great lengths to try and communicate in English with us, for which I am very grateful, since my Flemish is not all that great. 

I quickly started browsing. The shop was like a grotto, with a bit of everything everywhere, and yarn that I had never seen back in the UK. Soon enough, my eyes fell on a collection of vibrantly colored skeins.

Variegated cotton yarn! That was it, I was in heaven. I frantically started rummaging through the various colourways, squeaking in delight with each and every one. The shop owner - perhaps slightly concerned by my emotional display - came closer, and proceeded to show me a lacy scarf in progress she was crocheting in the blue colourway (top left). We then started a conversation about various crochet stitches, which was slightly surreal since I only knew their names in English and she only in Flemish. Meanwhile, my poor other half was patiently suffering by my side.

I think the idea of using that particular yarn for the poncho came to me almost immediately, but there were three problems, of varying degrees of significance:
1) I didn't know yet which colourway I wanted
2) I only had 5 euros in cash and there was no card payment facility at the shop 
3) I didn't even know if the yarn was the right weight for the poncho

#2 was easy to solve: I would come back the following day after visiting my friend the ATM. #3 was not so bad either: I would check the exact weight of the yarn online as soon as I was back at the hotel, which meant I totally had to buy one skein just to make sure, right? If it wasn't the right weight, well so be it, I could still crochet something out of it, right? And one skein was only 5 euros! How convenient was this? Right? Right?

Ok, so problems #2 and #3 were kind of solved, or at least postponed. Problem #1 proved far more, well, problematic. I agonised over the various colourways for a few minutes, fully aware that this lovely old lady had probably had a long day and was looking forward to going home. So, in the end, I went for...

Isn't it dazzling? A true psychedelic firework! Look at the gradual blending of colours, so subtle, yet with such a bold result. I was in love, again.

We went back to the hotel, and I feverishly checked the weight of Bergère de France Coton Mercérisé, made a few calculations... aaaaaaand... the yarn I had just bought was bang on perfect! Joy of joys!!! I was one step closer to having my poncho. I simply couldn't wait to go back to the UK and start working on it. The following morning, with fresh cash in hand, I went back to the sweet old lady's shop and bought seven more skeins in my chosen colourway (plus one from the middle of the top row, and one from the left of the middle row, oh and one ball of crochet thread, just because I could). Incidentally, I was quite lucky, because she had exactly eight skeins in that colourway. I bagged them all and left the shop with a very broad smile on my face, dreaming of flowy ponchos and balmy summer evenings.

I didn't know what I was getting myself into.

To be continued... ;)

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