Tag Archives: Switzerland

Have clothes, will travel

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Clothing — and, specifically, wardrobe building — has been on my mind for a while now, but perhaps never more than when I’m travelling. Somehow, despite reading quite a lot about creating capsule wardrobes and personal uniforms, it never fails that the minute I get wherever I’m going and open my bag I realize that I’ve utterly failed to pack outfits. Instead, I have a bunch of pieces that don’t really go together in any kind of coherent way, soon to be immortalized in all my vacation photos.

Shaelyn and Grace, the absolute stars of my travel wardrobe.

Shaelyn and Grace, the absolute stars of my travel wardrobe.

Typically, this initial panic recedes a bit and I realize there was some method to my packing, but honestly, it’s definitely a make-do situation. How someone who reliably wears the same basic outfit everyday can be this inept I don’t know, but I think that maybe writing it down here will help me remember this failing in the future. Having spent the last ten days thinking about where I went wrong this time, I think I’ve narrowed down where my thought process went wrong:

1. We planned to split our time between hiking and sightseeing, so I needed two totally different wardrobes. I did really well on the hiking side (clearly what I was more worried about), and left the everyday/sightseeing side to chance.
2. Me Made May distracted me. I made the pledge knowing I’d be away for a third of the time, but I didn’t really think about how that would factor into my packing. I was doing really well and wanted to keep it up, but in general, my sewn pieces all require ironing, making them less than ideal for travel. I changed my mind about half way through packing and then didn’t compensate with my usual wardrobe staples.
3. I forgot about colour. My default colour is dark blue, which serves me very well, so why I decided to change it up for a holiday is beyond me. I mean, I packed my Grace cardigan for layering, but then also a pink t-shirt. There is zero logic in that.
4. I made a bad bet on the weather. If Switzerland had been warm and sunny, I think I would have been okay. But the first half of our trip was pretty cool, and since that’s when we did the bulk of our sightseeing (saving the nicest days for hiking), the skirt and dress I’d planned to wear were pretty useless, and the necessity of layering (and thus, the uselessness of the pink t-shirt) was pronounced.

It probably goes without saying that handknit socks are a staple. They saw me through hiking, sightseeing, and just hanging around the apartment. They are the absolute best.

It probably goes without saying that handknit socks are a staple. They saw me through hiking, sightseeing, and just hanging around the apartment. They are the absolute best.

All of this aside, I am thrilled to say that both my Grace cardigan and Shaelyn shawl saw regular wear and I’m not tired of either. I could definitely use some neutral handknits though, so I’m going to have to think about how I want to handle that. I had been thinking about knitting the Sibella Cardigan in a gold colour (I’m partial to Shibui Staccato in Brass, to be specific), but now I’m thinking I’d get a lot more wear out it if I knit it in a tonal grey — maybe Tanis Fiber Arts Slate or Charcoal? My Flukra is already a great neutral (why oh why didn’t I pack it?!) but I also have some Tosh Merino Light in my stash that would be a great neutral colour for an interesting but neutral shawl (Holden or Ishbel maybe).

As I’m mulling all of this over now, I thought I’d ask your advice. What are your wardrobe staples when you travel? Are you ever surprised by what you come to rely on? When it comes to your handmade wardrobe (knit or sewn), what are your favourite or most versatile pieces?

I’ve got myself to a place where I want to be really specific about what I’m making, and I’m with my sock drawer in good shape, I’m especially interested in garments and accessories. With Me Made May ending today, I will for sure be writing more about this in the near future, but with travel top of mind, I thought I should pull this out as a separate post.

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In the mountains

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I really thought I’d have time to post before now, but there’s something about going on vacation in the middle of the week that makes life crazy. I am in no way complaining though, because now we’re here, and it’s wonderful. L and I have been planning this trip to Switzerland for months, and it almost doesn’t feel real, but then we think about what we’re going to do tomorrow and it involves hiking to 2,000 metres in the alps and well, there’s no denying the reality of that (or the reality of how stiff my legs will be afterwards!)

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Anyway, there will be a more exciting, detail- and photo-filled post later, but I couldn’t resist posting these evening shots L took last night. This is the view across the valley (amplified with some zoom) and even though the clouds have been hiding the tops of most of the mountains, they work in our favour at sunset.

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Ah. So lovely. And more to come, I promise.

A Swissmas miracle

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Thank you all for your crossed fingers and sympathy! I’m never sure whether to post about bad news, but sometimes you just need to talk to people who understand. Anyway, this is a story with a happy ending: I got my knitting back!

Holiday socks!

Holiday socks!

The day after it went missing, my dad, Jenny (my youngest sister) and I went to skiing at Verbier. We left early, so I didn’t have a chance to go into the village and look for my knitting. I was pretty sure all was lost (I’m optimistic by nature, but sometimes it’s best to prepare for the worst), so on the way home, we searched around for a knitting shop where I could at least get another set of needles. It took a while, but we managed to get to a Migros, which is sort of like a Swiss Walmart, and they had needles! The selection was limited, but I wasn’t in a position to be fussy, so I snapped up a set of grey 2.5 mm dpns.

When we got back, though, my mum and Connie (middle sister) had big smiles. They’d been into the village to make some inquiries. Their first stop was the ski outfitter, where I was sure my knitting had fallen out of my bag, and it was there! Apparently, when they owner had arrived in the morning, my little knitting bag was sitting on the windowsill. They were apparently totally baffled by magic loop, but thought the self-striping yarn was cheating!

I finished the first sock this morning and am a couple of inches into the second one. I won’t have a new pair of socks to wear tomorrow, but I suspect I’ll finish them before my flight lands in Toronto on Thursday.

Merry Christmas to you all! I hope your holidays are wonderful (and wooly)!

The view from the refuge (at about 3,000 metres) where we took a coffee break yesterday. (Photo taken by my sister Jenny)

The view from the refuge (at about 3,000 metres) where we took a coffee break yesterday. (Photo taken by my sister Jenny)

A major snag

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You know how sometimes, when things seem to be going really well, despite all kinds of barely-avoided pitfalls? Well, it seems the other shoe has dropped. Today, after finishing the gusset decreases on my sock and getting over half-way through the foot, I lost my little knitting bag. In it was my yarn, needles, tape measure, and mostly-knit sock.

The view from the apartment early this morning. (Standing in the same place and turning 90 degrees to the right would give me the view from yesterday's photo.)

The view from the apartment early this morning. (Standing in the same place and turning 90 degrees to the right would give me the view from yesterday’s photo.)

I know it’s a small thing. I know that it isn’t a  make-or-break the holidays thing. I know I’m in Switzerland with my family. I know all of this, but still, I’m upset. You know how knitting is soothing and can helps manage stress? Well, I love my family, but sometimes when we’re all together I really need to knit, if you know what I mean. I knit during long car rides on impossibly winding roads, and while we’re sitting around together in the evenings, and especially on long transatlantic flights.

We were already on the road to Geneva to meet my sister's flight as the sun was just starting to break over the top of the mountains.

We were already on the road to Geneva to meet my sister’s flight as the sun was just starting to break over the top of the mountains.

I was, in fact, so concerned that I might get through my knitting early (and, at the rate I was going, probably would have had a pair of socks by Christmas) that I packed extra yarn. The rub? I didn’t pack extra needles. So now I’m here, with my knitting lost, extra yarn, and no needles. I’ve been doing some Googling and it looks like this is the closest knitting store, and it’s an hour away. I e-mailed the owner and I am super hoping it isn’t closed for the holidays. I have a long return flight alone, and without something to knit, that time is stretching out before me in a very daunting way.

I’m not without hope, though. I’m pretty sure I know where the knitting fell out of the car. We went back there tonight and no one had handed it in, but I was quick, so maybe they just hadn’t had time. I mean, who wants to hold onto someone else’s knitting, right? And any knitter would turn it in to the nearest shop or tourist office, right? (Right!?) I’m going skiing tomorrow and I’m going to spend the day believing in the goodness of people. Tomorrow evening, I’m going to make another round of inquiries with my fingers crossed.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Same mountains as the first photo, but taken from the road farther down the mountains and looking back north.

Same mountains as the first photo, but taken from the road farther down the mountains and looking back north.

(Since I can’t show you pictures of what I’ve lost, I thought maybe a selection of mountains would be in order.)

The view from here

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On Monday, I finished all my gift knitting. I can’t believe it took me this long to say it. I think, as crazy as this will sound, that I was worried that saying it out loud/in writing on the Internet would be the trigger to realize I’d forgotten about people and leave me scrambling. But that didn’t happen (yet) and now it’s too late – I’m in Switzerland.

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The view off over the village. It’s like a Christmas card over here.

Surprise! Yesterday, I left Toronto in huge scrambled hurry: not only did my sister realize her passport was expired – thank goodness we’re dual British citizens! – but it turned out my flight was not at 10:15 p.m. as I thought but instead at 5:30! Yeah, we’re disasters all around. But, it all worked out (holiday miracle!) and this morning/the middle of last night (depending on your point of view) we landed in Geneva. Tomorrow my other sister joins us and all five of us – my parents, my two sisters, and I – will all be together for the first time since last Christmas. Very exciting.

We dawdled on the way from the city to the little town where we’re staying, and the market in Lausanne had yarn for sale at the first booth, which I take as a good sign (I didn’t buy any, because I didn’t have any Swiss francs. Sigh) It got dark about an hour after we arrived at the apartment, but I’ll have more photos soon.

It's late in the day so the light is kind of crappy. The green isn't actually quite that dark, but you get the idea.

It’s late in the day so the light is kind of crappy. The green isn’t actually quite that dark, but you get the idea.

In the meantime, check out the progress on these Christmas socks! The striping is just perfect, if I do say so myself – they look just like the vintage Christmas balls that (I’m guessing) inspired the colourway.