Three countries in one weekend may sound impressive, but when it takes on average 20min to cross any given border, it's really not that much of a feat.
We started east to Germany and the town of Trier - a nice, mid-size sort of sensible town which reminds me a little of where I grew up in Sweden, with a market, a department store, a proper fabric shop and a couple of nothing-fancy-but-perfectly-useful yarn shops. Wolle Roedel is a German chain of shops, selling mostly their own brand yarns and a good range of KnitPro needles. They have yarns for every use, especially a big range of commercial sock yarns (including Regia) and a great choice of cotton yarns in lots of happy colours, perfect for baby blankets. It's a really nice shop to go in to - not as touchy-feely as more arty ones, but all neat, colourful, rows and clear labelling.
We had lunch at my very favourite place in town: Biogate - a huge health food shop serving food on a counter in the middle of the store. They run a choice of 5 dishes of the day, always vegetarian and super fresh - not the kind of stewed, stodgy food you might associate with that kind of place. I always come away from there feeling like I've topped up all my vitamin levels for the next 6 months.
We didn't have much time as we still wanted to make it over to Belgium that afternoon, so I quickly ran to the Orthopedic shop in search of some Birkenstock sandals for the summer. I love Birkenstocks and a couple of years ago, I discovered that you could get the basic models much cheaper from these dusty old shops that sell support tights and other such glamorous things. I really enjoyed supporting this old fashioned little place, but unfortunately, it is now so old fashioned that the couple running it are about to retire and therefore had about 5 pairs of shoes left in the whole shop and none of them in my size. Still, it was fun while it lasted.
The other thing Trier has in spades are Konditoreien - pastry shops and cafes. We really didn't have time for a sit-down coffee and cake but couldn't resist buying a couple of slices of the glossiest, most beautiful chocolate truffle cake - to be enjoyed on my mothers vintage china when we got home.
We then drove on to Belgium and the small town of Virton. This is a whole new discovery for me this year - noone could have expected that such an unassuming place in the depths of rural Belgium would actually house a proper quality yarn shop! But La Compagnie des Laines does exist - and they are currently test-knitting the Luxury Lace yarn by yours truly with a view to stock it soon!
They also stock a range of Rowan yarns, Malabrigo in several thicknesses, the Wall of Holst that the owner Ornella and I are posing in front (in my Holst jacket. not that I wore it there to show off or anything...) and lots of Lopi yarn - they seem mad for Lopi over on the continent!
Finally, we popped in to yet another surprising place: the Atelier Patchwork a Ruette. Ruette is a village just outside of Virton and in the village there is a house with a car mechanics one side and a tiny patchwork and embroidery shop the other. Marylene runs embroidery workshops from there and I needed to go in and see her to drop off some samples we'd been working on.....but more on that soon ;)