Have you heard of a béguinage? Don't feel bad if you haven't; I didn't know what one was until I went to the one in Leuven, Belgium the other day.
Quite a place, yes? Some of the most remarkable buildings I've ever seen. So the Béguinage. It's a little hard to capture in photos, but it's an island formed by splitting the river into two canals, and then filling the whole things with a little brick and cobblestone labyrinth of tiny houses and yards.
It's like a little medieval planned community, full of religious ladies. They were all widows or spinsters (hate the negative connotation of that word!). The women wanted a life devoted to faith, but didn't want to take vows or lose their independence, so these totally awesome places were built where they could support themselves with their own labor rather than religious charity (though I believe they accepted that as well). What kinds of skills do these spinsters (hint, hint) have? Spinning, of course!
Belgium was a big center for linen production, and I can only imagine the amazing tools that must have been everywhere in this town back in the day. It would be awesome if it were a living history type place, but instead, it is housing for college students and professors. How many other college kids get to live in a UNESCO World Heritage site?
So then I went to Paris. I could say a lot about that, because, well, it's Paris. Have a few thousand words worth of photos.
Suffice to say it was beautiful and magical and delicious. Perhaps the best thing in Paris is the art. I couldn't take any photos of the art at the Musée d'Orsay, but I did get a few at the Louvre. The painting is a Vermeer, and the girl is making bobbin lace like I saw in Bruges. The textiles are all Coptic.
Despite my traveling, I've had plenty of time to knit and spin. Not having a job will do that to you. So I'll show you some yarns I've finished recently. I don't know why I brought mostly teal/green fiber with me to Germany, but I swear those three are different yarns. They are Merino/silk/stuff, Gotland, Tunis, and merino/angora, going clockwise from the upper left.
Someday soon I'll share my knitting with you, because I've been doing that, too!