L’Oisive Thé, 1 Rue de Jégo, 75013 Paris
La Bien Aimée, 27 Rue Paulin Méry, 75013 Paris
There are knitting shops and there are cafes, and it takes a certain genius to combine both to create a cozy salon like L’Oisive Thé. This inviting nook is utterly beguiling, with both the café and the yarn bits complementing each other.
Madeline Tosh Unicorn Tails.
Owned by Aimée, both L’Oisive Thé and La Bien Aimée are located in the 13th arrondissement. L’Oisive Thé has been going for seven years, and La Bien Aimée, which was started up to meet demand for some locally produced yarns, has been going for around two months.
Between them, both stores stock brands such as Madeline Tosh, Quince & Co, Jamieson, De Rerum Natura, Woolfolk, Freia’s gradient yarns and yarns by smaller producers such as Julie Asselin, Viola, and their own hand-dyed line, La Bien Aimée.
They run classes, and you’ll see from their Instagram stream that Aimee is a brioche devotee, with Stephen West having made a guest teaching appearance at the store. Fun, warm – and everyone I met spoke English!
La Droguerie, 9–11 Rue du Jour, 75001 Paris
This atmospherically moody yarn, ribbon, button, feather, ribbon, cotton, flower, leaf and bead haven is a handmaker’s paradise, and has a reputation as a Parisian institution. They stock their own line of yarns, so it’s a perfect place to stop by if you’re after a French souvenir.
They offer an extensive range of La Droguerie patterns and kits for adults, kids and accessories. If you choose and purchase a pattern, they can wind up the yarn for you at the back of the shop. A quintessentially French experience.
If you’re up Montparnasse way, the area near the Sacre Coeur still remains a garment and fabric district that draws many a costumier and designer. The largest of the stores is the Marché Saint Pierre: this emporium features five floors of fabric, ranging from the most delicate wedding laces to woollen suitings, exquisite French linens, toiles, cottons and more, all very well priced. This store exudes atmosphere: men walk around holding collapsible wooden rulers to measure and cut your bolt of fabric, then write out a chit for your purchases that you take to an old-fashioned register. The stairs and floors are wooden, the service old-fashioned, and the wisdom hard won.
The nearby Les Coupons de St Pierre sell ready-cut fabrics (usually bolt ends of up to 3 metres for about 10 euros, a terrific bargain).
Tissus Reine, also nearby, stocks the more upmarket range (think Liberty and laces).
Behind the Marché Saint Pierre are two yarn shops, one on Rue Pierre Picard and one on Rue Cazotte.
La Mercerie Parisienne is a haberdashery haven in the heart of the Marais that also carries knitting yarns (the alpaca is divine, and they also have the French brand Fonty).