I've settled in and quit my bitching. I like Moscow well enough, now. Oddly enough, it's easier to enjoy being in a place when you have money, a phone, groceries, and know how to get back to your apartment.
Yesterday included much merriment. I went shopping with Annie, the other intern living in this apartment, and we went to a mall near Kurskaya station. It was my first trip to Rive Gauche! A French name, but only six letters long when transliterated into Russian. As someone who has a hard time taking the pronunciation of French seriously, I think this is hilarious.
Рив Гош is a cosmetics chain that carries many European and American brands. I picked up a few things (shampoo, soap, etc.), rather than shiny makeup, but I still got the fabulous bag.
Young Russian women carry these bags around frequently, using them as tote bags long after bringing home their purchase. (Russian men also will carry them sometimes, as a mark of having a girlfriend.)
After hanging around the mall, I met up with most of the other interns in Вокзал (Vokzal, 'train station'), a cafeteria/bar not far from the Language Link's central school. I met many people that I'd seen poking around the Facebook group, had some quality beer, and decent food.
Today was even more exciting. A couple of friends were heading to Izmailovskii Rinok, this big outdoor market that we tried (and failed) to find on Friday. However, instead of heading straight to the market with them, I decided to make another stop along the way...
...at Московская Шерстопрядильная Фабрика. The Moscow Wool-Spinning Factory.
Russia is an interesting place to buy yarn, in my experience. Thankfully, this store has everything available to be browsed and held and squished. (I didn't think to watch if Russian women squish and fondle skeins the way the yarn lovers I know do. They probably don't.) Some stores I've been to have everything behind a counter. One positive benefit is that yarn seems to be a lot less expensive here. The Russian market hasn't been saturated with indie spinners and dyers, so I only found things made by large companies, but it's quite cheap. There's a lot of acrylic going on, which I'm sure helps keep costs down, but I was able to find things without acrylic for reasonable prices, too.
So, the phrase рукоделия, or handwork, is how most yarn stores seem to be described. This means that embroidery usually has a section, as well, which you can see along the back wall of this picture:
I didn't find any books or magazines I really liked. I'm still not sure about the fashion in Russian pattern magazines. Also, the verb for knitting (вязать/связать), which is related to the word 'to connect', refers to both knitting and crochet. The two crafts are specified either with the appended phrase 'на спизах' (on needles) or 'крючком' (with a hook). So many magazines and books contain patterns for both crafts, which makes them less tempting to purchase.
HOWEVER: I did see a woman with this in her cart, and talked to her about it.
I told her it was my favorite book, and didn't really understand much of her response, but we did have a moment where we bonded over how hard it is to pick out yarn when there are so many good choices.
I came away with 10 skeins.
First, a fine laceweight in teal and purple.
Next, Australian wool, possibly for another Daybreak shawl, in navy and olive.
I was looking for sock yarn, but didn't find much. (Sadly, I realized that my favorite pair of socks is wearing through in the heel, and the yarn to beef them back up is in Minnesota. So I feel like I need to make some new socks.) I did find this, though heavily variegated, will probably work out fine.
I found many colors of a nice fingering weight made by Troitsk Yarn, a Russian brand that I'd bought some mohair from when I was in St. Petersburg. I immediately picked up some orange and teal the first time I saw it, and ended up coming back for a bright blue and light gray that will look lovely together.
Finally, while wandering near the back of the store where they have cones upon cones of lovely soft colors (they're wholesalers, too), I saw this little gem. Perhaps a little obnoxious, a little more glitzy than I usually pick up, but I think it will make a glamorous little shawl for the coming winter.
The laceweight, sock yarn, and sparkly yarn are all Семёновская Пряжа (Semyonovskaya Yarn), made by the factory connected to the shop.
All in all, the total came to less than $40, which seems at least half of what I'd expect to pay in the U.S. for similar products. So, I decided I had the extra five rubles (about 18 cents) to buy their fancy plastic bag, to carry everything home in.