You need to be flexible…

November 16, 2009

In order to live happily  in Mexico, I believe you need to be flexible.

  • Can’t find sage when you want to make Thanksgiving stuffing?  Buy Hierbas Finas and make do.
  • Can’t find lemons?  Use lime, or orange, or grapefruit, and discover how good and different it is.
  • Can’t find peanut butter that you like?  Grind your own or use Nutella.
  • Can’t find clothing that suits your figure?  Have a seamstress clone something you own and love.
  • Can’t find something – a birdcage – chia seed – heavy weight oilcloth – skip the phone book and just ask a (non-busy) vendor at the mercado.

Here’s an example of my latest adjustment.  I wanted to knit a dress for my granddaughter using some chunky yarn that her mother had bought for me to use.  I had a dress pattern that called for a gauge of 8 stitches and 12 rounds over 4″ using size 17 circular needles. I have size 15 circular needles, nothing larger. My gauge with the size 15 needles was 12 stitches and 15 rounds over 4″.  If I followed the pattern as written the dress would end up much smaller than desired.   No larger needles could be found in town.  I have size 17 straight needles but that would mean reworking the whole pattern to be knitted in pieces.  So I decided to knit the dress in a larger size, which will increase the number of stitches and should make up for the smaller needles.  Does that make sense?

Anyhow, this is not an ideal way to deal with the situation but other than searching for a different pattern,  I think it should work out.  When I used to live in the US I would run out on my lunch hour and buy the needles I needed without even a thought. Here, there is a lot of preparation and adjustment usually needed when doing any project.

One thing I should mention, though. In the picture above you’ll see the most recent issue of Interweave Knits, which I subscribe to and is delivered dependably to my door by the postman.  Now, if I could only figure out some work-arounds for some of the yarns and needles called for in its patterns!


Share and Enjoy !

More about Nancy

I'm Nancy, a US expat living in San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco after 11 years in Mazatlán, México.

    1. Nancy are you familiar with Ravelry ‘’. It is for knitters and crocheters. I see a couple of groups at Ajijic and one group that is in Spanish (not sure about it, my Spanish is bad!) Might be a source for some of those work-rounds.

    1. Nancy, when we lived in Alaska in the early 80’s (before Airlines had GPS) we had to make do with what we had and live with that in which we did not. Most things were perishable in nature or we would not receive mail for a week or so. It was a great learning experience and will be a skill that comes in handy when we move to Mexico.

    1. Life in Mexico teaches flexibility and patience. Are there any yarn stores in Mazatlan? There are a couple here in town that don’t look like much, but if you ask for something like special needles, they usually have them hidden in a box! I don’t knit, but I crochet a little. (Very little.) But everyone in town loves the yarn stores here because if the store doesn’t carry it, they’ll find it for you.

      I’ve also stopped trying to find any kind of herbs at the fruit/veggie stand at the mercado. I can always find what I need with the “Hierberos”, the vendors that sell herbs and spices for teas and home remedies. My mother-in-law stocks up on all of her herbs on Palm Sunday. There are piles and piles of every herb imaginable. Fresh, too. Everyone dries them at home.

      Can’t wait to see how that dress turns out.

    1. Makes perfect sense but what a PITA! In the back of my notebook, which I always have with me, I have a complete list of all of my needles. When NOB I pick up any I can find that are not on that list. If I find I need something special, I jot that down too. Sometimes you can get people to mule them down to you also.

    1. What about learning to spin? It is an ancient, ancient womanly art. For that reason alone I have always longed to try it.

    1. Your work around solution makes perfect sense to me. All this talk about knitting is making me kick myself for getting rid of my knitting stuff when we moved down fulltime. In the last few years in the states I didn’t knit a lot and I thought I would not knit at all here but you are making me want to pick up the needles again.

      1. Judy, Yes, I’m a member of Ravelry (love it!) and get lots of ideas and help from the site. There aren’t any groups in my area, maybe I will try to get one going. But I have never run in to anyone here in Maz who knits (except Susan, who was only here for 5 weeks!)

        Chrissy, I believe the ability to make do is one of those pioneer woman traits, and I pride myself on being able to figure a work around for anything. Sounds like you can, too!

        Leslie, Flexibility and patience, for sure! There aren’t any yarn stores in Mazatlan. A few mercerias carry a bit of yarn (like a dozen balls) and same thing in a couple of the big supermarkets. No one has any inventory of needles, a couple of places had a few but they were random sizes. Lots of crochet hooks here, and all the yarn is either cotton or acrylic. The only real old-time yarn art here is Huichol, which really uses string.

        Isla Gringo, I was really mad at myself this summer because I didn’t take a list of needles with me when I went north. And then I always think that I’ll go to Crochet when I’m in Mexico City and sometimes we get too busy to go there. But I think my work around will work.

        Christine, You need to live in a place with wool fiber available, and that’s not here. I know central Mexico and Oaxaca have more of a yarn history than here.

        Billie, Maybe you could just buy a couple of sets of needles and some yarn and see if you still enjoy it. Especially heading into winter I can imagine you sitting by your fireplace knitting. And you could actually use a vest or sweater sometimes, right? One of my challenges is that you NEVER need a sweater here in Mazatlan. If you need any patterns or books I have lots as pdf’s or I can send you some links to good online sources…

    1. When I saw the title of the post I nodded my head furiously. Indeed you do need to be flexible. Riding on a microbus in rush hour in DF when you’re 6 foot 3 inches is like taking a painful yoga class.

      Then I realised you meant a different sort of flexible 🙂

    1. I just finished a novel wherein the knitter, who opened a store called Spinning Forward, spins animal fur…there you go, Nancy, now no excuses for not weaving! (Oh, suuuure, Zoe)

    1. Gary, You are too funny!

      Zoe, I think maybe you should start first, since you have 5 dogs and I just have two!

    1. Hold on there, girl…it is ONLY four! ‘-) Actually one of them would be lovely…like cashmere….nah, think I will pass.

    1. Christine: As a male knitter, crocheter, spinner and weaver, I really take offense at your comment. Do some research. The hand craft arts were originally reserved for the upper class men and you had to be a member of a specific guild to participate. Knitter and other handcraft arts only crossed over into the world of women when it became a utilitarian task, ie. mittens, hats. Until then it was strictly an art form reserved for men. And Nancy, you can spin more than just wool. Hemp, bamboo, angora, cashmere, silk. llama, actually any fiber coated animal will do. Even camel and musk ox! Just saying.

      1. IslaGringo, I’m sure Christine didn’t mean anything by her comment! Many people might not know that about men and handcrafts. I really love the knitting and have always been interested in spinning, but I would probably want to be a helper to someone before I accumulated tools, etc. Do you spin any more?

    1. Nancy, I’m in Mazatlan for the week and learned to knit on the flight down from a nice lady who sat next to me. (i’ve tatted and done bobbin lace…but no knitting until now). I was lucky to find a “starter kit” in the airport…as i didn’t have time to run to the craft store before i departed! Even luckier to sit next to someone who could teach me!

      Alas, it is only my second day here and i am running out of yarn! I know the selection will be thin, but can you direct me to the *best* chance for yarn in Mazatlan? I’m staying at the Inn at Mazatlan, so the closer to here the better. I was thinking of trying the closest major supermarket perhaps….

      I found out i was pregnant last week (yay!) so i’d love some place that has yarn for babies…but I’ll take anything just so i can keep practicing until i get home and can get to a craft store.

      thanks so much! 🙂

      1. Jenna,

        Sorry that I didn’t get back to you before, for some reason your message got sent to my spam box and since we went on a trip to Morelia I hadn’t checked it. You are probably even home by now! So sorry! If not, I hope you checked Soriana and some of the mercerias downtown. There isn’t much selection but it would probably do for what you need. Sorry again for my tardy reply.

Comments are closed.