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Friday, January 22, 2010

Shop for Yarn, Needles, and Hooks Wherever You Go

Good morning,

My mother gave me some wonderful antique needles and hooks that are the basics of my treasured collection. I add to that collection by visiting yarn and needlework shops when I travel. My husband, Kjell, is an absolute gem by helping me find some very out of the way places. Today's musings and images bring back many wonderful memories of adding to my yarn stash and the items I have made with yarn, needles and hooks we have found in many areas of the world.

We wandered through a shop in a large upscale shopping area in Malaga, Spain, near the port, but didn't purchase anything. Not only were there no content labels on the products that had unusual and unpleasant odors, I was concerned about the dye being colorfast and/or toxic. It was fun, though, to see and touch the very different offerings in that store.

In Tønsberg, Norway, the oldest Viking town in Norway and where my husband was born, we visited a few different yarn stores: at one I purchased a large bag of Norwegian cotton; at another I purchased a specialty crochet hook. We were in both of those stores looking for antique bone hooks or knitting needles, but no luck. We visited several sweater stores and purchased sweaters in other Norwegian cities and towns: Oslo, Bergen, Flåm, Honningsvåg, and others. If anyone knows how to make beautiful things with yarn, it is the Norwegians. Helsinki, Finland and Tallin, Estonia, are other places to find gorgeous hand made sweaters and the yarn to make them; the shop pictured in the image above is only one of many, many sweater shops in Tallin.


In Civitavecchia, Italy, the port city to Rome, we purchased Egyptian cotton and crochet hooks at an outdoor street market.  I designed and made the outfit pictured on the 11-1/2" fashion doll to the right with some of that cotton; that doll and others are for sale here. In the Port of Villefranche, in the South of France, while our husbands were working, a friend and I took a city bus over to Nice to visit a yarn shop we located via the Internet. Sadly, we were very unimpressed with the French shop full of dirty, worn merchandise.

In Santos, Rio de Janeiro, and other cities in Brazil for several weeks Kjell and I never did find a yarn/needlework shop although we were assured they were there by the Priest from the Norwegian Seaman's Church in Santos. While giving us an insider's tour of Santos, he told us it wasn't safe for tourists to go outside the tourist areas and we took his good advice to pass on yarn shops in Brazil.

While cruising the waters of Eastern Canada we found many, many art, craft, and yarn shops, sometimes right at the ports, where yarn supplies and the products of talented artists were for sale.

Back in the good Old USA in Bar Harbor, Maine, my husband and I walked a couple of miles capturing digital images of gorgeous fall foliage to a yarn shop where we purchased beautiful wood-turned crochet hooks. Since then, my husband, a Maritime Marine Engineer who turns wood as a hobby, has made exquisite crochet hooks and needles for me. When we left the Port of Galveston, Texas, to drive to Cincinnati a few years ago, we set the GPS to Big Sandy, Texas, where we stopped in to see Annie's Attic. What we found was a darling little store out on a country road with creaking wood floors and merchandise tightly displayed in two or three small rooms. The lady there said they have a large warehouse nearby where they ship all the items that have been available by mail order from Annie's Attic for years. I bought some beads, large spools of embroidery ribbon (I knitted and crocheted with it - fantastic!), and crochet hooks. It was fun to walk through the very old country store that is at the home address of a very large mail order business.


Last month I mentioned Kjell and I have often walked past a yarn shop in Key West, Florida, but it was never open when we were there. Yesterday I hit the jackpot as I went ashore to mail some items and buy shampoo while my husband was busy working. The shop is Knit Wits, 218 Whitehead Street, which is in the old downtown section of Key West. The lady eating her lunch when I arrived, presumably an owner, told me it is the only yarn shop within 200 miles. Although there is not a great volume of yarn displayed, there is a wonderful variety of specialty yarns. It was worth the stop to look around and I purchased three hanks of yarn that you see in the picture. The larger hank on the right is Conilette Jitterbug made in Wales; it's a sock yarn and includes a pattern on the label. The green/white Linen Tweed is from Universal Yarn, Inc., and is made in Turkey.


What will I make with these new additions to my yarn stash? I'm not sure. I rarely buy yarn for a specific project, but ideas flow as I visit my stash in the "yarn room" at home or the yarn I have with me while I travel. I buy yarn when I see something I really, really like and eventually, I make something that I really, really like with it. Hmm, I wonder what I should make with this pretty pink yarn today....

Of course, I have favorite haunts for yarn purchases closer to home, too. Shop for yarn, needles and hooks wherever you go. You won't be disappointed.

Lois

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