Monday, September 09, 2013

Yarn overload

I recently traveled to Helsinki, Finland and Tallinn, Estonia, two places where a knitter can definitely find wool. On top of that I made a pilgrimage to Wollmeise Mecca, otherwise known as Rhorspatz & Wollmeise. It's a small shop in a small town in Germany, and is the source of a yarn that has such a following among knitters in many countries that there are 12 groups on Ravelry devoted to acquiring and knitting with the yarn. Since I only live about 2 hours away, I knew I would eventually have to check it out.

So as a result of visiting these three knit-friendly places, my stash is overflowing even more than before.

First up: Helsinki

Helsinki is a nice city that is not too big and not too small. It's not very old as European cities go, and it has a fairly new, modern vibe to it. One of the tourist destination spots is the Market Square. The daily market that sets up there sells fruits, vegetables, and flowers but also plenty of touristy trinkets and reindeer related paraphernalia for the cruise ship and ferry crowd that come in from the nearby docks. However the market, at least on the Saturday we visited, also had a number of stalls selling handcrafted and artisan items of wood, metal and fiber. The one selling yarn attracted me like a moth to a flame. I was at first paralyzed by indecision over which beautiful yarn(s) to purchase, and then I saw the perfect solution - a kit to make some mittens! I only had to decide on the color scheme: winter, spring or autumn.

I don't know if this man knits, but he was very helpful and nice, and spoke English

I'm an "autumn" so I went with that color scheme.

A closer look at the yarns in the box:
 My husband probably was thinking, "Yay, she's found her yarn, now we are done." But then we went to Estonia the next day.
Estonia is a much older city than Helsinki, and the old two-part Medieval city is a huge tourist draw. Many tourists come on either cruise ships that also stop at Stockholm, Helsinki and St. Petersburg, or they just come from Helsinki for the day, as we did. However, we weren't looking for cheap beer like many Finns we encountered on the trip back. The old town seems perfectly made for tourists with picturesque views, restaurants and shops galore. Shop after shop sold mostly machine-made fair isle sweaters among other Nordic and Russian related goods. We peeked in a few, but I was hoping to spot some actual yarn for sale, not sweaters made in southeast Asia. Fortunately Estonia is tech-friendly and using free WiFi and a Bing search, I quickly discovered there was a section of the old town we missed. The blogger I found wrote that among the stalls of machine knit sweaters there were some storefronts selling yarn. With a few hours left until our return ferry, we made our way down there and lo and behold, I was in yarn heaven. The first two stores had a nice selection of yarn but I'd read that the best was at Jolleri Kasitookamber, located at Muurivahe 11 in Tallinn. And it was. I looked past the Italian imported yarn and found what I'd come for: real wool at really good prices.
The storefront
I have no idea what the words at the top say, but I recognize "yarn" and "wool" and that's all that matters!

What's in that big blue bag?

Something to spin: pencil roving

Something to weave with: a basic natural color wool that I can use for warp, dyed or plain
And something to knit with: maybe I'll make those Finnish mitts in the Winter colors!
Now, on to Wollmeise. I'd never heard of Wollmeise before moving here. When I was perusing the forums on Ravelry to find a local knitting group, I read about knitters organizing trips to go buy it. The store is only open on Friday and Saturday and not every weekend. There are only a couple online sources to buy the wool - directly from Wollmeise or from Loopy Ewe. If you're interested, this website goes into all the details, so I won't repeat them here. Suffice it to say that I bought some Wollmeise yarn.

Yes, it's a big bag, but it wasn't full of yarn.
What's inside the bag.
 (click on the picture to go to the set in Flickr)

 So this should keep me busy for a looooong while I think. And hopefully I won't be traveling to any super-knitter-friendly countries soon, because now we all see how I don't have much will power!

Friday, September 06, 2013

Malmö, Sweden

Malmö, Sweden, a set on Flickr.
Trying to catch up with some photos. Here are some from our trip to Sweden and Copenhagen over the July 4th holiday. I didn't take all of these, my husband took some too although I don't know which ones.