The quest for souvenir yarn

Hello! It’s Allison here again as Louise is busily editing patterns in the book and teasing out some photos of the new knits on social media (follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for all the sneaky peeks.).

This is sneaky peek at Trailblazer - which Louise is editing while I take over the blog today!

This is sneaky peek at Trailblazer – which Louise is editing while I take over the blog today!

I’ve been on holiday in Canada popping into yarn shops where I can and I thought it might be fun expand on the idea of souvenir yarn shopping that I mentioned in the holiday knitting blog post and share my tips. I hope you’ll share yours in the comments!

Do your research.
When visiting a new city or one I haven’t been to in a while, I like to check out KnitMap as well as Ravelry to see what knit shops are in the area. Ravelry is excellent for getting other knitters’ recommendations on shops, but Google is also helpful in identifying blog posts that people may have written about their own yarn-y visits.

New-to-me Ontario indie dyer Dragon Strings, and on an unusual Donegal tweed base too! OOAK!

New-to-me Ontario indie dyer Dragon Strings, and on an unusual Donegal tweed base too. OOAK!

Next, I check out the various shops’ websites to see what offerings they have that are of interest. You’ll have your own criteria to apply but I generally look to see what brands they carry, if their yarns are from natural or non-natural bases, how they support local artisans or indie-dyers and what local products they have on offer that is unique to their location or the city I’m visiting.

Another Canadian indie-yarn - this one is self-striping by TurtlePurl.

Another Canadian indie-yarn – this one is self-striping by TurtlePurl.

Once I’ve identified a shop (or two or three) that I want to visit, I generally narrow this down based on how much time I might have to visit a shop, or the shop’s proximity to where I’m staying. For instance, when I was in Vancouver recently, there’s a shop about a half hour’s walk from my brother’s flat – really easy for me to get to and without having to ask him for a ride across town like I’ve done to see other shops on other visits.

IMG_5871

My annual knit night in Calgary. A really wonderful group!

Be social.
One of my favourite things about the shop I visit most often in Calgary is that they have a regular knit night that I can usually get to while I’m visiting. Even with only visiting once or twice a year for the last three years, these ladies are a terrific and welcoming bunch.

Even if you can’t indulge in a knit night, take the time to chat with the owner, staff, or other knitters to find out what the local knitting scene is like where you’re visiting. These conversations can offer all kind of insight as to what products are popular, if there’s a KAL happening in the shop, or if there are any special classes or events happening while you’re in town.

These buttons and Christmas ornament are by a local Toronto artist.

New acquisitions need not be limited to yarn! These buttons and Christmas ornament are by a local Toronto artist.

Not all purchases need to be yarn.
I’ve been going Cold Sheep this year and trying not to acquire too much new stash. That being said, souvenir yarn and purchases are things that I tend to put on my exemption list. Last year I found some fabulous local yarn that was from Alberta alpacas, shorn and spun up and sold all within about 200km of Calgary where I was buying the yarn. Doesn’t get much more local that that!

Aside from yarn, in most LYS’ there are other handmade goodies to tempt us knitters. In Toronto recently I found the most amazing pottery buttons, as well as project bags – both by a local maker. Some shops even have their own in-house label yarn or custom colourway which can also make for easier remembering of where you picked up that souvenir. And there’s usually always local indie-dyers and designers, and books to go along with them too.

My new reading - history with some patterns throw in for good measure.

My new reading – history with some patterns throw in for good measure.

In the Okanagan Valley I picked up a great book that has some history and stories from the Coast Salish Knitters of Canada’s west coast – knitters of the famous Cowichan sweaters. I’m really looking forward to digging into it. Happily, I found out about the book by chatting with a local knitter about her project and found out about it and the class that had happened at the shop recently. If I hadn’t had that conversation, I might not have noticed the book on the shelf – and even better, I scooped up the last copy.

Wherever your travels have taken you this summer – even if it’s only across town – I hope you’ve found time to visit a new, or new-to-you, shop. Please leave your tips for souvenir yarn shopping in the comments below too – I always appreciate learning new ones!

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