Traveling knitter: Three countries and three amazing yarn stores – Part 1

Many times when I’m planning a vacation or work trip, I’ll do some research ahead of time to locate the yarn stores and decide which ones I want to visit. And other times, I consciously steer clear of the temptation to fill any spare room in my luggage with yarn by not doing any research at all. But, even when I’m trying to be good, the yarn sometimes finds me.

For a number years I didn’t travel much. It seemed like I was constantly changing jobs or moving from apartment to apartment in New York City and then finally to my home upstate. All that jostling about in my daily life made me want to stay put whenever I took vacation time from work. But I’ve been striking out again recently and have rediscovered how much joy I derive from traveling. Getting to shop in new and interesting yarn stores is just icing on the cake. I reported in earlier posts on a few wonderful shops in Montreal and London. I’m happy to say that I’ve also found some real gems in Ireland, Berlin and a suburb of Montreal.

Last year in late September/early October my family and I did a 10-day self-guided tour of Ireland, starting in Dublin in the east and making our way west to Galway and Connemara. It was there that I started and then eventually had to rip back my Waiting for Rain shawl. Lesson learned: don’t pick a project with a somewhat complex lace pattern when traveling with family. The distractions made for more errors than I could overlook. Once home again though, I did manage to wrap the project up, and I was thrilled with the results. So, even though I didn’t actually keep a lot of the work I had done on it while in Ireland, I still think of it as my Ireland shawl.

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I checked out two yarn stores while in Dublin. One was a dud from my experience, so I won’t even mention the name of that one. The proprietor or person working there that day was not in any rush to be helpful or welcoming, so I spent all of a couple of minutes looking around and then left. But tucked inside an indoor shopping center just around the corner from Trinity College was the lovely This is Knit. The proprietor was charming and gracious, giving me a tour of the shop and explaining how the yarns were organized. I always like to buy yarns from local producers when I travel, and the hand-dyed skeins I brought back from Dublin are simply gorgeous.

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I would highly recommend this shop to anyone making a stop in Dublin. If you’re traveling with non-knitters, the rest of your party can stroll the Trinity campus or take advantage of the multitudes of other shopping options in that area. Don’t let them rush you, though, as there is much to see in This is Knit, and you’ll thoroughly enjoy your conversations with the proprietor and staff. It turns out that even as far away as Ireland, mention of the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival elicits sighs of envy from knitters and yarn enthusiasts.

And though it wasn’t strictly a yarn shop, I have to give honorable mention to this gift shop in County Galway on the rugged west coast:

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I bought a somewhat coarser black wool here in a quantity that I hope is enough to make a cardigan some day. The wool in Ireland, I was told at This is Knit, does tend to be on the rough side, so many dyers will get their wool from outside of Ireland (think: Hedgehog Fibers in Cork, which sources its wool from South America). But the thick, hearty stuff I bought on the west coast will definitely make a lovely garment – one even suitable to the chill climate that assaulted us with while we there in late September/early October. While in County Galway we were often lashed with a very cold rain, but we tried not to complain, because we were rewarded for any discomfort we endured. Turning 180 degrees from the front door of the shop pictured above, we were greeted with this scene:

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And the pub just down the way took care of removing any remaining discomfort with pots of tea and a delicious potato soup accompanied by brown bread and Irish butter. Though Ireland’s weather may chill you to the bone, its people will more than make up for it with their warmth.

 

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