When you are planning go to another country as a tourist, what are the things you do?
-Look up on the net about the country/city, may be consult Lonely Planet or Frommer’s,
-Make a list of the places to be seen,
-Read up about the history, art and culture of the place
-Plan an itinerary within the time you’ll spend there
-Check weather conditions and plan the clothes to be taken
-Also check if there is anything worth buying there, if so, where?
Well, a yarn-lover does all this, plus
– secretly (lest it gets shot down right at inception by the family members) looks up the locations of yarn-shops (thanks to Google)
-Checks up what all kinds of yarn is available there
-Get inputs from fellow Ravellers
-Checks and rechecks the secret stash of euros or whatever be the currency, which will be the key to owning the yarn
-And does not breathe a word about it to anyone.
So you see a yarn-lover/crazy person has much more to plan and prepare before she travels!
Since I was to visit Rome, Florence, Venice and Barcelona, my print out of shops ran into a few pages. After discussing with fellow Ravellers and reading up, the shops were star-marked with one, two or three stars. The schedule was tight so I have to read and re-read addresses and check up whether these were located near any of our other destinations.
Armed with all these inputs, when I landed in Rome and started my touristy tour, I realised that it is going to be a difficult thing to snatch away time to go to a yarn shop as there was so much to see, so much to imbibe and of course so much to enjoy. Despite that, one day while walking from Piazza Navona to another destination, we saw this yarn shop at the corner and yes, it was one of the listed ones! Daughter did not object much when she looked at my face. But unfortunately, language proved to be a barrier for communication. Asking for cotton/cotton blends in our rudimentary Italian, resulted in bringing out oh-so-familiar Anchor knitting cotton balls and nothing else. The shop had a good stock of wool and wool-blends but I picked up two balls of sockyarn and two lady-bug buttons and came out. So that’s the end of my yarn-sob-story in Rome!
Florence, our next destination, held more promise. The list of shops was long, with a few highly acclaimed ones. And every source spoke about the reasonable price. So I was more hopeful. In the train travelling to Florence, the-ever-so-hopeful-me gathered some courage and showed the list of yarn shops to daughter and she burst out laughing, “Ma, you can’t think of anything else!!” was the only comment and that definitely stoked the fire of yarn-purchase-hopefulness in me!
On the first day after visiting Duomo, Ufizzi Gallery and a walk on the Ponte Vecchio when we returned to the hotel, which was luckily very near Duomo, we were resting our tired legs and planning next day’s itinerary. It was then that my daughter said, there is a small slot of time after visiting Accademia available to us and may be that is the time we can go to your yarn shop. She, the navigator, looked up the map and stated it’s on the backside of Duomo and we can easily walk down to the place. It was a very happy sleep that I had that night with the dreams of sheep and fleece and colourful, soft yarn and what not!
After ogling at David for an appropriate but always-so-insufficient time and being awestruck at the genius of Michelangelo and marvelling the other objects of art in the Accademia, we walked towards the yarn-shop. The walk was accompanied by constant reminder from my daughter that, I should be quick with my purchases and should remember about the luggage restrictions and also the fact that, we are not visiting Florence solely to buy yarn.
Then we finally reached the doors of Campolmi Roberto Filati. The door itself was interesting enough to make one rush inside.
And the next moment my jaw was touching the floor! The shop was a fairly large sized one, in L-shape and there was cartons overflowing with yarns of all variety, colour and thickness in addition to the ones arranged on shelves on the wall. And there was a whole lot which was on sale for 2 euros a ball of 100 gms as prominently displayed. I almost felt like picking up whole lot of them in all the lovely colours, but then the constraints of luggage weight and your not being born in the Medici family, always pulls you back to to reality.
A further walk into the long arm of the L showed the display of lovely variegated yarn with knitted samples on display. The knitted scarves etc actually showed how the variegation will show up once knitted. What a lovely idea!
Then there was this whole shelf full of lovely mohair in yummmmy colours and at unbelievable price. By this time my daughter was equally taken up with the amazing array and helped me to pick some mohair for scarves for herself and her sister.
Thankfully in this shop there was this young girl who could manage to speak some English and we could communicate comfortably. She was indeed very helpful. What I really loved here was that all shop assistants were knitting sample pieces with different yarns. There was a constant flow of customers and they were being helped promptly too. With the happy smiles and chattering and the one or two balls that they picked up matching them with samples, one could make out that they were the regulars.
The young shop assistant confirmed that they have cotton yarn meant for knitting and then bought out a folder in which she had samples of undyed cotton yarn in different weights and ply and twists and she had a colour card with about 30 colours and said that each of the weights of yarn are available in each of the shades. That made my selecting difficult as I was liking almost all the colours but then my daughter stepped in and I purchased a deep red in sport weight.
After picking up some and taking out some a few times, we zeroed on our final purchase and the bill was made and paid.
I came out of the shop very happy yet with a heavy heart
-knowing that I’ll perhaps never visit this lovely shop again, and
-wishing that I had a LYS like this!!
I can’t end the story without this post-script!
When we reached Venice, I had realised I can not do any more yarn shopping as I may find it difficult to fit in all in my suitcases while returning to India (which did happen, part of my stuff had to be left with my daughter. Yes, you guessed right, mostly clothes and none of the yarn!). So the list was left in the confines of the suitcase in the hotel.
On the second day we were walking in the narrow one-of-their-kind lanes near Realto and soaking in the aroma of coffee and food coming from the numerous cheerful little cafes, the buzz and laughter of the tourists, the dazzle of the shops and what do we see……..a yarn shop tucked in between two souvenir shops! My daughter smiled and asked, do you want to go in? And I said, not really. The look of disbelief was clear in her eyes. I took out my camera to take a photo of the shop and exactly at that moment this lady was walking in to the shop. She said something to her companion perhaps daughter and the exasperated look of oh-no-not-again was written all over the young girls face!
I looked at my daughter and we exchanged a knowing smile! 🙂