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Why I Seek Out Yarn and Fabric Stores Around the World

Some travelers seek out the same stores that are in their home town, just to see if they have different products in a different city. Some seek out totally new stores and stay away from places they can get to when at home.

For me, I like to track down a local yarn or sewing shop. I love to crochet, knit and sew (though I haven’t had much time for the latter in a long time!). And I love touching yarns and fabrics dreaming of what they can become!

Knitting or crocheting while traveling is a great way for me to relax, pass the time and create home-made gifts. It’s perfect to keep busy on a plane during the time when all electronics must be off. I can multi-task and also read when I’ve got a repeat pattern that doesn’t take a lot of concentration.

In case you’re wondering if you can bring needles on a plane, the answer is yes in the U.S. The TSA rules on this are at http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/assistant/editorial_1252.shtm. The rules may vary for international airlines. You may want to bring needles made of bamboo or plastic (rather than metal) just to be safe so they don’t think you have a weapon in your carry-on. If you’re not sure what airport security rules will apply in the country you’re visiting, contact your airline or the local tourist board for advice. Knitting needles and crochet hooks are always ok in your checked bag, but that defeats the purpose of having something to do while on the plane.

Yarn is also an ideal take-along item because it fits so easily into your bag. It can work as a cushion against breakable items and can be squished into small areas in your luggage. I will often work on a project until it gets a bit too big to travel with, then I’ll finish it up at home. Ok, I do have a few projects at home (make that a half a bedroom-full!) waiting to be finished. I’ll get to them eventually (along with eventually fitting back into my size 8 clothes . . . but that’s another story).

This photo was taken at the Karmin Garn & Gaver (yarn and gifts) store in Kristiansand, Norway. There were several already-made items on display that I liked so I asked for the patterns. Fortunately the store had these patterns; unfortunately they were in a language I couldn’t read. The owner of the store gladly gave me the book name and pattern number and I will search for the patterns online.

Karmin Garn & Gaver, Kristiansand Norway

If you are going to buy yarn, buy enough. It may be impossible to find the yarn elsewhere and the dye lot will most likely differ. So if in doubt of the quantity needed, either buy more than what you may need or wait until you know for sure, even if it means buying it at home. Since I may not find any of these wonderful wool yarns in Orlando where I live (nor have I ever seen this much yarn in one place!), I’m buying more than what I think I’ll need just so I can enjoy these yarns.

Enjoying local stores is just one way I experience a city I’m visiting for several reasons:

  • I am able to get products that I cannot get at home;
  • Interesting store personnel are usually full of local information and very willing to share;
  • I get to experience parts of a city that may not be in the travel guides and I get more of the local feel since most of these types of stores (yarn and fabric, at least) are off the main tourist areas; and
  • It’s fun!

Fabric stores are another love. I visited Kreativ Quilt and ran my hands through several bolts of quilting fabric. I debated whether to buy several fat quarters (new placemats, perhaps?) but I did restrain myself. If my husband saw more fabric come into the house, especially with his shirt that’s been waiting on the machine to be resized for <cough, cough> years, the discussion wouldn’t be pretty!

So I’ll be very happy with my yarn purchase and start a new blanket project this week while I’m in Norway and leave the fabric for another time.

Share what type of stores you like to seek out when traveling to a new city! Sharing projects sitting on your sewing table are welcome too!

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