When you travel, do you buy yarn? Do you make yarn shops planned stops on road trips? Do you ensure that stopping at a LYS is as important to your trip as cultural stops and other tourist attractions? Since delving deep into the Knitting lifestyle, local yarn shops are as important to me as which museums I’ll visit. I buy enough yarn from each shop I visit to make afghan squares, which one day will be complete and a lovely keepsake to the places where I have travelled.
In 2013, I took a few day ‘staycation,’ and I drove to Ottawa – The Museum of History, Bytown Museum, walks around Parliament Hill, every Canadian history dork’s dream. On the way there, I took a detour off the Highway and stopped in Kingston. Along with re-caffeinating at Starbucks and visiting Sir John A.’s gravesite at Catarqui Cemetery, I visited Knit Traders of Kingston and bought a lovely ball Diamond Luxury alpaca in a ‘Typical Me’ pink colour.
When I finally arrived in Ottawa, between walking, sightseeing and Museum visiting, I went to a small LYS east of the Rideau Centre. I was very saddened to see that it had closed when I returned to Ottawa a year later, but on my first and only visit to this shop, I bought a lovely blue skein of Diamond Luxury Collection Fine Merino Superwash DK.
In 2013, my knowledge of yarn was low. I didn’t appreciate the difference in DK to worsted, material content, or brand recognition; I did, however appreciate the colours of these balls of yarn, their softness, and that they made me happy. I also didn’t have a project in mind, as the idea of a keepsake afghan hadn’t quite materialized, but I knew they were going to come home with me, souvenirs from a well needed getaway.
When I visited Quebec City in 2014, I had knit the Ottawa/Kingston yarn into happy squares and was anxious to buy more yarn to help the blanket grow. Quebec City is such a lovely place to visit, steeped in history and rich with Quebecois culture. The handy Ravelry ‘Road Trip Planner’ informed me that while there wasn’t a yarn shop in the old part of the City, there was one on the other side of the St. Charles River. After I walked the 20-25 minutes to get there, I found a lovely LYS where women were buying yarn and sitting in the comfy chairs knitting. I found a skein of Briggs and Little softspun in a fun melon green colour; I knew it would work well with the bright blue and pink I’ve already knit with, so I bought it, along with a pair of handcrafted birch needles, made by River John Needle Company, based in Nova Scotia. I didn’t speak much French, and the LYS woman didn’t speak much English, but I thought back to Grade 9 French, remembered my “s’il vous plait” and “merci boucoup,” and the woman smiled a kindly smile at my while I paid for my purchase. I Googled the shop, so that I could get the name and recommend it if you were ever in la Belle Province, but Google has told me that Softi is ‘permanently closed.’ Again saddened to hear that a lovely little shop, with kind staff, has closed.
In 2015, I went on my fabulous cruise with my best friend, where we went to Miami, Key West and Cozumel. We couldn’t find any open yarn shops on the day we spent in Miami and was informed in Key West that it was too hot there to be knitting (they are doing knitting wrong in Key West), so I wasn’t able to buy any souvenir yarn on that trip, but in September of that year, my sister and I took a day trip to Kitchener, where I went to Shall We Knit and bought a vibrant purple skein of Cascade 220. It may not have been a true ‘Vacation,’ but my sister and I had a fantastic day together, I called the KW home for four years as I completed my undergraduate degree, and the purple reminds me of the purple of my school colours. I may have bent my rules for this yarn to be a part of the afghan, but I think they were bent for many good reasons.
This summer, I’ll be camping in Goderich, visiting a dear friend and, you guessed it, visiting museums and yarn shops. In late August, I’ll share my Museum stories and yarn purchases.