One of my favorite cities in Texas is none other than Austin. Austin is our state capitol and home to the University of Texas Longhorns. Austin hosts the Austin City Limits music festival (just ACL for the locals) and the South by Southwest (sxsw) music and film extravaganza. For the young – and young at heart – there’s the nightlife on 6th Street. Go antiquing on South Congress (SoCo) and watch the bats come out at dusk from underneath the South Congress Avenue bridge. There is no end to the things that Keep Austin Weird!
A place as groovy as Austin is bound to have some awesome yarn stores. Here are three that are sure to please.
Me & Ewe is located in a cute cottage with bright yellow and aqua trim – very Austin. The front room is full of lovely yarn.
Adjoining the main room is a smaller alcove where you ring up your purchases. Hanging along the entryway were these adorable, handmade Barbie clothes. It turns out that when a customer found out she was having a baby, she began meticulously hand-knitting a closet full of dress-up clothes for her future daughter to play with. Alas, the daughter never quite got into dolls and the wardrobe was mostly unused. It is now lovingly in display at the shop.
There are two more rooms in the cottage dedicated to fabrics – lots and lots of fabrics. I loved the modern prints.
The third yarn store is not actually in Austin, but about 40 miles east in Paige, Texas. It is absolutely worth the side-trip.
Shortly after the holidays, I bound off a couple of pairs of knitted socks. Who thought making socks would be so exciting? For the first set, I used the popular Monkey Sock pattern by Cookie A. I understand why so many knitters use this sock pattern. It is easy and produces a sock with interesting undulations.
For the yarn, I used the skein I bought at Seaport Yarn in New York City. I really loved the purples and blues mingled together. When I was done, they badly needed some blocking.
I looked all over the web for a pair of sock blockers and found several good candidates, but frankly, didn’t want to spend the money. So I made my own! After perusing several “how-to” articles, I settled on How to Make Your Own Sock Blockers. The instructions were clearly laid out and the materials easy to find – placemats from the dollar store!
After cutting them to size, I used a hole puncher and some leftover yarn to tie a loop so I could hang them up to air dry. The tops of the blockers are a bit topsy-turvy but they did the trick.
The pattern is more visible after blocking.
For the next pair, I wanted to use a self-striping yarn. This bright red, yellow and black yarn is from the Yarn Barn, which I posted about recently.
Where else would one find a barn full of yarn but in Texas? In actuality, the Yarn Barn is housed in a sweet cottage with a porch and old wooden floors. You walk through the various rooms realizing that this was someone’s home once upon a time. It is a quaint cottage full of beautiful yarn.
Today’s Yarn Barn is under new ownership. When I lived in San Antonio, the old Yarn Barn was my LYS. I remember when they were closing – their lease was up and they would have to find a new location – so the owners decided to retire. I was so worried that the Yarn Barn would cease to exist! But not to worry. Enid came to the rescue and kept its doors open.
The new Yarn Barn has a wonderful selection of yarns in all fibers and colors.
The Yarn Barn also caters to needlework beyond knitting and crocheting and has an extensive selection of canvasses and threads for needlepoint, cross stitch kits and some weaving supplies.
The Yarn Barn is located at 1615 McCullough Avenue in San Antonio, Texas. Parking is a challenge, especially if you park out front, but they do have overflow parking across the street. The location is a bit off the beaten path – not much retail around it – but accessible from IH35 and the McAllister Freeway (U.S. 281).
I’ve been furiously knitting socks lately. As soon as I weave in the ends of one, I immediately cast on another.
I have always found knitting to be soothing. As I knit, I can feel worries and angst slowly evaporate. Mostly, focusing on knitting helps me drown everything else out. For those moments, I am in a state of calm.
Lately, a sadness has enveloped me. Nothing has happened. On the contrary, I am living a blessed life surrounded by people whom I love and who love me. I want for little. I am very fortunate. But I am sad. Often.
It comes and goes. At this moment, all is joyous and warm. But some days, just getting out of bed and dressing seems like an insurmountable challenge. Maybe it was a case of the holiday blues. Maybe it’s hormones. Maybe it’s just life.
The one activity that helped me through the holidays was knitting. Knits, purls, yarn overs and slipped stitches forced me to focus. The rhythmic motions of my hands on the needles soothed me. I was creating something and in that process of creation I found peace.
I have read articles (like this one and this one) where experts share results of research studies on the positive effects that crafts like knitting have. They serve to reinforce what I already knew – knitting is like “chicken soup for the soul.” Knitting to me is comforting. And it snaps me out of my doldrums. A simple pair of socks is a victory to celebrate.
There is something incredibly special and satisfying about making something with my own hands. I am reminded of a few lines from one of my favorite poems:
And in time, I plant geraniums
I tie up my hair into loose braids,
And trust only what I have built
with my own hands.
From Beneath the Shadow of the Freeway by Lorna Dee Cervantes
The last sock that I knit fit perfectly. Now to cast on the second. A warmth fills my heart and a smile lights up my face as I reach for the yarn and needles.
For our holiday in Stockholm, we found the most adorable apartment through Airbnb. Monica’s apartment had everything we could possibly need – a comfy living room, narrow but incredibly well-organized and stocked kitchen, and a fold-down bed that didn’t take up much space. The lift to the third floor was one of those old-fashioned ones that just fit two people and had a metal accordion door. The apartment was located only one long block from the metro. The SoFo (South of Folkungagatan) neighborhood was very eclectic and bohemian with antique stores and fab pubs nearby. My husband and I wanted to just take up residence in Monica’s apartment forever, but we figured she needed it back eventually.
It’s impossible to visit Sweden and not run across yarn shops. Yet another reason why I ❤️ Sweden. I had a list on the ready for our forays around town. Our first stop was Stick it Up, located in SoFo only a brisk 15 minute walk from Monica’s apartment.
Stick it Up is a small shop with a nice selection of yarn in natural and man-made fibers. The owner was kind and friendly and explained the sources of the various yarns. I narrowed my selection to these 100% wool skeins intended for Lovikka mittens, which the owner explained were traditional in Sweden. Once home, I looked up the history and found a nice summary about the origin of the mittens on the Heart of Lovikka website. I brought home two skeins of a lovely green (not pictured here). Stick it Up is located at Ringvägen 64, 118 61 Stockholm, tel. 08-642 00 13.
Content with my purchases, we headed over to Gamla Stan to explore the old town center. As we meandered through the cobblestone streets, I spotted this in a dark window – yarn!
Alas, as I got closer, the shop was closed. All I could do was cup my hands against the window and look longingly at the baskets full of yarn. The shop was tiny, meant only to walk in, buy and leave. Makeri 14 is located at Köpmangatan 14, 111 31 Stockholm.
The next yarn shop was located near a statue of St. George slaying the dragon. I easily spotted it because this was hanging outside the door.
Anntorps Väv was also somewhat small but had a luscious collection of yarn in natural fibers. Just look at these 100% silk beauties in the window! The proprietress spoke a little bit of English and I spoke not a bit of Swedish but we managed to point and understand each other perfectly. The silk is spun for the store and she hand dyes it in these jewel-tones.
The other reason the shop is small is because this large loom takes up most of the space. When we walked in, the proprietress was weaving on it. In the store were large fluffy blankets she had woven on the loom. Anntorps Väv is located at Österlånggatan 11, 111 31 Stockholm, tel. 0046(0)8 676 00 23. It’s a few doors down from Stockholms Gästabud Bar and Bistro where we had those fabulous Swedish meatballs (pictured in previous post).
Window shopping in Gamla Stan is heavenly when you spot things like these skeins.
Galleri Yamanashi is located in a largish space in a busy corner with large windows facing the street. The gallery is very nicely laid out inside with plenty of room to look around. Throughout the space, there are examples of tools used in the spinning of yarn.
Their selection of yarns was nicely curated and presented. There were natural skeins of wool in burlap sacks and dyed skeins in large baskets. A large wall cubby housed skeins in various weights and colors.
During my visit, the shop had a special exhibition showcasing entries from the 2015 Wålstedts Textile Art Contest. The contest is a knitting and weaving competition between Sweden and Japan using Wålstedts yarns. To see the other winning entries in both weaving and knitting categories, go to galleri-yamanashi.se.
I was curious about Wålstedts yarns. According to the gallery’s website, the Wålstedts spinneri is one of the oldest spinning mills in Sweden dating back to 1934. Their fibers are sourced from Swedish sheep and have been cleaned, spun and dyed by four generations of the Wålstedts family. The following video from the Wålstedts Textilverkstad website depicts gorgeous Swedish country landscapes and the process the family uses to make this beautiful yarn.
There were several bags full of wool fibers from the Wålstedts factory dyed in rich colors around the gallery. Galleri Yamanashi is located at Köpmantorget 1, 111 31 Stockholm.
The final yarn shop I visited was Sticka, also located in Gamla Stan. At the entry, I was greeted by this ferocious ceramic bulldog – too cute!
The interior of Sticka looks more like a clothing shop than a yarn store. Displayed on racks throughout the space were beautiful, airy knitted items for purchase, such as shawls and sweaters. They had a small but nice selection of yarns from various countries but not too many local yarns. Sticka is located at Österlånggatan 37, 111 31 Stockholm, tel. +46 8 23 37 37. For some reason, the website will not display but here is a link to their Facebook page.
That concludes my Swedish yarn crawl. I know there were many more yarn shops that I could not possibly visit during my stay. Good enough reason to return one day!