Tuesday, 21 June 2011
The ‘mystery’ socks of yesterday are a mystery no more. The elusive ball band was the first thing I laid eyes on when I opened the top drawer of my chest. The drawer where I keep all my odds and ends of knitting-related ephemera. Like my button box, instructions for a basic sock pattern, swatches and ball bands. That’s obviously why it was the last place I looked for a ball band!
So, the newest socks are knitted in Lang Jawoll Magic. They are currently drying after their post-construction wash and are fluffy. The second pair of fluffy socks in a row. I have two sock knitting aims to achieve in the second half of this year. One is to knit a patterned sock, probably lace or cables. The second is to find my perfect everyday sock yarn. I love Colinette’s Jitterbug, but it makes quite thick socks and it’s expensive enough to be a bit of a treat. I am looking for a lighter-weight, wool yarn with a very smooth finish.
So, I thought over the next few days I would write a quick review of three ‘local yarn shops’ that I visited during the spring. I’ll try to be fair, but at the end of the day they are my personal viewpoint on the shops.
First up, during March, was a trip to Les Tricoteuses in Holt, Norfolk. Holt is a small market town near the North Norfolk Coast and a bit under an hour’s drive from my home town of Norwich. The yarn shop is fairly new (opened October last year I believe) and just establishing itself. It is located in a little precinct of small modern shops, most of which sell jewellery, antiques/bric-a-brac, crafts-inspired clothes, that type of thing. I really liked this shop a lot. Although small, it was quite airy with plenty of room to look at the stock which was predominantly at what I’d call the ‘accessible luxury’ point in the market. Yarns that are a bit special, but that you feel you can treat yourself to. The internet lists Debbie Bliss, Louisa Harding, Noro and Fyberspates, but since my visit they have started to carry some more affordable yarn from Bergere de France too.
The owner, Mary, was nice and chatty, and told us a bit about her background. My friend (who very kindly drove me there – it would have been an hour or more on the bus) got lots of advice regarding a jumper she’d seen in a magazine advert and Mary helped her track down the pattern book and ordered it for her. In the meantime I discovered and grabbed a pair of KnitPro Nova metal single-point needles which I’d been longing to try, then I delved through a basket of hand-dyed yarns from The Natural Dye Studio. These were definitely the high point of her stock for me. Absolutely gorgeous fibres and colours. I bought the pink and green Dazzle HT (100% Blue-Faced Leicester) which I used for the waistband and cuffs on my Hybridisation sweater, and the pink Dazzling (55% Blue-Faced Leicester 45% silk) which I used for my Marion Foale Inspired Cowl. I coveted a gorgeous blue 100% silk yarn but reluctantly put it down as I couldn’t afford all three and I felt I’d had rather a surfeit of blues in my life at that point. My other purchase from the shop was the Schoeller & Stahl Fortissima sock yarn.
To sum up, although I can imagine some knitters finding this shop a bit too elitist in the brands it carries, I loved it. It had a nice, comfortable atmosphere which encouraged browsing and the owner was delightful. Carrying a good brand of 12” single-point metal needles was definitely a plus as a lot of knitting shops seem to prefer to stock 10” and 14” and miss out on the perfect length in between.
Would I return? Oh, yes, even though it’s a bit of a trek out for a non-driver. Holt is a lovely town for a day trip (so long as it’s not a Monday when everything closes!!) and there are plenty of other things to see including art galleries, clothes shops and lots of jewellery shops. And there is the gorgeous Byfords cafe where I can thoroughly recommend the Eggs Arlington (Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon instead of ham) followed by Treacle Tart.