Wednesday, 11 April 2018

A Timely Reminder

When I was a fledgling knitter, a new project began with a trip to the local wool shop.  This was not a joyous occasion for a wee girl.  The formidable shop assistant in the now long-gone Hosiery Shop in Ayr (shown in the vintage postcard below with the awning) guarded the wool behind her counter and appeared to sell it only grudgingly, and certainly not to unaccompanied children.


A trip to nearby Templeton's Woollen Mill wasn't much better as it was situated beside the abattoir and the smell made me cowk! (cowk : verb. Northeast Scotland dialect. to retch or feel nauseated)

I'm pleased to report that in the intervening fifty years (have I really been knitting that long?) wool shops have undergone a metamorphosis.  Here I am during last month's trip to London enjoying a mosey around Knit With Attitude in Stoke Newington.


Independent yarn stores are havens for crafters like me and sell beautiful wares, often artistically displayed in an atmosphere designed to stimulate creativity and are staffed by welcoming and knowledgeable owners and employees.  Wool shops are now high on my list of must-see attractions when I visit somewhere new.


It's not surprising then that, during a wee trip to Lisbon last October, I sought out Retrosaria Rosa Pomar in Rue do Loreto.  The store's website helpfully told me to look out for the colourful mailboxes to locate the stairs up to the shop.  (My husband found a sunny cafe-bar in which to enjoy a beer and watch the world go by!)



Inside Retrosaria Rosa Pomar I found a wonderful selection of yarns, many sourced and spun in Portugal, as well as fabrics and other locally produced goods.  Retrosaria means haberdashery in Portuguese.


The staff were friendly and allowed me to browse at leisure before I settled on my purchases.  But what to buy?  With so much yarn on display in a tempting array of colours it's easy to get carried away!  However I'd done a wee bit of research prior to my visit.  I'd already looked out a pattern which would suit the Portuguese wool.


I chose the Timely Cardigan by New Zealand designer Libby Jonson, who is known around the internet as Truly Myrtle.  Knitters and crocheters are blessed with a fantastic on-line community called Ravelry which is SO much more than a fibre database.  By searching Ravelry for yarns by Rosa Pomar I was able to see that Tracey in Germany had already knitted a Timely cardigan using Rosa's Mondim wool.  So, in the photos above, you can see Libby wearing her design and the same  cardigan pictured in two shades of Mondim which Tracey kindly gave me permission to use. 


So I bought a cute project bag and chose some of the Mondim. The yarn is fine Portuguese wool suitable for making socks and Mondim was a Portuguese village once famous for its sock knitting cottage industry.  I also had a plan to team my souvenir holiday wool up with some alpaca yarn.

The Lisbon mini-break was a treat to us for driving all the way to London from Aberdeenshire so we could help our two daughters get settled into their respective flats there.  The country-long drive enabled us to stop in County Durham and visit our friends, Lorna and Ian, and their flock of re-homed alpacas.  They're all boys of varying ages who've been cared for by Lorna and Ian, some for as long as eight years.

Lorna kindly let me choose some of the yarn she'd had spun from their fleece a few years ago by The Border Mill at Duns, in the Scottish Borders.


I thought the two yarns - the Mondim sock wool from Lisbon and the alpaca from Lorna's Mainsforth flock - would work well together.


So I started knitting my Timely Cardigan on February 12th.


And I completed it on April 5th.

I'm really pleased with how it turned out.  It's very light but also warm and will be perfect for Spring.

My Timely Cardigan will always be a lovely reminder of our trip to Lisbon (and to see Lorna and Ian and their alpacas en route) - a 'timely reminder' indeed!

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