yarn shop visit: The Yarn Dispensary

One of my special skills is finding yarn shops at any travel destination.  No matter where I’m going, I manage to search out some yarny goodness, and it’s my favourite kind of travel planning.

So when The Amazing Molly booked us a weekend in Margate, I set to work.

I’d never been to the Kent Coast, so had no idea about the geography of the area.  However there was one yarn shop in Kent that I’d always wanted to go to, and I wondered if it was in the same general direction.

Checking out some maps gave me the answer I had hoped for:  with only a teeny-tiny detour, we could drive to Margate via Faversham, home of The Yarn Dispensary (previously known as The Old Pharmacy).  Hurrah!

I’d seen photos of The Yarn Dispensary online, and was drawn in by the sense of the history of the shop, and the beautiful apothecary styling.  I was certainly not disappointed.

The Old Pharmacy Faversham

The location is lovely, just in the middle of the town market square.  The owners Gillian and Sam were there when I arrived, and I got the most wonderful greeting!  I was so fortunate that Gillian even gave us a tour of the building and a bit of the history.  Of course my photos don’t do justice.

The Old Pharmacy

The building dates back to the 13th Century, and has a long history as a pharmacy in the town.  Gillian and Sam spent a year renovating the building before opening the shop in 2015, and it has been done beautifully.  The history!  The beams!  The wibbly walls!

collage

It’s also extremely functional as a yarn store, with lots of natural light and a lovely room out the back for hosting workshops.  I bet the knit nights here are fabulous.

IMG_0739

There was no way I could leave without a souvenir, and I knew I wanted one of the amazing “knitware” ceramics by Rose Dickinson.  They are all unique and locally handmade, and sell out as soon as they come in stock (I can definitely see why).  I chose this wee vase with a lovely green glaze, which is just perfect for storing loose DPNs on my desk.

new vase

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I get to visit again soon, and hopefully I’ll get to explore the local area too.  I can’t imagine a more beautiful, welcoming, historic yarn shop anywhere.

Advertisements

a knitter’s trip to Berlin

Last weekend was the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall.  I have vague memories of watching the news as a kid and seeing the wall come down, but unfortunately I was still in primary school so my knowledge at the time was limited.   However ever since then I’ve had a keen interest in Berlin, and have wanted to go there for years.   I had even started planning a trip a couple of years ago, and have the travel guide on my bookshelf to prove it.  For some reason, I didn’t go.

So when my last birthday rolled around, the Amazing Molly knew it would be the perfect place to go for my birthday weekend.

I knew I’d love the city.  I just didn’t expect to love it quite so much.

Love love love.

autumn in Berlin

 

It just seems to have a mixture of everything I love in a city: that great clash of history and youthful energy, amazing creativity, lots of street food, incredible markets, and a public transport system that includes trams.  What’s not to love?

We were only there for a weekend, but I’d desperately love to go back for longer (and I have no doubt that I will).  Here is a bit of an overview of some of my favourite bits.

Whenever  I travel anywhere I do my research beforehand and try to find the best local yarn shops.  Unfortunately that’s a bit tricky for a weekend in Berlin, as pretty much everything is shut on a Sunday, and yarns shops tend to close early on a Saturday as well!  That’s a helpful bit of info I wish I’d known before I went.

So here’s a list of  yarn shops in Berlin, largely for my own reference for future visits:

  • Die Woll-Lust  Mittenwalder Str 49, Kreuzberg (open M-F 11am -7pm; Sat 11-5pm)
  • Boucle  Nassauische Str 11-12, Wilmersdorf (open M-F 11am – 7pm; Sat 10-3pm)
  • Fadeninsel Oranienstr 23, Kreuzberg (open M-F 10am-6pm; Sat 10am-4pm)
  • Handmade Berlin Monbijouplatz 9 (open M-F 12-7; Sat 12-5).

Handmade Berlin also do coffee, apparently.

 

Handmade Berlin

 

In between trekking across town to peer in windows of closed yarn shops, we found some lovely little vintage markets dotted around.  There was one (can’t remember the location!) that was full of beautiful mid-century furniture.  I love the way that there would be tiny little stalls that would specialise in just one item, like milking stools or vintage sewing boxes.

 

vintage sewing boxes

No trip to Berlin could be complete without spending some time getting to grips with some of the history of the wall.  Although much of it is now gone, there are sections that are still intact, including some that ironically now have to be protected themselves.

We went to this section of the wall, known as the “death strip” as so many people tried to make the crossing through “no man’s land” between the two walls.

Berlin wall marker

 

IMG_4880

It’s so powerful to see the tracks marked out where people built tunnels to try to escape, now delineated through freshly mown grass.

Right nearby is the amazing Mauerpark Flea Market, which I believe is quite a Sunday institution.   It is definitely one of the biggest markets I’ve ever been to!  Every time we turned a corner, we would think “ah, this must be the end!” only to be faced with yet more stalls ahead of us.

IMG_4859

Vintage buttons: my favourite rummage.

vintage buttons

It has an amazing array of general jumble, furniture, clothes, and pretty much anything else you can imagine.  I could have happily bought enough vintage furniture to fill a whole house, but had to be more restrained.

We quite happily had a rummage through tubs of these and came home with a carry bag of knobs for a fraction of the price at Anthropologie:

 

IMG_4862

There are still market stalls selling pieces of “the wall”, but bear in mind that it is now estimated to have been sold three or four times over by now!

The market completely wore us out, but over to the side of the park is an open-air auditorium where street performers ply their trade to huge audiences.  It was amazing.  We originally just went to have a sit down for a while before doing more sight-seeing, but the performers were so good that we spent the rest of the afternoon there, and gave up  on the rest of the sight-seeing that we’d planned.

Next time, next time.

(PS  If you like Trippen shoes, I found the factory outlet store at Kopenicker Str 187-188, Kreuzberg.  Nearest U-bahn Schlesisches Tor.  Keep it a secret until I get to go back again).

sending yarn in to the world

The last few weeks have been even busier than usual, as I’ve been spending my weekends putting together a lovely stash of hand dyed yarn for a special wholesale order.  It has involved this:

  • Days spent over the dye pots, stirring up a mixture of new and tried-and-true colours
  • Keeping fingers crossed for some sunshine so I can get the yarn dry in between the spring rain
  • Re-skeining every single skein so they all look nice and neat and show the different tones of colour
  • Putting together a new logo and printing out brand new label wrappers
  • Playing with all the new lovely skeins, holding them up, shuffling them around, putting them in to piles, seeing what looks good together, and basically just admiring all the colours and textures (tell me I’m not the only one who does that…)

Once I’d finished playing, I put all the skeins in to a box,

 

IMG_5282

took one last look before closing the lid….

travelknitter yarns

 

and then hopped on a bus, and handed them over to their new caretaker, Anna at Wild and Woolly.  And I couldn’t think of a better home for them to go to!

The sun was streaming in the window, so we sat down with a glass of homemade lemonade and just enjoyed being surrounded by yarn.  The window display was just perfect for the occasion, complete with knitted deck chair and skein sundaes:

 

window display

There’s something about spending time in such a gorgeous yarn shop with someone who’s so passionate about the craft that has really inspired me to (gasp!) actually find the time to knit again.

Anna will be stocking my BFL Supersock, Tanami 4ply (supersoft baby camel and silk) and a brand new yarn, White Gum 4ply (it’s a UK exclusive!)  I’ll tell you more about that one in the next post…