My husband travels a lot for work. I do not. So, when he came home recently and said he had been asked to speak at Oxford University in England, I looked at him and said, “I’ve never been to Oxford. I’m going with you.” And so begins the tale of how I discovered a fabulous little yarn store in Bath, England.
We had a week in England — a couple of days in London, a few in Oxford and a free day in which we decided to visit Bath, a centuries old town which is nestled in the River Avon valley in the southwest corner of the country. This beautiful city is known for its ancient hot spring baths which were built by the Romans. Little did I know it would also be home to, Wool – Bath’s Finest Knitting Emporium. If it weren’t for their little sign sitting at the top of the lovely little lane they were on, I would never have found it.
Karen and Fran were working in the shop that day. When I walked in I explained I was from the States and was beside myself that I had actually found an English yarn store (I didn’t find one in Oxford, but since then I’ve found out that there is a wonderful haberdashery there called, Darn It & Stitch.) I asked if they had any yarn that was indigenous to the area. Karen’s eyes lit up and she headed for the shelves. First she showed me a yarn called, Kingsfold Cottage. It is a 100 percent “Ethical Wool” and spun from rescued Cotswold/Dorset sheep. I had to purchase a skein because anyone who is helping save sheep from slaughter deserves my support! She then showed me Wool’s own labeled yarn produced by The Natural Fibre Company using pure Teeswater sheep fiber. The Teeswater sheep originated in Teesdale and are occasionally, but incorrectly, called Teesdale. Once numerous to the region, they are now quite rare, but their beautiful fine, long white fleeces are very attractive and make a beautiful yarn. I bought 2 skeins in Moss Green. Stunning!
Finally, Karen brought down from one of the very top shelves a box about 3″ x 10″ in size. She looked at me and said that only 1000 skeins of this very special yarn have been produced. Each skein was numbered, and no more would ever be made. I was intrigued. She opened the box and showed me the limited edition card. This particular skein was numbered 906. She then unfolded the tissue paper it was wrapped in and handed me the most exquisite sapphire blue lace yarn spun from merino, silk, royal alpaca and silver sparkles that I have ever seen. “Why?” I said. “Why only 1000 skeins? You could sell this yarn forever, it is so beautiful.” “Because”, she said, “it was spun in celebration of the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.” “Oh, I MUST have this!” I said. The yarn was produced by Fyberspates (the sapphire color and the silver are said to represent THE ring — you know the one I’m talking about, right?) A shawl pattern was also designed especially for the yarn by Anniken Allis. I don’t think I will be knitting the shawl though; this yarn is just too pretty in the skein.
Who knew that our short little day trip to Bath, England would garner so many wonderful purchases for a knitter! I’m heading to Italy next month and can only imagine what wonderful knitterly things I will find. In the 1400s, wool cloth produced in Florence by the Umiliati monks was the most expensive and most sought-after cloth in Europe, so my guess is I’m going to find something worth purchasing!
Laurie Gonyea is a regular contributor to Creative Knitting magazine and Annie’s. She is also the owner of Feel Good Yarn Company specializing in fair trade & American made yarns. Laurie produces her own line of yarns, LanaMundi Yarns (meaning yarns of the world), sold exclusively by Feel Good Yarn Company. LanaMundi’s first offering is SilverSpun, an American made cotton yarn spun with pure silver. Visit her website at: www.feelgoodyarnco.com