A Postcard from England

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, Laurie, Fran

Karen, Laurie, Fran

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!

Teeswater wool

Teeswater wool

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.

Royal skein

Royal 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!

Bath, England

Bath, England

 

   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

10 Responses to A Postcard from England

  1. Diana P Martinez says:

    Wow! Seems to be pure luxury! What a special surpise!

  2. Margaret McCamant says:

    What a lovely story about your discoveries in Bath! I go with my husband to Oxford every other year when he exhibits his hand-printed books at the Oxford Book Fair. I’ve only found one yarn source in Oxford, a shop in the covered market that sells hand knits to raise money for a charity. They sell needles and some yarn, mostly acrylic. I tracked down another store once, only to find it had gone out of business. I found needles, but no yarn, in an art supply store in Oxford. The clerk there sent me to the covered market. It may be that I’m operating in Oxford without a car, so am limited to places I can figure out how to walk to.

    • Laurie says:

      Hi Margaret. Next time you’re in Oxford you should try and find Darn It & Stitch. I think they are down Blue Boar St. next to the Town Hall.

  3. Lorraine Watts says:

    You are so lucky to have been able to go to England firstly and then to find such a wonderful yarn shop on top of it. I have just got back to knitting and have found a shop a few kilometres from where I live. They have knitting classes and luckly I have been able to take them and make some wonderful friends by doing so. I hope that you find some wonderful patterns to use the yarn that you purchased.

    • Laurie says:

      Hi Lorraine – I’m so glad you have returned to knitting. It really is a wonderful way to make new friends. I just joined a weekly knitting group in my neighborhood and have met some wonderful women, each one bringing a unique perspective to the craft.

  4. Shirley Rudd says:

    This is a lovely story about the wool shop in Bath. I will be traveling to the Kiel/Hamburg area of Germany in July and August, does anyone have suggestions for a knitting shop in these locations. Thank you!

    • Laurie says:

      Hi Shirley – I don’t know of any shops in Germany, but I’m sure someone out there does. Should you happen upon one, please let me know. Who knows I may fine myself in Germany someday!

  5. Janette says:

    I went to college in Bath, to study Home Economics, for 4 years. It is a beautiful place, and I have since taught food and textiles for over 30 years, never once feeling reluctant to go to school. A special place, with a special shop!
    Janette

  6. Elizabeth Phillips says:

    Wonderful story! I too love to find yarn shops in my travels. My son is is in the Air Force and stationed in the UK and we have had several opportunities to visit, and I have have found some lovely places. There is a shop in Lavenham, Cafe Knit, and I am able to keep up with their activities thru their Facebook page.
    You are so fortunate to have found the yarn that you did!

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