I’ve travelled a lot this last year. I know I’m super lucky to have so many stamps in my passport, but it’s been wrapped up in a hard time too. The fiancé and I have been in a long distance relationship, and I’ve been living on my own for the first time ever in a difficult city without a big support network. Travel has been a lifeline, as much as a joy. When other people see “holiday” a lot of the time I see “return to a semblance of normality.”
But whatever the reason for all this travel, I’ve hit up a lot of local yarn shops in exotic places.
With all these trips comes a lot of time to contemplate the best way to buy holiday yarn while travelling. I went so far as to make a pros and cons list…
Reasons to buy holiday yarn while travelling
You will see a new part of the city. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a local yarn shop at the end of your street (like I did in a recent trip to Edinburgh!) you’ll likely have to hop a bus or catch the subway to get there. It’s a great excuse to see a new part of town which you’d probably skip otherwise.
Yarn doesn’t take up much room. You can totally squeeze a ball of sock yarn into your suitcase.
You won’t run out of projects. Ever run short of yarn on holiday? Without a stash to shop from, it’s a real risk. That ball of sock yarn could be a life saver.
You’re supporting the local economy. Don’t laugh! Local yarn store owners have to eat too. Even better if you can pick up something handspun or locally dyed… it gives back to the economy directly in a way your city taxes don’t.
Reasons not to visit yarn stores while travelling
Your travel buddies will get bored… eventually. Unless they’re also crafters, in which case, watch out!
Your suitcase is already full. Oh come on, you know you over packed.
Is seeing ANOTHER yarn store better than, whatever else is going on? I mean, forget the mitten, look at that view!
Once you’ve factored in the cost of airfares, that yarn isn’t that affordable.
Your pros and cons list might look slightly different to mine. If I’m going to spend more than two days in a new city, I usually try to hit a yarn store. If I’m only there a weekend, I try and hold off… most of the time. Here’s my usual criteria for souvenir yarn:
The best way to buy yarn on holiday
Don’t buy speculative yarn, or a sweaters worth of anything. Before you leave, bulk out your Ravelry queue with 1-2 skien projects… and only shop for your queue.
Buy “gift” yarn, so it feels like less of an extravagance. Baby things and amigurumi (of course!) are especially good for this.
Plan your trip around other things. I bet you there’s an interesting park/cafe/record store/cathedral/whatever within spitting distance of that yarn store if you care to look. Make a day out of it! My rule is that if it’s more than one kilometre from somewhere I’ll be anyway, it’s probably too far.
Don’t count on it. This yarn store is not your local yarn store. You may be disappointed by the stock and have to walk away empty handed. Don’t let it ruin your day!
Have I missed any tips? Tell me in the comments! And remember at the end of the day, it’s the experience that counts.
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I'm a kiwi living in Geneva. Knititng and crochet are just two of my passions! Read more about me. or working with me.