Aug 28, 2018
Shanghai is the destination for this week’s podcast, when I take
a trip to not one, but two yarn shops in the area to check out the
local knitting scene and the yarns on offer.
The podcast theme music is now available on iTunes for purchase for 79p. The track is ‘I Need a Drink’ by Adam and the Walter Boys, who allow me to use it on the podcast with their kind permission. If you’ve ever wanted to listen to the whole song, go ahead and download it now.
New Project . My new project is currently being built and some of the details have been sent to the VIP waiting list members, who have kindly agreed to help with testing of the site. If you would like to be one of the first people to get access to the site when it launches, you can join the waiting list and have advance notice ahead of the main launch. The site helps you find the perfect yarn for your project in one place, quickly and easily, so you can spend more time knitting. If you’ve ever been in the situation where you need a certain colour of yarn on a certain fibre blend base yarn and struggled to find it, this one’s for you. No more needing to go and search through multiple websites or take a chance at Etsy roulette when trying to find that perfect match. I’ve built the site to have specific search algorithms which will only serve you the yarn and colours you want, instead of a load of random tat a la Etsy. I’ll give you more details and the name of the site in the coming week or two but for now, if you want to get in there early, you can request access here.
Yarn Shops in Shanghai
First up I declare my undying love for the efficiency of the CRH railway system. I visited two yarn shops in Shanghai this weekend, one at either end of the market. This was a fascinating experience and I would highly recommend checking both out if you find yourself in the area. Both are under 15 minutes from the Bund are easily reached via a Didi or the Metro.
Heng Yuan Xiang Yarn Shop
Address: 358 Jinling East Road, Huangpu, Shanghai The company was founded in 1927 in Shanghai as a silky yarns company and produces a variety of goods including wools, knitting yarns, knitted apparel and home textiles. It is the largest annual seller of wool sweaters in China and has more than 100 factories. The brand covers more than 90% of the municipal market in China and became a state-owned enterprise in 1956. The knitting wool brand started in 1991 and in 1997 the brand expanded into sweaters, wool underwear and other knitted products. The company has 5800 sales outlets which run as franchises, with 375 million products available through these franchises. This shop is definitely on the bijou end of the scale, although it is easily identifiable from the street, unlike some yarn shops, which can appear to be ladies wear shops until you actually go inside. It is an Aladdin’s cave, literally full from floor to ceiling with bags and boxes of yarns. Yarns in these shops are usually displayed in boxes with clear plastic covers, which I assume are there to protect the yarn from dust or atmospheric pollution. There were a wide variety of blends of offer including merino, cashmere, yak, cotton, raccoon (!) and man made blends. The Beast selected a 70% cottony viscose and 30% wool in a fetching spearmint shade, at RMB48 or around £5.49 for 300g. I went for a 100% Australian Merino yarn in a guessing by eye DK weight at RMB 102 or £11.67. When in China it is rude not to try their yarns, so I decided to give it a bash and see how it performs for research purposes.
Lotus Yarns Flagship Store (Yarn Avenue) Shanghai
Lotus Cashmere Ltd started in 2007 with the Lotus Yarn brand being established in 2009. Lotus Yarns is the distributor for a low of western brands including Noro, Opal, Louisa Harding, Brooklyn Tweed, KnitPro, Brittany etc. The next yarn store was in the high end Western Joy City Mall. It is a new store which opened in January 2018 and is found on Level 6, the Creator level. It is set up in a very similar way to any western yarn shop in that all the yarn is open on the shelves in hanks or skeins, in easy feeling distance. This makes sense as it is inside a climate controlled mall so it is not subject to as much risk from dust etc. There was a good selection of samples as well as a wide range of notions on offer from familiar brand like KnitPro, Brittany, Clover etc. There was a workshop ongoing at the time I visited which prevented me from reaching the Lotus Yarns as they were behind a large table where the workshop was taking place. Also, it was not obvious who were the staff in the shop as they didn’t appear to have a uniform or clear name badge, and nobody came to assist us. It is definitely worth a visit as it is close to the tourist areas but expect to pay premium prices for the yarn on offer here, particularly if it is imported.
Full show notes and links at www.shinybees.com/119
Music for this episode with kind permission: Adam and the Walter Boys with 'I Need a Drink' available from iTunes.