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Homespun Living in a New England

Cold, isn't it?

Monday, January 27, 2014
For a limited time, bundle up with 20% off everything in my shop, using code WINTER2014.

Sale's over; thanks for your support!

More Handspun Cowls

Sunday, January 26, 2014
Hi there! Here are three more of the cowls I've been working on lately, big and squishy and colorful and damned warm. 

This first one is shorter, almost like a (gasp!) dickie, meant to fill the space between coat collar and the rest of you. The handspun ribbing at the top is a mix of BFL and hand carded, hand dyed alpaca, so it's very soft against the skin. In the middle, the pink yarn is some reclaimed wool that I over dyed in shades of bright pink, with a simple slip stitch pattern in purple wool corespun.
This is a longer cowl with a great drape to it, done in a mix of alpaca and sparkle corespun (the green and purple) and BFL/alpaca two ply handspun. There are a lot of great colors and textures mixed all throughout.
This last piece uses dramatic stripes of over dyed reclaimed yarn in several red tones. In between, I used a mix of my various handspun yarns, including corespun alpaca/wool (with sparkly bits), plied alpaca in pinks and greens, and plied BFL/llama in blue, green and white.
I must say, these are super fun to put together--and to wear. I made myself one that I've been getting quite a lot of use out of. It's cold outside! Head over to the shop, where I'll be adding a number of these cowls in the next few days.

Yarn shoppin' in Santiago, Chile

Friday, January 17, 2014
So: my very dear friend got married in Santiago last week. I was lucky enough to be able to attend  the wedding, which was beyond wonderful. I'll share a bit more about the trip in general soon!
The view from St. Christopher's Hill, Santiago 
What I wish to discuss now, however, is one very specific aspect of the trip--yarn shopping. 
I suspect I'm not alone in that, when I get the opportunity to go somewhere new and exciting, I set aside a certain amount of time to find the fiber supplies in that place. Remind me to tell you sometime about the full day I spent hunting down yak wool in Northern India (I found it! But it wasn't easy).

Knitting themed ad at the Santiago airport. 
Of course, South America is known for producing lots of fiber--especially llama and alpaca, as well as the fleece of a rare and very soft animal known as a vicuña.
Mama and baby vicuñas (source)
Well. A few years ago when I was in Bolivia, I bought some beautiful lace weight 100% alpaca yarn, with which I was quite pleased indeed (and which was significantly less expensive than it would have been in the States). I wasn't really able to find shops with a large selection of weights and blends, though. On this trip, acting on a tip from a fellow crafter at the wedding, I did quite a bit better. 

Santiago, it turns out, has its very own yarn district.

And here's what I got: Three skeins of bulky, thick and thin wool; one skein of bulky mixed alpaca and wool; three balls of sport weight 100% baby alpaca; and three skeins of worsted weight alpaca and wool blend. I was also unable to resist a hairpin lace loom, and a small (20 by 20 cm) wooden peg loom (not shown). I was, needless to say, quite pleased.

I'm terrible at directions, so I won't even try. I do think I can provide enough info for somebody else to find the shops; there are probably around ten of them, and they carry a wide range of yarns, from acrylic to cashmere. Most of the yarn brands I haven't encountered in the US before, and the prices are absolutely lower than I'd expect to find where I live. So, if you're every in Santiago, here's what you do: Go to the Mercado Central (which is easy to find, and has its own metro stop). Ask around for the yarn shops, which are in a couple of blocks just off the main market. Fair warning: all the shops were closed on Sunday.
If you're looking for the spot, perhaps these names/addresses will help! 
And here are a couple of other resources, should you be on the hunt for yarn in Santiago:

Amusingly enough, it was in the mid 90s during this trip (Summer, of course, in South America). I could barely stand to touch the woolens once I got them back to my hotel. Now that I'm back to Winter in Portland (gray and chilly; perfect sweater weather), I am quite excited indeed to plan a project.