In search of…Wool in Italy

I am a Texan and an avid knitter and beginning spinner who’s been living in a small town Northern Italy for the last 5 years. Considering that Italy is famous for it’s fine woolen products you would think finding yarn and fleece would be easy…yes and no.

And I’m not the only one who’s run into this problem. Lots of little towns have ‘merceria’, small shops that sell thread, yarn, lace, embroidery floss and sewing notions (sometimes even underwear and hair clips as well). While they do carry yarn, every little shop seems to carry exactly the same brands (sigh). Circular needles and (short) double-pointed needles for sock-knitting are almost impossible to find. A spindle and roving…maybe in a specialty shop in a big city, maybe not.

Looking in the weekly outdoor markets in nearby towns I found only the same wool yarns as I found at the mercerie, synthetic yarns and, frustratingly, imported Chinese wool (even bigger sigh). I survived by getting my yarn fix once a year when I went back to Texas and visited my mother who lives near Comfort’s amazing yarn shop The Tinsmith’s Wife.

After 5 years of depravation, you can imagine how thrilled I was when one day on my Facebook sidebar there appeared a little graphic of a black box with a white ball of yarn, the text read “The Wool Box”.

I clicked, expecting to find a page for a U.K. or U.S. based company and was surprised to find an Italian one. Curious, I clicked on the website link and found the yarn shop of my dreams: fluff, spindles, circular needles, DPN’s in every size and, best of all, yarn made from kinds of wool I’d never heard of and ones I recognized but hadn’t been able to find. Excited, I thought I’d give it a try and ordered a box of wool for my birthday…what can I say, since January I’ve been hooked on The Wool Box!

This blog was inspired in part by wanting to let the English-speaking world know that this little project was out there, working to save the wool-growers, the native sheep species of Italy and to do that in an environmentally responsible way. I’ll be talking more about that part of the adventure and translating some of the most interesting information I have found on their blog. In addition I’ll continue to explore, in search of the best workshops, shops, exhibitions and Wool In Italy and letting you know where to find it in person or on the web.

Meanwhile, all the best and happy wool-working!

I selected this post to be featured on my blog’s page at Knitting Blogs.

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