It's so nice to be home, spending my Saturday morning sleeping in (yay jet lag), drinking Earl Grey tea, and sifting through travel photos.
Fall colors, Kyoto. Very surreal that I spent the last ten days in that landscape and people-scape!
The back story is that Mountain Man had a conference, and I tagged along. The back, back story is that this felt momentous for me because I'd been seriously into Japanese everything (language, food, aesthetics, religion) in college. That side of me gradually faded away as I got drawn into other interests, and it's been ten years since I've been to Japan or spoken Japanese.
Needless to say, my language skills were pitiful, despite active pre-trip remedial study (I read the phrasebook very carefully). But those years of mind-strainingly difficult study haven't all gone to waste: even pitiful Japanese can come in handy for finding yarn! And that's what this post is really about: two fantastic yarn shops.
The first was Avril, in central Kyoto. According to the internets, Avril's yarn is what's sold as Habu in the states. Avril's shop was visually stunning:
and their yarn was just as exceptional. Although luscious colors abounded, I was most taken with the undyed silk yarn that they produced in an incredible array of textures: papery, cottony, slippery, raffia-like, stiff, silky. No closeups, I'm afraid. They're on the left half of the store's cute balcony:
I brought home two 100g skeins of a soft, cottony silk yarn that had been dyed with rosemary. The color is halfway between green tea and tatami mat (lighter and greener than in this photo). So prettily wrapped!
The second amazing shop I found was Masuhisa, in the southernmost shopping arcade in central Nara. They specialize in organic cotton goods, which (if I understood right) they grow on their company's own farms.
They have a gorgous range of colorgrown cottons and plant-dyed silks, but I was most drawn to their soft, pure white, organic cotton. I brought home several 100g skeins of it -- I would've bought more if I could've fit it in my suitcase!
We have some great organic cottons available in the states, but none of them begin to approach the heavenlyness of this yarn. It's much lighter and finer than what we can get here, and it manages to be unbelievably soft without being too loosely spun.
I managed to offset these stash enhancements with some stash-knitting on this trip. But it was all gift knitting ('tis the season for it), so those photos will just have to wait.