Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Santiago Yarn Shops

I spent New Years in Santiago visiting some friends (some of the biggest ChemKnits supporters!)  We spent a lot of time exploring Santiago and some nearby beach twos, but we also took some time to explore the street of yarn shops in Downtown Santiago.  

The only thing I knew about the yarn district was from a blog post: "A WHOLE street ... yarn shops (Rosas)."  I assumed that this meant the street was called Rosas, but I wasn't entirely sure.  This is why I've included the picture of the map we used of the city with where I found the shops AND a Google Map so you can get directions for your own shopping purposes. 


Each shop has an impressive window display outside with the prices of the yarn listed.  This is the best place to actually look at the selection because you can see more of the labels up close.  Inside the store, all of the yarn is located behind the counter.  You have to ask to touch and the shop attendants select any balls you want to purchase.  Describing different colors in Spanish was pretty hard, especially when there were multiple shades of each color!  I am thankful that my girlfriends were there to help me with the Spanish and with my color selections.

After you make your selections, the attendant creates a receipt with the total cost.  You bring this receipt to the cashier to pay, and then you get another receipt which you use to pick up a bag with your yarn.  In total, I spent around $13500 Pesos (~$28.50 USD) in three different shops for 7 balls of yarn including some 100% alpaca.  I did not select the cheapest yarns that were available (the stores contain a LOT of acrylic) but I got some stunning thick and thin wools (made in Chile), some hand dyed cotton (Dyed in Chile), 100% alpaca (Peruvian) and a novelty ribbon yarn.  If I could have touched the yarns, or at least inspect them closer, I may have come away with more.  

Another concept that was difficult to communicate was the concept of yardage.  Many of the yarns do not indicate how many yards there are in a ball which makes it very difficult to estimate how much you will need for a project.  I had to just guess and hope for the best when making my selections.  

I did find a little yarn at some of the markets, but some of the skeins were way to big to be practical for me to bring home.  There was even (expensive) hand dyed cotton yarn in a shop at the airport!  The markets mostly sold finished crafts, there were a lot of (tempting) woven goods and even more knit hats and scarves.

I was trying to be really efficient with my shopping, but in the whole process I forgot to take more pictures of the street and the shops themselves!   A blog post in Portuguese (shared with me after I returned) has some amazing pictures of Chilean yarn shops and the hand knit items found in many of the markets.

The entire trip was so amazing.   It took some time for me to feel confident in my Spanish, but by the cab ride home I was happily chatting along.  What made the trip amazing was not just the location (or the yarn!) but the fact that I got to travel with 5 of my best friends in the entire world.  I feel so lucky and this was an amazing way to start the New Year!