Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Looking for Yarn - Part Four: Ireland

Is this what they mean by "dyed in the wool?"
     After docking in Southampton, England, we made our way to Gatwick and a return to Ireland for a ten day road trip.  The countryside was beyond beautiful and it seemed that every bend in the road was a breath-taking vista.  The hunt for local yarn continued and we were surprised not to find a yarn shop in every town and village as we saw sheep everywhere.  In the small village of Leenane, Co. Galway, we found a gift shop that carried a selection of Aran yarn from the Donegal Studios, so I purchased  a skein of "soft" Aran in a speckled red and a skein of rich blue with a hint of purple.  Then, we found Leenane's answer to our one stop shopping in the United States ~ Hamilton's Bar, Foodstore, and Petrol, so we dropped in to meet the owner, Tony Hamilton and enjoy a bit of his wares.

Hamilton Brother and Sister
     As we continued our Irish road trip, we made a stop in Westport, Co. Mayo where I found a basic skein of black Aran yarn from Co. Kerry at another gift shop.  But I kept wondering, where are the yarn shops?  In the village of Kinsale, Co. Cork, I found my answer. 

     A skein of boucle mohair in the window of a gift shop caught my eye.  It was from the Cushendale Woollen Mills of Co. Kilkenny, a family run business with a history going back to 1204.  Unfortunately, we were on the other side of Ireland or we would have visited there.  (Good reason for a return trip!)  The gift shop only had four skeins of yarn, but the young clerk directed me across the street to a yarn shop that had opened just that week!  The proprietor was a delightful young woman from New Zealand who told me one of her reasons for opening the shop was because they were so few and far between and she loved to knit.  She explained that despite the numerous herds of sheep we were seeing, most of them did not produce wool suitable for  knitting yarn, but rather for carpet manufacturing and that other than the mills in Co. Donegal, little knitting yarn was produced in Ireland.  After selecting a basic Aran yarn in the natural color, we were off again with my small stash of Irish knitting wool.
Vivi Trading Co. Kinsale, Co. Cork