FALL COLORS: Knitting Shops in Vilnius II
Originally posted on 09/2010
Tomorrow I’m going on a Vilnius yarn shop crawl. Anyone want to come? In case you can’t make it, here’s where I plan to go:
Mezgimo Zona (The Knitting Zone), Pylimo g. 38
This is currently my favorite yarn shop in Vilnius. I found out about it from Sonata, the owner, who sent me a message on Ravelry when she opened the shop last year. It’s a very welcoming, well lit, and well stocked shop, with a fabulous international library of knitting books and a weekly knitting club meeting (with chocolates!). I’ve been at this shop several times already on this trip, although I only went to the knitting club once, when my friend Anna invited me. Just like at home, I always have good intentions of going to knitting clubs, but when it comes down to it, I usually stay home unless I’m going with a friend. But I will be stopping in this shop at least a few more times during my stay in Vilnius. Why?
1. New linen colors, and getting ready for a wooly winter! (Lithuanian language link)
2. I’m taking a workshop on knitting beaded wrist warmers with Irena Juškienė, author of Riešinės… more on this in the next post, due today (Sept 12)! after the workshop. I’ll also be writing an article about Irena and her work for Piecework magazine, which will be accompanied by a a project to knit a pair of wrist warmers designed by Irena. I’m also hoping to be able to import the book and materials to sell kits, and would like to help Irena hook up with an American publisher to put out an English-language version of her book.
3. I just love this shop and it’s a very comfortable place to visit and hang out at the big work table looking at books and knitting.
Geros Akys (The Good Stitch, or the Knit Stitch), Konstitucijos pr. 16, VCUP, 5 aukštas
This was the first shop I stumbled onto in Vilnius. At the time, it was a small shop with small windows hidden away in a small alley. Inside was a beautiful shop with a variety of yarns from Italy, Germany, and Lithuania. The shop had it’s own label on some of the yarns, and I bought some lovely Geros Akys branded laceweight mohair for my stash. I fondle it every now and again, but until this moment, I didn’t know what I wanted to make with it. I’ve suddenly decided to make a scarf in a pattern stitch I first saw in this shop. It’s a lacy knit stitch that looks quite a bit like crochet when the motifs are stacked up closely, but it has a very unusual look when they are spaced out between sections of stockinette stitch. I’m not sure why I didn’t make this right away, when I bought the yarn in 2007, but now I will have to wait until I get home to cast on!
About two years ago, the shop moved from this sleepy location into a large shopping center and, according to the website, carries knitting and crochet yarn as well as beads, polymer clay, and supplies for embroidery, felting, decoupage, and scrap booking. The name has been changed from Geros Akys “mezgimo siūlai” (knitting yarn) to Geros Akys “hobi centras” (hobby center), which leaves me wondering if it’s become more like the big box craft stores in the USA now. I will find out tomorrow.
Casa Lana / Siūlų Namai (House of Wool), J.Basanavičiaus g. 2
I have yet to discover why a Lithuanian yarn shop would have a Spanish name, but I suppose that’s not very important. It’s what’s inside a yarn shop that counts. This is a very modern shop, but not very Lithuanian. The yarns here are very posh and they are from Italy and Germany and other parts of Europe, along with the brands of knitting needles, crochet hooks, and other tools, most of what is here would be familiar to American knitters. As with many other shops in Lithuania, there is also a selection of embroidery and felting supplies. Casa Lana is located on a main intersection on the border between the senamiestis (old town) and naujamiestis (new town), but the dividing line is quite invisible to anyone new here, because all of the buildings look old and the border lies where the old city wall used to be! If you’re looking for a big selection of modern yarns, tools, and European knitting magazines, this is the place to visit. But if you want a more homey atmosphere and a sampling of Lithuanian-made products, look elsewhere.
Diteksas audiniai ir verpalai (Diteksas Fabric and Yarn), Kestučio g. 3
I visited this shop last year with a friend who is a bit more adventurous than I am in exploring Vilnius. It’s outside the boundaries of the normal tourist areas, but still quite close to the city center if you hop on the trolleybus. There’s a comfortable couch where you can sit and knit swatches from the cones to test out the yarns and see what suits you, so bring your needles. But bring a Lithuanian-speaking friend as well if you want to do this or if you think you’ll have questions!
Right now, although they have quite a large selection of fabric on their website, the only yarn they have listed is kid mohair on cones. I suspect they still carry a selection of other yarns in the shop but my guess is that the other yarns are things that are available on a limited basis, perhaps including mill-ends, close outs, and special bargains, so they don’t offer them online. The mohair they have on the cones is lovely and comes in a huge number of colors. If you’re a mohair fanatic like I am, or if you sew as well as knit, this shop is a required destination, well worth the 4 litas for trolleybus tickets.
Mezgimo Salonas, Verpalai (“Yarn”, a knitting salon), Vokiečių g. 4
I can’t find a website for this shop, centrally located on a main stretch in the tourist area, with large windows with a clear view of yarn and knitted samples to entice passersby. Inside is a rainbow array of European yarns, along with (if I recall correctly) Turkish yarns, linen for weaving, and an interesting selection of knitting tools. The odd thing about this shop, at least to American knitters, will be that many of the yarns are kept in class counters or stored on the walls in shelves behind the counters, so you must ask for help if you want to touch things. I think this is just a old Soviet-style shopping experience, because there are a few small grocers in town that are set up in this same fashion. If you can overcome timidity and ask for help, even if it’s just pointing to what you’d like to see, you’ll have a good time exploring this shop.
There’s one shop that I keep stumbling on that shall remain nameless right now because I’ve forgotten the name! It’s on Vilnaus gatve, another main road right in the center of the tourist district, surrounded by restaurants, clothing stores, and lots of other interesting shops. It’s also near one of the Coffe-Inn locations, so if you’re hankering for a Starbucks-type of coffee or you just need a BIG dose of caffeine, you can take your yarn purchase to the cafe and cast on while you indulge.
This shop carries Rankdarbių Kraitelė magazine, a Lithuanain-language magazine about knitting, crochet, and other crafts. Some of the projects are quite fashionable and trendy, while others are old-fashioned and even kitschy. They have back issues in stock, so if you stop by, make sure you have time to look through several issues.
This shop had a very un-posh selection of yarn, including mostly plain wool and wool-acrylic blends, some from Turkey and some from Lithuania, and some which were completely unmemorable to me. But I did buy several skeins of Lithuanian wool and wool-blend yarns for colorwork mittens. The yarn, which was on the back wall of the tiny shop when I visited last year, is now in a new upstairs area, but I hope they still have some Lithuanian yarns in stock.
I also want to visit a shop I saw from the bus while riding to the mall a couple of weeks ago. It’s on Kalvarijų g., on the “other side” of the green bridge. I hope to have more to report on this shop tomorrow!
Second hand and clothing shops around town also carry yarn, but you will only stumble onto these finds if you look in the windows as you walk down the street.