I am one of those people who really only likes to go into a nice neat shop/store. If the store is a mess and the aisles are clogged up with stuff, I am not going in. But then again, I am usually a shopper on a mission – I’ve got my list and for the most part … I am sticking to it. Now in contrast, when my sister was in college, she was a huge bargain shopper. She would come home with some great find saying, “I got this for 5 bucks!” And it was usually a beautiful sundress. My answer was always the same, “No way! Where did you get it?” In which the answer was one of those bargain, messy stores. She always said, “Sarah, stop being a snob! You have to get pass that part and just start digging and looking.” Well … finally her advice has paid off.
Last week, Olive and I jumped the border into Freiburg, Germany. I found 3 yarn shops within 1 kilometer of the central train station by doing a Ravelry yarn shop search. Our first stop was Werner Zappe, which was only 0.5 kilometers away.
This shop was not very big. In terms of measurement, you could probably walk the store from end-to-end in about 25-footsteps and side-to-side in about 12-footsteps. Werner Zappe was probably your average European size yarn shop. But … it was filled with yarn; from floor to ceiling! The couple that owns the shop are probably in their early 70’s. A nice sweet couple where the woman spoke no English and the man spoke a little. But he understood basic knitting terms. Olive said she counted 3 knitting machines. I said that I could only see 2, but she said that another one was buried under yarn. Get the picture of how much yarn there was???
Now the scary thing was that the shop was, yes, mess but it was really organized! I know! How can that be? There was shelving along the long walls and full of yarn. And then in the middle there were rectangle boxes with names along the side saying, “Jawoll Magic Dégradé,” for instance. Then you would open the box to see all the colors. I think that they bought the whole line because in it, it would have a cardboard inventory chart with the name of the yarn, all of the colors and dyelots, how many meters, and how many skeins he had. The man called this “his computer.” It totally worked. No hunting required. They had a ton of sock yarn and lace weight yarns. And, surprisingly, it was organized.
For instance, we would see a color peeking out of a box that had 5 more of these rectangle boxes sitting on top of it; and for most part, yarn can be light. So this man, who is in pretty good shape, would just start moving boxes for us. Didn’t mind us rummaging around in the least. Then Olive would say, “You know that blah-blah-blah pattern would look good in a lace weight yarn.” And, again, this man knew exactly where all of his lace weight yarns were located. He just say, “Come here and look.”
Olive couldn’t take it any longer, and turned to the man and said, “I feel like a kid in a candy shop!” Well, that was it; we had finally stumped this poor man with our language. However, the one thing that I have learned while trying to communicate with someone is that pointing and using fingers always works and that everyone understands a “happy dance.”
Surprisingly, we did not buy yarn to just buy yarn to add to a stash. We bought yarn for projects. I think Olive bought sock yarn and yarn to make a “wrap.” I bought all 10 skeins of a tweed Zitron’s Mistral yarn to make a basic sweater. I bought only 10 because that is what the man’s “computer” said. I have enough to make your basic, medium size, sweater pattern.
And lastly, we fell in love with this sweet little man because the way Olive and I saw it was this: the only way for this man to see his wife during retirement was to open a yarn shop for her. She was so happy just sitting there knitting while her husband did all the work. Not bad; not bad at all …
The Martini Knitter