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May 2014

The Italian Alps - snow, Romans and love for yarn shops

So why start a post for Yarn Shop Day and the Love Your Yarn Shop campaign with this:


Well a recent trip to the Italian Alps made me think about different countries' attitudes to yarn shops.

This was my first time back on skis after a nasty injury so I planned my week to have some other activities so I enjoyed some skiing and didn't overso it.

During the week I headed down into the valley (still pretty high) to visit the regional town Aosta and its extensive Roman remains including an amptheatre, a theatre (pictured), the forum and much more.


Being fascinated by history and the development of towns and cities,I also thought I might fit in the archeology museum and some medieval churches. What I didn't expect was to spend a large amount of my day in yarn shops.


On this main street that runs right across the town (it is Roman after all) I found three yarn/haberdashery shops. There was plenty of yarn - lots of it good quality - buttons, fabric and beads. And all three shops had other customers when I visited on a Thursday afternoon.

It really got me thinking. I'm lucky living in north London to have two localish yarn shops: Loop, a half hour on the bus, and Nest, a pleasant 40 minute walk each way. They are great yarn shops but both could be seen as specialist, destination shops, very different from these Italian versions. 

The Italian shops seem much more a part of everyday life like the hardware shop, two toyshops, stationers and the cafes in the same streets of this not very large town. But then in the UK local stationers and hardware shops, etc, are also becoming rarer.

In Aosta it seemed the local was valued more and I wondered why in the UK our high streets have developed in such a different way - or so it seems to me - we increasingly seem to have specialist suppliers than great local businesses you can pop into for a variety of usful crafting items.

I don't know whether Italy experienced the same decline in household crafting/making as the UK did - if not, it may explain the Aosta haberdashery boom. Or perhaps Aosta is unusual. 

But it is important that we support our local yarn shops - we might eventually get back the the Aosta level, but mainly we don't want to lose any.

Given how much I love good haberdashery shops , I did have to offer a little support in Aosta despite travelling light. So I have a new yarn to try.


But that doesn't mean there wasn't knitting on the trip.

A sunny slopeside bar, some fingerless mitts and a beer is all you need for some lovely knitting time in the fresh air.


image from