Shanghai is the destination for this week’s podcast. I take a trip to not one, but two yarn shops in Shanghai to check out the local knitting scene and the yarns on offer.
Podcast Theme Music
Many listeners have emailed me to ask about the theme tune for the podcast and where it can be found for download. I originally sourced the music on Music Alley, which closed its doors a few years back, so I had nowhere to send people to find it.
I have good news however!
The podcast theme music is now available on iTunes for purchase for 79p. The track is ‘I Need a Drink’ by Adam and the Walter Boys, who allow me to use it on the podcast with their kind permission. If you’ve ever wanted to listen to the whole song, go ahead and download it now.
My new project is currently being built. Some of the details have been sent to the VIP waiting list members, who have kindly agreed to help with testing of the site. If you would like to be one of the first people to get access to the site when it launches, you can join the waiting list and have advance notice ahead of the main launch.
The site helps you find the perfect yarn for your project in one place, quickly and easily, so you can spend more time knitting. If you’ve ever been in the situation where you need a certain colour of yarn on a certain fibre blend base yarn and struggled to find it, this one’s for you. No more needing to go and search through multiple websites or take a chance at Etsy roulette when trying to find that perfect match. I’ve built the site to have specific search algorithms. These will only serve you the yarn and colours you want, instead of a load of random tat a la Etsy. I’ll give you more details and the name of the site in the coming week or two. For now, if you want to get in there early, you can request access here.
Yarn Shops in Shanghai
First up, I declare my undying love for the efficiency of the CRH railway system. I visited two yarn shops in Shanghai this weekend, one at either end of the market. This was a fascinating experience and I would highly recommend checking both out if you find yourself in the area. Both are under 15 minutes from the Bund are easily reached via a Didi or the Metro.
Heng Yuan Xiang Yarn Shop
Address: 358 Jinling East Road, Huangpu, Shanghai.
The company was founded in 1927 in Shanghai, as a silky yarns company, and produces a variety of goods including wools, knitting yarns, knitted apparel and home textiles. It is the largest annual seller of wool sweaters in China and has more than 100 factories. More than 90% of the municipal market in China is covered by the brand, which became a state-owned enterprise in 1956.
The knitting wool brand started in 1991 and in 1997 the brand expanded into sweaters, wool underwear and other knitted products. The company has 5800 sales outlets which run as franchises, with 375 million products available through these franchises.
This shop is definitely on the bijou end of the scale, although it is easily identifiable from the street. Some yarn shops can appear to be ladies wear shops from the street, until you actually go inside. It is an Aladdin’s cave, literally full from floor to ceiling with bags and boxes of yarns. Yarns in these shops are usually displayed in boxes with clear plastic covers, which I assume are there to protect the yarn from dust or atmospheric pollution.
Local Chinese Yarns
The yarns store carries a wide variety of blends, including merino, cashmere, yak, cotton, raccoon(!) and man made blends. The Beast selected a 70% cottony viscose and 30% wool in a fetching spearmint shade, at RMB48 or around £5.49 for 300g. I went for a 100% Australian Merino yarn in a (guessing by eye) DK weight at RMB 102 or £11.67.
Although I would be unlikely to import yarn to the UK, even at this price point, I wanted to investigate what locals are likely to use for their knitting. When in China it is rude not to try their yarns. I decided to give it a bash and see how it performs for research purposes. I am planning to knit another Lush cardigan with it.
Lotus Yarns Flagship Store (Yarn Avenue) Shanghai
Lotus Cashmere Ltd started in 2007 with the Lotus Yarns brand being established in 2009. It is the distributor for a lot of western brands including Noro, Opal, Louisa Harding, Brooklyn Tweed, KnitPro, Brittany etc. Lotus Yarns Flagship (Yarn Ave) yarn store was in the high end Western Joy City Mall.
Yarn Ave is a new store, which opened in January 2018 and is found on Level 6, the Creator level. It is set up in a very similar way to any western yarn shop, in that all the yarn is open on the shelves in hanks or skeins, in easy feeling distance. This makes sense as it is inside a climate controlled mall so it is not subject to as much risk from dust etc.
Pleasingly, good selection of samples was available to browse. Notions from familiar brands like KnitPro, Brittany, Clover etc were on sale. A workshop was ongoing at the time I visited, which prevented me from reaching the Lotus Yarns. Unfortunately, they were displayed behind a large table, where the workshop was taking place. Additionally, it was not obvious who were the staff in the shop. Staff didn’t appear to have a uniform or clear name badge, and nobody came to assist us.
Overall, Yarn Ave definitely worth a visit when looking for yarn shops in Shanghai. Conveniently located close tourist areas, you can expect to pay premium prices for the yarn on offer here, particularly if it is imported. To give an idea, 100g of high twist South African merino is RMB299 or around £35.
Join the Waiting List
Don’t forget to join the waiting list for the new project.
Music for this episode with kind permission: Adam and the Walter Boys with ‘I Need a Drink’ available from iTunes.