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Topic: A question for the non-North American knitters  (Read 1327 times)
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Joined: 04-Jan-2005

Hullo, My name is Bear. Grrrrrrrrrr.

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« on: March 07, 2005 06:18:12 AM »

I was lurking on some other knitting forums (although now that I'm on my work computer I can't remember which ones) and some European knitters expressed surprise that we go crazy for some of the yarns they have over there.  The yarns they were referring to (again, can't remember too many details) were yarns like Gjestal Naturgarn (sp?) that, as far as I know, are "respectable" yarns.  But to them...it was just a run of the mill yarn, nothing special.  In fact, the impression I got from one of the posts was that they were almost considered "cheap".  So...I was just wondering what are "cheap" yarns to you guys and gals?  And what yarns do your LYS's import from North America?

Of course, I'm new to this whole world of knitting and I'm by no means a yarn snob so maybe Gjestal is a cheap yarn and I just couldn't tell.

My my...aren't we a knotty little girl?
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2005 09:33:56 AM »

I can't speak about the yarn that you mention but overall the UK is far behind the US and Europe in variety of yarns you find in yarn shops.  A typical yarn shop will stock something like Sirdar, Colinette, Debbie Bliss, Rowan, Jaeger, Regia sock yarns, Emu, and Noro.  It may be because of import duties or some sort of customs law, but I've never seen a UK store (online or in person) stock US brands or some of the popular European brands (Phildar, GGH).  Here we consider Sirdar to be the "cheap" yarn, its selection is something like Lion Brand.  I'm sure people from the rest of Europe will be able to give more insight.
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2005 11:02:49 AM »

this thread definitely caught my attention.. next year, i am spending some time in ireland & england.. and was hoping to increase my stash a little Wink  that's what i'm telling hubby anyways.. what are the irish wools like?

"One shoe can change your life"   Cinderella
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2005 11:41:24 PM »

I'll be going to Ireland a bit later this month Scream so I'll be able to report on what the selection is like but my first instinct is that it's going to be a lot like England as far as varieties go.  I might be surprised though.
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2005 11:50:21 PM »

i am hoping it will be a good selection in Ireland.. my nan used to make the most beautiful aran sweaters.. my entire family is going to a wedding there sort of an invasion on my mum's village... we will be the canadian contigent.. lol! i hope you have a great time! cheers Scream!!

"One shoe can change your life"   Cinderella
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2005 01:26:42 AM »

Thanks Scream, I hope the tradition of knitting has lasted a bit better in Ireland.  It seems that it dwindled off in England and is now just coming back into the mainstream fold, maybe in 5 years we'll be where North America is now. 
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2005 02:22:01 AM »

Hey, sorry to burst the bubble, but the selection in Ireland is much like England i.e. limited. I'm Irish, by the way, and have found it incredibly difficult so far to even find LYSs, let alone a good selection of wool.  Well, in fairness, I've only been looking in Dublin but still - there's only about three shops with a piss poor selection. In a capital city!! There's just no call for them yet. Only grandmothers would support those shops on a day to day basis at the moment. 

Knitting has NOT caught on amongst young(ish) people here yet! I think we're much like the U.K. in this regard.

Mind you, I anticipate that in a few years it'll catch on, and it'll be nice to be able to say I was in on the ground floor, so to speak!
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2005 04:07:14 AM »

This thread has piqued my interest and I was able to find this link http://www.woolworks.org/stores/ireland.html it has a good list of the yarn shops in Ireland, most have a brief description.  Even though it sounds that the selection is about the same as UK tivoli yarn is something we rarely see, so it'll be interesting to give it a try.
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2005 05:09:52 AM »

I have a friend from England (has been in the US now for about 6 years) and she has been knitting her whole life, she's always telling me that the yarn here bites big time in comparison to what you can get in the UK.  I'm not sure how the prices compare, but most skeins of good yarn are at least $7 dollars per 50 grams, so that's about 5 Euro or 4 pounds.  We do have some discount yarn places like Elann.com - where you can get most yarns at about 50% off.  But yeah - from what we hear you have way better yarn.  I think it's mostly because knitting is such an established past time there and here it seems that knitting is picking up in popularity.

I wonder how many people knit here vs in the UK or even Europe.  I bet per capita it's way higher there.
of troy
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2005 04:10:13 PM »

a few years ago, the craft yarn council (a not for profit group made up of mostly american yarn producers) released the statistic that 'craft yarn ' (ie, yarn purchased for use in home) in entire US as about = 1/3 of what was sold in BELGIUM (per annum) - and belgium is not -not exactly a large population country in europe!

and while EEC has made it easier to move many goods across borders, WOOL is one of those commodities that many countries still have regulations about what can and can't be imported. (especially UK --a country that for years was a net exporter of wool and parchment (sheep skins used as paper) ) protecting home industries is always important..

its likely to be easier to get wool from UK, France or Germany here in US. --than it is to get french wools in UK or German Wools in France!   but since US is still a relitively small market for hand knitting yarns (just think you can sell 3 times as much wool in Belgium as you can in the US on any given year...) and since we aren't part of EEC but have our own archane import/export regulations..  there are simple fewer companies in the yarn import export business.--so we never see the same selections here...

Knitting Fever Inc is one well known importer.. (and it got caught with its pants down.. market demand for some yarns grew way faster than they anticapated, and since they sometimes had 'exclusive rights' for US distribuiton.. there were horrid backlogs and disappointed customers, and so on.  things are better now.. but

there are still very few import/exporters in yarn business, and there are still european companies that  exclusive contracts with a single importer/exporer.. 

its also true that there are yarn snobs.. Gedifra's Fashion trend colors is almost the same as one of Lion brand yarns, (both are apx. 50/50 wool/acrylic) but there are many who turn their noses up at the Lion brand yarn.. (and pay more for Gedifra's..)

same is true for Sirdar an imported yarn that is not carried by (until recently) by Michaels or Jo Annes, or AC MOORE's.. but most of the sirdar yarn available here in US is 75% to 100% acrylic.. (ie its just an upscale red heart/lion brand yarn--smaller skeins, and more expensive!--i don't see much difference in quality.. (sometimes the colors are better, but not always)

and while the US has a huge market potential.. people still think hand knitting (and crochet )are just a fad, and it doesn't pay to invest too much time or effort in building a business around them,  because the market will go away in few years. 

(side note: an other commedity that is overproduced is butter.. scandinavia can't sell all the butter it produces, and it can't dump it  (under market rate) anywhere.. so it turn the butter into cookies, and since there are no restrictions on importing cookies --to the US at least--(cookies are a luxury food item) but big restrictions on importing butter (a basic food item) the US is flooded with cheap danish butter cookies..

the cookies are sold way cheaper than you can make them.. (a 2 lb tin of cookies cost half the price of a pound of butter!--and they are very rich, very buttery cookies.. )
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