On holiday in Florence last summer I left the well trodden tourist streets to visit the yarn store Campolmi Roberto Filati. It’s in a quiet street not far from the Duomo. A small window display showed I’d found the right place but inside it was very different from UK yarn stores. It was as much a warehouse as a shop. Most of the yarn was wrapped uo and on shelves behind a high wooden counter.
There was a display of small samples – each shown in just one colour, and I was a bit discouraged. I like to be able to squish and muse.
A young woman came up and asked if she could help. I had recently completed an angora shawl that I’d enjoyed knitting so I said “Angora” on impulse. She went off and returned with a black card folder of colour samples for me to look through.
She also pointed out a cardboard box in a corner full of fat skeins of discontinued yarns. I had a root about. None of the colours did much for me until I uncovered a bright sunshine yellow. I instantly thought of my teenaged daughter and a chunky scarf or cowl. There were no bands giving yardage details and to be on the safe side I pulled out two skeins which the assistant assured me would be plenty. (It was – I have a full skein left.)
I finally left with the yellow angora, some deep crimson alpaca for a shawl for me, and balls of alpaca in three natural undyed shades which I thought I would use for mittens. For yarns not in the discontinued bin the system was that you pick out a choice from the samples in the black folder and the assistant went off to fetch it from a stockroom. The final bill was less than I expected and I had the impression that if you can deal with the unfamiliar process the yarn is good value.
The yellow was the first onto the needles. I had no information about the yarn. I was planning a scarf so all I really needed was a pattern and bit of trial and error to find a needle size which gave a gauge which felt right for a soft scarf. My daughter chose a Jared Flood pattern, Wayfarer.
The pattern features two textures with an interestingly shaped transition. I cast on eight extra stitches to make it a bit wider but otherwise made no changes.
So when she wears this scarf my daughter is wrapped in a bit of Florentine sunshine.
Q. Do you buy yarn as a souvenir?