Sunday, 30 August 2015

Yarn shopping in Tokyo

If you're ever on a yarn diet, do you have a clause for souvenir yarn?  And does it make any kind of difference?  I'd love to pretend that I've kept to my resolution of not buying any yarn (excluding souvenirs of holiday), but I really haven't.  I can honestly say that there's no need to buy any yarn in 2016 and I'd probably still have too much.

The day before our shopping trip, we went to the Miraikan, the National Museum for Emerging Science and Innovation.  I'd decided against buying a handkerchief of the Tokyo Metro system and had the following discussion with Mr Knitty:

Me - In the long run, which is going to better benefit my life?  Spending a thousand yen on...
Him - Yarn.

He knows me too well. 

Yarn shopping in a language I don't speak was an interesting experience.  Having had a look at Ravelry and reading various blogs, I had an idea of where I was heading.  I handed the list to Mr Knitty, who is far better on maps and Metro stations than I am.

Sockmania had a lot of stuff on their website, which I could get back in the UK, so that was dropped from the list.  The Travel Knitter's Guide  and Knitfitch both mentioned Avril which sounded amazing but their Tokyo shop was a bit too far out to attempt as part of our shopping trip.  (Although, I've just discovered that there's also a branch in Kyoto which may have been easier to get to).  The Puppy  shop was also a bit too far out, although I did find some of their yarns in one of the shops I went to.

HK Housewife pointed me towards Okadaya near Shibuya Station.  We looked on every floor and found loads of expensive buttons, which were very cute but I didn't know where I'd be able to use them.  No photos of any of the stuff we saw, as photos weren't allowed.  The Travel Knitter's Guide said that this was the best place in Tokyo she found for knitting books.  I did have a look at the selection they had - but they were all in Japanese.  I was hoping for one either in English with Japanese patterns, or something bilingual.  The only one I vaguely considered was one on Shetland lace, as it had charts which don't rely on language to interpret.  Since I don't really have any desire to knit Shetland lace, I left it where it was.

I did, however buy two lots of yarn - Noro and Puppy.  I'd been a bit prepared and found out what is charged for Noro in the UK and what the equivalents are in yen - then found several lines of Noro yarn which I've never heard of.  So of course, I had to buy them:

Puppy Pichenette, Noro Melody and Noro Kama

Maroon yarn = Puppy Pichenette
Blue/purple = Noro Melody
Green = Noro Kama

We then went to Shinjinku to find Tokyo Hands , which other bloggers have recommended.  

Anpanman origami paper 

Maybe my blood sugar was too low, but I didn't find it anything to rave about.  It had a lot of stuff, it was worth visiting but it mostly left me a bit 'meh' - until I found the origami papers.  There were some beautiful ones, which were much more expensive than I'd seen elsewhere.  I did, however, find Anpanman origami paper, which made me happy, so it had to come home with me. 

After this, we went to 

Yuzawaya sign

which was in the same building as Tokyo Hands, a few floors up.  I absolutely loved this shop, it had all sorts.  I bought myself a small cut of fabric to make a bag for my wrist splints, and a cross stitch kit for my best friend.  

There was a lot of yarn (sorry, they didn't allow photos), mostly Japanese brands which weren't Noro.  I did find some from Italy and some non-Japanese cotton yarn.  This was the point that Mr Knitty had gone for a sit-down, so my spending ability was somewhat un-curbed.  He's very good at standing next to me, asking what I'm planning on using that yarn for.  My aim was to find yarn to make him socks.  After a lot of going round in circles and trying to work out what the yarn labels said, using the knitting dictionary on the Planet Purl website, I gave up and pointed at the phrase asking for sock yarn, which I then augmented with 'Nippon; Japanese'.  The guy pointed me towards Olympus MakeMake socks.  I wasn't sure if one pack of three was enough for both socks, or just for one - so I bought two packs of three, in both colours which I thought Mr Knitty would like.  (Still trying to figure out this 'turning the heel' business, so he may have to wait a bit longer).  Seems I lucked out; the yarn is 70% merino, so will be gorgeously soft, even if any socks don't last for long. 

Olympus MakeMake socks - colourway 908 

Olympus MakeMake socks - colourway 907

Then I discovered the bargain bin, with ten balls of yarn for 98 yen, (52p) plus tax.  There was other stuff, but I didn't really like the colours.  Now, you'd think that if something was being sold off so cheap, then it was probably cheap to start with, right?  After putting it in my basket, taking it out of my basket to have a proper think (what would I actually use this for?) I then decided I was going to buy it after all.  Why not, it was cheap!  Turns out the cheapness was due to it being 100% polyester.  Oh well, you win some, you lose some.  

Then we went to Harajuku and may have snickered at the name of the street where we were headed.

Of course, we were taking a photo of the screen, as it had a camera on the crowd and we just wanted a self-portrait. 

This trip was to a shop called Daiso.  For UK readers, this is a cross between Wilkinsons and Poundland.  Lots of stuff at pretty cheap prices.  The branch in Hiroshima had 100% wool yarn for a grand total of 55p a ball.  Possibly a bit scratchy for wearing next to your skin; perfect for felting.  None of that in the Tokyo branch, they only had acrylic yarn.  I did manage to buy a lot of origami paper.  For 55p.  Would almost be rude not to.

I didn't manage to make it to Fabric Town.  Nor did I make it to Loft, which is another shop that bloggers have said good things about.  By that point in the day, I thought I'd run out of money (I hadn't), was slightly concerned about the space we had to carry stuff back and was feeling slightly overwhelmed with the amount of choice of stuff available to spend cash on. 

I no longer need any more yarn.  I have a stash of 60; enough for at least another year.  On updating my Ravelry stash, I realised that there are several batches of yarn which I haven't uploaded.  I don't regret the yarn I've bought - even the polyester stuff.  Just please remind me not to buy any more, not to invoke the souvenir clause and not to travel anywhere else, just in case! 


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