Knitting in Spain

Since I’ve come to Spain to live I’ve been learning about being a knitter in Spain: yarn, socializing, patterns, etc. In my case, being a man who knits, I think my experience is becoming unique.

I live in Valladolid, in the autonomous community of Castile and Leon. Luckily, Valladolid is the capital so it’s a good sized city. When I came here I thought there would be lots of wool because Spain has sheep. This country very well might have lots of wool. Finding it is the hard part! The two stores in this city that sell yarn have lots of acrylic. One of the stores is completely dedicated to knitting and crochet. They have lots of yarn and give workshops and classes on the weekends. But, like I said, these two stores tend to sell synthetic fibers. One of the shops explained to me that they tend to stock up on acrylic because the customers prefer it. The specialized knitting and crochet store actually devotes a lot of its space to Katia yarns. When wool is available it’s usually merino. I like merino, fortunately enough! Thanks to these shops I have discovered two wool brands that I like: Cigno Nero and Osso Blanco. Yes, they’re actually from Italy. Another brand I’ve tried for the first time thanks to my local shops is Berger de France. All in all, I like my local shops.

Fortunately, there are online stores in Spain that sell really good stuff. My favorite one so far is Tira del Ovillo. I actually haven’t placed an order with them yet, but I like their yarns. For a super duper selection of all kinds of fibers I’ve had to rely on Wollerei, an on line yarn shop based in Austria. Their service is very efficient and the products are high quality. Thanks to them I discovered SMC, a brand that makes all sorts of wool yarns.

So far my favorite shop in Spain is actually in Madrid: El Gato Negro. I scored some nice big hanks of wool that were on sale last week. I want to make this sweater with it. I think from now on I will buy wool every time I have to be in Madrid. That store deserves my business. The employees are friendly, knowledgeable, and extremely helpful.

The socializing factor has been difficult for me to master. I really want to get involved in a knitting and crochet group, sit around and knit with people, help with fixing mistakes, talking about the craft, etc.

I always thought that being a male knitter in the USA was a bit awkward but I think in recent years both the USA and the UK have come to view men who knit as less of an oddity. In Spain everyone seems to assume that if you’re a knitter you must be a woman. It also seems to me that not many people actually know how to knit. On line groups based in Spain on Ravelry almost always use feminine adjectives and nouns to describe their members. The local knitting group in Valladolid, which meets twice a month in a cafeteria, seems to be all women because they use all feminine adjectives to describe themselves. Rather than just show up at the meeting I emailed the group and asked if they wouldn’t mind if a guy came to knit with them. I have received no response. It very well could be that all of those knitters are away on vacation and they’re not meeting up to knit this month. August is, of course, Spain’s vacation month. Perhaps they will email me with a warm welcome and a “yes, we’d love to see you at the knitting group.” If it turns out they don’t want guys in their club I suppose I could try to start a group of my own. On the other hand, with the paucity of people interested in knitting around here, my efforts could prove to be futile.

*UPDATE* August 28 2013: I finally got a response from the knitting group! I was right, vacations left them disconnected from email. I’m going to join them on August 31! I’m very excited! They gave me a very warm welcome. Knitting for guys in Spain is way cool.

I have knit on the bus and no one noticed or cared.

As a fluent Spanish speaker, writer, and reader, I thought that reading and understanding Spanish knitting patterns would be a breeze. I needed to take some time to study the abbreviations. They are radically different. An ssk, for example, is called in Spanish what it actually is: “a knit decrease to the left.” Slip stitches are sometimes not indicated with numbers, but rather a “P” for every slipped stitch. I suppose the most confusing thing about Spanish knitting patterns is that they can follow whatever system they like because there does not seem to be a common, standard format to abbreviate and write directions.

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