Not only am I back safely from Vienna, I've also managed to convert much of the yarn that I bought there into curly whirly scarves. A proper post (featuring photos of Xmas markets and some rather varied window displays) should follow by the weekend. Here, however, is one of the more urgent items: the yarn report!
Nicole asked about the yarn stores. In a word: "Wow!". I didn't get to visit all the ones recommended by The Austrian Addicts group on Ravelry but the three that I found within 10-15 minutes walk of each other (and my hotel) were fabulous. More details of those anon.
First, I must tell you about the one I decided to give a miss. Some of you may know that I was a wee bit anxious about the salubriousness of the area I was going to be staying in. (Note to self: next time you book dirt cheap hotel room, do read reviews of hotel before booking, not after. Or maybe just ignore them completely: many reviews panned the hotel but I found very clean and very comfortable). The "problem" was that it was just off the Gurtel (main ring road round Vienna) long stretches of which are used for soliciting, "erotic shops" and the like... I soon discovered that the short stretch I had to walk along (from Alser Strasse tube station to the street I was staying in) had only a drive-in MacDonalds on one side of the road and a parade of abandoned shops on the other. But one of the shops, whilst dingy and dirty, dusty and abandoned-looking, did appear to be open, albeit only on Mondays and Tuesdays. The window was full of tapestry kits and yarn (mostly brown, all very dusty). I gave it a miss, assuming that it was probably a front for a drug dealer. But, yes, I suspect my imagination had run away with me again. And a fleeting glance in daylight on Friday morning revealed that it stocked Austermann yarns. Ah well...
So that was the one that got away. The three I visited (and fell in love with) were:
Glatt & Verkehrt
Alser Strasse (towards the Gurtel end of the road), tram 44
Sells mainly Gedifra plus Regia sock yarns. It also sells OTT light-up needles and hooks. It was here that I attempted my most adventurous-ever foray into speaking German (which I did not get the chance to learn at school, boo): "Sechs batterien fur halke needlen, bitte". (Apologies for not typing in the accents, I'd probably get those wildly wrong). I ruined it not only by (a) pronouncing everything wrong but also (b) saying "pour" instead of "fur". (Yes, French is my second language, and the one I automatically find myself using whenever overseas. I have bumped into people in Stockholm, Vienna and San Diego and baffled them by saying "Oh, pardon Monsieuer/Madame". I think that it must be a reflex reaction triggered when I see cars driving on the right.)
But I digress! The amazing lady in the shop understood what I wanted (I was able to point at the hooks/needles as I spoke, which could be what gave her the clue) and I now have plenty of spare batteries (anyone nearby who'd like one, just let me know!)
Alserstrasse 21 (at the junction with Langegasse) trams 43/44. Pingouin sign outside.
I'd been here before (when I was in Vienna for Tamy's wedding about 3 years ago) and found it even better than last time. It is very well-organised and packed full of Lana Grosse (inclduing several covetable yarns on incredibly good special offer, plus some Rowan Tapestry and Opal and Regia for socks. I was struck by how many mroe variegated yarns are available than back in the UK and also lots of boucle yarns, too. Lots of rich, winter colours and almost every yarn has a sample knitted up and yardage/stithces to 10cm. I made 3 trips here (once to browse, twice to buy)and the shop was full of customers each time I went. (You can fit about 5 in at once!) My first purchase was some worsted-weight merino (variegated, greens and bright pinks and oranges) and a fluffy microfibre/merino/mohair blend that is as soft and alluring as a marmalade cat. These have been combined into a curly whirly scarf. I also got a couple of odd balls to work into other projects. And on my last morning treated myself to co-ordinating boucle and smooth yarns for a warm hat. That was a special outing: it was finally snowing, the last of my Euros were burning a hole in my pocket and I spotted a young woman knitting on the tram).
Last, but by no means least:
Josefstadterstrasse 14 tram J (at the Rathaus end of the street)
Again, one I've been to before. Bursting at the seams with beautiful knitted items (look out for the conical, welted, Noro hats
with pony tail holes at the top!) and sumptuous yarns from all over the globe. Yarns stocked include Noro, Anny Blatt, Rowan, Lang, some gorgeous shetland in hanks, and many, many other distractions. But (with rather dodgy timing) I had arrived at 12.25 and she closes for lunch from 12.30-2.30. So I quickly swept my eyes round the shop and made a snap decision. Using the virtually foolproof method of pointing, I requested "drei" of some Lang Mille Colori (now transformed into a scarf) and "ein" of something for someone who reads this blog...
Buoyed up by this success, I went to a newspaper kiosk and (pointing) requested "Anna Weinachts" (Anna Christmas Special). Unfortunately I pronounced it as "Wien nachts" (Anna Vienna Nights special) which made the kiosk man roar the correct pronunciation back at me... One learns!
The yarns I bought were probably about 20% cheaper than I would have paid for comparable things in the UK, but Rowan is far more expensive in Austria.
Hope this is helpful, Nicole, (though you certainly didn't need to know about my dodgy German). And you should have seen me in a bakery, miming a "can my friend have a straw,please?"!