China. I never thought I would live here. And I have to say that while I like it now, it would have been a very difficult place to move to six years ago, at the start of our expat adventure. The language is a huge challenge, but after about six months of class is feel like I can communicate. Converse? No. Communication basics only. The larger Chinese cities have a lot of English speakers (well more anyway) but in Hangzhou, where we live, it's far less common.
But what about the yarn?! So, knitting is definitely more of a "thing" here. At a local mall I regularly see a group of Chinese women sitting around knitting but I haven't had the ability to talk to them much... But, thanks to Ravelry, I found another American knitter in Hangzhou! Last week we met up for lunch and yesterday we and another friend of hers (who is pretty fluent in Chinese!) went to see the yarn stores.
Dude. Yarn. Wool. Cashmere. Mink (mink?!) yep. Mink.
And the prices were quite good.
A cone of Cashmere about the size of a small Watermelon.
A lot of the yarn is sold by the "Jin", 1 Jin being 500 grams. I bought some yarn for a sweater I'd like to make. It was 50 RMB per jin. I bought two. That's ten 100g skeins and I paid 100 RMB = about $16 USD. I'll keep you posted on how it knits up.
Here a clerk is winding yarn from one cone to another to get the amount that a customer wants to buy.
Apparently many knitters here do machine knitting. Their items are, as they describe, "practical, not beautiful". Because of this, much of the yarn available is fingering, or even lace weight. They often combine yarns together when knitting, often times even using thread in the knitted fabric. A couple of the boxes of yarn I bought even had thread included in the same color.
After checking out all of the little shops at this "yarn mall" we then headed to the other side of the city to visit the "nice" yarn store.
The quality of the yarns is a step up (prices a bit higher too) and here they actually had knitting needles and a group of women knitting in the back!
They were quite impressed with our knitted items and want us to come back and hang out with them!