But when the shops look like this, how am I supposed to stick to my luggage allowance??
It took every ounce of restraint and a lot of putting things back to assemble this little collection - and a decision to come over by car next time, because I didn't even touch on all the pine furniture!
One of the brands that I love finding is Hoganas, a well known pottery in Skane who are still going today, making lovely crockery in bright colours and timeless shapes which you will find in most Swedish homes. They have a great factory outlet in the town of Hoganas on the west coast which has now expanded to include Finnish glassmaker Ittala - those of Moomin mug and Aalto vase fame. In the older part of the town, there is a sort of mini-mall in one of the old factory buildings. Here they have a very atmospheric shop with some of their earliest designs - the salt-glazed "krus" - housed inside the now disused kilns. On the upper floor, there is a restaurant serving a great buffet of fresh, local food, layed out on the top of the kilns!
At the other end of the same building, much to Mark's delight, we found the Hoganas micro-brewery. Fantastic beer they had too, although there was a small culture shock when we realised that we couldn't buy the beer at the brewery to take home - this being Sweden, we would of course have to go to the state-run Systembolaget for anything over 4% proof. We did have a tasting session though.
One of my favourite finds was a Hoganas teapot which I found amongst a couple of flea market stalls near the station in Lund. We were heading to Copenhagen for the day, but the tea pot was too good to leave so poor Mark had to carry it in his rucksack all day. He was handsomly rewarded for his effort with beer and cinnamon rolls though.
Then there was....
Most places you travel to will perhaps have one good yarn shop in town. On the first day, we went to Ystad (home of Wallander, for those of you that way inclined) and saw three just on the high street (Stora Östergatan). The first as you come from the Market Square is a retailer of big brand Järbo - a huge range of colours in both mercerised and unmercerised cottons, as well as a selection of Icelandic Lopi and multicoloured yarns, some with manmade fibres, but impressive nonetheless and very well laid out.
The second shop down was unfortunately in the process of closing down, amazingly because "there are so many yarn shops on this street!". I would hazard a guess that she was being out-priced by the other two as her very interesting stock is at the more luxury end of the scale: gorgeous BC Garn, hand dyed Hjeltholts gradients and Kalinka Linen in stunning colours. It's always sad to see a yarn shop go, although I did get to enjoy her closing-down sale prices ;)
The last shop on the street is another big brand retailer, this time Svarta Fåret (who make our raggsock yarn). The shop is a bit dark and old-fashioned, but it is absolutely packed to the rafters with yarn of any shape, weight, colour, fibre content and then some that you can imagine. By the time we got there, I was genuinely too hot to think about any more wool (Sweden was having a freak 30+ all week) but my mother bought some very nice fine cotton for a crochet cardigan.
The second big yarn crawl was in Copenhagen - first up was Uldstedet, in their airy new premises by Nørreport. Funnily enough, their old basement premises in Fiolstræde now seem to be home to Uno Clothing - amazing hand dyed, creative linen clothes - a shop we'd wanted to revisit but couldn't find at their old location!
Uldstedet carries a big selection of Isager yarns - I bought some of their Alpaca/Highland wool blend to try, as well as Designclub's moorish Wool/Silk. They also stock Danish Gepard yarns and a big range of Rowan, amongst others. It was here that I discovered that Mark has suddenly become much easier to drag around the shops, but more on that later.
Walking back through Fiolstræde, we came across a sewing shop stocking the full range of Onion yarns, with a very passionate and knowledgable owner telling us all about it - I bought a few samples to play with and will hopefully be able to tell you more about those soon.
Finally, the unmissable yarn destination in Copenhagen: Summerfuglen. Every cubbyhole, nook and cranny there is packed with quality yarn: plenty of Noro, lots of independent brands, small Danish companies and that huge bug-bear of mine: kits.
There is nothing wrong with kits as such, sometimes it's nice to have everything assembled and prepared for you so you don't have to worry about picking out matching colours in the right amounts and so on. Here, however, I saw a very interesting pattern knitted up and was told that it was only available as a kit. Being a bigger girl though, I knew that I would need to fiddle the pattern and add a little length to suit me, so I asked if the yarn was available on it's own so I could work something out and was told no. That particular yarn, which looked really nice, could only be sold in that kit at that specific size. It's even unlabelled, so the shop assistants couldn't even tell me the meterage was in the kit so I could try and work out if there was enough yarn to alter the design somewhat. It just seems to me like a very restrictive way of selling yarn, and felt like the designer was saying "only MY idea is worthy of being knitted in this yarn, you lowly pedestrian knitter".
So instead I picked out a sweater-amount in Dunlin - a lovely, soft cotton-linen blend I've worked in before and loved. It's rather fine, and the sweater I ve planned is all in garter stitch, so you may still hear me swear about it in the coming months, but I'm very pleased with my colour selection, widely inspired by the clothes of Gudrun Sjöden, icon of creative women in Scandinavia.
The last place I want to mention is Hemslöjden in Landskrona. Currently dramatically set within the castle - although they will soon be taking over the old train station - they specialise in keeping old crafts alive. There is a whole room dedicated to traditional Skanian wool embroidery - the range of colours is just breathtaking, as well as a second room of mostly unlabelled Swedish yarns from small spinning mills and hand dyers. They also have a section selling finished products from blacksmiths and woodworkers from the area, although these are not cheap.
It may seem like we travelled around an awful lot, and we did go to a different town almost every day, but things are close together in Skåne (no more than an hour drive) and with the bridge, Copenhagen is only 40 minutes away, and the landscape in between is blissful to drive through, mostly flat with rolling wheat fields and distinctive willows as far as the eye can see. The area is surrounded by coast on three sides and we stopped for refreshing dips after our arduous shopping most days.