Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a serious yearning to see the world. When I was 8 years old, my brother left on a one year long student exchange to Germany. I remember seeing him leave at the airport and feeling insanely jealous that he was able to fly to the other side of the world for a full year while I had to stay home!
9 long years later, I finally took off on that solo trip of my own on a year long exchange to Brazil. And now, an additional 9 years later, I quit my job and bought a one way plane ticket to New Zealand. It’s been 5 months since then, and I now find myself on a whole other continent, in Southeast Asia.
Southeast Asia, albeit being rich in culture and history, isn’t as well known for it’s knitting. Leaving me unable to help but daydream, every so often, about one day visiting those exotic destinations whose history is entwined with that of knitting. Places that have influenced the history and culture of knitting in profound ways, in countries as far flung as Mongolia. This is my list of the dreamiest and most exotic destinations for knitters.
Quick disclaimer: This is by no means a complete list of all the countries that have a rich history of knitting (otherwise I would be missing some rather important ones, including the United Kingdom, Iceland, Estonia, etc.)! Rather, it is a bucket list of destinations where knitting is integrated into the culture, that I would one day love to visit.
I still have a lot of travelling left to do.
It’s been over a year now since the earthquakes, that killed near to 9,000 people, hit Nepal last April of 2015. Sadly enough, some villages that were destroyed by the earthquake still show no signs of rebuilding. In the village of Laprak, located near the epicenter of the 2016 earthquake, women have formed knitting circles as a means of economic growth, with the added benefit of bonding with other women affected by the earthquake.
On a brighter note, not only does Nepal have knitting, but it also is one of the greatest destinations in the world for hiking. Combining two of my loves in one place is why Nepal is at the top of my list. I’ve also heard that yak wool can be found in the streets of Kathmandu. There’s only one way to find out!
Japan is on my list for a few different reasons. First off, it never even occurred to me that Japan was a well known destination for knitting until I happened upon one of the most eye catching knitting magazines ever, Amirisu. This magazine is filled with elegant and modern patterns with instructions in both Japanese and English.
Also, on a recent visit to Hong Kong, I wandered through a book store, and drifted over to their ‘DIY and crafts’ section (naturally). I couldn’t find any books on knitting in either English or Mandarin (not that Mandarin would have helped, it was more out of curiosity), buuut Japanese? I found about a dozen different books filled with beautiful knitting and crochet patterns!
Not only that, but Japan seems to me to be this extremely technologically advanced country where you can go to a restaurant and be served by a robot. It’s a bit like traveling into an episode of the Jetsons.
Russians are so in love with their knitting that you can find yarn at practically every neighborhood shopping center. I never realized just how popular knitting in Russia really was until I started coming across account after account after account of beautiful knitting photos on Instagram, all of Russian knitters.
There’s just something about this country and it’s fascinating history that I can’t get enough of. The fact that such great literary works of art such as Crime and Punishment and War and Peace were all written in Russia is reason enough to want go and see it with my own eyes.
Peru was on my bucket list long before I started knitting seriously. And now that I consider myself to be a serious knitter? Well, now I’ve just run out of excuses not to go to this vibrant and colorful country. Alpacas, Macchu Picchu, and men who knit. What more could you ask for? This article featured in the Twist Collective provides an excellent overview of where to go and what to see if you are a serious knitter in Peru. And those lovely hats (also known as chullos) that caught your eye from the article? Well, they’re just so in right now! Fringe Association tells all.
Mongolia is among the most exotic and ‘foreign feeling’ of the five countries I have listed here. First of all, it’s not a country we often hear about in the news, and according to Wikitravel, has the lowest population density of all the countries in the world (1.7 people per squared km)! In fact, the three things that first come to my mind when I picture Mongolia are wild horses, nomads and yaks. So I did a bit more research.
Since camping is possible anywhere, resting is never a problem. Wherever there is water there are nomads, and if you stick to the major dirt-roads you will encounter plenty of guanz, who can provide huge cheap meals to keep you going. Adopting the Mongolian style of sleeping outdoors is also an option – wrap yourself in wool blankets and then cover yourself with a Russian raincoat (essentially a tarp in the form of a trench coat), and simply plop yourself down on the ground. One night sleeping this way gives a whole new appreciation for the wonders of sleeping bags and bivvy sacks/tents.
Talk about an adventure! It wasn’t as easy to find information on the knitting culture and traditions of Mongolia on the internet as it was for the other destinations. Much of the fibre produced from yak, sheep, and camels in Mongolia is exported to other countries.
By the way, if you’re as excited and interested about this whole topic of the culture of knitting in foreign countries as I am, then I highly advise you to check out the Gift of Knitting’s blog. She has a whole section devoted to World Crafters where she interviews knitters from all over the world.
Where’s your dream knitting destination?
You might also be interested in:
- WIP Wednesday in New Zealand
- The Fibre Exchange Part I: Merino Wool
- The Fibre Exchange Part II: Possum Fibre