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Portugal Travels Pt 1: Lisbon and Portuguese Knitting

Amber and I just returned from a trip to Portugal! We were there for two weeks and were able to explore a lot of the country. It was amazing. This week we will be reporting about our trip and some of the places we were able to visit. 

We traveled with some of our industry friends on this trip: Karen Templer of Fringe Association, Anna Dianich of Tolt Yarn and Wool, Keli Faw of Drygoods Design, and Malia Joseph of Stephen and Penelope. Our friend Rosa Pomar, who owns Retrosaria Rosa Pomar in Lisbon helped us plan the trip and traveled with us. Of course, our first stop in Lisbon was her shop!

Retrosaria Rosa Pomar is a gem of a shop. It is a tiny space located on the 2nd floor of a bustling street in Lisbon. Rosa specializes in Portuguese yarns that she produces herself working with farmers around Portugal. Her yarns highlight the unique properties of Portuguese wool, several of which we now carry at Fancy Tiger! She has done a ton of work to promote the wool industry in Portugal. It was so great to see all of her special yarns in person. 

Rosa's shop also stocks some beautiful made-in-Portugal goods such as woven goods, leather shoes and baskets. Almost everyone on our trip came home with a pair of these beautiful sandals. 

After we had some time to shop, Rosa and her staff took us to their classroom in the back and Rosa gave us a lesson in Portuguese knitting. Portuguese knitting is a style of knitting where you hold the working yarn in the left hand and tension the yarn around your neck. Portuguese knitting makes it easier to purl than knit so stockinette stitch in the round is worked from the wrong side using all purl stitches. It's true! I love purling in Portuguese knitting! We also got to practice a bit of color work in Portuguese knitting. To execute colorwork, pins are used on your clothes through which you run your yarns to tension them and colorwork is also worked from the back side. It is so amazing to learn new techniques and completely new ways of knitting when you've been doing it so long. We all felt like beginners again for a bit, but we were able to get it down pretty quickly. 

Pastel de Nata is a Lisbon treat you have to try if you get the chance. Pastel de Nata is a flaky dough filled with a custard that is best enjoyed still hot from the oven. Retrosaria Rosa Pomar just happens to be across the street from one of Lisbon's top bakeries for Pastel de Nata, Manteigaria. Rosa was sweet enough to provide us with Pastel de Nata from this shop for our class...knitting + delicious pastry = the best!

We passed dozens of other adorable "retrosarias", or haberdasheries. Lisbon is a definitely craft-loving town!

Portugal is known for their wool, among other things. Lisbon is full of beautiful shops selling woven and fulled wool blankets and shawls. Coming up on the trip, we'll visit the Burel factory in the mountains of northern Portugal, but in Lisbon, we visited their beautiful retail shop. They had all sorts of things made from their wool fabric, including the most amazing modern sheep footstools! If only we could have fit one in our luggage! Chi Coração is a shop in Lisbon that makes beautifully patterned woven blankets, and also makes unique stunning jackets from the colorful, heavy wool jacquard. A Vida Portuguesa is a must-see for Portuguese made goods, and their shelves were full of colorful woven blankets in cotton and wool. 

Stayed tuned for tomorrow's post where we travel north and get a lesson in carding, spinning and weaving from the women of Bucos village!

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