But this year brings some updates. Pronksi Lõngapood, a yarn shop on Aia Street that carried a variety of colors of 8/2 wool yarn for mittens, was gone. 8/2 wool refers to the weight or thickness of the yarn. The 8 indicates the thickness of a single ply of the yarn and the 2 tells us that the yarn is a 2-ply yarn. In the wool numbering system, the larger the first number is, the finer the yarn. To make things more confusing, Americans refer to this same yarn as 2/8 wool AND there is a separate, unique numbering system for cotton. 8/2 cotton yarn is not the same weight as 8/2 wool yarn AND in the cotton numbering system, the larger the first number is, the thicker the cotton yarn is (not finer, like wool).
While making my way to Liann Lõngad, a yarn shop near the Kaubamaja department store, I found a new shop, Käsitööpood Pärl ja Lõngad, in the Solaris shopping center.
Käsitööpood Pärl ja Lõngad opened in September, 2013, and they carry yarn and beads and even some handknitted Haapsalu shawls! If you can't make it to Estonia but want to buy a shawl, you can find some lovely handknitted Haapsalu shawls on Etsy: here.
But maybe you're a knitter, like me, and want to knit your own. Jolleri käsitöö at Müürivahe 11 had some nice Haapsalu shawl yarn (really fine, 32/2 wool!) as well as some nice colors of Leeni, their brand of 8/2 wool, that will be nice for mittens.
Haapsalu-style shawl knit by MaryGtheKnitter
When I got to Riga, Latvia, I was also on the lookout for yarn shops. Hobbywool, at Maza Pils iela 6, is a popular stop for many knitters. Yarn bombing on the building, mitten kits so that you can "Knit Like a Latvian," and cards and postcards for knitters grabbed my attention.
Tīnes, located at R. Vāgnera 5 in Riga, is a wonderful shop that sells handknit mittens and other knitwear but also carries their own brand of 8/2 wool for knitting your own mittens. They have a website here.
And one of my favorite finds for yarn was the bookstore, Zvaigzne ABC. A new Latvian friend, Mara, told me about Limbažu Tīne, an 8/2 wool yarn made in Latvia, that is available in a wide range of colors and at a great price (just under 2 € per 100 grams in July, 2014). Zvaigzne ABC has many locations. I found a good selection of colors at their K. Valdemāra iela 6 location.
Whether it's yarn or knitwear you're looking for, I think you'll find it in Estonia and Latvia!