Artist, weaver and friend, Meg Fussell, visits Portugal and is kind enough to share her experience with us. Thank you, Meg!
When we landed in Lisbon, a local told me that April was the rainy season and to not be too disappointed by the gloomy weather forecast. But how could we be? Even though the skies were filled with dark clouds, the city was still alive with color, the orange tiled rooftops & leafy trees cascading across the skyline and overlooking the water.
Lisbon is often called the ‘San Francisco of Europe’ because of the bright yellow, rickety tramcars swerving up and down the endless hills. It is also known for brightly colored ceramic floral & geometric tiles that decorate the buildings around the city. Even the pavements are painstakingly embellished in black & white tiled designs of stars, boats and mermaids.
Outside the city you can explore Cascais, a little seaside town with beaches bordering the Atlantic, or Sintra, a heritage town on top of a mountain with decorated palaces and castles overlooking the sea. There are never ending sources for inspiration and color for the creative person throughout Portugal.
Although I didn’t have the opportunity to discover many fiber arts on my holiday, Anna recommended I should definitely visit Rosa Pomar in her little shop, Retrosaria, an oasis for yarn lovers near the Barrio Alto quarter in Lisbon.
Tucked away on the second floor was Rosa's little world. Her shop carries beautiful yarns & accessories, including some of the softest Portuguese wool and an assortment of vibrant fabrics. Amongst the variety of yarn I recognized the beautiful Bucos wool already carried in Tolt and Rosa even pointed out a massive box in the back room over spilling with wool ready to be shipped to Carnation!
In the middle of the shop was a basket with a selection of Beiroa wool in the most brilliant colors. From ‘azul eléctrico’, a particularly vibrant shade of blue, to a soft ‘amarelo’ yellow, these skeins are seemingly inspired by the vibrant colors found around Lisbon. This particular yarn is made for Retrosaria using the wool from Bordaleira Serra da Estre sheep in Portugal. There are flecks and twists of dark brown fiber featured in each skein adding a natural feel to the wool.
There was no question; I had to have some Portuguese wool for my stash! If I hadn’t been travelling with only my hand luggage, I probably would have bought the whole basket of Beiroa, but instead I choose one special skein in dusky pink called ‘rosa velho’ or ‘old pink’.
It was our second to last day in Lisbon, and to meet Rosa was a lovely way to finish off our trip. Her little shop is simply wonderful and definitely a destination place for any fiber lovers travelling through Portugal.
Thankfully, the weather held out for us, and we were able to enjoy some fantastic days exploring the city in the sun. We ate the most decadent egg tarts and picked over vintage stalls at the ‘Thieves Market’. We even had a chance to lie out on the beach! Overall, we found Lisbon to be a vibrant & colorful city, full of inspiration. On my return to London, inspired by the geometric tiles and using my ‘rosa velho’ skein of Beiroa, I created a tapestry weaving to remind me of my travels to picturesque Portugal.
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