Please read all the comments – this yarn market seems to have been demolished!
A while back, one of my knitting mates, Lynn, suggested a day trip to Guangzhou to look for yarn. Guangzhou is about a 2 hour train trip from Hong Kong, and is the center of the the Pearl River garment manufacturing; thus probably the center of garment manufacturing for the world. Our fellow knitter, and teacher extraordinaire, Yam thought that the trip seemed like fun and decided to join us. We had no addresses to speak of, only the address of the China Fabrics and Accessories Center advertised on the bus in the photo above, the knowledge that there was knitting yarn to be found in Guangzhou, and a fluent Mandarin speaker in Lynn. I am sure that I had a conversation with Maryann where she told me that she had found cashmere in a Guangzhou fabric market, but I forgot to get the address from her.
Anyhow, we exited Guangzhou railway station (where there is NO tourist information) and deftly dodged a tout who told us that the wholesale fabric market was “very far” and that Guangzhou was “very big” and that it would cost 250 renminbi to take us there, and we tried our luck with a metered taxi. You would need the address written in Chinese for the taxi – we took ours from this website. 27 renminbi later, we were dropped in the middle of fabric and notions nirvana. I have wandered around the garment district in New York, and spent hours in Sham Shui Po in Hong Kong, and this district is massive in comparison. The problem that we faced was in trying to track down the yarn. While we were wandering around a bewildering array of lace stalls, Lynn asked a man where we could buy hand knitting yarn. He told her that we needed to go somewhere else, and that a further taxi trip was required. He did write down the address of the district with the hand knitting yarn.
The next taxi drove us to the back blocks somewhere, to an industrial estate that looked exceedingly unpromising. Dirty, dusty and full of industrial sewing machine shops, and insulation retailers. The taxi driver suggested (ably translated by Lynn) that he drive us around to see if any yarn could be found. We couldn’t see yarn, but spotted a knitter, and Lynn asked her where we should go. The knitter pointed, and said “over there is the best place in Guangzhou to buy yarn”. We said good-bye to the taxi and found this shop.
Boxes of yarn! Mostly gorgeous, soft, nice yarn. Some cashmere blends! We then looked around from there and realised there were about 30 stalls all selling yarn. There were sacks of novelty yarn around the place.
There were a few stalls selling knitting needles, but there were all the kind typically used in China, huge long double pointed needles.
This is not a place to go if you need a “full service” yarn shopping experience. No English at all was spoken. All shops seemed to require that you purchase a whole box of yarn in any colour (typically 400 or 500 grams). Most yarns were not labelled in English, and if they were, the labels were not necessarily helpful. This was my favorite:
I suppose that you could use this yarn to knit a hat to prevent the CIA from reading your thoughts?
Its the kind of place where people park their bike in the middle of the stalls, and a woman who was assisting us literally thew an empty soy milk container over her shoulder when she was finished with it.
The flooring was made from packing crates and cardboard, and I was perplexed about how they packed up the stalls every night. Of course, we all bought yarn. I got some gorgeous pale blue laceweight, some chocolate brown cashmere/merino blend with the most amazing sheen, and some navy merino yarn. Given the number of pictures already in this post, I’ll save them for another day.
If you want to visit, print off the business cards below (clicking on the picture will bring up a full size link), and hand them to a taxi driver in Guangzhou. The return trip to the main railway station was under 30 renminbi. Maybe one of my readers who can also read Chinese will be able to identify the most useful business cards?
It was a fabulous day. Lynn’s Mandarin abilities were amazing, as were Yam’s fibre identification skills. We had a lovely local meal together afterwards, and knitted on the train on both directions.