Travelling with a craft addiction: Spain

I have been in Spain for a few weeks. This is a craft blog, not a travel blog, so I will not bore you with thousands of holiday snaps. Instead, I will tell you about the fun fabric and yarn shops I explored in Spain, between visits to Córdoba, Granada, Toledo and Sevilla.

One of my biggest packing decisions was which small project to take in my hand luggage to keep myself busy on the plane. I took the lace scarf I seem to have been knitting forever. Before I checked in for each flight, I showed the check-in desk and security people my circular knitting needle while it was still possible to transfer my knitting to my check-in suitcase before it disappeared on a conveyor belt. Each time, my circular needle was given the okay, but I suspect airports’ and airlines’ policies vary, so always check.

I flew with Qatar Airways, and was able to knit my way through four long flights and some downtime in Doha and Barcelona airports.

Knitting on aeroplanes

My hand luggage included my knitting, including this Addi circular needle. I will reveal what this knitted lacy mess is in a later post.

I took a small appliqué project too in case I finished my scarf, but this was wishful thinking. It never left my suitcase. Spain is full of attractions that kept me entertained, I am a slow knitter and I find I can only knit for the first half of a 24-hour journey. In the latter half I get so crazy-tired that I make mistakes that I only have to unpick and reknit later. I watched movies – varying from Oscar-nominated to French, Japanese and Bollywood films, as well as some lightweight comedies when I was the most tired – or tried to sleep instead.

So, here is a list of the craft shops I visited in Madrid and Barcelona. I did not take photos in the shops. I do not know why, but I always feel awkward asking for permission. To find out more and see photos of each shop, follow the links to each shop’s website. Many have English areas in their websites.


Julián López

The first stop on my craft tour of Spain was Julián López, a fabric shop on Gran Vía, a busy Madrid thoroughfare. We walked past it by accident and spotted it because of its eye-catching window displays full of fabric and bicycles.

The shop had every type of fabric available, and the service by smartly suited men, who patiently answered my dodgy Spanish questions, was excellent. Their patchwork range included Italian- and Spanish-made fabrics that I was unfamiliar with, as well as the usual imports from Japan and the USA.

I was most impressed by the many colours of velvet they had. I love velvet, but it seems to be limited here in Australia; I suspect our climate is just a bit too warm for it.

I did not buy anything, but I blame that on the fact it was my first day in Spain and the store was a little overheated for me, who was dressed in my winter woollens. I found the Madrid shops’ tendency to heat inside to 25 degrees Celsius a little uncomfortable.

Black Oveja

Before dinner one day, and while my travelling companion rested her tired feet after a day exploring Madrid, I took advantage of Spain’s extended shopping hours to walk from our hotel to Black Oveja, a cute little sewing and knitting boutique on Calle de Sagasta.

When I was there in the late afternoon, people were trickling in with food and wine to start a knitting group or class. The shop had a friendly, almost clubhouse atmosphere, with half of the small space allocated to a classroom.

They had a small but interesting selection of patchwork and craft fabrics, including many Japanese imports, and a gorgeous supply of yarns. I was tempted to buy some beautiful coral yarn to make myself a scarf, but the knowledge that I have a mountain of unknitted sock yarn at home held me back. I bought two fat quarters.

Black Oveja, Madrid

I was restrained with my purchases at Black Oveja in Madrid.

I was admiring the Spanish craft books and magazines and explaining that I do not read Spanish well enough to buy them. (My ability to read is still better than my ability to speak, so you can imagine how stilted all my Spanish conversations were.) The shop guy smiled a cheeky smile and said that he also had books in Japanese. I bet he did not expect me to answer that I can speak Japanese! His facial expression was priceless! It was interesting to see that the fashion for cute Japanese crafts is flourishing in Spain too.

FYI, oveja means sheep. You can see a little sheep in their logo.

Lanas El Gato Negro

Oooh! A knitter’s and crocheter’s dream! Lanas El Gato Negro has walls and walls of beautiful skeins (not balls) of yarn and everything a knitter or crocheter could want, and all in an easy-to-find location near the Plaza Mayor.

I was really cursing all those unknitted balls of sock yarn at home at this point.



Nunoya, on Carrer de la Palla in Barcelona’s Barri Gòtic district, has a thoroughly beautiful range of Japanese imported craft fabrics. I could not and did not resist temptation. The staff speak English, Spanish and Japanese and probably Catalan too, given that the shop is in Barcelona.

I bought five fat quarters of cute Japanese cotton drill weight fabrics and two small pieces of Liberty lawn to add to my collection. I did not buy the tanuki print I also loved, and I have been cursing myself since.

Nunoya Japanese fabrics, Barcelona

I had fun choosing fabrics at Nunoya, a specialist in Japanese fabrics.

Mercat Gòtic

One day a week, the Mercat Gòtic pops up in the square outside Barcelona’s cathedral, Plaça de la Catedral. It is an antiques and collectibles market. I was the happiest little sewer when I found two thimbles that fit me in one of the stalls. I also learned a new Spanish word: dedal (thimble).

The stallholder reassured me they are silver. Frankly, I do not care. I like them.

Mercat Gòtic, Barcelona

I bought two thimbles at the Barri Gòtic antiques and collectibles market in Barcelona.

Mercería Santa Ana

Also in the Barri Gòtic district, on Portal de L’Àngel, is Mercería Santa Ana. This place was a cultural experience; it was shopping the old-fashioned way. From what I could tell, the customers line up at the counter and the staff serve them. You do not just pick up what you want and take it to the counter to pay. For example, sample buttons are sorted on cards by colour and type, you chose the card with the button you want and then take it to the counter where the shop assistant pulls out your buttons from drawers. Other customers were being helped to choose fabrics from sample books at the counter. Little was on display.

It was all a bit confusing and overwhelming for someone with a tenuous grasp of the local language. The queue for service was long. I left with the impression that they have everything you could want in hidden storerooms, but it is not a shop for aimless browsing.

I did spot some very pretty buttons, hand-made in Catalonia.

Craft shopping in Spain

This is all my crafty loot from my Spanish holiday.

Do not think that all I did was fabric shopping. Spain was wonderful. I saw amazing Roman ruins, cathedrals, mosques, synagogues, walled towns, art galleries and countryside. I ate great food and drank delicious wines. I tortured the friendly local people with my painful attempts at their language. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and hope I get the chance to go back.

Carla at the Alhambra

Okay, so maybe I will post just one holiday snap to prove I really did go to Spain. Here I am at the Alhambra.

I have to thank Kate of Tall Tales from Chiconia for her excellent tips and suggestions for things to see and do in Barcelona, especially her suggestion to visit Nunoya and La Boqueria (the place to go if you love food).

I also have to thank my patient travelling companion, my stepdaughter. She does not have a craft addiction but she humoured this craft addict by letting me spend time in craft shops between sightseeing excursions. She also talked me out of a flamenco outfit when we were surrounded by beautiful dresses in the many specialist shops in Sevilla. If only I had an occasion to wear one!

Luisa Pérez & Riu moda flamenca

It was so very tempting to buy a flamenco outfit in Seville. Perhaps I will just have to sew myself one.

19 thoughts on “Travelling with a craft addiction: Spain

  1. It looks and sounds like you had a wonderful time! I love the red fabric with the bunnies on it! I have been to Barcelona but wasn’t lucky enough to find those fabric stores! Thanks for the links- I may do some internet travelling and have a look around!

    • And this was just one of the many lovely flamenco shop window displays.
      I did buy some non-fabric souvenirs too, such as ceramics and a paella pan. Thank goodness Qatar Airways has a generous luggage allowance!

  2. Love your choice of fabric :). Do you have a project in mind for each of them? I’ve just bought myself some apple fabric, but frustratingly have to wait two weeks for it to arrive!
    Glad you had a wonderful holiday. My daughter is currently studying Spanish and has been living over there for four months.

    • Only the Liberty and the notebook print are suitable for patchwork. The rest, which are heavier, will probably become household items like bags and kitchen things and pincushions. I think the apples would look nice in a kitchen.
      I had my ‘holiday brain’ in gear, so I made impulse decisions based on what I want not what I need. 🙂
      I am sure your daughter is having a great time. I hope you take the excuse to go visit while she is there!

    • I loved Spain! I didn’t know about the Mercado de Motores. It looks like the sort of fabulous place in which I could lose a whole day. Now I have an excuse to go back. 🙂
      I am hoping I can go back and take my husband, who I think will also love Spain.

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  4. I have just loved reading about your travels through Spain. Having just returned from Portugal, I really liked reading about your shop visits. Quilt and fabric shops in Portugal were few and far between, but I had so much fun seeking them out and of course purchasing some local fabrics to take home with me. Thanks for sharing your travels….

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