On Saturday, my fiber lust took Ron and me to Mama Bear (小熊媽媽, xiǎo xióng mā ma), a craft superstore on North YanPing Road, Section 1, No. 51 (here’s the address in Chinese and telephone number: 台北市延平北路一段51, (02)2550-8899), which is located right next to the Taipei Main Station’s underground shopping mall. I’ve seen Mama Bear listed time and time again as the main source for craft supplies in Taipei and its yarn selection certainly did not disappoint:

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The selection of yarn included high-quality natural fiber (including alpaca), novelties like variegated ribbon, acrylic and other easy-care synthetics and, most importantly, needles! Lots and lots of needles! Bamboo and metal, straights, circulars and, most importantly, double-pointed 6-inch needles in a range of sizes, which I’ve had a very difficult time finding in Taipei for some reason. Unfortunately, Mama Bear did not have any proper sock yarns, but I did find some Nikke Victor 100% wool yarn which is the right gauge (in general, I prefer knitting fine gauge items on size 0-3 needles).

The store’s other craft supplies focused mainly on beading, jewelry-making and knotting, though there was a tiny selection of quilting fabrics and sewing notions. Most of the beads were plastic or glass and a bit too trendy for my taste. On our way out, however, Ron and I ran into this huge new bead store called 水晶超市 (shuǐ jīng chāo shì, literally Crystal Supermarket) that had just opened near Mama Bear at North YanPing Road, Section 1, No. 19 (台北市延平北路一段19, (02) 2555-0025 or (02) 2555-0026). Here is an outside shot that gives you some idea of the selection (the store is heavily patrolled by staff, so I didn’t want to take photos inside):

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The craziest thing about the store are the prices. Every strand you see is some sort of semi-precious stone–turquoise, coral, amethyst, rose quartz, freshwater pearl, tourmaline, tiger eye, etc.–but most of the strands cost only NT$150, or approximately US$5. When I was living in New York City, the cheapest places to go shopping for beads were along Broadway around 28th Street in the garment wholesale district, but the very same strands of beads sold in those stores for at least $12. The most expensive strand I saw at Crystal Superstore was a string of rough-cut watermelon tourmaline rounds for NT$400, or about US$14. I had to leave all of my beading supplies behind in the U.S., so I’m glad to have a new source in Taipei.

In other news, I finally got an invitation to join Ravelry, the ultimate Internet knitting forum:

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The site is still in its beta/testing stage, so I had to wait two weeks after signing up, but it’s well worth the wait. It is a particularly useful resource for expat knitters because, in addition to there being an expat group, you can also research user-uploaded pictures of projects made from yarn you might want to purchase on the Internet. I want to form a Taiwan group, so if you happen to be a Ravelry member, come and find me at catherinejr.