LYS (sorta) Review: Spinners Web, Nairobi, Kenya
I’ve often complained that I have no Local Yarn Shop (LYS) in Nairobi, so you may be wondering how I’m doing this review. However, contrary to what you might expect from its name or its logo, Spinners Web is not strictly a yarn or fiber store. It is, however, delightful, so bear with me.
Spinners Web is the best place I know in Nairobi to buy souvenirs and gifts. We’ve done much of our Christmas and birthday shopping there over the past few years, which has also coincided with an increasingly larger selection of knitting-related items. While there are many opportunities to obtain some of the same products cheaper at local markets, the aggressive haggling that is expected of the buyer can leave me exhausted. Spinners Web, on the other hand, feels calm and relaxed, though initially overwhelming.
Spinners Web is stocked with arts and crafts from a variety of sellers and organized into rabbit warrens that have different feels and personalities. There’s the room my family refers to as “the man room,” in that it has lots of gifts good for men. Think leather and items revolving around drinking. Another room has beaded jewelry, another baskets and carved gourds, still another traditional African carvings. But about a year ago, a tiny basement room appeared with YARN.
Oh, the colors. With what I’m assuming is achieved with natural dyes, the yarn at Spinners Web ranges through various rich shades such that it’s hard for me to pick a favorite. Put-ups are in both hanks and cakes, with the weight and yardage varying from item to item. Unfortunately, the yarn, which I believe is 100% wool, isn’t the greatest. It’s a bit itchy and a bit inconsistent and a bit veggie – because it’s probably handspun. I actually think it would be ideal for weaving, and the group selling it out of Spinners Web is actually called Kenya Weaverbird.
On my last visit, there was yet another new addition: a vase of random and probably second-hand straight needles, as well as a 100% Kenyan Merino (though I wouldn’t have guessed it) yarn called Teta. A 100g skein was priced at about $11, though it was marked to 50% off.
However, you don’t have to knit to appreciate the yarny products. I found crocheted critters, and one seller specializes in taking old sweaters and turning them into stuffed animals.
There were also several items for sale from Kenana Knitters, a Kenyan handknitting collective with hundreds of knitters and spinners who produce adorable toys, mostly the traditional safari animals.
Of particular note was this person-sized elephant, which *maybe* approached something close to a fair price, even with the Spinners Web overhead, at more than $500.
As I’ve said, I highly recommend Spinners Web for souvenir and gift shopping, though the yarn hasn’t managed to tempt me. The sheer size of the place and variety of items can be overwhelming, so set a budget and plan plenty of time. If it all gets to be too much, there’s always the courtyard cafe for a break.
Spinner’s Web is located on Peponi Road in Westlands, Nairobi, Kenya. Their website is http://www.spinnerswebkenya.com.