In Porto: Ovelha Negra

Pode ler No Porto: Ovelha Negra em Português

Joana Nossa (standing) and one of the knitters of All Knit Long (also Joana)

Joana Nossa (standing) and one of the knitters of All Knit Long (also Joana)

One of my favourite places in Porto is a knitting shop, Ovelha Negra.  Not just because I love to knit and the yarns are beautiful, but because the owner, Joana Nossa, has created a wonderful atmosphere of wecome, light-heartedness and creativity.  In addition, the shop is set in a wonderful neighbourhood filled with lots of small shops each with their unique products and points of view, so it’s a nice point to begin or end a long wandering walk.

Joana's famous legs!

Joana’s famous legs!

When she was only eight years old, Joana discovered two passions:  dance, and knitting, but like many of us, she was not permitted to follow her passions in school and university.  But, one day, a small notice for dance auditions caught her attention.  Without any professional experience, she auditioned – and began a successful career as a contemporary dancer performing around Portugal and the world.  You can still admire her legs on the album cover of Luis Ribeiro´s music for her performance of The Red Shoes in Vila Nova da Famalicão.

I am always curious how people start their businesses.  For Joana there came a time to move on from the dancing – she had a child, and wanted a more settled life.  So, she decided to pursue her other great passion – knitting – and open a yarn shop.

Joana had no commercial experience or training, nothing but “courage and foolhardiness” in her words.  Her family were worried, but she went ahead and used only her own savings to “rent a space, buy some yarn and needles, and open the shop” as she modestly describes it.

The colours and the quality of the yarn is spectacular

The colours and the quality of the yarn is spectacular

In fact some smart thinking went into her planning and choices:

Porto has a number of yarn shops, but they are all quite traditional, offering the same very basic yarns year after year, and excepting the wools of Porto-based Lopo Xavier, most of the available yarns are acrylic or synthetic blends.  Joana saw the opportunity to bring to Porto the latest in fashion-driven, artesenal knitting and fibre design.

Ovelha Negra is located in an area of Porto well-known for its art galleries, used book stores, cafés and independent shops, so there are always lots of people wandering around, curious to look at everything.  Additionally, it is near Trindade (the hub of the Metro system) and Aliados (the starting point of many a tourist’s explorations of Porto).

To decide what yarns to stock, Joana spent considerable time on Ravelry – the renowned on-line community of knitting and fibre enthusiasts – and looked at the projects and yarn-stashes of Portuguese knitters to see what they were buying, using and loving.

At the same time as opening the shop, Joana also started the Ovelha Negra blog – which is a visual feast whether or not you can read the Portugese – and the Ovelha Negra on-line store.

She started small with just a few of the best-known, highest quality and most sought-after brands of yarn, including Rowan, Debbie Bliss and Noro.  She offered needles, pattern magazines and books, as well as courses in knitting for all levels, from absolute beginners to developing techniques to designing your own jumpers.  Joana has also regularly invited skilled friends to offer workshops in related arts, such as crochet, spinning, felting, weaving, embroidery, patchwork and making Waldorf dolls.

Her business has grown steadily every year since opening in 2009, despite the hard times in Portugal, and Joana has been able to expand her selection of yarns and products.   Her shop is the focal point of a very active knitting community, and the first Wednesday of every month sees a dedicated group knitting (and talking!!) till midnight at the shop, All Knit Long.  We have even attracted the attention of video-journalists and the press.

All Knit Long, the first Wednesday evening of every month

All Knit Long, the first Wednesday evening of every month

When you visit Porto, you should join us at Ovelha Negra.

Ovelha Negra
Rua da Conceição, 100
4050-214 Porto
tlf: +351 220935847

The opening hours are:
Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 14:00 to 19:00
Saturday from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 14:00 to 18:00

9 thoughts on “In Porto: Ovelha Negra

  1. Pingback: No Porto: Ovelha Negra | Wine, Woman, Travel

  2. Wonderful. I can see why you’d be drawn to this place. I would, too, and I don’t even knit. The walls are like a canvas and the yarns are her paint. Gorgeous space. And what a great story.

  3. I love knitting too and I liked this post. Prior to being a blogger I was a knitter but now I lack the time. Most of all, I want to compliment you on the bilingual entries – lovely job – well done!

    • Hi Timethief! I let my knitting go a while when I first focussed on my professional blogging here in Porto, but then I was trying to find a way to get out of the house and meet people, I looked for a yarn shop thinking I could find a knitting group – and that was how I discovered Ovelha Negra, and took up my knitting again. It has added a wonderful dimension to my life here.

  4. Pingback: Wine, Woman, Travel blog | Ovelha Negra

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