Rosa Pomar

 wool lover & researcher / writer /  retrosaria 'Rosa Pomar' owner / wool yarn producer 

Knitted with "ZAGAL"

One of Rosa's Portuguese yarn called "ZAGAL"

Blanket made with her yarn called "Beiroa"

Cardigan Rosa knitted for her daughter with "ZAGAL"

FEP - What do you like about knitting?
Rosa Pomar -I like everything about knitting but first of all I like having the ability to create pieces of clothing that I and my loved ones can wear. I also love exploring different materials, tools and techniques. And of course, like anyone who knits, I love the wonderful feeling of relaxation you experience while knitting.

- What do you like about wool?
-Wool is my favorite textile fiber. Even before I started researching traditional textiles (you can see some videos here ) I enjoyed knitting, crocheting, embroidering and knitting with wool more than with any other fiber. I love the stretchiness of wool, so much easier on the needles than cotton, for example, I love the warm comfort you get from a wool jumper or a handwoven wool blanket on a cold day, or the feeling of a wool carpet under your feet. I also love sheep, they are tender and generous animals.

- What do you think the good things about portuguese wool are?
-For someone living in Portugal the first obvious reason to choose portuguese wool is the fact that it is a local resource, thus a more environmentally friendly choice. But there are many reasons: buying a totally handmade yarn such as Bucos contributes to the survival and continuity of very ancient knowledge and techniques. Portuguese sheep are healthily raised in the open. Most of their feeding is done through grazing on our hills and mountains. I have met many shepherds and I truly believe most of their sheep lead very happy lives - using portuguese wool certainly supports this non-intensive non-violent kind of animal breeding.

- What is the unique charactor about portuguese wool?
-Maybe the resilience of our sheep breeds, which are extremely adapted to the kind of habitat they live in. As all of them are “free range” and haven’t been intensively “engineered” in recent years to produce more milk or meat, I feel they are more interesting, “natural” animals. Also, the survival of our ancient techniques of processing wool by hand, which although endangered, are alive today in the hands of very special women from Trás-os-Montes to the Algarve and islands.


- When did you start making yarns with portuguese wool? and the reason why?
-My first yarn was born in 2010. For a long time I had been wondering where all the portuguese wool went, as none of the commercial knitting yarns I found were made from portuguese wool. I’ve realised portuguese large yarn companies disregarded (as they still do) portuguese wool because it isn’t as soft as australian merino. Softness isn’t what I first look for in a yarn. I enjoy different textures, different processes (wooden versus worsted yarns, for example), I enjoy the variety of the different natural shades of wool. I appreciate how different objects or garments require different kinds of yarn. And I was very eager to know more about or native sheep breeds, many of which are presently facing the risk of extinction.

 - What was your purpose or aim for producing them? and any achivements so far?
-I wanted to tell people about these problems (where did our sheep’s wool go to? how many sheep breeds are there in portugal? what is their wool like?) and I wanted to raise some awareness to the fact that our sheep breeds and wool related traditions are part of our national cultural heritage.

- What is best to use portuguese wool for? socks? jumpers?
-For centuries our wool has been used for weaving beautiful blankets and for knitting socks, hats and jumpers. Those are still the best uses for it. I have published a book about the history of knitting in Portugal, where I show many images of these knitted items. Did you know the japanese word for knitting comes from a portuguese word that means both sock and knit stitch? Some specialists say the portuguese first introduced knitting in Japan!

-Which Portuguese yarn of yours is most popular?
-Beiroa, because it has been around longer than the others, is the most popular. 

- Do you think that young people these days are interested in knitting?
-Yes, many young people are interested in knitting right now. For me it is a very positive thing to see this happening. Both my daughters have asked me to teach them how to knit and I know many other children who are learning this from their relatives and friends. 

- Do you receive many foreign customers at your shop?
-Yes, from all over the world. We love receiving them and chatting with them. Many knitters from other countries have never seen the portuguese technique of knitting, so it is always a pleasure for me to show them.

- What's most popular item?
-Foreign visitors always look for portuguese yarn, of course!

- Could you give me some information about your workshop. What was the reason you started it? What do you enjoy the most during the workshops? 
-I love teaching knitting and other textile techniques. Learning how to create something he or she can wear with nothing except two sticks and a ball of yarn is in my opinion a very empowering experience. That is probably why everyone has a big smile on their faces at the end of the workshop!


​March 2015

I was very attracted by what she does and hungry to hear more of her story. What she tells is inspirational and encouraging. I'm so glad to be able to share her story here.

The Retrosaria (yarn shop) "Rosa Pomar" is located in one of the old buildings in the central Lisbon. She also provides workshop for knitting sessions here.

Here is for more information about her shop. 

Rosa Pomar has a yarn shop in Lisbon, has published a book called 'Malhas Portuguesas' (Portuguese knittings) and she has produced beautiful authentic yarns with Portuguese wool.

She is a passionate wool researcher and a creator.

I love her style and dedication towards her work. Her shop is bright, colourful and so charming. Rosa Pomar is still in search of finding new breed of wool to be turned into another great yarn. I'm always looking forward to meeting with her new creations.   

Click here for Rosa's products

Rosa has produced 6 yarns using Portuguese wool so far but she is dedicated in making more. On a wall at her shop, there is a framed map of Portugal with illustrations of 14 different sheep breeds available across the country . Looking at the map, Rosa told me that her aim is to produce yarn with all of those breeds. I cannot wait to see her next new yarn.