Everything else can wait until I finish this row…

Another LYS Bites the Dust

I am sorry to say that my old Local Yarn Shop in Southern California, Colors91711, is closing its doors on January 11, 2015. Colors was a great place for any fiber loving person to go, I know because not only did I shop there but because I also worked there.

This little shop was owned by two great ladies and managed by a self proclaimed yarn goddess (appropriately named, you can follow her on Twitter @SchmevelynWees). The fiber friendly environment that was nurtured by these women created a local yarnie community that is so hard to come by and impossible to replicate. The first time visitor was welcomed as warmly as the regular customer.

Colors was the first place where I felt confident and empowered by my knitting abilities. Before I started working there I was unsure of my skills always talking myself down as an adventurous beginner, willing to try any new technique but not really proficient in any. I used to think that everyone else was a more advanced knitter than I was, but I soon realized that I had a lot of knowledge that I could share too. Truth is there will always be someone more advanced than you, but to others you might be that someone. I still remember the day in which I kept a customer from bursting into tears simply by suggesting that she put a marker between every pattern repeat so that she could keep track of her progress more easily. It was pure joy to see the “AH HA!” moment she had when this one little tip made her knitting experience enjoyable once again. It was one for me as well, because it taught me that I could help others just by sharing my love of the craft. I love those moments!

Colors91711 was undoubtably a huge stepping stone in my knitting journey and I am saddened that they are ending theirs. All I can say is thank you for everyone that I met while there and I wish all of the yarnie community there happy knitting!

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LYS in Boston, MA

Yesterday we drove up to Boston, MA because my husband needed to go to the Japanese Consulate, while he was conducting his business there the baby and I went to check out one of the many yarn shops in Beantown.  In my days before baby I would’ve turned the afternoon into a yarn crawl and tried to hit at least three local yarn shops, but when you’re dealing with a car seat, a diaper bag, a knitting bag and a purse, you quickly decide that one shop will suffice.  So I opted to check out the Stitch House Dorchester and I was so glad I did!  This LYS is bright and colorful, also very festive with some winter and holiday decorations still up.  The walls are a bright fuscia with the quote “There is nothing more special than what we make by hand” greeting and encouraging you to knit on.

The store was empty (not many people were out during yesterday’s frigid temperatures) except for the owner, her employee and a sleeping greyhound.  The owner was quick to allow me to change my son’s diaper at her back table.  The back of the store is a sewing studio as this LYS also focuses on a sewing and quilting.  After the diaper business was resolved, I got the best customer service ever!  Annissa, the owner, offered to hold my baby while I browsed the shop and she actually rocked him to sleep!  How fantastic is that?

So I had the opportunity to browse the shelves, which were nicely organized and clearly labeled.  Not only were the prices displayed, but the weight of the yarn was also tagged in each cubby.  I love it when a shop is so nicely arranged.  They had the usual national brands: Cascade, Blue Sky, Spud & Chloe, Artyarn, etc.  As always I asked to see the local spun and/or dyed yarn. Turns out they dye their own yarn too!  A lot of it was bumpy or thick & thin yarn, which isn’t my preference. There was a cubby with Knittink Yarn, which had vivid colors and fun comic book inspired name; but most of it was sock yarn and I’m trying to use up what I have in my stash.  I was surprised to have found some La Jolla sock yarn by Baah!, which is the yarn I am using to make my baby’s sweater.  I know I am not going to have enough yarn to finish the project I am currently working with, so when I realized they sold the yarn that I thought was sold only in Southern California I hoped that they would have more of the Maori Jade colorway that I am using.  Sadly that wasn’t the case.  They also didn’t have a nice bright yellow which is the color I’ve decided to make the ribbing to give it some contrast.  However, I did find the shade of yellow I wanted from Frogtree Yarn so in the end that’s what I purchased.

I spent a few hours at Stitch House Dorchester knitting (the baby blissfully slept most of the time, I only had to do one other diaper change) and it would have been a perfect afternoon if only I hadn’t gotten a parking ticket! GRR!  That sucked, but I was there longer than 2 hours, so I can’t really fault anyone but myself for not having moved the car.  In the end, I would absolutely recommend visiting this shop if you ever have a reason to go to Boston.  I know I’ll go back if I’m ever in the area again.

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Thanksgiving Yarn Crawl: Baltimore, MD to Atlanta, GA

Sales Associate, politely: “Are you a knitter or crochetter?” 

Me, with a straight face: “I’m Bi.”

Laughter fills the shop.

That’s how my Thanksgiving Yarn Crawl started out, with lots of laughter and jokes about being Bi-stitchual at The Knitting Boutique in Baltimore, MD.  This is a great little shop just outside of the Baltimore-Washington International Airport.  I mean that quite literally, it had me thinking that the next time I have a layover at BWI, I am getting on a cab to take me to this yarn store, its just 10 minutes away!  My husband also liked this shop; he could get a cup of tea, there was plenty of seating and even a computer that he could spend some time on.  It was very non-knitter friendly, which is important since often times non-knitters are often the financiers  of our hobby.

I loved the layout and set up of this shop: there was a private conference room in the back for classes, complimentary coffee and tea, a spacious and clean bathroom, a comfy couch in front of a fire place, the aforementioned desktop for knitters to log onto Ravelry, and an organized display of yarny goodness.   The inventory of this shop was so nice as were the sales associates who patiently answered my questions.  I had heard of Shibui Yarns, but this was my first in-person encounter with the brand and it was as soft as was described.  Ditto with the Collinette brand of yarns.  I wish I had brought some home with me, but this was my first stop and I couldn’t afford to blow out my entire Yarn Crawl budget.  I ended up with a skein of Cascade Sock Yarn that was a similar color to the Collinette Jitterbug yarn that I kept gravitating towards.  As per my husband’s rule I already have a pattern picked out for this yarn, now that I got my sock knitting groove back, I want to make the Marion by Michaela Moores (Knitscene, Accessories 2012).

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Yarn Crawl in São Paulo, Brazil

It is not my intention to make all my blog posts about Yarn Crawls, but I have made two unique ones just last month and I want to share it while it is still fresh in my mind.

After the Cross Country Yarn Crawl, my husband and I took a trip down to Brazil before starting work and settling into our new home.   The last time we were in Brazil I had never experienced a good yarn crawl and after the one cross country I wanted to go international, so I started trying to find LYS in Brazil.   This proved to be a bit challenging; I checked my Brazilian groups on Ravelry, Knitmap, even did web searches in Portuguese on the Brazilian search engines and didn’t come up with much.  I did encounter a blog in Portuguese where these two friends listed different on-line sources for buying yarn in Brazil and abroad.  Most of their listings proved to be major craft shops that are similar to Michael’s, but it was there that I found Empório das Lãs, a LYS in São Paulo, and Fazenda Caixa Dágua, a farm that produces wool in the state of Rio Grande do Sul.

I have never been to Rio Grande do Sul and wasn’t able to make any plans to go to the farm, but I was really excited to have found a Brazilian wool manufacturer of such high quality.   They use only natural dyes and make only skeins of worsted weight or thicker.  I don’t believe that they have any superwash yarn, but that is easy to overlook when you consider at the beautiful colors they produce.

We were in São Paulo on September 6 and had just a few free hours in the afternoon to kill and so we went to Empório das Lãs while my parents went to a ceramics art exhibit.   Some taxis in São Paulo now have GPS, but not many,  luckily for us I had printed out directions on how to get to this little shop.   Take LA traffic and put it in a confined city grid like New York and you get Sao Paulo.   It is a hard city to navigate in; you can spend hours in your car, so make sure you have extra time and cash to pay for the cab.  It took us carefully reading street signs to help the driver but we made it to the shop.

Like many boutiques in São Paulo, the door was locked for security reasons, but once we rang the doorbell we were let into a very small room with lots of fabulous yarn.  True, many of them are commonly found here in the USA (i.e. Debbie Bliss and Noro), but they also had some harder to find German brands (i.e. Austermann and Schoeller) and of course the Brazilian Wool that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on.  Besides the Caixa d’agua they also had Ecolã in stock, another  yarn manufacturer in Rio Grande do Sul.   I was ecstatic to discover a new yarn brand and could hardly contain myself (which is why I forgot to take photos of this LYS), the girls at the shop did not know what to make of me and my husband reigned me in as best he could.

The next day we had lunch with our extended family and my cousin’s wife suggested that I check out another LYS in São Paulo called Novelaria.  This shop is spectacular!  The owner comes to the major yarn shows here in the US, so she is familiar with how to best display her yarn.  There was a long wall filled with beautiful yarns (most of which were from Uruguay), a small selection of books, and a handful of accessories to cater to a knitter’s needs, but the majority of the space was focused on making the customer comfortable to sit around and knit, knit, knit.   There were large tables to spread out your work and wind your yarn,  small dining tables on the Knit Cafe portion where you could have some coffee and snacks, as well as sofas and arm chairs for a fun knitting circle.  Oh, how I would’ve loved to have spent the afternoon there!

At this shop I was with my mother and she got just as excited as I did – she could envision the beautiful pieces that I could make for her!  She chose two eclectic and unique yarns that I had never heard of, a brand called Milana Hilados.   When I added this to my stash on Ravelry it shows it as being spun by a local shop in Argentina, I don’t know how it ended up in Novelaria’s sale bin, but I am excited to knit up some cowls for my mom.  For myself, I bought three skeins of Abuelita Worsted Merino Yarn with the intention of making the #39 Shell Crochet Bag that is featured in the first ever issue of Vogue Knitting Crochet 2012.  Abuelita is a brand from Uruguay that is a little easier to find here in the USA, but I have only seen it online.  This was my first time petting this yarn and it incredibly soft, I couldn’t pass it up.

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Now that I know about these two shops I cannot wait until my next trip to São Paulo!


Cross Country Yarn Crawl

At the end of August 2012, my husband and I had to relocate from Southern California back to the East Coast.   Moving across town is a hassle for anybody, a cross country move is that intensified by ten, dwarfed only by international moves.   We chose to drive cross country together, because it was more affordable than shipping a second car, and flying two adults and a dog.    It took us 5 days to drive a total of 2,645 miles thru 9 different states and which each state border that we crossed I was determined to visit a LYS!   I am so thankful that my husband was willing to incorporate a cross country yarn crawl with our cross country move.  It gave me something to look forward to as the hours dragged out in the car, because a LYS per state keeps a knitter happy during any roadtrip!

Here is the itinerary that I came up with, that coincided with the route we were taking during our move

I wish I could say that we successfully visited every single one of those local yarn shops, regrettably that wasn’t the case.   I had taken into account the time it would take for us to reach each of the shops in each state so that we wouldn’t have to drive any more that we were already planning.    The biggest flaw in my plan that I did not take into consideration was the change in time as we crossed each time zone!  Even though we left California before noon and it took us less than 6 hours to get to Flagstaff, Arizona, once we crossed that state line we left the Pacific Time Zone and entered into Mountain Time Zone, by then Purl in the Pines had been closed for almost an hour.

Another thing that jeopardized my cross country yarn crawl were summer hours.  It is common for a lot of LYS to have limited hours during the summer, specifically on Sundays.   Sadly, I did not realize that until the third and longest driving day of the trip;  The Gourmet Yarn in Oklahoma City, OK was closed on Sundays and The Yarn Mart in Little Rock, AR was open for only 4 hours.  That was the hardest day of the entire trip, 12 hours in the car and not a single LYS to break the monotony of the countryside.

But let me tell you of the stores that I did make it to, because there are some beautiful shops throughout this nation and The Redlands Yarn Company was a great place to start the cross country yarn crawl.  This is the LYS that was closest to my husband’s job in SoCal, he had to spend a few hours there returning keys, saying goodbye to colleagues, and dealing with HR, so naturally this was designated my first crawl stop.

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