Daily Archives: June 5, 2008

More with the yarn shops

I am actually starting to get backed up on the knitting content and WIP/FO reporting. There’s a completed Forest Canopy Shawl that is finished and blocked and just needs some ends woven in, and a 2/3 finished pair of Noro Kureyon Sock knee-highs that I’m really enjoying. On the shawl front, I have definitely been enticed to the magic of lace. Here’s what it looked like about a week and a half ago, almost-finished and unblocked:

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That’s Socks That Rock Mediumweight in ‘Jasper’, from two of the skeins I brought home from Rhinebeck last October. I’m hoping to take the finished product out for a spin tomorrow night, for a trip to the theatre. Martha just finished one as a birthday present for our mom, and Steph is working on her own right now too with Indigo Moon. Shawls ahoy. Summer of Shawls has commenced around these parts.

But I still had more yarn shops to talk about, carrying on from my last post. In April I got to travel twice, to New York and to Boston. I did quite a bit of yarn shop visiting, more than is characteristic even for me – this is a testament to how a stressed out about-to-defend-her-thesis grad student looks for comfort. There are many fine shops in those cities, but some particular ones stood out for me.

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Knitty City is the New York shop that still sticks out in my mind. This was admittedly partly due to the selection – lots and lots of sock yarns, worsteds, things in sweater quantities and little quantities, and Canadian favourites like Mission Falls and Fleece Artist as well. The staff were also very friendly, as were the clientele. There were a few separate chairs and tables, even in such a small shop, and my friend Rebecca and I just sat for a bit after our purchases and knitted, and chatted with the people there. During that hour or so I watched a large number of customers come and go, and the staff people dealt with a huge variety of requests, all with patience and skill. I left wanting to go back again.

Also, I will say that it doesn’t hurt to combine the yarn-ing with a visit to the awesome Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is what we’d done that morning. In fact, I think my ideal day in New York would look something like that, possibly rounded out with a yummy dinner. (I should mention that after visiting S’Mac I continue to have dreams of their gruyere macaroni and cheese.)

Boston’s yarn shops are many. I think I visited 5 altogether and there were still others I could have gone to. The most memorable ones for me were the two in Cambridge (wish I’d spent more time there, too, it was way more fun than the Copley Place office/hotel/mall complex that I was trapped in for the conference): Mind’s Eye Yarns and Woolcott & Co. Here’s why.

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These are both small shops, each with strong selections that complement each other. Mind’s Eye Yarns is clearly a spinner’s shop as well as a knitter’s place, and so I walked out with a bit of fiber instead of yarn – and could have walked out with more than I did, believe you me. I was alone in the shop and Lucy, the owner, let me browse on my own and answered a few of my questions when I mentioned I’d started spinning and was looking for advice on plying. As I was leaving I mentioned that I wanted to find Woolcott as well, and she gave me directions (accounting for the construction-at-the-time around the relevant subway station) without hesitation. And then she said, “Tell Sean I said ‘hi’.”

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So when I got down to Woolcott, Sean the owner was there with another staff member, both knitting away and chatting happily. I walked in and he greeted me and told me about the sales on, and I said, “Oh, and Lucy from Mind’s Eye said to say hello.” And he said, “Oh, Lucy’s just about the nicest woman you’ll ever want to meet.” I left thinking how awesome it was that they were so friendly with each other, rather than being in cutthroat competition. I bought a skein of sock yarn and a skein of Noro Silk Garden, and as I was checking out he told me about both of the yarns and how they behave (Noro still has “some action in it”, is how he described it, which is why centre-pull balls and Noro are not so mixy), which was reassuring.

All three of these shops were comforting experiences, I went in and left feeling on equal footing as a knitter with the others sharing the space, and I liked how accessible they were to a person accessing cities largely on foot or by transit. My visits in April overall confirmed for me that yarn selection is, at best, only part of the reason why some LYSs become ‘favourites’ more so than others.

Onwards to the weekend – the days go by pretty quickly when you’re taking a bit of time off! Next time I promise some photos of knitting content, either a finished shawl or a knee sock, or both. Have a great Thursday, and may your knitting be close by!

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Filed under knitting tourism, lace, shawls, yarn stores