I wish I’d started this whole LYS-as-tourism thing sooner, it would have helped me out this time last year when I was in Chicago! All told, though, I feel that searching for yarn stores got me out to different parts of San Francisco and is a perfectly bonafide method of reading a map.
My first foray was through Pacific Heights/the Marina area, where I knew I could find Greenwich Yarns and Atelier Yarns. I gleefully walked through these upscale neighbourhoods on a brilliantly sunny day (Sun, OMG, I’d almost forgotten what that was), but when I arrived at Greenwich Yarns I found to my dismay that I’d chosen the only day when it was closed. Be ye warned on Wednesdays!
But from my peeking-in-from-the-windows vantage point, it looked just as cozy and well-stocked as everything I’ve heard. And there was a little sign tacked above the table and chairs reading, “As Ye Shall Knit, So Shall Ye Rip.” This store wins.
I carried on and found Atelier Yarns, which was indeed open. I happily perused their selection, and it is a fine one. They have a wide variety of all the major suppliers, and while I wasn’t drawn to any yarn in particular, I did find some Clover bamboo needles in sizes I haven’t found the last few times I’ve looked at home, so that’s cool. I made my purchase and asked if it would be all right to pull up a chair – there were a few ladies there with their knitting already – and yes, it was all right. The only odd thing I found was that when I asked about this, the woman warned me that this was okay “today”, but not on other days when someone else was on staffing duties. Hm. I’ve never been uninvited-in-advance from knitting in an LYS. So they lose points for that, IMHO, but I did sit with the ladies who were there, and nodded and smiled and eventually chatted a bit. One woman was absolutely lovely, she asked if I knew people in the city and I think was just about ready to give me her number in case I needed someone! I reassured her that as generous as this was, I was attending a conference and would make do just fine. But still – knitters, man, they’re good people.
The next day I went with my friend J who is also a knitter down to the Mission/Castro area, where we did some walking and eventually found ImagiKnit (pictured above). I don’t mind saying that I think this was my favourite part of my SF yarn crawl – both for the store and the neighbourhoods we walked through. It struck me as a very eclectic and diverse area in every way, and also we ate at a Mexican place that had the best guacamole and tomatillo sauce ever. But anyway, back to the yarn…
This was where I made my one and only yarn purchase – I was trying to be good and mind the stash – and it could not be helped. J and I sort of drifted off in different directions and browsed the store (she deeply contemplated some chunky baby alpaca and my enabling was not successful enough against her willpower), and while I was by this point already convinced that ImagiKnit is quite possibly the best LYS I have ever been in, I hadn’t found anything that jumped out at me. Then, just as I was looking away from the glittery novelty yarn shelves, I turned and saw a tiered basket full of laceweight. And sitting right on top was this:
It’s 1100 yards of handpainted 100% silk, from Claudia Handpainted yarns. It’s gorgeous. I picked it up and it was so soft and light and beautiful that I knew I absolutely could not put it down. I think light may have shone down upon it. I think I also walked around in a mild daze and just petted it for a little bit. Have I ever knit laceweight before? No. This did not stop me. I’ll find something to make with it, all in good time. But for now, it’s good for my soul. And ImagiKnit wins all points.
On Saturday morning I did walk over to Artfibers Yarn, since it wasn’t far from where I was staying, and I ogled all of their pretty things. They do have some gorgeous products, and if it wasn’t for trepidation over fitting things in my wee suitcase, and general lack of specific project ideas, I would have easily made some purchases. Next time.
Then later that day my friend L drove us out to Napa for some winery visits (we went to 2, and after some tastings I think i am starting to catch the drift of why a $20 bottle really is very different from a $60 bottle), and even though it was raining it was still great to see some parts of the non-urban. And then she mentioned “I think there’s a yarn store around here somewhere, too…” (she is also a knitter), and lo and behold, we found Muse in St. Helena.
Once again, it was a beautiful store. Nice overall selection of yarns, needles, and books, and some other unique things like ribbons and handcrafted buttons. They have one of the best selections of Cascade 220 and Koigu that I have seen in an LYS (so far), and because they also had a basket filled with Noni patterns, I was finally able to purchase the flower patterns to go with the bag patterns I already own. Of course, when I do finally want to make any of these felted bags, that will require some stash enhancement once again, so I will weigh that option carefully in the meanwhile.
The only place I feel they lost points was when the woman asked me if my (Canadian bank) credit card was ‘a debit card or a credit card?’. Um. It says ‘VISA’ on it – even the trainee Victoria’s Secret clerk figured that one out. [EDIT: In the comments Kemma explains this may just be a difference in the way the US and Canada use credit cards - who'da thunk it.] But all told, an excellent stop. I’d go back in a heartbeat.
So, while I technically did not get to plink a toonie ($2) into my stash-busting jar last week according to my new rules, I feel quite at home with this. And since Poppy’s 2nd sleeve got finished along the way, I’m in striking distance of finishing that sweater this week, which will mean more stash-busting cash in the jar.
::phew:: that was quite a post. Have a fantastic day!
(More photos of the trip here, for anyone interested.)