Last week I exchanged a couple of emails with Scott, whose wife manages Mouline Yarns in Montreal. He mentioned that it would be neat to read more blog posts about favourite Local Yarn Shops, and I’ve been thinking about that off and on for the last week. And since I’ve somehow managed to let almost another week go by without posting, I figured it was time to blog some of those thoughts, such as they are in my post-dissertation-atrophied brain.
I’ve been a knitter for almost four years now – not long in the grand scheme of things, but plenty long enough to build an obsession – but my love of yarn shops has probably only grown over the last 2-3 years. When I was a new knitter, I went down to the Lewiscrafts and Michaels shops and figured that was where the yarn came from. I gradually became more aware of the smaller shops, and sucked up the courage to go investigate – contrary to how it may appear otherwise, deep down I’m an incredibly shy person, and for Shy Folks it can be intimidating to enter a new LYS with an established clientele.
Happily, I’ve overcome much of this shyness, but it did take a while. I like visiting Lettuce Knit nowadays, but I don’t mind admitting that the first time I went to a knitting night there, I sat there with knots in my stomach the entire time. (I dunno, man. Shyness, it is irrational and stupid.) I regret that I only discovered knitting nights a year before I moved out of Toronto, but luckily I’m in Toronto often enough to make yarn shop visits as needed. (“Need” may of course be defined fairly loosely.) I still like Lettuce Knit and often go to fondle the sock yarn selection and purchase a skein or three, but I think the Purple Purl is becoming my first favourite LYS in Toronto (below).
Jennifer and Miko are wonderful and have created an equally wonderful space. I like their yarn selection and also their cafe setup. The space is big enough to hold a lot of seating but not to the point of feeling crowded or to give you the fishbowl feeling. Sitting there with a tea and a marshmallow square and my knitting is now on my top list of activities for knitting time in Toronto.
I do also visit Romni Wools on a regular basis, less for the atmosphere than for the yarn itself. It’s a big, big shop, and is one of the few places around where you can pretty much depend on getting a sweater quantity of whatever yarn you please. They’ve got Canadian stuff, International stuff, walls of books and needles, and there are certain sections of the store where you can turn a corner and be completely surrounded by yarn and forget that the outside world exists. That’s a pretty singular feeling, my friends.
Romni’s size can be intimidating, and can sometimes feel less personal than smaller shops, but I’ll keep on visiting it for two big reasons. First, they offer a standing student discount, and may possibly be the only yarn shop I’ve seen to do so. (When you’re a stressed out grad student in need of yarn therapy, every 10% off helps, I’m here to say.) Second, when you’re at Romni, you can do this:
Some times I think if you haven’t hugged a wall of sock yarn (or a wall of any yarn for that matter), you really haven’t lived.
Over the last couple of years I’ve gotten more and more into the whole ‘knitting tourism’ idea, of seeking out yarn shops in cities I’m visiting. It gets me out to different parts of cities that I might not have seen otherwise, and I often encounter new yarns I wouldn’t have found at home. At some point, everyone has an excuse to travel somewhere – different cities, provinces, countries, etc. I figure if people can do this for restaurants or pubs or fishing or art galleries, then knitting is sure as heck a bonafide side benefit for travel, even if it’s not the main purpose.
Stash Yarns UK was probably the first LYS I visited in this way (picture up at the top), when I was in London almost two years ago for a conference. When my father travels, he spends his first day of de-jet-lagging going to museums. I spent it drinking caffiene and looking for yarn. Michelle, one of the Stash Yarns owners, was so friendly and helpful and completely understanding of my jet-lagged state. She invited me to sit with a drink for a while if I wanted to just take a pause, and I did. The space was small but felt open and uncluttered, and they had a variety of yarns in different weights and fibres. We chatted off and on and I left wishing I’d had more time to go back again.
I think I’ll stop my
ramblings blogging there for today, and pick up with more LYS tales tomorrow. I hope your Monday isn’t too Monday-ish today. May your knitting be close by!