February 28, 2008

Subversive :: Yarn and yarn shops

Due to my involvement in a school fundraiser, I've been going to Michaels a lot lately. Each time I go, I stop by and look at the yarns and patterns -- and I'm no stranger to the needlecrafts aisles at my local Wal-Mart, Joann's, and Hobby Lobby either. In the last few weeks, it appears that Michaels has revamped their yarn section and decreased the selection of novelty yarns and increased the quantity of garment yarns in Lion Brand and Patons brands. This is a good thing, in my opinion, and demonstrates a responsive shift toward what knitters and crocheters want. I found quite a bit of fresh stock of Patons Classic Merino and since it's the 2nd most popular yarn on Ravelry and the only one of the top ten brands I hadn't tried yet, I threw caution to the wind and dropped less than $5 on a ball to try. I've since swatched it (that is, I'm knitting a hat with it) and it's awesome to knit with and delicious to the touch. It's slightly softer than Cascade 220.

Patons hat in progress
Basic 80-stitch hat, ready to start decreasing

So . . . I'm clearly happy with the yarn, the way it knits and the value. What I don't get is why some knitters and crocheters refuse to cross the threshold of a local yarn store in favor of ONLY shopping at a craft chain or Wal-Mart. I do understand bad service and unpleasant experiences at yarn stores, but I don't think they're the norm. Anybody can have an off day (and I know that I have had those days in the past and probably unintentionally alienated a few customers). But at Michaels (and the other stores I mentioned), I'm never greeted, never helped while I'm at the back of the store in the yarn section, and nobody ever looks me in the eye when I check out. Conversely, when I go to the yarn shop (as a customer, not an employee), I'm greeted, helped with my selection and sometimes get quick instruction with something I have on the needles. The modest amounts of money I spend at local yarn stores help local families and small businesses. THAT is value.

I understand there are many people for whom yarn shops are NOT local geographically and have no other options -- but when there ARE options, why do you not go and experience what a local business has to offer? Is there just a general desire to be anonymous, faceless and completely divorced from who benefits from your purchase? Do you think that if you darkened the door of a yarn shop, you'd be assaulted and forced to use your grocery money to buy cashmere? Do you not trust yourself in the face of friendly people and a variety of merchandise? Educate me! I don't get why there are still so many people who do not think it's worth their time and energy to patronize a local business.

If all I had was Michaels or online shopping, that's how I would buy yarn - and I'm VERY likely go back to Michaels someday to buy more Patons (in a sweater quantity IF they have matching dyelots) - but I'll never believe it's a delightful experience to walk in a shop unnoticed and navigate my way past plastic flowers to the back of the shop to look at yarn.

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December 25, 2007

Boho Baby Knits

Yesterday I got my copy of Boho Baby Knits (Groovy Patterns for Cool Tots), by Kat Coyle:


My sister visited Knit Cafe earlier this month during Kat's book signing there:

Boho Baby Knits

I love all the bohemian baby designs in this book, but my must-knit favorites are the Bobbled Bloomers, Mimi and Bobbi Beatnik Dolls, Story-time Socks, Bite This Book!, Alien Hat, and the Scenester Legwarmers. And even though I don't have any more babies or toddlers in the household, these are just too cute not to knit.

August 02, 2007

Loops Knitting

Loops, Utica Square - Tulsa, Oklahoma

When we landed in Tulsa, there were two things I wanted -- a Ron's chili cheeseburger and a quick trip to Loops. I got both and wasn't disappointed in either. A couple of months ago, I ordered a pattern from Loops' online store and was curious about their store based on the photos on their site. As soon as I stepped through the door of the shop, I noticed how well-arranged it was. I also liked the fact that they carried the full line of yarns for Rowan, Debbie Bliss and Louisa Harding (probably more than that, but those were the most notable). When you visit Loops, be sure to check out the "Hot Loops" wall - it showcases their original patterns and the supplies needed to knit them.

Loops is a friendly store with helpful salespeople. They let me browse and answered my questions. Although I would have loved to have seen more handpainted sock yarns to choose from, they had plenty of goodies for sock knitters. I bought a skein of Trekking XXL to satisy my need for carry-along sock knitting since I'd brought no knitting with me. I've visited the Loops blog several times since we've been back and think every yarn store should have one. :-)

Tomorrow - a peek at my Habu stainless steel and silk scarf still in progress.

EDITED TO ADD: Thank you all for the warm and encouraging comments in yesterday's post regarding my parents. I have to stress that I'm not the one who has done most of the "heavy lifting" (literally and figuratively) with regard to caring for my parents. My mom lives with my sister Jayne in Washington. Less than a year ago, Jayne had open-heart surgery. While Jayne recovered, our youngest sister cared for my mom while also continuing to perform her duties as a television executive at E!. Jayne is back at work now, in her full time job as a loan officer. In addition to caring for my mother, she's now also the one running back and forth to the nursing home along with dealing with my parents' respective doctors.

May 20, 2006

Claudia's Handpainted Yarn - Anklets

I just couldn't leave the yarn alone, so I cast on for the anklets while I was at the doctor's office the other day:

Sherbet Anklets with Claudia's Handpainted Yarn

The brilliant idea for anklets was inpsired by Pixiestikz's blog entry about her bright, cheery anklets. And, honestly, why didn't I think of anklets before? Lolly's also knitting anklets and they're a beautiful shade of green.

I was delighted when this arrived yesterday:

Knit Cafe

When I was in L.A. last year, this was the yarn store I nearly decided not to visit - it turned out to be the one I enjoyed the most! The book contains everything I enjoyed about actually being in the store, finding a must-knit pattern (and then knitting it 4 times), and exceptionally helpful employees. The photos in the book are unbelievable - there are some WOW patterns (I really need to do the math on the La Luz evening gown - it's beautiful) and new twists on basic knits (scarves and hats). Julia and Mary-Heather both have patterns in the book. I also love the WeHo vibe of the book:


But for now, instead of curling up with this wonderful book, I must get ready to go to the best little yarn store in Texas, my happy place.

January 06, 2006

Purl Soho

If I lived in New York, I'd visit Purl Soho ALL the time. I just received their latest newsletter and it's now at the top of my list of favorite yarn store newsletters. If you're a knitter, sign up for it and you'll see what I'm talking about. While you're at the site, check out their Lorna's Laces custom colors.