So I need a break from frantically trying to finish knitting christmas presents, so I figured I'd do a little write-up of all the yarn-shopping I've been doing in the past few months.
I recently made a mini roadtrip down to VA to visit a friend, and I deliberately plotted my route to hit as many yarn shops as I could on the way. I started out in my hometown of Hanover, NH, and hopped across the river to Norwich, VT, where I went to the Northern Nights Yarn Shop, which is on the left hand side of Main St/Route 5 right as you hit town, if you're coming from NH over the Ledyard Bridge. It was small, cozy, and had a nice selection of Manos, I believe, and quite a bit of very pretty stuff that I hadn't seen elsewhere, but the sale basket was teensy, the prices weren't anything special, and the proprietress seemed a bit prickly. By which I mean, when I came in, she was "helping" someone figure out ribbing or cabling or something, only she sounded really derisive and impatient. Fortunately, she pretty much ignored me, though. All in all, I think I'll only go there again because it's so close and convenient, (and there were some nice, unusual things there), but only if I have money to burn. (Ha!)
I then headed down I-91, and stopped off at the Putney, VT exit (exit 4, if my memory serves me right.) Right off the highway, across from... the Putney Inn, I want to say, there was a tiny little spinnery/yarn shop called the Green Mountain Spinnery. They had nothing but wool, which didn't excite me TOO much, but if you like wool, then it's fabulous. They also had a vast plethora of beautiful FOs on sale that, frankly, tempted me more than the yarn itself. Most cool, though, was the fact that you could peek right in to the next room and actually watch the spinning. Very neato. All in all? Worth it for the prices, the behind-the-scenes aspect, and the location, but only if you're already travelling on 91, and you don't desire much fiber variety. I remember they had a good selection of books and patterns, too, and all the people bustling about were very friendly.
Further down 91, in Brattleboro (which is right before the MA border), off of exit 3, I, after a bit of confused wandering, managed to find Not Just Yarn. Basically, the trick to getting to it is to go right off the rotary that's at the end of the off-ramp from 91, and then it'll be on your right, but whatever you do, do NOT go looking for it down Technology Dr, despite what its address is. If you go down Technology Drive, you will find yourself lost in some scary, secret government lab-looking area with lots of No Trespassing signs. Instead, I recommend taking a right into the plaza parking lot that's just AFTER Technology Drive, parking there, and walking back towards Tech Dr, across the little grass (I assume-- though in my case it was snow) divider between the parking lot and the building that houses Not Just Yarn and some other... stuff... Anyways, once I found the damn thing, I spend an enjoyable hour in there, despite it's relatively small size. It was packed with some really nice stuff, though, and there was a significant amount of stuff-I'd-never-seen-anywhere-else, which is generally my standard of coolness, I guess. *grin* The entire staff was absolutely delectable in terms of friendliness and helpfulness, and I would absolutely go there again. There were some sock yarns there that especially caught my eye. Lots of novelty yarns, if that's your thing, but plenty of good, solid, "real" yarns, too.
I didn't bother stopping at WEBS in Noho, because Noho is my home-away-from-home, and I live literally a block away from it, and frankly, I don't need any excuses to visit it any more than I already do. But if you live in Western Mass, and you haven't been to WEBS, well then shame on you. Shame, shame, shame. Hell, even if you live all the way in BOSTON, you should come visit. Seriously. I'll put you up for the night and everything. God, look at me, my hands are starting to shake. If they weren't closed for the night......
And while we're speaking of Western Mass, not on this trip, but on a different one, I made a stop at Wonderful Things in Great Barrington, MA, which had a huge, marvelous selection, lots of patterns, and some fabulously friendly cats. The prices, I feel, weren't so hot, and I was disappointed at the lack of a sale bin, and, frankly, it's in the middle of nowhere. But if you happen to be in the Berkshires (which are lovely, really,) I certainly recommend it.
Alright, so I continued down to NJ, where I crashed for the night with some relatives, and the next day we headed into NYC, where my little half-sister and I did much searching for the School Products Co. (website kinda lame, so review here, 'bout halfway down the page), which we FINALLY found on the third floor of a forbidding-looking grey building that gave no hint of the magic and wonder than lay awaiting us inside (basically, the trick is to make damn sure you have the address of the place written down, because the building number, 1201, was the ONLY way we were able to recognize it.) O', the magic. O', the wonder. We spend at least an hour in there, maybe more. There was karabella up the wazoo. There was yak. There was cashmere like I have never seen before. Cashmere enough to swim in. Some of it in gorgeous hand-dyed skeins. Oh, god, I can't even bear to remember it, it was so sweet... *deep breath* There was laceweight merino. In gorgeous colors. There was silk upon silk upon silk. There was an awesome bead store right across the street with a very cute guy at the register who winked at me. Um. Sorry. (But there was!)
Anyways, needless to say, it was worth all the wandering and angst. I would go there again, and again, and again. And maybe this time, I'll even have the guts to ask that cute guy for his number. Hm........ Did I mention that the prices were awesome for the quality? I got 3 40-gram hanks of the laceweight merino in beautiful varigated shades of dusky blues, and 2 similarly-sized hanks of gorgeous, soft, chunky silk, and only spent $30 there. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.
My lil' sis and I also tried desperately to find the supposedly-nearby Habu, but with a complete lack of success. Ah, well.
Ok. Anyways, from northern NJ, I drove down to Charlottesville, VA. Overnight. In a blizzard. It wasn't so bad, except for, well, the entire state of Pennsylvania, which was completely and utterly unplowed. But enough about that. The important part was that I made it down safely, and as my reward, my Charlottesville buddy took me to lunch at a great, cheap Mexican place, and then to The Needle Lady in that "Downtown Mall" area that's all swanky and pedestrian-friendly. Since I had him in tow, I did my best to keep my visit to a mere 20-30 minutes, but it was challenging, man. I ended up resisting a lot of absolutely gorgeous hand-dyed craziness and getting only a couple skeins of Reynold's Rapture (50/50 wool/silk yumminess). I would go there again in a heartbeat, though. I have absolutely no idea what the pattern situation was like there. I only remember the yarn. Loads of novelty stuff. Good fundamentals, too, though, of course. Great location. Friendly. (Yes, I'm kinda running out of steam, here...)
Alright, last but not least (CERTAINLY not least), I stopped through NYC again on my way north. It was on a Sunday, and, you know, prime Christmas shopping time, and it was around, oh, 6 pm or so, and yes, it was a bad idea, because the traffic was kinda sucky, but then, when I got nearby my goal, and there was a parking space RIGHT THERE, half a block (!!!) from where I needed to be, I knew I'd done the right thing. Seriously, it was the only parking space around for miles. So I cut off a taxi to get it, and parallel parked SO beautifully, and... ok, not the point, I know, but I was really proud of myself. Anyways, then I walked half a block and found myself inside the warm and wonderful Knit New York. Not only did it have a lovely selection, and a HUGE sale bin, but there were even BOYS in there! Knitting Boys!!! No, I'm not just being lecherous, either. I swear, I've never seen any of these rare creatures before. And that night I saw TWO of them. (Ok, really, one was a customer, sitting and knitting, and the other worked there. But I'd bet anything he knits, too.) I was utterly blown away. In the back room, there was this skein that was calling to me... It was Kettle Dyed merino by Malabrigo, and it was the very last skein they had in the shade of Stone Blue. And I snagged it. And took it home with me and called it lovely names all the way home. It was fate. Mind you, I ended up getting lost in Queens for over an hour on my way out of the city... but damnit, I still maintain that it was worth it, and I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat. So... selection? Fab. Extensive, for the size. Location? Fine, if you don't mind the (usual) lack of parking. Cafe? Tres cool. *grin* Friendliness? Helpfulness? Oy VEY. I swear, I fell in love with everyone in the store in, like, 5 minutes. Prices seemed pretty good, and the selection of patterns was at least decent.
Phew! I hope that didn't tire you out as much as it did me. Sigh. And this is completely leaving out my adventures on the west coast... oh well. Some other day, perhaps.