COVID has changed our lives, no doubt about it. It has made many things more difficult. But it has also made a few things more doable. It has created opportunities for crafters to come together, virtually… An example of this is knitting retreats. Usually these are done in-person but a few offered virtual retreats in 2020 and 2021 and one was Hill Country Weavers, a yarn store in Austin, Texas. I was able to attend some classes because this retreat was virtual and it was a lot of fun. Virtual vs. In-Person I have always wanted to go to a knitting retreat. But me, like many others, are often dissuaded by the price of these retreats. They are usually for 2-3 days and cost well over $1500 for a shared room. A lot of people cannot afford this. COVID forced some retreats to go virtual and I’m so glad it did! I’ve always wanted to attend a retreat from Hill Country Weavers (HCW). A retreat that would have usually cost $1500 cost about $350 if you took full advantage of the classes and swag box. I decided to splurge on the retreat box and split it with my mom, a new crocheter. There are definite disadvantages to virtual events. You don’t get the camaraderie that you get in person. You’re not likely to make friends. But HCW had happy hours, opening receptions, keynote speakers, and vendor talks….plenty of opportunities to get the full “retreat” experience, even if it lacked social time with knitters. Classes Since I’ve never taken classes at a retreat before, I cannot compare them to virtual retreat classes. But I can say that the virtual classes from HCW were amazing. I took classes from Dawn Barker of Chasing Rabbits Fiber and Aroha Knits – and I learned a lot. Sure, I didn’t meet these makers and designers in person but I’m an introvert and I’m fine with that. I got what I paid for: I learned a lot. Marketplace I really miss shopping for yarn in person. So my complaint against the marketplace has nothing to do with this retreat. HCW offered lovely one-of-a-kind colorways from some of my favorite independent dyers: Chasing Rabbits, Suburban Stitcher, Spincycle, La Bien Aimee… But I would have loved to have shopped for yarn in person. Price You can’t beat the price of a virtual retreat. You don’t have to travel or pay for a hotel; you are only paying for the classes and marketplace. But I miss travel and would give anything to attend one of these in person. Still, I’m so glad I took these classes and participated in the retreat. It was a good way to see if I would enjoy an in-person retreat. Conclusion Hopefully, in-person retreats return soon. But I honestly hope that every retreat will offer a virtual component, as it benefits everyone.
When was the last time I reviewed a local yarn store? When was the last time I was inside a LYS? Wow. I told you about a LYS in Estes Park, CO in January – and I got to visit that lovely shop again on our Colorado trip earlier this month. But I also got the chance to visit a new-to-me shop, My Sister Knits, on the same trip. And I was so excited, I cannot even tell you. I had read about this store for years. When the time came, I doubted we’d get a chance to visit (due to fires and smoke and awful things) but everything worked out perfectly and I was able to go. In a safe manner, of course. The Shop I had read that this store is in a carriage house behind a normal home. But I didn’t think it would be nearly as charming as it was. You go through a gate to the backyard of the home – the “garden” – and you’re met with a tranquil place with plenty of spots to sit and knit. And there are chickens! Inside the two-story carriage house, you’re met with yarn….and more yarn. A very nice employee showed me all around and then took me upstairs, where the fingering weight yarn lives. I was in heaven. And completely overwhelmed. The Yarn There were a ton of Colorado dyers represented in the shop. And I was blown away by the Walk Collection display – so many colors to choose from! Among other dyers: Hedgehog, Hue Loco, Colorful Eclectic, Blue Sky Fibers, Brooklyn Tweed, Explorer Knits, Forbidden Fiber Co., Loopy Mango, Julie Asselin, Quince & Co., Six and Seven Fiber, Spincycle Yarns, TeenyButton Studio, Magpie, Farmers Daughter…. Basically, they had every yarn I’ve only ever heard of. Again, completely overwhelmed. Location This was my first time to visit Fort Collins and it was a difficult time to do it. The wildfires were out of the control the day we were there, making the sky orange and the visibility extremely poor. Still, the town was lovely and the street on which My Sister Knits is located is idyllic. The leaves were falling off the trees that lined the streets – it was like a photograph, outside of the smoke. The store is a bit hard to spot as the sign is small and the house is in a residential area. So just watch the addresses and you’ll find it. Once there you can’t miss it as they have some yarn decorations out front. Conclusion The knitters of the Fort Collins area are extremely lucky to be able to claim this LYS as their own. If you’re in the area, this shop must be on your list of stops. You will definitely not regret it! (And if you’re interested, I only bought four skeins of yarn. Two coordinated perfectly and one was a solid!! Yes, a solid!)
There are many yarn-related activities that non-knitters are, most likely, completely oblivious of. Like fiber fests. When I talk of fiber fests at work, people inevitably ask, “is this a place where you eat different flavors of fiber?” Ha! A yarn crawl is similar. No, we’re not crawling around in a room, looking for yarn. Let me explain… What Is It, Then? A yarn crawl is when a group of yarn shops in a defined geographic area get together to have events and prizes for a week or two. And yarn lovers try to get to all the shops in the crawl – within the time period – to win prizes…and buy yarn, of course. It’s basically an excuse for knitters to shop. But Why? A crawl is like an open house for a yarn shop. The shops put their best foot forward and try to make this time special. They will often host trunk shows from designers and yarn dyers. It’s always fun when you get to personally meet the dyer behind one of your favorite yarns. Sometimes a LYS will have a sale or give away free patterns…. And there’s sometimes swag. For the North Texas Yarn crawl, you can buy a tote bag to remember the occasion – and hold all of your yarn purchases. Pandemic Time There’s a yarn crawl in south Texas that I’ve always wanted to participate in – mainly to get to some new-to-me yarn shops. That crawl has been canceled this year, due to COVID-19. The North Texas Yarn Crawl, in my area of Texas, is still going forward. But most shops are allowing you to make your purchases online – and they’re hosting trunk shows on Zoom (like mine). This is a great alternative for those of us who cannot get out in public but who want to see new, pretty yarns. Conclusion The North Texas Yarn Crawl kicks off next week, on September 11. I encourage you to see if there’s a yarn crawl in your area of the country – or in a place you’d like to visit. What better way to vacation, after all, than going from yarn shop to yarn shop!? Yarn crawls are a great way for local yarn stores to band together, support each other, and build a community of knitters.
One of our favorite places to travel to is Estes Park, Colorado. We got engaged there and make almost yearly trips to spend time with our Colorado friends. It has a very special place in our hearts. And so does The Stitchin’ Den, Estes Park’s local yarn store. This may be the first LYS I visited outside the state of Texas. And so it gives me great pleasure to tell you about this charming shop. Location The Stitchin’ Den is conveniently located adjacent to the main shopping street in downtown Estes Park. It’s not the easiest place to find though, since it’s located in a building on a hill that contains several shops and restaurants. But if you eat at Claire’s – which I highly recommend, especially for breakfast – then The Stitchin’ Den is just a short walk away. Yarn The Stitchin’ Den offers a wide selection of yarn – from knitting staples to hand dyed yarn from Colorado. Some of the perennial favorites of knitters include Cascade, Plymouth, Skacel, Tahki, Juniper Moon Farm, Universal, and Lamb’s Pride. And I was pleasantly surprised to find Shibui on the shelves this past December. Some other goodies included HiKoo, Simplicity, and a delectable new-to-me Colorado dyer, Herd of Cats. This was the one thing I splurged on – a skein of sparkly Road Trip Sock Yarn with which I instantly fell in love. Wow. Another lovely yarn offered in this shop is Willow Creek Fiber Mill, a company from Estes Park. How cool is that?! Conclusion Very conveniently, The Stitchin’ Den sends out a regular Newsletter and posts frequently on Facebook. They have many fun events, in which I wish I could participate. The shop also sell more than yarn – they have cross stitch, needlepoint, and embroidery supplies. They also have a quilting shop next door to the yarn shop. I didn’t visit it but the fabrics looked lovely from outside! Details 165 Virginia Drive Estes Park, Colorado 80517 If you’re ever in Estes Park, be sure to stop by this yarn shop. It will not disappoint you!
The last yarn shop that I made it to while in Canada was The Loop in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This was the last, somewhat frantic, stop in Halifax before we had to get back onboard. I made quick work of shopping, though, which shouldn’t surprise my husband by now, and found something lovely! Location I’m not very familiar with Halifax but having a big Citadel in the middle of the city helps with navigation. Our tour stopped at the Citadel and then, on the way back, the driver said he could drop us downtown to shop. I could tell we were close to The Loop, so we hopped out. The Loop is on the corner of Barrington and Blowers and was super easy to find. If you’re shopping in town, this is an easy walk between you and pier. On the way back, we walked along the boardwalk, wishing we had more time to spend there. It looked so lovely! What a great city! Yarn The Loop had a large selection of yarns. I was excited to see Lichen and Lace, Celtic Raven, Opal, HiKoo, Erica Knight, Good Fibrations, Trailhead Yarns, CoopKnits, Noro, and Juniper Moon. The skein I walked out of the door with was Hand Maiden. I don’t think I knew that Hand Maiden was a Canadian dyer. As it was, I was delighted to buy more local yarn while in Nova Scotia. Since I had purchased yarn at The Mariner’s Daughter this same day, I limited myself to one skein at The Loop. The shop owner was very nice and chatted with me the entire time I perused the store. I love meeting friendly yarn store owners! Conclusion If you are in Halifax and doing a city tour, The Loop will be easy to incorporate into your day. And you won’t regret it! I already wish I had bought more Hand Maiden while in the store! Details 1557 Barrington Street Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada Go support this lovely yarn shop!
One of the yarn stores I most wanted to visit on our trip to Nova Scotia was The Mariner’s Daughter, having just read about it in a recent edition of By Hand. I couldn’t wait to get to this shop in the lovely town of Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And The Mariner’s Daughter did not disappoint. Location The location of The Mariner’s Daughter couldn’t be more perfect. It’s on the main shopping street of the lovely town of Lunenburg – and it’s easy to find! Just look for the bright green building. I spotted it from across the bay when we went to get pictures of this lovely town with our tour guide. Just like By Hand said, the doors to the shop were open wide on the day I visited, welcoming all who walk by. I was greeted by a nice lady behind a small desk and then left to peruse the shelves of yarn in peace. Yarn There was one thing I’d seen online ahead of time that I wanted to purchase at The Mariner’s Daughter: Lichen and Lace, a Canadian yarn dyed in Nova Scotia. I’d never seen Lichen and Lace in person so this was my chance! And it was the perfect time to buy some to avoid shipping costs! So I found a lovely skein that will make a perfect shawl. I was then blown away by mounds of Uschitita skeins. This was another yarn I’d never seen before. But then I found a local Lunenburg yarn dyer – Wool You Dare – and was sold on a lovely skein of yellow variegated yarn. Wow! There was more yarn, though!! Hedgehog, Sunflower Knit, Retrosaria, Julie Asselin, Woolfolk, Illimani, Custom Woolen Mills – lots of new-to-me dyers! It was overwhelming to be surrounded by so much lovely yarn! Conclusion But…. How do you choose what to purchase? Something to consider when shopping in Canada is the 15% sales tax. So, I bought two skeins of yarn, knowing that there may be other yarn stores to visit before the end of the trip. Decisions, decisions! Details Visit The Mariner’s Daughter at: 107a Montague St Lunenburg, Nova Scotia B0J2C0 If you’re ever in Lunenburg, this lovely shop is a must!
I mentioned last week that I had the unique opportunity of visiting multiple yarn stores on our cruise to New England and Canada. Today I’m going to tell you about one of those yarn stores, Bee’s Yarns, Sweaters, and Candy (or, Bee’s Inc, as it’s alternatively listed online) in Bar Harbor, Maine. This was our first stop on the cruise and I wasn’t sure if we’d have enough time to walk to Bee’s – but we did! And it was a delightful experience. The Store Getting to the store was easy enough. Bar Harbor is small and very walkable. After our tour of Acadia, we walked along the waterfront and then back up Main Street to see all the stores. We didn’t do much shopping – it was packed with two cruise ships in town – but it was so much fun getting to explore this gorgeous New England town. And going to Bee’s got us off the main drag, which was greatly appreciated. Once there, Matt sat outside on a bench – so nicely placed for the husbands of yarnies – while I explored the contents of the store. When I walked in, I was immediately greeted by a woman – the owner, presumably – behind the counter who was knitting. I knew I was in the right place! The first room of the shop is all candy and finished sweaters and knits. The back two rooms are filled with yarn! The Yarn Bee’s offers more yarn than I expected, given that it doesn’t sell yarn exclusively. Since I’m on a hand-dyed yarn kick, I immediately started looking for something that caught my eye. There are shelves and shelves of yarn. Plymouth, Elsabeth Lavold, Queensland Collection, Cascade Yarns, JaggerSpun, Araucania, Ella Rae, and Done Roving Yarns! I must admit that the reason I wanted to come was for the latter. I bought a skein of Done Roving in Portland earlier this year and wanted more! And this time I fell hard for a skein of variegated Frolicking Feet – with yellows and greys on a natural base. Lovely! When I checked out, the owner (?) was super nice and told me all about the dyer behind Done Roving, which is a locally dyed yarn. Details Visit Bee’s at: 59 Cottage Street Bar Harbor, ME 04609 Bee’s is a lovely store that you should visit whenever you happen to be in Bar Harbor. I’d love to have this store in my neighborhood! Though I didn’t look too much at the candy, it was all very reasonably priced and the chocolate looked amazing! So, what more could you want?! Yarn and candy! That means that you can bring you spouse and kids on your yarn expedition to Bee’s! It has stuff for the entire family! And a super friendly staff to help with your every need!
On a recent trip to the Texas Hill Country, I got to visit two new yarn stores, one of which was Ply Yarn in Wimberley, Texas. Wimberley is a cute town, filled with shops and cafes, about an hour southwest of Austin. It gets very busy on weekends but we nonetheless braved the crowds to visit a few shops. One of those was Ply Yarn – and I can’t tell you how much I love visiting Texas yarn shops! Background I had heard of Ply Yarn when I looked into the The Best Little Yarn Crawl in Texas a few years ago. When that trip didn’t happen, I lost all hope of getting to some of these south Texas shops. But then we planned a trip down south that just happened to go through Wimberley. And I was so excited! Selection Ply is a small shop with a limited selection. But they offer some fine yarns, such as Madelinetosh, Anzula, Blue Sky Fibers, Louet, Malabrigo, and Universal Yarn. I’m loving Anzula the more I see it. And Madelinetosh… I’m amazed when I pick up something beautiful and realize it’s my hometown dyer. It’s so nice when a dyer can keep surprising you! Convenience Like I said, Wimberley gets very busy on weekends and parking is often difficult to find. If you want to go to Ply, I highly suggest going on a weekday. Ply itself is around the corner from the shop facing the main road. It was a bit hard to find if you rely solely on GoogleMaps. But the shop is so cute and the sign is huge, making it hard to miss. Details Ply is located at: 14015 Ranch Road 12, Suite 7 Wimberley, Texas 78676 If you’re ever in the south Texas, be sure to visit them!
I love road trips that include yarn stores. What knitter doesn’t?! Sometimes, when you’re far from home and transportation isn’t readily available, it’s difficult to get to yarn shops…. But there’s no excuse when you’re in your own vehicle, in your home state. This past weekend, we went on a short road trip that just happened to go through Dripping Springs, Texas….home of The Sated Sheep! Background I had heard of several great yarn stores in the Texas hill country. One of the best is in Austin – Hill Country Weavers. I was there a long, long time ago. So long ago that I can’t write an accurate review of the store. But somewhere along the way, I heard of The Sated Sheep, in Dripping Springs. And everything I heard was good. So when Matt wanted to get to our hill country B&B via a very long, scenic route, I wasn’t a bit annoyed because it got me to Dripping Springs! Selection Since I’m a bit of a yarn snob, it’s difficult for me to find new, never-heard-of yarns. But, much to my surprise and delight, I found several at The Sated Sheep. One of my favorite new finds was Tote le Matin, a French yarn that offers a base of half cotton, half wool. It’s delectable and a great option for baby knits when you want something hand-dyed. Another favorite of mine was Tributary Yarns, whose colors are just beautiful! I finally got to see in person some yarns that I’ve drooled over – including Woolen Boon (which may now be in my stash!), Qing Fibre (which I may have to buy now), Dragonfly Fibers, Queen City Yarns, and Olann. Oh my goodness, I was in heaven! Also on the shelves: Quince & Co., Spincycle, Anzula, Dream in Color, Madelinetosh, Sun Valley Fibers, Sweet Georgia Yarns, and Sunday Knits…to name a few. Details The Sated Sheep is located at: 100 Commons Road, Suite 5 Dripping Springs, Texas 78620 The people there were super friendly! I honestly can’t say enough good things about this store. Really, I wish it was closer to my hometown! If you’re ever in the Texas Hill Country, be sure to stop at this wonderful store!
In April, I was in Portland, Maine for a work conference – so reasons other than knitting, unfortunately. And doubly unfortunately, I was in town at the exact same time as a Vogue Knitting Live retreat….which was sold out by the time I got permission to go to my conference. Rats! To make myself feel better, I found a LYS to stop into while I was in town. Yarn therapy cures just about everything! Background I always try to find local yarn stores when I’m in a new town. Sometimes it’s difficult – or impossible – to get to them, but about half the time, I’m able to get to a new LYS. And it’s so much fun exploring different shops in different parts of the country. When I booked my conference, I immediately began looking for yarn shops. I wouldn’t have a car so I needed a yarn shop within walking distance of my hotel. Knit Wit was about a 15-20 minute walk. That didn’t sound too bad….except that it was 30 degrees, with a strong north wind when I made my trek to the shop. (And two hours later it snowed.) Fresh off the plane (and needing to stretch my legs), I walked through a nice part of downtown Portland, passed some cute shops and coffee joints…. And then found the blue exterior of Knit Wit. Selection Knit Wit had a fantastic selection of yarn which really appealed to this Texan. Why? There were many, many local, Maine yarns. And they were all labeled with a lobster! How awesome is that?! I was introduced to the sublimeness that is Quince & Co. yarn, the beautifully variegated Done Roving Yarns, and the lovely Knerd String. Also on hand was Dirty Water Dyeworks, Sweet Georgia, Magpie Fibers, String Theory, Green Mountain Spinnery, Stone Wool, Little Fox Yarn, and Skacel, just to name a few. Convenience Knit Wit is easy to get to if you stay in downtown Portland. I can’t say if it’s easy to get to otherwise. I walked from the Westin hotel and it was easy to get to – just cold! The employees were super nice to me. Both the owner and the other employee came to talk to me and assist with my selections. They were the first people in Maine I really interacted with and they were super nice, setting a great tone for the trip as a whole. Details Knit Wit is located at: 247 Congress Street Portland, ME 04101 The shop is also very active on Instagram and Facebook. If you’re ever in Portland, be sure to visit this jewel of a shop!