Lesson 21: How to make a yarn store.
So it’s no secret that I think that owning a yarn store would be the single best thing to do with your life, ever. You’ve seen them; those nonchalant ladies behind the counter, blissfully unaware of your existence as they sit there clacking their needles all day, while you nervously peruse their produce like a child in a very, very silent lolly shop. You might approach them… they are all calmness and wisdom and forty percent alpaca. They look up at you with a bored look, like you have disturbed their private alone-time knitting (which is essentially what their day to day job IS), but once you’ve asked them a question, maybe even paid tribute to their far superior knowledge to your own, they become your surrogate grandmother once more, teaching you about which ply to use, the best needle size, and, my personal favourite, all about their own project they’re currently working on, which will BLOW YOUR MIND.
I would love to be one of these ladies. Do they do anything else, other than sit and knit and impart wisdom all day? I don’t like to think so.
But perhaps this is just my personal experience of yarn stores. Most of the stores I’ve visited in Perth are fairly conventional and serious. No funny business here. But I’ve written about the store I found in London, ‘I Knit London’ that served wine and held classes, and also about the store I came across in Barcelona, ‘All You Knit Is Love’, that handed out little business cards with needle sizing holes on them.
My perfect yarn store, I think, would seek to combine all of my favourite things. Knitting, pretty things, tea (or wine), and trash talk. And perhaps cake, if at all possible.
And so I have sought to search the internets to create for myself a yarn store bucket list, if you will. Here goes.
1. Lion Brand Yarn Studio, New York
I’ve been getting emails from Lion Brand for a while now due to some long-ago online shopping… but did not realise they had a shop front until just now. So not only does this store have an awesome range of yarn, cos, you know, they’re a giant yarn brand company… they also have a ‘sampling wall’, free patterns available to customers, and free sessions with the crochet or knitting ‘doctor’ (do not ask him/her to crochet you a new kidney).
But these are my two favourite things about this store.
Firstly, they have a ‘Men’s night’ once a month. To engineer me the perfect man.
Secondly, they hold a ‘Flicks with Sticks’ night, which, mindblowingly, incorporates another great love of mine into the knitting realm. Yes, it’s a movie night, where you are encouraged to “Come knit, crochet, and enjoy the show”. Sweet Jesus.
They also have a ‘UFO support group’, and though this made me worry at first that my perfect yarn store is in fact operated from space… UFO actually stands for ‘Unfinished Objects’ in this case. Which would actually be quite helpful, rather than terrifying.
2. Needle Story, Edae, Seoul
This makes the list because it’s in one of my favourite countries, and it combines yarn store with cafe. Yessss. Needle Story apparently has a great selection of yarns and books, classes, and a cool cafe. Korea remains the place with the highest number of cute, original cafes that I’ve ever visited, so I would be very keen to visit this store/cafe next time I go there! I couldn’t find a website for them but this blog has lots of pictures, as well as a map of how to get there.
3. La Casita Yarn Shop Cafe, Brooklyn, NYC (I’m seeing a pattern occurring here…)
This place makes the list because not only does it have lovely yarn and workshops for beginners and fancy pants, they have WINE. And beer. And, oddly enough, Sake.
4. Loop, London.
Mainly just so I can sit in that chair.
This place has a ‘Knit night’ inviting you to “hang out in the lounge area and knit with us”, as well as an ‘SOS clinic’ once a month, which I feel would be particularly helpful as my least favourite part about knitting is fixing all my fucking mistakes.
They also have knitting classes ranging from ‘Beginners’ to ‘Fair Isle’ and ‘Finishing techniques’. Aaaaaand (drum roll) TEA. COFFEE. CAKES.
5. Angelika’s Yarn Store, Portland.
This store is making my list because:
a.) I’m getting desperate and searching for cool yarn stores online is not as easy as I thought it would be.
b.) I think I would like Portland because of the series ‘Portlandia’. Despite the fact that it seeks to make fun of people like me…
c.) I think that aside from helping me sort out my next project, the owner in this store may just give me a cuddle. Have a read of her ‘A word from a yarn store owner and knitter’ on her website. The odds are good.
So that’s my list. Quite hindered, I realise, by English language search engines. There must be some other cool yarn stores out there… so please share if you know any.
I called Grandma (as I don’t see her again until next week) to get some of her feedback on my bucket list. I went through all of the stores and asked if she had a favourite, but she was so overwhelmed by the list and all of the features that she said she couldn’t pick a favourite. She said it was all “beyond the pale”, and found it fascinating that such places existed. She liked the idea of ‘UFO support groups’ (which she HAD heard of where I hadn’t…), as well as the Men’s Night knitting group. Though I had found the concept of a men’s knitting group intriguing, Grandma was not as surprised. She told me about a ‘lovely man’ who was Governor of WA and later retired and moved to Tasmania, and used to knit Layettes for babies – a word I hadn’t heard of but which is basically a collection of clothing for newborns. This guy could knit a full gown, baby jacket, mittens, you name it. She said it was common back then for men to be taught how to knit in hospital during the war, to give them something to focus on, and this guy had just enjoyed it and kept it up. There were apparently photos in the papers of him knitting at the time. She only mentioned that he was ‘Governor Gardiner’, but a quick Google search revealed him to be Sir Charles Gairdner, who has a rather large hospital in Perth named after him. Fancy that.
Grandma and I continue to work on Ms. Vesty, rest assured… though I’ve been rather lazy with her (Ms. Vesty) since cocking her up a few months ago. We (Grandma and I) had to unravel her and now I’m uncertain where I was in my notes.
These are my notes.
But here she is… get a good look because I’m about to unravel her AGAIN…
Admittedly, I have been cheating on her, because she is so goddamn COMPLICATED. With this young thing:
I call her, ‘Neapolitan Scarf’, because someone told me she reminded them of Neapolitan ice cream. She’s quick, easy, and doesn’t give me schtick.
Have a lovely week!