Friday, May 14, 2010

local yarn report (like the local farm report, except...different)

It may sound like a busman's holiday since I work in a yarn shop, but Julie and I visited a different yarn store every day that I was with her. It was great. If you don't go to a big box store, independent yarn shops are as different from one another as they can possibly be. Think of the independent book stores, for example, that you have been in and you will start to understand what I mean.

On Thursday, we went to A Tangled Skein in Hyattsville, just south of College Park. It was the biggest shop we visited, and the one where we spent the most time. I loved the selection of yarns there, but the lighting was not good, especially towards the back of the store. I bought a skein of beautiful, hand-dyed sock yarn there. It is a 50/50 blend of merino and tencel, and the tencel shimmers in the light.

Our Friday trip took us to Fells Point in Baltimore to visit A Good Yarn. I'm afraid that shop got two thumbs down from us. It wasn't just that the space was incredibly small, it was more the fact that there was almost no yarn on the shelves. Nothing was priced - which I know is not uncommon - and the gentleman behind the counter made both of us uncomfortable as he commented on every skein of yarn we touched. The much larger room in the back of the shop seemed to be used exclusively for classes, and I would have liked to have seen more inventory available there. This shop was a disappointment and will not merit a return trip.

Saturday found us in Baltimore again to attend Squidfire's Spring Art Mart in Fells Point. Then we headed to Hampden for lunch at Golden West Cafe, and to check out Lovelyarns, housed in the first floor of one of Baltimore's ubiquitous row houses. It was a delightful little shop, and I bought some sock yarn for Julie and some brightly-colored, hand-dyed yarn for myself. I had been advised to check out the restroom there, which I did. I found it very charming, but have to admit I didn't like it as well as our restroom at Miss Chickpea's. Shelly did have an eye for design - I will always give her that.

We decided to spend Sunday (Mother's Day) the same place we did last year - in St. Michael's, a small resort town on the Chesapeake Bay. One of our stops was at Frivolous Fibers, a yarn shop that also sells pottery and ceramics. That's a concept I can get behind. I was a little surprised to find a knitting group there on Mother's Day, and was glad when the knitter who wouldn't shut up (there's always one!) finally left. Julie and I browsed at our leisure after that. I resisted the temptation to buy several skeins of a beautiful worsted weight yarn, and have decided I can, indeed, live without it.

Although there was certainly some overlap in the brands and types of yarns we saw on our yarn crawl, the variety was amazing. Savvy shop owners know what keeps their steady customers coming back, as well as what tempts newbies to come in and look around. That's a win-win situation as far as I'm concerned.


Ben said...

Lion up five tenths, Red Heart down a dollar fifteen. Noro even at fourteen. Malabrigo up forty.

anne mancine said...

What's the buzz on alpaca futures, though?

jamanci said...

we did have a nice time, didn't we? i'd say my evaluation matches yours on all of these. the fells point store is atrocious--i had hoped it would have improved, but somehow it was worse than the first time i went in!

i love the one in college park, and don't might too much having to carry the yarn over to the better lights (those nice natural track lights). i wish it were much closer!

that one in st. michaels is always interesting, although there are a lot more artificial fibers there, and i don't know what to make of those yet.

anne mancine said...

"...there are a lot more artificial fibers there, and i don't know what to make of those yet."

You are a yarn snob, my dear, and you don't even know it!