A Yarn Barn…Only in Texas

Where else would one find a barn full of yarn but in Texas? In actuality, the Yarn Barn is housed in a sweet cottage with a porch and old wooden floors. You walk through the various rooms realizing that this was someone’s home once upon a time. It is a quaint cottage full of beautiful yarn.

Yarn Barn 1

Yarn Barn 2

Today’s Yarn Barn is under new ownership. When I lived in San Antonio, the old Yarn Barn was my LYS. I remember when they were closing – their lease was up and they would have to find a new location – so the owners decided to retire. I was so worried that the Yarn Barn would cease to exist! But not to worry. Enid came to the rescue and kept its doors open.

Yarn Barn 3

Yarn Barn 4

The new Yarn Barn has a wonderful selection of yarns in all fibers and colors.

Yarn Barn 5

The Yarn Barn also caters to needlework beyond knitting and crocheting and has an extensive selection of canvasses and threads for needlepoint, cross stitch kits and some weaving supplies.

Yarn Barn 6

Yarn Barn 7

The Yarn Barn is located at 1615 McCullough Avenue in San Antonio, Texas. Parking is a challenge, especially if you park out front, but they do have overflow parking across the street. The location is a bit off the beaten path – not much retail around it – but accessible from IH35 and the McAllister Freeway (U.S. 281).

Knitting EDC Kit

Admittedly, I’ve been caught up in the urban survivalist subculture. Maybe it was one episode too many of The Walking Dead. I’ve been looking at lists of Bug Out Bag essential gear and hoping I can remember everything my son learned in Cub Scouts. I think I can start a fire in a pinch but not too confident in my orienteering skills.

One item that keeps popping up are EDC kits (that’s Everyday Carry in survival lingo). There are many organizational pouches and molle back packs (pronounced like Molly, stands for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) in which to store survival tools just in case the world gets overrun by zombies. As someone who is a bit OCD about organization, I keep thinking of ways I can use all those velcro and elastic bands to carry my things around neatly.

The EDC kits that have really captured my attention are the small pocket-sized ones. You have to be very selective and a bit clever to carry everything you need in a discreet package. This one is one of my favorites.

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(Source)

I love how they reused an empty Altoids tin to house basic survival supplies including a compass, whistle, fire starters, duct tape, flashlight, water purification tablets, fishing gear, and more! At one point, I had been looking to minimize the number of knitting tools that I carried around with me, particularly for traveling. I filled an Altoids tin with some of my notions and have been using it since. This wasn’t an original idea as I’m sure I saw it somewhere online. Here are my everyday carry knitting essentials:

EDC Knitting Tools

  • Scissors – These were the hardest to find. Most foldable scissors have pointy blades which are a problem at airport security. I found these with the bright yellow handles in the baby section. They’re for cutting tiny little baby fingernails.
  • Tape measure – My solution came about serendipitously. I was at IKEA and needed to measure a piece of furniture. The paper tape measure made its way home with me. I was going to throw it out when I realized it would fit perfectly in my tin! The coiled tape measure wasn’t there originally until I dropped it and the outer plastic casing shattered. After winding it tightly, it fit quite nicely.
  • 2 stitch holders – medium and small.
  • 1 cable needle in pink.
  • 7 stitch markers in aqua and orange.
  • 1 stitch counter.
  • 2 felted point protectors in blue and tan.
  • 1 tapestry needle.
  • 2 magnets – to attach the tapestry needle to the lid.
  • 1 pen.
  • Hand cream – a knitter has to have hand cream.

You will be amazed at how much fits inside this tin! I have all the tools I need except a crochet hook for picking up dropped stitches. I couldn’t find one small enough but the cable needle and stitch holders do the trick. Here’s the tin with my notions packed inside.

Knitting EDC Kit

This little tin has replaced my previous notions travel bag. Do you have a compact way of carrying your knitting essentials?

Post-Apocalyptic Skill

 

Sock Therapy (or How I Made It through the Holiday Blues)

I’ve been furiously knitting socks lately. As soon as I weave in the ends of one, I immediately cast on another.

Simple Skyp Sock #1 in progress

I have always found knitting to be soothing. As I knit, I can feel worries and angst slowly evaporate. Mostly, focusing on knitting helps me drown everything else out. For those moments, I am in a state of calm.

Turning the Heel

Lately, a sadness has enveloped me. Nothing has happened. On the contrary, I am living a blessed life surrounded by people whom I love and who love me. I want for little. I am very fortunate. But I am sad. Often.

Monkey Sock #1 in progress

It comes and goes. At this moment, all is joyous and warm. But some days, just getting out of bed and dressing seems like an insurmountable challenge. Maybe it was a case of the holiday blues. Maybe it’s hormones. Maybe it’s just life.

Monkey Sock #2 in progress

The one activity that helped me through the holidays was knitting. Knits, purls, yarn overs and slipped stitches forced me to focus. The rhythmic motions of my hands on the needles soothed me. I was creating something and in that process of creation I found peace.

Knit Coffee Mug

I have read articles (like this one and this one) where experts share results of research studies on the positive effects that crafts like knitting have. They serve to reinforce what I already knew – knitting is like “chicken soup for the soul.” Knitting to me is comforting. And it snaps me out of my doldrums. A simple pair of socks is a victory to celebrate.

Self-Striping Yarn Sock #1 in progress

There is something incredibly special and satisfying about making something with my own hands. I am reminded of a few lines from one of my favorite poems:

And in time, I plant geraniums

I tie up my hair into loose braids,

And trust only what I have built

with my own hands.

From Beneath the Shadow of the Freeway by Lorna Dee Cervantes

The last sock that I knit fit perfectly. Now to cast on the second. A warmth fills my heart and a smile lights up my face as I reach for the yarn and needles.

Stockholm Yarn Crawl

For our holiday in Stockholm, we found the most adorable apartment through Airbnb. Monica’s apartment had everything we could possibly need – a comfy living room, narrow but incredibly well-organized and stocked kitchen, and a fold-down bed that didn’t take up much space. The lift to the third floor was one of those old-fashioned ones that just fit two people and had a metal accordion door. The apartment was located only one long block from the metro. The SoFo (South of Folkungagatan) neighborhood was very eclectic and bohemian with antique stores and fab pubs nearby. My husband and I wanted to just take up residence in Monica’s apartment forever, but we figured she needed it back eventually.

It’s impossible to visit Sweden and not run across yarn shops. Yet another reason why I ❤️ Sweden. I had a list on the ready for our forays around town. Our first stop was Stick it Up, located in SoFo only a brisk 15 minute walk from Monica’s apartment.

Stick It Up - Exterior

Stick it Up is a small shop with a nice selection of yarn in natural and man-made fibers. The owner was kind and friendly and explained the sources of the various yarns. I narrowed my selection to these 100% wool skeins intended for Lovikka mittens, which the owner explained were traditional in Sweden. Once home, I looked up the history and found a nice summary about the origin of the mittens on the Heart of Lovikka website. I brought home two skeins of a lovely green (not pictured here). Stick it Up is located at Ringvägen 64, 118 61 Stockholm, tel. 08-642 00 13.

Stick It Up - Yarn

Content with my purchases, we headed over to Gamla Stan to explore the old town center. As we meandered through the cobblestone streets, I spotted this in a dark window – yarn!

Makeri 14 - Window Shopping

Alas, as I got closer, the shop was closed. All I could do was cup my hands against the window and look longingly at the baskets full of yarn. The shop was tiny, meant only to walk in, buy and leave. Makeri 14 is located at Köpmangatan 14, 111 31 Stockholm.

Makeri 14 - Exterior

The next yarn shop was located near a statue of St. George slaying the dragon. I easily spotted it because this was hanging outside the door.

Anntorps Väv on Österlånggatan 11

Anntorps Väv was also somewhat small but had a luscious collection of yarn in natural fibers. Just look at these 100% silk beauties in the window! The proprietress spoke a little bit of English and I spoke not a bit of Swedish but we managed to point and understand each other perfectly. The silk is spun for the store and she hand dyes it in these jewel-tones.

Anntorps Väv - Window Shopping

The other reason the shop is small is because this large loom takes up most of the space. When we walked in, the proprietress was weaving on it. In the store were large fluffy blankets she had woven on the loom. Anntorps Väv is located at Österlånggatan 11, 111 31 Stockholm, tel. 0046(0)8 676 00 23. It’s a few doors down from Stockholms Gästabud Bar and Bistro where we had those fabulous Swedish meatballs (pictured in previous post).

Anntorps Väv - Loom

Window shopping in Gamla Stan is heavenly when you spot things like these skeins.

Galleri Yamanashi - Window Shopping

Galleri Yamanashi is located in a largish space in a busy corner with large windows facing the street. The gallery is very nicely laid out inside with plenty of room to look around. Throughout the space, there are examples of tools used in the spinning of yarn.

Galleri Yamanashi at 1 Köpmantorget

Their selection of yarns was nicely curated and presented. There were natural skeins of wool in burlap sacks and dyed skeins in large baskets. A large wall cubby housed skeins in various weights and colors.

Galleri Yamanashi - Yarn Bag
Galleri Yamanashi - Yarn Basket
Galleri Yamanashi - Yarn Cubbies

During my visit, the shop had a special exhibition showcasing entries from the 2015 Wålstedts Textile Art Contest. The contest is a knitting and weaving competition between Sweden and Japan using Wålstedts yarns. To see the other winning entries in both weaving and knitting categories, go to galleri-yamanashi.se.

Wålstedts Textile Art Contest 2015 - 2
Left: Wålstedts Textile Art banner. Right: The chapell Notre-du-Haut by Ayako Murota.
Wålstedts Textile Art Contest 2015 - 1
Top Left: Weaver-Jyuri Nagayo. Top Right: Praying reconstruction and rebirth of eastern Japan by Mieko Sano. Bottom Left: Received Excellence Award, tomato by Weaver-Kaoru Yoneda. Bottom Right: Weaver-Maki Kimimori.

I was curious about Wålstedts yarns. According to the gallery’s website, the Wålstedts spinneri is one of the oldest spinning mills in Sweden dating back to 1934. Their fibers are sourced from Swedish sheep and have been cleaned, spun and dyed by four generations of the Wålstedts family. The following video from the Wålstedts Textilverkstad website depicts gorgeous Swedish country landscapes and the process the family uses to make this beautiful yarn.

There were several bags full of wool fibers from the Wålstedts factory dyed in rich colors around the gallery. Galleri Yamanashi is located at Köpmantorget 1, 111 31 Stockholm.

Galleri Yamanashi - Pink Fleece

Galleri Yamanashi - Blue Fleece

The final yarn shop I visited was Sticka, also located in Gamla Stan. At the entry, I was greeted by this ferocious ceramic bulldog – too cute!

Sticka at 37 Österlånggatan

The interior of Sticka looks more like a clothing shop than a yarn store. Displayed on racks throughout the space were beautiful, airy knitted items for purchase, such as shawls and sweaters. They had a small but nice selection of yarns from various countries but not too many local yarns. Sticka is located at Österlånggatan 37, 111 31 Stockholm, tel. +46 8 23 37 37. For some reason, the website will not display but here is a link to their Facebook page.

That concludes my Swedish yarn crawl. I know there were many more yarn shops that I could not possibly visit during my stay. Good enough reason to return one day!

Our Holiday in Stockholm

Stockholm is beautiful and crisp in the Fall.

To get the full impact of the photos and to read the captions, click on the first one and view them as a slideshow.