If you follow my blog, you may recall that I started an Executive MBA program in the Summer of 2016. I am happy to report that this past February, I submitted my final assignment and graduate this May! It took me almost 20 years, but I finally accomplished a goal I’ve had for a long time. It’s never too late to refresh and sharpen your skills. If you are interested, I was interviewed for an article on why I chose to do an MBA at this stage of my career. A student currently in their first year of the program was also interviewed.
Here I am with my cohort.
As you might imagine, the MBA curriculum left little to no time for blogging or knitting. Nonetheless, I did sneak in a few skeins here and there. On a trip to Austin to see my son (who is an undergraduate there), I went in search of my fave LYS (local yarn store) which had moved to a new location. Hill Country Weavers was formerly housed in a quaint Victorian on a hip strip on South Congress. After visiting my boy, my husband drove me to their new location at 4102 Manchaca Road, Austin, Texas 78704. It’s a much larger space than what they had previously and with the same incredible selection of gorgeous yarns.
I had seen enticing photos of FOs (that’s finished objects for the uninitiated) using yarns from Hedgehog Fibers, but I had never purchased any. After walking around their new digs, I headed over to the Hedgehog Fibers section and ogled all the color combinations. Even though I would not have time to do anything with it, I purchased this lovely skein. It’s called Boombox and it’s 437 yards of fingering weight yarn made of 90% Superwash Merino Wool and 10% Nylon for a bit of stretch.
I also could not resist this Sock Mini in Banana Legs yellow. It’s 87 yards of the same soft 90% Superwash Merino / 10% Nylon and perfect for adding a splash of color.
I haven’t decided what these beauties will become but I’m looking forward to wrapping my fingers in this yarn and going at it with my needles.
My search for local yarn stores in the big apple continued but this time, I decided to venture off the island and check out the shops in Brooklyn. I popped out of the subway to lively streets with pedestrians enjoying the warm day.
The first shop on my list was La Casita Yarn Shop (“little house” in Spanish) which besides serving up yarn, also served coffee and pastries. It was also selected as one of the best 5 knitting stores in New York by CBS NY. Unfortunately, when I walked up to the door, it was closed 🙁. The note read something about enjoying the outdoors over the long weekend. From peeking through the window, I knew I would return on a future trip. Alas, I later found out that the shop closed permanently sometime during the summer. They even had a farewell party on July 1st! Even though I never shopped there, it made me sad that a yarn shop closed. 😢
Given my bad luck in finding several stores closed during my trip I called ahead to my next destination and was relieved when a friendly voice answered. Argyle Yarn Shop is a few blocks from the southwest corner of Prospect Park. If I’d had more time, I would have liked to walk through the park and see the botanical gardens or even the zoo.
The shop was bright and roomy and I was warmly greeted by the staff. They had the wall of cubbies full of yarn and baskets and displays everywhere. A large table and comfy chairs welcomed knitters and crocheters.
I was lucky in that they were having a 20% off sale on sock yarn! And even though I had absolutely no business buying more yarn, I took home this skein of Heritage Wave by Cascade Yarns (75% Superwash Merino Wool / 25% Nylon).
They also had a basket of other sale yarns where I found these two lovely MadelineTosh A.S.A.P. super bulky skeins in gorgeous fall colors (100% Superwash Merino Wool). Really, could you have resisted?
As I left, I smiled at their yarn egg display. Imagine sitting in a nest full of yarn!
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.
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.
The new Yarn Barn has a wonderful selection of yarns in all fibers and colors.
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.
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).
This past summer, the Knit at Night Guild (KANG) organized the first ever Houston Fiber Fest. The event took place the weekend of July 17-19, 2015. That very weekend, I was on my way out-of-town on business to South Africa and almost missed it. On Friday after work, I raced over to the Berry Center located in a suburb of Houston for about an hour before they closed. The exhibit area was large but very doable. Many yarn shops from the greater Houston area were there with their wares.
At Little Monkey’s Stitch and Spin, they had hand dyed two-stranded sock flats (those little bags hanging from the sides of the display). Each flat is already knitted together from 80% merino and 20% nylon. As you knit up your socks, you are basically, unraveling the flat. The result is two socks or mittens whose stripes or color patterns will match perfectly – very clever! You can find this shop on Etsy.
I thought the booth for The Barbed Dragon was a lot of fun. According to their website, the shop is “a Texan’s flight of fancy into the fiber arts.” The dragon motif carries through to the names of their gorgeous hand-dyed fibers and yarns such as Dragon’s Indulgence and Dragon’s Treasure. They are located in Burleson, Texas (had never heard of it) but you can find them online. I think this shop partnered with another called Brazen Stitchery because they had this wonderful sparkly yarn in the booth. The names of these yarns were also so creative like a sparkly hank of Zombie American Princess variegated sock yarn.
The Purl & Loop booth featured needlecraft kits by yet another Texan. I love Angela’s (the owner’s) story. As a career woman, she had little spare time to devote to crafting and would order kits that had all the materials needed to complete a project. Out of that need, she launched her shop primarily devoted to kits for the busy modern person who wants to create but has little time. She even features how-to videos on her website for weaving and needle felting.
Park Avenue Yarns lived up to its name with tastefully curated yarns and these lovely silk braids. The sheen is gorgeous and they are oh-so-wonderful to touch. They also carried packets of precut quilting squares in fabrics with modern designs and vibrant colors.
Finally, the members of the KANG yarn-bombed the area outside the conference center with smile-inducing knitting and crochet. Trees, benches and even trash cans were covered in yarn! I particularly liked the crocheted mandalas hanging off the trees like ornaments. And no yarn-bombing in Texas is complete without a crocheted Texas flag!
It was one of the most delightful hours I’ve had. A bit rushed but very much worth the effort. Kudos to the KANG for a wonderful festival. The 2016 Houston Fiber Fest is scheduled for June 24-25, 2016. Mark you calendars!
During the few hours that we were able to do some sightseeing in South Africa, we did attempt to visit a couple of yarn stores. Unfortunately, we struck out because either the store was closed or non-existent or we simply did not have the correct address, and we had very little time. Knowing how disappointed I was, my husband decided to try again and found this gem in Houghton. So I give you The Yarn Tree, a yarn store by proxy.
The Yarn Tree started off as a calligraphy studio and is located in a beautiful residential suburb of Johannesburg. The Yarn Tree is a labour of love for a British ex-pat and two South African women who met volunteering for 67 Blankets for Mandela.
I was interested to learn about 67 Blankets for Mandela and looked them up online. It turns out that in April of this year, volunteer knitters, crocheters and quilters covered 3133 square meters with handmade blankets and broke a Guinness World Record for the largest area covered by a blanket. The meaning behind the number is a call to devote 67 minutes to community service in honor of Nelson Mandela’s 67 years of service to South Africa. (Source)
As the story unfolded, I became even more excited to learn about The Yarn Tree. The selection of yarn is carefully curated by Adrienne, Kelly and Anne-Marie with an eye toward eco-friendly materials sourced in South Africa. With Kelly’s help, my husband brought me some yarn called Eco-Fusion, a 50% cotton, 50% bamboo blend by Nurturing Fibres. Nurturing Fibres is an eco-friendly yarn brand, hand dyed near Cape Town.
Nurturing fibres strives to conserve as much energy and water during their production process. They make use of borehole water which is heated by solar power for the dye baths. After dyeing, the PH levels in the dye-baths are neutralized and the water is then used to irrigate an olive grove near the dye studio. (Source: Placard at The Yarn Tree)
The next gift was also specially curated for women who have had mastectomies. With the Knitted Knockers kit, you can knit a prosthetic breast for mastectomy patients. The kit contains a 50 gram ball of organically grown cotton yarn by ColourSpun and 25 grams of pure merino for the filling. Each skein is hand wound and hand dyed.
Even though I was unable to visit in person, I learned a tremendous amount about these mission-driven ladies and their beautiful shop. You can follow The Yarn Tree on Facebook or contact them at theyarntree (@) yahoo (dot) com. The Yarn Tree hosts Charity Afternoons on Mondays and a Coffee Club on Friday mornings. They also have various workshops including a Knitting for Knockers Charity Day. Look them up if you are in Johannesburg. I know I will!
I only had a couple of days in New York City and had little hopes of finding yarn, but yarn I found. I googled “yarn” and Seaport Yarn came up only a few blocks from my hotel. You really have to be looking for it. The shop is on the fourth floor of a large building. You walk in through a nondescript door at street-level and walk or take the elevator upstairs. It’s not a very inviting entry area, even a little scary. Not the kind of place that will get street traffic. Once inside though, the place was bursting with yarn. There were cubbies of yarn practically floor to ceiling.
I was the only customer and was able to take my time looking through all the inventory. The proprietor, Tom, was a kind gentleman who seemed to know his yarn. He was very sweet and was watching the shop for his wife. He had spent so much time around yarn and knitters that he was quite knowledgeable about the brands and fibers. Since it was just him and me, we had a lively conversation as I walked around sampling the yarn.
I have been on a sock kick of late. For years, I have avoided knitting socks. Not being a patient person, the idea of finishing a project only to have to start all over seemed exasperating. But recently, I saw a photo of a knitter’s sock drawer. It was filled with socks in many colors. I was so entranced that I had to start a pair so I spent quite a bit of time in the sock yarn cubbies. There were a number of options and I finally settled on this Aussie Sock by Oasis Yarn. It’s 400 yards of a fingering weight merino blend called “Blue Dream.”
I selected this sock yarn by Malabrigo for my husband. The skein has 440 yards of fingering weight yarn in subtle greens and browns called Primavera. Primavera means “Spring.” In my opinion, a more appropriate name would have been Otoño or “Fall.” But it’s still a very nice yarn.
As I paid for my skeins, the proprietor threw in this handy measuring tape and fun pen. I think the funky hair is meant to dust small areas, like a keyboard. While I was happy with my purchases and the great customer service, I did find the store a bit messy. There wasn’t a clear surface anywhere and no place to sit (other than an old couch). It’s not the kind of yarn store where you can take your knitting and sit for a spell but it does have a good selection.
That blue dream skein is already on my needles and I’m almost done with my first sock. I’m enjoying the process more than I thought I would!
Seaport Yarn is located in the Financial District at 181 Broadway, Fourth Floor, New York, NY 10007, tel. 212-220-5230.
During a trip to Germany, we had almost a two-hour visit with the owner of Atelier Zitrón who after talking about the quality fibers they used, walked us into a showroom full of yarn spun especially for hand-knitting. Three skeins of Opus 1 yarn have been in my stash since. The skeins come infused with aloe vera and jojoba.
When I came across the Cabled Brioche Stitch Scarf pattern, I knew it would showcase the vibrant colors of the yarn.
The brioche pattern creates a nice loft and the cabling adds layers and depth.
The rich colors add yet another element of interest.
On our Mother-Son college road trip, I teasingly told my son that I only planned to stop at five yarn stores en route to Texas A&M. My 17-year old was not amused. I wish there were that many yarn stores along the way! He was actually quite patient with me when I took the business exit through Navasota so that I could visit WC Mercantile.
Navasota is a small town with just over 7,000 residents. It’s downtown is lined with quaint historic buildings that house antique and other local shops. It was a cold and rainy day so I headed straight to WC Mercantile located on East Washington Avenue. And what a delight it was!
WC Mercantile has a wonderful selection of yarns for the knitter or crocheter and a large space devoted to luscious fibers and spinning wheels. I went straight for their local yarns spun from Texas Alpacas.
Love these project bags!
The owner was very nice and helpful. She was at a table teaching a customer to knit. This is why I love local yarn stores.
In the back of the store, they had a cute little Christmas tree on which hung sheep ornaments and these. Too cute!
In addition to yarn and fibery stuff, I couldn’t resist these cards. They look like original watercolors. I particularly like the one on the left. No grannies here!
Navasota is about 45 minutes north of Houston. I am looking into one of their day-long wheel spinning classes. It would be a nice getaway from the city. If you are ever in the area, stop by and enjoy a few hours of all things fiber!