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.
This one might be a knit gift to me.
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!
This year, my niece Victoria started college. She is an exceptional student who finished in the top 5% of her class. (It’s my blog so I am taking editorial license to be a proud aunt). She is a scholar-athlete who competed in both individual and team sports and even broke a track record. She received scholarships and grants but it was still a stretch to cover all those college costs. I honestly don’t know how regular middle-class Americans can afford to send their kids to college. So, she is living with us and commuting to school every day. We emptied the guest room, picked up a great daybed from IKEA that pulls out into a full-size bed for guests. We also got her a desk and a really cool chair and let her decorate the rest of her “dorm” room. She has black-and-white posters of Marilyn and Audrey and the New York skyline on her walls and small LED lights around the perimeter. It has been a delight to have her in our home. We have two boys so she is the daughter we never had.
As the weather started turning a bit cold, I decided to knit her a hat. I found this pattern which she promptly approved of with the request that it be in a white or cream color. I found this off-white bulky yarn at the fiber festival. It was half off and perfect for the hat. It’s Yearling by Juniper Moon Farm, a wonderful blend of 60% merino wool and 40% cotton, and it has been discontinued. I love this yarn! I already have several skeins of it in bright colors in my stash. It’s a great yarn for knitting in Texas because the wool brings warmth but the cotton tempers it a bit.
Once I got past the brim, the basket weave texture started to show itself.
I love the look of it! My niece loved it too.
I topped it off with a big pompom.
Now she can keep her head warm as she goes from class to class.