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!
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!
My very first spinning lesson was at the Kid’N Ewe And Lamas Too fiber festival a couple of years ago. This past weekend, I revisited this annual festival which is spread out over three large barns at the Kendall County Fairgrounds. There was weaving, spinning, felting, knitting and crocheting everywhere!
I spent hours swooning over fibers from animal and plant sources including camel, yak, buffalo, sheep, goat and silkworm as well as hemp, bamboo, and cotton. Many were hand dyed in stunning colors like these wool batts …
… and this hemp fiber in deep tones.
There were countless hand crafted tools throughout including this lovely assortment of spindles and shuttles.
Behind rows of vendor stalls in one of the barns, several teams were in full swing for the Fiber to Fashion demonstrations. Spinners using spindles and wheels were busily turning fiber into yarn. The yarn was fed to the weaver who meticulously wove it on a loom. The goal was to create a finished product – a 20″ x 72″ shawl – in one day.
The team pictured here held a raffle for their shawl. I bought one ticket for $1 but, alas, did not win. I watched them as they were making the fringe and putting the final touches on the shawl. It was absolutely gorgeous.
The air was cool, the sun was out, the animals were adorable, kindred spirits were plentiful, and there were three barns full of fibery goodness – perfect!
Anytime I travel, besides booking a room and mapping out my route, I always look up local yarn stores. On our girl’s weekend to Fredericksburg, I found two listings that looked promising but turned into dead ends. Stonehill Spinning simply wasn’t there. In its place was a vitamin shop. I have nothing against vitamins but it was disappointing. The next shop, Things in a Room, was there on Main Street but no longer carried yarn.
But our adventure didn’t end in Fredericksburg. On our way back, we took US 87 south toward Interstate 10, which took us through Comfort, Texas. There, on a balmy Sunday afternoon, was The Tinsmith’s Wife.
Located in the historic downtown, The Tinsmith’s Wife fills six large rooms with beautiful, colorful, exquisite yarn. There is one room with a large table for sitting and knitting. Other sitting areas are scattered throughout. This one was my favorite. Can you imagine sitting there, knitting in comfort and feeling the warmth of the sun on your face?
Then there was the yarn.
Feeling light-headed yet?
You should have seen my mother and my aunt. They behaved like giddy school girls trying on the sample knits and choosing the yarns they wanted so that I could knit shawls, scarves and sweaters for them. Clearly they forgot that I actually do have a day job and do not, as much as I would like, spend all my days knitting.
Wendy, the owner, was lovely and helpful. She let me know that The Tinsmith’s Wife is a stop along the 2014 Hill Country Yarn Crawl. The dates are already on my calendar.
My husband, the pilgrim, returned from a long walk of 863 kilometers across northern Spain. He walked westward from the Spanish-French border to the Atlantic Ocean. He followed the Camino De Santiago (the Way of St. James), a pilgrimage that has been walked by thousands before him since medieval times.
This was his trip, not mine, so I cannot write about its spiritual significance or the physical endurance required to make the trip. That is his story to tell, or not, in his own time. What I can relay are snippets of experiences and sights that he shared with me along the way.
The first day was the hardest. It was an uphill climb through ankle-deep mud in the pouring rain and winds that blew horizontally along the path. He told me that there were crosses and makeshift memorials covered in stones marking the places where pilgrims had started and ended their walks.
On his way from Roncesvalles to Burguete, he walked through the Sorginaritzaga Forest. Before entering, he came across a sign written in four languages. The caption read “Brujería” or “Witchcraft.”
The Sorginaritzaga forest, whose meaning is “oakwood of witches,” was where some of the most well-known witches’ covens of the XVI century were held, …
As he walked through the forest, he came across the White Cross placed there to protect the pilgrims from witches.
Despite this ominous beginning, he found time to send me photos of the countryside and of sheep grazing in the fields. He spotted this flock of sheep near the Basque town of Zubiri.
He told me these were Manech sheep. They are black-faced free roaming sheep known for their milk and from which “ossau-iraty” cheese is made.
He even snapped photos of some of the yarn stores he happened to spot in the towns he came across. Mercería Nhilos is in Nájera; Lanas Lany in León.
Along the way, pilgrims stay in albergues. The albergues provide a bed and usually a meal, sometimes a community dinner or a light breakfast. Curfews are strict so as not to disturb the weary pilgrims. The bunk beds shown below are in a pilgrim’s shelter attached to a local church in Belorado. The albergue was run by German nuns. The bed was free although a contribution of 5€ to the nun’s fund was recommended.
Another albergue was at St. Mary’s Nunnery in the city of Carrión de los Condes. According to my husband, one nun will tend to your feet with an extensive first aid kit and all the patience in the world. That evening, they held a pilgrim’s mass with a blessing of the feet followed by a community dinner and some singing and entertainment for the weary travelers. The following day would consist of a brutal 20-mile walk in desert-like conditions.
Within 58 kilometers of Santiago de Compostela, my pilgrim made it up the side of a mountain in the province of Galicia where this stone marker is located.
This albergue was situated near Itero de la Vega in a medieval structure run by an Italian religious fraternity. The simple refuge had no electricity, only candles to light the way.
In Burgos, he had a clear view of the magnificent cathedral.
Halfway between León and Santiago de Compostela, he stayed in the town of Vega de Valcarce, population 800. It was there he spotted this statue of an old woman knitting.
From Ezcaray, arriving precisely on my birthday, he shipped this exquisite blanket woven with 73% mohair and 27% wool from Mantas Ezcaray.
When he returned – a little sunburned, a bit achy – he came bearing gifts. For the boys, beautiful picture books about the Camino de Santiago and a myriad of stories, both funny and painful. For me, this book, Tejeduría Tradicional Galicia, or roughly translated, Traditional Weaving of Galicia. To complement this gift came a bookmarker knit by a local artisan made from a linen yarn spun from locally cultivated flax.
We hope our boys make this journey some day. Perhaps my pilgrim and I will travel it together.
Horrors! I had a knitter’s worst nightmare – while awake!
I recently switched phones and despite backing up my data, the yarn inventory on my Vogue knitting app did not carry over. I’m certain it was user error because most of my other data transferred.
I didn’t mind though. It was a perfect excuse to take out the yarn stash and air it out. I do that from time to time. It reminds me of the beautiful skeins I’ve picked up here and there and sparks project ideas.
To my horror, as I was halfway through taking it out of its bin, out flew a moth! Noooooooooo! You can imagine the waves of panic that shot through me. I chased the culprit around the room and away from my yarn. I then turned to my stash and immediately examined every single skein, ball and hank for damage. Alas, there were several casualties.
The next couple of days were devoted to separating the damaged skeins from the rest. I threw out three skeins that seemed to have gotten the worst of it. Thankfully, the damage seemed contained to a corner of one bin.
I was surprised to find the cursed critters in my stash. I periodically inspect and reorganize my stash (yes, I am a bit OCD about it) and keep a pile of cedar balls in each basket. But it was not enough.
After taking photos and entering my stash inventory into the app, I began storing the yarn inside plastic bags. I bought some lavender-scented moth balls wrapped in light paper and put one inside each bag, like little lethal sentinels guarding my treasures. I know those fibers are better off with circulating air but I was in defensive mode. I figured I could wash out the moth ball smell later. Better that than having to toss away yarn. My stash is a few skeins smaller but otherwise intact.
Now I really have to knit it down rather than risk losing any more of it. Yarn protection suggestions are welcome.
Remember this yarn that I picked up almost one and a half years ago at Yarnivore in San Antonio, Texas?
It didn’t have a good beginning. My attempt to wind it into a ball became a tangled mess. But I finally finished it after a few plane rides. I followed the Sakkie Knit Ruffle Scarf pattern written by the yarn store owner. This is how it looked fresh off the needles.
Some blocking was definitely in order to lay out the ruffles.
It straightened out quite nicely. Here are front and back views.
My mom picked the pattern. I plan to take it to her when I see her for Thanksgiving. Hope she likes it!