Austin Yarn Shops

One of my favorite cities in Texas is none other than Austin. Austin is our state capitol and home to the University of Texas Longhorns. Austin hosts the Austin City Limits music festival (just ACL for the locals) and the South by Southwest (sxsw) music and film extravaganza. For the young – and young at heart – there’s the nightlife on 6th Street. Go antiquing on South Congress (SoCo) and watch the bats come out at dusk from underneath the South Congress Avenue bridge. There is no end to the things that Keep Austin Weird!

A place as groovy as Austin is bound to have some awesome yarn stores. Here are three that are sure to please.

Gauge logo
5406 Parkcrest Drive, Austin, Texas 78731, Tel. 512.371.9300

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At Gauge, I ran into a fellow knitting enthusiast who showed me around the shop. She didn’t even work there! As soon as you walk in, you are greeted by this pompom mobile.

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The shop has all the expected cubbies full of colorful yarn.

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I liked this crocheted cacti!

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Gauge has a nice back room where you can sit and knit. A class was in session so I quietly perused the sock yarn options.

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This display featured hand-dyed yarns from nearby Georgetown, Texas. The colors just popped!

Gauge 1

The next stop was Me & Ewe, a combination yarn and fabric store.

4903 Woodrow Ave., Austin, Texas 78756, Tel. 512.220.9592
4903 Woodrow Ave., Austin, Texas 78756, Tel. 512.220.9592

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Me & Ewe is located in a cute cottage with bright yellow and aqua trim – very Austin. The front room is full of lovely yarn.

Me & Ewe 1

Me & Ewe 2

Adjoining the main room is a smaller alcove where you ring up your purchases. Hanging along the entryway were these adorable, handmade Barbie clothes. It turns out that when a customer found out she was having a baby, she began meticulously hand-knitting a closet full of dress-up clothes for her future daughter to play with. Alas, the daughter never quite got into dolls and the wardrobe was mostly unused. It is now lovingly in display at the shop.

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There are two more rooms in the cottage dedicated to fabrics – lots and lots of fabrics. I loved the modern prints.

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Me & Ewe 5

The third yarn store is not actually in Austin, but about 40 miles east in Paige, Texas. It is absolutely worth the side-trip.

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130 Gonzales Street, Paige, TX 78659, Tel. 512.253.0100

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Yarnorama is a fiber-enthusiast’s dream. They carry looms and threads for weaving, …

Yarnorama 3

Yarnorama 2

…wheels and fiber for spinning, …

Yarnorama 1

…and plenty of yarn for knitting and crocheting.

Yarnorama 4

There was so much to see and touch, I didn’t even know where to start!

I also stopped in at Hill Country Weavers, one of my fave yarn stores ever. Because I had been many times, I didn’t linger and do not have photos to share, except for this one.

All You Knit is Love - Hill Country Weavers

Need I say more?

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.

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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).

A Houston Fiber Festival

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.

Little Monkey's Stitch and Spin

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 Barbed Dragon

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.

Purl & Loop

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.

Park Avenue Yarns

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!

HFF Yarn Bomb 1

HFF Yarn Bomb 2

HFF Yarn Bomb 3

HFF Yarn Bomb 4

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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!

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Toy Shoppe and Needlework

When we took our son to college orientation sometime mid-summer, I had an opportunity to stop by a store I had been wanting to visit for some time. I am so glad I did. Ewe and Eye is as enchanting inside as it is outside.

Ewe & Eye - Toy Shoppe

Stepping inside Ewe and Eye is like walking into a fairyland. They carry the prettiest toys from all over the world. Their life-like dolls are just the right size for swaddling. There is a full array of Paddington Bears from England and all shapes and sizes of hand crafted whimsical fairies in almost every room.

Ewe & Eye - Rabbit

Ewe & Eye - Carousel Horse

Each room has delightful surprises and a curated selection of unique toys.

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Just look at this incredible Wizard of Oz collection!

Ewe & Eye - Oz

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Now what could be more perfect than a toy store that carries yarn?

Ewe & Eye - Needlework

They carry a lovely selection of yarns including Rowan, Prism and all colors and weights of Colinette, among many others. They even had yarn dolls.

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Mr. Jimmy, the Owner and Toy Man Extraordinaire (really, it says so on his business card) was charming and quite knowledgable about the yarn inventory. He can also tell you about every line of toys they carry. After perusing the store and chatting with this delightful gentleman, I selected these skeins to take home with me. Just look at this chunky raspberry gorgeousness.

Ewe & Eye - Raspberry Yarn

This ridiculously soft skein is to become a pair of socks for my husband.

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If you are ever in Boerne, stop by Ewe and Eye and say hi to Mr. Jimmy.

Frail Silk

On a weekend trip to San Antonio with my son, I managed a detour to Inskein Yarns. Inskein Yarns is located in a strip mall on a busy street. It is very small and does not have a huge selection. Despite its tiny size, there were 7-8 women huddled into a circle taking a knitting class.

They didn’t have any unique yarns but I found this skein of Maharashtra Silk which has 800 yards of 100% pure silk.

Maharashtra Silk 1

I liked the greens and purples and the yarn has a nice feel and sheen. Unfortunately, as I wound the skein into a ball, the yarn continuously fell apart. The single-ply was too frail, as if it had been spun too loosely.

The only thing I can think of to salvage it is to ply it with another fingering weight yarn. Any suggestions?

Yarn in Navasota

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.

WC Mercantile 2

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 3

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.

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WC Mercantile 5

Love these project bags!

WC Mercantile 1

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.

WC Mercantile 6

In the back of the store, they had a cute little Christmas tree on which hung sheep ornaments and these. Too cute!

WC Mercantile Ornament

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!

WC Mercantile Cards

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!

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College, a President and Needlepoint

During the Winter break, my son and I went to visit colleges. It was sort of a Mother-Son trip. We hung out, talked, tried new restaurants, and toured the campus. It was nice having that one-on-one time with my 17-year old. Soon enough he will be gone from home and I cherish these moments together.

While visiting the campus of Texas A&M University, we stopped at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum. A long time ago, when I worked on the Hill, I came within a few yards of then President Bush (the elder, not “W”). Visiting the museum gave me a deeper appreciation of him. The museum chronicles his time in the service, how he was married with a baby during college, and his rise in politics. Coincidentally, while we were visiting the museum, he was hospitalized in Houston; and more recently, he and Barbara Bush celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary! Regardless of your politics, that is impressive. He even tweeted about this milestone – so sweet!

As interesting as all the artifacts and exhibits of his life were, my attention was diverted by several yarn-related installations. Much to my son’s chagrin, I spent a considerable amount of time admiring and photographing these adorable yarn houses and an amazing Noah’s Ark and Nativity Scene done in needlepoint. They were stitched by the Saintly Stitchers from Saint Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas. The Nativity Scene was presented to the President and Mrs. Bush in 1989, and the Noah’s Ark was presented to them in 1991 along with needlepoint ornaments for the White House Christmas tree.

I highly recommend clicking on any photo below to view larger images. That way you can see the detail of the needlepoint. So much care went into each figure. All in all, it was a wonderful trip with my boy.

A Good Year

Now at the cusp of a new year, I started reflecting on this past one and am glad to say that it was a good one. Our family is healthy and happy, a little older, maybe a little worse for wear, but still going strong. My husband realized a personal goal of making a pilgrimage walked by thousands before him. Our sons started their senior years in high school and are anxiously awaiting to hear from their chosen colleges. I received a surprise promotion earlier this year. My mom, who is usually full of vigor at 72, is starting to feel her age a bit and is fighting it the whole way. One of my brothers was elected to the school board of my hometown. We had our share of troubles, some minor, others not, but found our way through them and learned in the process. There are still some scars but they are healing. There are so many other reasons, large and small, for which to be thankful – hot summer days, shared meals with friends, a good book, down time, birthday celebrations, a rewarding job, a good hair day, and soft yarn.

Speaking of yarn, 2014 was also a good knitting year. My goal was to create from my stash, which has continued to grow. I accomplished this with one exception, the hat for my niece because she was very specific about wanting a neutral color. In total, I knit 10 items in 2014. They were all small projects for a couple of reasons: (1) I was trying to use up my stash especially where I had only one or two skeins of the same yarn/dye lot; and (2) With my work schedule, it takes me too long to complete larger projects and I wanted to show progress every month. So here are my 2014 FOs.

Another highlight in 2014 was discovering new yarn stores. One was discovered during a trip to Colombia – and what a glorious find that was! We came across two other shops during a trip to the Texas hill country. Click on any image to view on a larger screen.

(Stay tuned for another recent discovery in an upcoming post.)

In 2014, I also enjoyed the fabulous Kid ‘N Ewe Fiber Festival, had a fabulous Girl’s Weekend in the Texas hill country with my mom and aunt, and experienced Yarn Terrors when I found moths in my stash! And lastly, I enjoyed having my niece become a part of our family while attending college. All in all, 2014 was a great year.

Wishing everyone an amazing new year in 2015.

A Day at the Fiber Festival

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 …

Gorgeous merino, bamboo, and angelina batts from Yorkieslave Artworks. (www.orkieslave.etsy.com)
Gorgeous merino, bamboo, and angelina batts from Yorkieslave Artworks. (www.yorkieslave.etsy.com)
Luscious browns and golds from Yorkieslave Artworks. (www.orkieslave.etsy.com)
Luscious browns and golds from Yorkieslave Artworks. (www.yorkieslave.etsy.com)
Glistening waves in a deep blue sea from Yorkieslave Artworks. (www.orkieslave.etsy.com)
Glistening waves in a deep blue sea from Yorkieslave Artworks. (www.yorkieslave.etsy.com)

… and this hemp fiber in deep tones.

Hand-dyed natural plant fibers from the Fiber Lady. (www.fiberlady.com)
Hand-dyed natural plant fibers from the Fiber Lady. (www.fiberlady.com)

There were countless hand crafted tools throughout including this lovely assortment of spindles and shuttles.

These wooden spindles are from Yarnorama (I think). I didn't pick up a business card. (www.yarnorama.com)
These wooden spindles are from Yarnorama (I think). I didn’t pick up a business card. (www.yarnorama.com)
Turkish and top whorl drop spindles from Heritage Arts. (www.heritageartstexas.com)
Turkish and top whorl drop spindles from Heritage Arts. (www.heritageartstexas.com)
Unique hand painted wooded spindles from Yorkieslave Artworks. (www.orkieslave.etsy.com)
Unique hand painted wooded spindles from Yorkieslave Artworks. (www.yorkieslave.etsy.com)
Hand crafted glass and wood spindles from Yorkieslave Artworks. (www.orkieslave.etsy.com)
Hand crafted glass and wood spindles from Yorkieslave Artworks. (www.yorkieslave.etsy.com)
These wooden shuttles are from Yarnorama (I think). I didn't pick up a business card. (www.yarnorama.com)
These wooden shuttles are from Yarnorama (I think). I didn’t pick up a business card. (www.yarnorama.com)

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.

One of the Fiber to Fashion teams working on their woven shawl.
One of the Fiber to Fashion teams working on their woven shawl.

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!