Everything, when it comes to yarn.

I remember the first time that my friend Kristy and I made a day trip to Knitting Sisters in Williamsburg. We embarked on the 40 minute journey to arrive at a lovely brick shopping village with a wine and cheese shop down the block from the yarn store. It had a boutique-like set up with a lot of open space and hanging hand-painted fibers. It felt easier to browse, unlike some yarn stores that have easily twice the inventory and half the breathing space.

Previous to that visit, I didn't have much experience with anything but the big-box stores that sell yarn. While living in Germany I would pick up random balls of acrylic at a big department store and now and then I would fondle the expensive, non-acrylic balls of Lana Grossa and colorful wools at a specialty shop.

From what I remember there were three local yarn shops in Heidelberg/Mannheim that I visited - one on the Hauptstrasse (Main Street) in Heidelberg had mainly sock yarns in all fibers. The large one around the corner from the tattoo studio I was apprenticing at in Mannheim had a large selection of yarns, many of which were luxury novelty yarns. Unfortunately, back then I didn't have a very discerning eye for buying yarns that related to projects I might actually knit. I still have assorted balls of pricey and soft furs in fushia, gold, green and probably a few others, too. The last LYS, my favorite, was located on the other side of the Neckar River in Heidelberg, across from a park square and surrounded by boutique shops and cafes. The whole shop was no bigger than my living room, but that woman carried some of the prettiest yarns and the widest selection of worsted weight wools that were stocked all the way up to the ceiling. She was also the only LYS owner that smiled at me and didn't treat me like a thieving guest.

The only other yarn store that I visited in Germany was in Worpswede, an artist village in the northern part of the country, close to where I was born. That store remains the one with the most hanging knit garments I've ever seen in one place. It was also the first time I had come face-to-face with my coveted fondness for Noro. I'd read about Noro, seen people on Ravelry and Craftster post projects with Noro, but I'd never seen it. It was love at first sight. Then I looked at the price tag. I just about had a cow when I read 22 Euros. 22 Euros at the time was about the equivalent to 35 dollars for a single ball of regular Kureyon. Ouch.

Fast forward to Virginia, our present home. Soon after moving here I researched the local yarn shops and visited Coordinated Colors in Yorktown with my husband and the baby belly. For the first time I really started looking at more than the colors and price tags. Silk, cashmere, hand-dyed bundles of yarn... it was all rather new to me. I was still scared of the prices, too. It's difficult to go from $5 balls of yarn at craft stores to $25 hanks of luxury yarn. CC is a large store with a ton of yarn and for me, it was easily overwhelming because my husband wasn't too thrilled that I wanted to spend an hour touching, ooh-ing and ahh-ing over string.

So what was the point of rambling on about all this? Love. For yarn. Although I think acrylics most definitely have their place in fiber arts, I really discovered a love for yarns with natural fibers and yarns that feel good and last. Kristy made jokes that I was going to turn into a yarn snob.. I may very well be on the way to being converted. I no longer consider paying $20 for a hank of yarn outrageous, in fact, I think it's funny that I reason with myself that "it could be more expensive."

I've taken on a different view of my knitting and the tools that I work with. Now that I am making more than slippers and scarves, I care about durability and overall quality. Like anyone interested in specialty hobbies, I love the exclusive and the foreign, the hand-wrought and twisted. I know how much time it takes to make yarn and knit a garment, it's well worth every second. I want my knit items to last for awhile and I don't want them to collapse into a pill-covered pile of string a year down the road. I'm becoming increasingly interested in trying out new fibers and picking up hand-painted/dyed hanks instead of factory dye jobs. Yarn, for me, is constantly interesting and there's always something new.

Comments (1)

On June 14, 2010 at 9:31 PM , Origami Angel said...

Yarn snob, yarn snob!!! Ha ha...luvs ya & yer quirky fondness for plastic with a perm (aka. acrylic). :-)