Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Local Yarn Shop (LYS)

There are many places to buy yarn these days, with stores like Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, and Joann’s, everywhere, one might wonder why should you seek out a local yarn shop to buy yarn? The local yarn shops typically have higher end yarns, made with more expensive fibers. So, why go out of your way to find a smaller store with more expensive yarns? One reason is for the expertise that the local places have. They usually employ knitters, or at least people who are interested in some kind of fiber arts, like spinning, crochet or needle point.

Local shops are also what I think of when I think of the American Dream. To me, the American Dream is about people doing what they truly love and making a living with it. I really wonder if corporations and chain stores are killing the American Dream. Are they making it so that people can’t own their own businesses? In a lot of instances, yes, they are at the very least, making it harder for individuals. A few years ago, Wal-mart was trying to open a store in New Orleans. There were signs everywhere around the city saying that they didn’t want a “Sprawl-Mart”. At that point in time, I really didn’t understand why Wal-Mart wouldn’t be a good thing for the city. Really, Wal-Mart employs lots of people, they have very low prices and have such a variety of merchandize that saves consumers time. Not having to stop at a grocery store, a pharmacy, a fast food restaurant, a clothing store, a pet store and a toy store seem like a great thing for the consumer, but are they really helping out Americans all that much?

I’ve spent hours of my life in Wal-Mart, and I really do enjoy shopping there. I’ve just come to the realization lately that my house isn’t big enough to keep filling it up with things I don’t need. Also, I tend to spend a lot less money when I buy yarn at a local shop than when I buy it at some place like Wal-Mart. Think about it, when you shop at Wal-Mart, do you ever buy things that you really don’t need, you just bought because the price was right and you really had nothing in mind to use it for? I have. When I shop at a store where yarn is expensive, I take my time and only buy the things I love and know I’ll use to make something that I’ll actually use. When I go to Wal-Mart or any of the places I mentioned earlier, I buy a lot of yarn that I really don’t need and it just sits in my stash for a long time just taking up space. I seem to have the biggest problem with the words Clearance and Sale. These two words should strike fear in the hearts of husbands everywhere. If a Sale or a Clearance has things that I will use, then it’s ok. If it’s a bunch of fuzzy, sort of nasty feeling yarn that I can’t figure out what to do with; yarn that I only bought because it was only twenty-five cents per skein; I need to practice more self restraint.

I did find this very nice merino wool at Michael’s once for only about $2 per skein. It was a very pretty red color and I knew I wanted to make a sweater with a similar yarn anyway, so buying that was a good thing. The most amazing thing about the yarn was that all of the skeins were from the same dye lot. If you’re wondering, a dye lot refers to the batch that the yarn was dyed in. When companies dye yarn, they usually dye it one batch or lot at a time. When they want to dye more yarn than they can fit in one batch/lot, they run another batch through the dyes. The problem with this is that there may be slight variations between batches. Dye lot # 777 might be a slight bit darker than Dye lot # 888. The color may still look the same, but if you compare the two yarns with different dye lots, you may notice a difference. When knitting with two different dye lots, it is very likely that a line where the two different dye lots meet will occur. This line would annoy me, and that is why, when I am buying yarn for a particular project, I make sure all of the yarn has the same dye lot. There are ways to deal with the problem of different dye lots, but I try to avoid them.

In the New Orleans area, there are four Yarn shops. Garden District Needle Works, Bette Bornside Co. , The Quarter Stitch, and Needle Arts Studio.

Garden District Needleworks, is the shop that is most convenient for me. It is a large store, on Magazine Street. The store seems to be an old house, it has two rooms in the front, where they usually have discounted yarn and . The back room is where the rest of the yarn is.

Needle Arts Studio is located in Metairie at 115 Metairie Rd. Their number is (504) 832-3050. I've been to this one a couple of times. I like the fact that they have a good amount of parking. I havn't been here in about a year and couldn't find a website.

I have never been to the Quarter Stitch, which is located in the French Quarter. I don't make it out to the Quarter all that much and havn't made it to this store yet. Bette Bornside is another yarn shop I havn't visited yet.

What is your favorite local yarn shop? I love to visit LYS's when I am on vacation and would love to hear about the ones in your area.


Anonymous said...

About four years ago I visited the Garden District needle shop. I spent about 40 dollars on a set of addi turbo needles and a set of wooden double points. I asked the woman behind the counter a quick question about a pattern I was currently working on. I suppose it was a pretty simple technique (I didn't understand what "turn the knitting" meant) and maybe she thought I was a fool for asking, but her response was so rude and her affect so cold that I never returned to that shop. She seemed "put out" that I asked such silly question and suggested I take a begginer class (at the time I could knit, purl, increase, decrease, knit in the round and on double points, and cable- I certainly didn't need a beginner's class.) I hope that she has since learned better manners, but I certainly won't be back to find out!

KnittingKel said...

I really dislike it when someone asks a question and someone answers with a rude comment or acts like the person asking the question is an idiot because they didn't know one little piece of information. Honestly, I'm sure there are a lot of things I don't know and I'm guessing there are a lot of things that the lady at the yarn shop who was rude to you doesn't know too. I've had good experiences at Garden District Needleworks. My only problem with the place is that I spend way too much money when I go there. :) I hope your experiences at other yarn shops were better. I would just think that someone who worked in a yarn store would like knitting so much that they would want to share it with everyone and be eager to answer whatever questions someone had.