Friday, April 2, 2010

Yarn Crawl 2010 - NorCal Style

My dear mum came for a visit this past week. One of our favorite pastimes when calling on each other is yarn shopping. We have even coined a new phrase for this fibrous adventure, a Yarn Crawl. This time, we went on two yarn crawls. One trip was to Napa Valley as part of a nice day trip to the beautiful wine country and one was in my home town of Sacramento.

Napa crawl was only two stores, Yarns on First in downtown Napa and Muse in St. Helena. Our first stop was Yarn on First, since it was the closer of the two. The store is packed full of lovely yarns of all colors, materials and sizes. Your average yarn shop will stock their shelves by material (ie, wool or cotton), but Yarn on First displays their yard by color. This is a fun way to shop when you really don’t have a specific project in mind. Having all the reds or blues in one section lets your eyes decide what to pick. I was looking for nothing in particular when I stumbled across a 74% microfiber blend. I’ve never seen this blend of yarn before, and since I was only seven days away from getting my brand new iPad, I had a brilliant idea to make a cover for it with this super-soft material (don’t worry, my iPad cover post will be coming soon). I bought four skeins and a pair of adorable buttons to accent it.

Next, we drove to St. Helena’s for Muse. Now, I’m not one to trash-talk a yarn shop, so don’t misunderstand, but I wasn’t impressed with Muse. It seemed very small and didn’t have a whole lot of stock. One bonus to Muse is that they carried a lot of locally crafted items for sale. You may not be impressed with their yarn, but you might find a beautiful, hand-made purse instead.

The following weekend, mom and I did our Sacramento yarn crawl. After tracking down as many local yarn shops as possible, we headed to Rumpelstiltskin. Located downtown, this is my regular haunt, mostly because of its geographical convenience, but also because of the wide variety of yarn they carry. They carry your basic Cascade and Noru brands as well as locally spun and hand-died yarns. They even sell raw wool and offer spinning classes. I’d been to Rumpelstiltskin a million times so this was nothing special. I was on the hunt for a good pattern book on appliqués. I found a book called Beyond-the-Square Crochet Motifs by Edie Eckman which had a lot of patterns that could be used as an appliqué.

up was Shelby’s Place. I’d never even heard of it, so here is where the adventure began. Shelby’s is situated in the industrial park neighborhood of Natomas and actually shares space with a lawn care store. The place is enormous, but Shelby’s only takes up about one-third of the store. Yarn was shelved largest to smallest, so the back of the store had all of the chunky yarns, while the front had the sock yarns. They also hung a huge array of Cascade brand wool hanks from the wall, which was very appealing. Here, I bought an ergonomic crochet hook, mainly to patronize the store, but also because Kortnee swears by ergo-handled hooks.

After that, we stopped off at a nearby book store where I found a great pattern book called Crocheting on the Edge by Nicky Epstein which has a lot of great ideas. We had lunch, I bet mom five bucks that the yarn she was looking for was called Sugar ‘n’ Cream, not Peaches & Cream. We headed to Michael’s. Turns out we were both wrong.

stop was Anna’s Yarn Shop in Elk Grove. I love this store. I’d only been twice before, but I was really looking forward to this one. They also set up their yarn by color and they have a huge selection. At this point, I was looking for a specific blend of yarn, which is when I realized that yarn-by-color is not always the best idea. I really wanted to be looking at cotton blends only, but I was overwhelmed by hundreds of different alpaca wool, wool, bamboo, cashmere, cotton, nylon… all in the same color, but not separated by blends. I found the perfect yarn and eventually tracked down three complimentary colors to add to my stash.

Our final stop was also in Elk Grove at a quaint shop called Knitique. This store had a very cozy environment, but the yarn was organized in a chaotic way. Colors and blends were all mixed up with no real system. Mom pointed out that if she lived here in town, she could see herself frequenting the shop, but as a visitor, the place just seemed disorganized. In a concerted effort to make sure I bought something at each place we visited, I picked up a copy of a book called Fiber and Fabric Mania! A Travel Guide as a gift for mom. She can’t go to a new town without seeking out the local yarn shops, so this book is perfect for her.

I had a blast with my wonderful mom and I’m glad I got to share our Yarn Crawl adventure together. She even surprised me at the end with a much-needed swift and ball roller. Thanks Mom!

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