Friday, May 9, 2008

Knitting Travels

In the last few weeks, I ventured to two cities and their local yarn shops.

New Orleans

Jordynn and I traveled to NOLA for a conference, and in order to make our other lives valuable to our knitting lives, we found the nearest LYS and popped in for a spell. We both bought some Malabrigo worsted yarn. I turned mine into my Malaclapo (a version of Clapotis), and Jordynn's is still in the stash.

I made the first venture to this store, The Quarter Stitch on Chartres Street in the heart of the French Quarter, while J. was actually working. I found some pretty wool, but it had no tags or labels. Curious, I asked the store clerks about the yarn.

The two ladies working the counter--both needlepoint experts--had no idea about the yarn I was fondling. I thought it was Malabrigo, and it was soft like Malabrigo, but the colorways were different than ones I'd seen, and there were no tags. I asked if the yarn was produced by a local company, but we--the needlepointers and I--could reach no consensus. One lady said she knew the brand, but couldn't remember what it was called.

I liked the color well enough, and the variegation of what turned out to be the "Colchina" colorway assuaged most of my worries about dye lot.

On the return trip to the store, J. selected her yarn from the kettle-dyed, single-ply worsted-ish weight pile of yarn (HOW did I not instantly know this was Malabrigo?). At the counter, I said to her, "Doesn't it seem just like Malabrigo?" And suddenly one of the needlepoint ladies said, "That's the brand of that yarn!"


I thought I was getting some nifty local hand-spun or something. Trying to support local business and all that.

The lady said, "The store owner is really concerned about the stock's appearance when it is on display. So she removes the tags."

I bit my tongue.

As a fun game, why don't you, fair readers, post in the comment section the possible--if impolite--replies to this statement. (Dye lots jump immediately to mind.)

Bethesda, Maryland

The LYS there, Knit and Stitch, has a nice variety of yarn. The ladies were helpful if a little standoffish, which seems to be a requirement for working in an LYS. (This must change, people! No one should feel stupid when they enter a store to shop or ask questions. It's terrible knitting mojo, and I've seen it all over.)

They did have a large work table set up, where my husband could sit and open his laptop and work while I spent all the time in the world looking at things. I bought Loop-d-Loop by Teva Durham, some lace blocking wires (since apparently I'm now a crazy lace knitter) and some Eucalan. I only bought one skein of yarn, because I knew I had a box from Webs sitting by my front door, and because their prices were steep. However, as LYSs go, this is a good one.

The shop is in a darling walkable area in downtown Bethesda. It sits above a noodle shop in an old building with lots of character. They carry Manos but not Malabrigo, which is a damn shame. But my only real complaint is that there are no price tags on anything in the store. Not on the excellent selection of Addi Turbos, not on the yarn. Every time I wanted to know how much something cost, I had to interrupt the knitting circle and ask one of the ladies to scan the item. It was ridiculous and no doubt contributed to the aforementioned bad mojo. I mean, even I thought I was irritating.

Here's the cute front stoop:

(What is up with my bushy hair?!)

1 comment:

Courtenay said...

What is it with no price tags? That's just ridiculous. They expect you to not care about the price? My god, I love buying high-quality yarn like anyone else, but I do have a yarn budget. Well, that just feeds my notion that many LYS' are home to yarn snobs. It kind of disgusts me, but I suppose even the yarn industry cannot escape the stratification of society (Expensive, un-price tagged, Tilli Tomas carrying LYS' at the top, Elann, KnitPicks, and A.C. Moore at the botoom). Would our ancestors, those who knit out of necessity and with economy in mind, be rolling in their graves?