Sunday, July 19, 2015

Yarn lovers unite!

I received an email this week that made me gasp a little bit.
Village Wools is closing.
This is the yarn shop in Albuquerque, New Mexico that my mom brought me to as a kid. It has been open for 44 years. I love the smell. I loved hearing Franzi call, Hello! when we walked in. I was a little afraid of her because she seemed so on top of everything and was so assertive. She knew everything about yarn. But when I got older and had questions about patterns and yarn substitutions, I sought out Franzi every time.

I loved touching all the yarn and flipping through the patterns and finding a new book to go home with. I loved this place because it was always a destination. We're going to Albuquerque [with some dread faced with the two hour car ride and uncertain errands at the other end, turned to anticipation with...] Let's go to Village Wools!

I was talking to another yarn store owner friend of mine awhile back and she was telling me how she is afraid that brick and mortar yarn stores are all going to disappear. I understand that fear given the different climate of internet sales and marketing. But I think we need brick and mortar yarn stores. We need a place to go with shelves of patterns, employees who know the difference between sport and worsted weight yarn, and the needles for any project right there. We need the community that yarn creates. And we need them everywhere.

I wish more yarn stores sold weaving supplies. I've lived many places where I had no alternative other than ordering on the internet. But if your local yarn store does carry your weaving yarn and tools, buy them there for goodness sake! (The Recycled Lamb in Golden and Shuttles, Spindles, and Skeins in Boulder are two great Colorado options.)

I do not think that brick and mortar yarn stores are necessarily on their way out. I think that things just have to be different in this marketing climate than they were two decades ago. Seeing things on social media about your local shop is helpful. Blogs with stories, presence at local fiber events, lots of great classes all draw people in. I'm not a yarn store owner, so I don't know if any of that can overcome how easy it is to buy the exact yarn a pattern calls for by pushing a button on the internet, but I can hope.

There are several fantastic yarn shops in Fort Collins. I love them all for different reasons. I was in My Sister Knits the other day just to get a size of needle I needed for a project (yarn and book purchased a few days before at the Brown Sheep Company mill) and left with yarn for two new projects. I'm super excited about both of them. I bought it all because they had marvelous samples of things I really wanted to knit and wear and Theresa who was helping me, recommended some combinations I would not have known about if I hadn't listened to her experienced voice. (And well, I'm a total sucker for yarn. I have wanted to try some Habu for the longest time and of course they carry it and had a marvelous sample scarf knit with it... sold.)
Believe me, I am familiar with the internet. I know you can buy large quantities of yarn at big discounts from online dealers. And maybe sometime you need to do that. But for your average project, consider the experience you get by going to your local shop. Thumbing through the pattern books for a pattern or asking the shop staff for appropriate yarn substitutions for that pattern everyone on Ravelry is knitting. Pay attention to the hottest new fiber or ask them what their favorite yarn is and why. I've discovered some amazing new things by asking these questions.

Go to a knit or spin night. Take a class (what could be more fun?). Life is for experiencing yarn. Live it up!

And for Village Wools, please remember,
(Photo taken in their very bathroom.)

2 comments:

  1. Rebecca,

    How sad. Another one of the greats that includes more weaving yarns closing. The Mannings in Pennsylvania are also closing in December. I was at Village Wools a few years ago and remember seeing their ads for years in the old Fiberarts (now also gone!) magazine. The local yarn store here in Concord, NH has weaving yarns (thank goodness) as well as equipment and roving for felting. There is nothing like a person to talk to at a store or see samples as well as feel the samples of yarns.

    Kirsten

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  2. Holy Cow!, The Mannings are closing?....geesh....that's where I got my first loom in 1968. I guess we were lucky it was able to change hands once.
    Lovely Ode to the Yarn Shop Rebecca, couldn't have said it better myself.

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