Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Second Look at Yarn Shopping

Remember the experiences at yarn stores I wrote about a couple of weeks ago? I decided to give it another shot. I’m ready to start writing the fifth crochet mystery and in this one Molly Pink is going to be learning about yarn. If she’s going to learn, I have to find out about it first. I have already collected some interesting yarns at Michael’s and Joann’s, but the really good stuff is in the small stores.

I picked the two closest yarn stores. After my previous experience I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I went with an open mind. The first store had one woman working the counter and a bunch of women around a center table. I noticed right away they were all knitting. I ended up hanging around for awhile before I was helped. I wondered how these small stores stay in business. I found out. They are busy. She had customers calling and people who’d come in before me to tend to before she could get to me.

I was actually looking for some yarn for a project I’d found in a book. It called for nylon worsted weight yarn, which I hadn’t been able to find at Michael’s or Joann’s. The Knot Garden didn’t have any either, but I found out I could use any worsted weight yarn for the shawl. I’m kind of shy, but I finally explained I wrote a mystery series with a crochet theme. Everyone seemed interested, particularly when I explained the books took place in the area.

Everyone was very friendly and anxious to show me their projects and offer knitting advice. The clerk said if anyone bought yarn there, they were welcome to hang around and get knitting help. They were curious about crochet, but none of them were crocheters. I gave out book marks for all my books and left some on the counter. I left having bought some beautiful garnet-colored shiny yarn for my shawl project.

I’d Rather Be Knitting was only a short distance away. Again there were a group of women around a table, working on projects. The two owners were very friendly and I’d gotten over my initial shyness at the first store, so explained right away about the crochet mysteries and my desire to learn about yarn. Somehow I had expected the yarn to be similar in both stores, but it was completely different. Gorgeous at both places, but each seemed to have different brands and types. The owners told me Kate Jacobs who wrote The Friday Night Knitting Club had done an event at their store, which impressed me. That book is a super hit. They said they might be interested in doing some kind of event with me. We’re going to discuss.

I bought some yarn there, too. A beautiful skein of pale pink cashmere. It cost a fortune, but both Molly and I want to see what it is like to work with. My plan is to make swatches of all the fancy yarn I buy. Molly is going to be doing the same, so it is part crochet adventure and part book research. The owner of the second store assured me the one skein was enough to make a scarf. She showed me one she was making in blue cashmere. She was using big needles and the result was lacy and luscious. She suggested I use a big hook.

I’m sorry to say all the yarn is still in the bags. By Hook or By Crook comes out Tuesday and my editor asked me to write a Dear Reader letter for the Berkley website. I’m going to Chicago on Wednesday. Going away always means lots of stuff to take care of. For any of you in the Chicago area, I’m signing books next Saturday at the Printers Row Fair in downtown Chicago from 1-3 at the Mystery Writers of America booth. I’m keeping my fingers crossed the weather is better than last year when the tornado sirens went off during a thunder storm. But just in case, this time I’m taking my umbrella.


Sheila Connolly said...

Yarn stores are wonderful--so many colors and textures. It's almost painful to have to decide which to choose, which may explain why I have three knitting projects stacked up and waiting for me, the eldest from 2003 (and I even have great buttons for that one!). The most recent is some lovely yarn spun from wool collected at local farms, including one in my town--there's a great scarf in somebody's future.

Betty Hechtman said...

Shelia, your stash sounds great. Don't even get me started on buttons. There was a 50 percent off sale at Joann's last week and I went nuts.

Linda O. Johnston said...

I was at Printers Row during the thunderstorm last year, too, Betty. It was exciting, hiding under the event's tents while rain poured down. Wish I could be there this year as well.

Betty Hechtman said...

I agree, Linda, the weather didn't dampen my good time either. Sorry you won't be there to share the fun.

Terri Thayer said...

This is the difference between shopping in chain stores vs. independents. The people behind the counter actually know their stuff! And the goods are the highest quality. You pay more but it's so worth it. What's the point of putting all that work into something if you're not going to have spectacular results.

This is why I buy all the fabric in quilt stores and try to support local stamping stores.

Betty Hechtman said...

You're right, Terri. It was so different having someone to actually ask about the yarn. When I've gone to Michael's the only information I've gotten was from other shoppers.

It is also nice to have the option to bring your work in the store and hang out and get help.

I definitely see your point, Terri. Why put all that time into making something with just originary yarn.

Anonymous said...

There is a yarn store online where you can purchase lovely yarns for a fraction of the price. It's
Love the books, keep up the fantastic writing!