Monday, January 21, 2008

Yarn Shops as Diversion

Or, I’d really rather be anywhere other than the Atlanta Airport

jcc2008 - Stash Enhancement on the way home
Stash Enhancement, click for bigger and notes on my haul

At the close of a week of spinning at the Folk School, I had to leave campus at 10AM, but my plane from Atlanta wasn’t until 9PM. What to do? Sit around the airport? Well, I decided to visit yarn shops instead. A shock, I know!

Armed with directions, maps, and instructions from Atlanta spinner/knitters Lydia and Gale, I made my way down from the mountains and into town. By now my camera battery was down for the count, so please visit the shops’ websites for photos to go along with my words.

Yarn Circle, Murphy, NC

Small, in size but big on interesting yarns, along with spinning and weaving fibers, equipment, and supplies. The shop is just a few miles from the JCC, though owner Martha Owens (resident artist at JCC in dyeing, spinning, and knitting) says the shop will be moving to a location closer to the school soon. The shop is arranged generally by color, which gives it a pretty look, and carries an interesting selection of mostly natural fibers, including some locally produced hand-dyed and/or hand-spun yarns. The shop has a friendly Monday Knit Night, and several of the spinning class visited for shopping and knitting.

Yarn Circle also carries spinning wheels, carding equipment, spinning fibers, a few drop spindles, and both natural and chemical dyes. For the weavers, there are coned yarns in various fibers as well as looms, and small pieces and parts. I came away with about half pound of superwash merino mill-ends in two colors from Jaggerspun that will go in the mitten queue, as well as a nice little bit of merino-cashmere top, two balls of Jamieson & Smith jumper-weight that I'm collecting until I have enough for a project, and a small book of charts of Finnish stranded knitting motifs.

The Whole Nine Yarns, Woodstock, GA

Set in the center of a charming small town in the northwest outskirts of Atlanta, The Whole Nine Yarns is a lovely, bright, welcoming shop. First though, after a drive out of the foggy mountains, I had a delicious lunch across Main Street at the Old Towne Café (Robin and Mary, I had a mixed greens salad with grilled salmon, almonds, and citrus vinaigrette). There was an entrelac sock class in progress when I arrived which looked like fun, and a couple of knitters relaxing and knitting in the large seating area. There’s a wonderful selection of both basic and luxury yarns, lots of alpaca, and silks, some Rowan, Debbie Bliss, ArtYarns, Malabrigo, some sock yarn and baby yarn, and lots more. There was a teeny bit of spinning fiber, though I suspect more of it gets felted than spun. The damage, Noro Kureyon Sock Yarn (yeah, I know, sock yarn stash the size of a Volkswagon, but wouldn’t you?), which is as rough and thick-thin as you’ve heard, and some Alpaca with a Twist baby alpaca top in a silvery off-white.

Knitch, Atlanta, GA

Continuing down I-75, into Atlanta, winding over to Virginia Highland, down a side street, and up the alley, one finally finds the shop Knitch. Wow, it’s worth the effort! This is luxury yarn Mecca. Cashmere, silk, merino, mohair, cotton. Lots of Rowan, ArtYarns, indie spinners and dyers, Sublime, Be Sweet, Manos, Noro. The upstairs has a nice large space for classes including a great wet area for dyeing workshops. There’s lots more yarn, many many colors of Cascade 220, a selection of luxury rovings and tops, along with a number of colors of Louet Northern Lights and Ashland Bay rovings. I’d spent the week spinning with classmate Gale Evans of Gale’s Art fibers, who dyes the most lovely bright merino and BFL rovings (I think the Black BFL is especially nice with its more smoky subtle look). Even though I’d already succumbed to her roving charms at JCC, I confess to bringing home one more hank of BFL roving dyed a gorgeous semi-solid Leaf Green, some matching Firestar to add a little bit of sparkle, a few ounces of lustrous undyed Wensleydale top, and how in the world did that other skein of Noro sock yarn get in there?

There’s a great big table downstairs for sitting and knitting, coffee and ice water on hand, and with a few more hours before flight time, I made myself at home for a little while.