Tag Archives: lys

Unexpected treat

I traveled up to Saratoga Springs for a few days for a work-related project. I knew I’d have plenty of down time, so I packed enough yarn for 3 projects. Except, I packed the yarn before leaving in the morning. Early in the morning.

When I opened my suitcase in Saratoga, it turned out that one of the yarns I brought with me was already assigned to another project. In the dark, it looked just like this yarn (even though in the light of day, there is no resemblance between the two).

Luckily, there happened to be a local yarn shop literally around the corner from the hotel. My colleague agreed to make a stop over there before we set up to for the day.

Visit to Common Thread, yarn shop in Saratoga, NY on Underground Crafter



Common Thread turned out to be a delightful local yarn shop.

Visit to Common Thread, yarn shop in Saratoga, NY on Underground Crafter

In addition to the welcoming staff, they have a great yarn selection.

Visit to Common Thread, yarn shop in Saratoga, NY on Underground Crafter

The shop organizes the yarn by weight, so medium and bulky was in the second room and the lighter weight yarns are closer to the front door.

Visit to Common Thread, yarn shop in Saratoga, NY on Underground Crafter

They had a great selection of madelinetosh (one of my favorites) and some fun looking kits.

Visit to Common Thread, yarn shop in Saratoga, NY on Underground Crafter

They even convinced my colleague, who hasn’t knit since she was in college in the 1970s, to buy some yarn and needles for a one-skein cowl (the Quick Slip Cowl by Andra Asars) for her daughter.

The highlight for me, though, was the wall of local yarns.

Visit to Common Thread, yarn shop in Saratoga, NY on Underground Crafter

There’s something really special about visiting a yarn shop and finding some yarns that you can’t pick up at home. There was a great selection of undyed wool and alpaca from regional farms, as well as some great hand dyed yarn.

I ended up picking up a skein of Stillwater Island Alpacas called Melanie and a skein of FlockSock from Holiday Yarns by Jennifer Vancalcar in Wolverine.

Visit to Common Thread, yarn shop in Saratoga, NY on Underground Crafter

And, a few notions, too. I had been looking at the Knitter’s Pride Symfonie Dreamz cable needles for a while, and I couldn’t just let my colleague knit in the round for the first time in 30+ years without a stitch marker.

This turned out to be a fun diversion. If you’re ever in Saratoga, I suggest you check out Common Thread!


I’m participating in BlogHer’s National Blog Post Month (also known as NaBloPoMo) by blogging daily through November, 2014.

Interview with knitting designer and LYS owner, Aimee Alexander

Today, I’m really happy to share an interview with Aimee Alexander, a knitting designer, publisher, and local yarn shop owner.  Like me, Aimee is also participating in the Indie Design Gift-a-Long.  You can find Aimee online on Ravelry (as getknitty, through the

Aimee Alexander.

Aimee Alexander.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first learn to knit?
Aimee: I became interested in knitting at a young age when watching my mother knit. I’d help her ball yarn and learned soon after. She taught me the basics, but then dropped me off at our LYS and the owners there shared what they knew.
UC: What inspired you to start designing?
Aimee: I own an lys and started designing when I couldn’t find patterns for things my customers were interested in knitting. This, of course, was long before the Ravelry In-Store sales program. We don’t have that problem anymore, but I found I really enjoyed designing and I continue to do so.
I also edit and publish other peoples patterns. No long ago, I created Polka Dot Sheep Publications to encompass the addition of designers. Ravelry members can read more about it here.
Aimee's Crisscross Applesauce. (Click to link to pattern.)

Aimee’s Crisscross Applesauce. (Click to link to pattern.)

UC: Most of your patterns are for children’s items (and hats!). What do you enjoy about designing these types of projects?
Aimee: I have three small kids, ages 6, 5, and 3…
UC: Several of your patterns are published through the Knit n Needle yarn shop. Tell us how that collaboration began.
Aimee: I own Knit ‘n Needle Yarn Shoppe/PolkaDotSheep.com in Whitefish, MT. It’s a brick and mortar LYS. We just celebrated our 10th anniversary.
Aimee's Charlie's Sock Yarn Hat. (Click to link to pattern.)

Aimee’s Charlie’s Sock Yarn Hat. (Click to link to pattern.)

UC: What’s your favorite knitting book in your collection?
Aimee: Just one?
UC: Tell me about a designer you discovered through participation in the Indie Design Gift-A-Long. What attracted you that designer’s work?
Aimee: I really admire Jean Clement of Desert Rose Designs. I’ve had the splendid opportunity to moderate a Gift-a-Long thread with her and have appreciated getting to know her more. Her patterns appeal to our customer base, too. We’ve had some success with her Treyi Vest without having knit a shoppe model.
Thanks so much for stopping by for an interview, Aimee!

Interview with Cindy from Yarn Places

This post contains affiliate links.

Today, I’m interviewing Cindy, the editor of a newish website called Yarn Places.  Cindy is a bit of a Renaissance woman. She was an architect for the first ten years of her career.  She then returned to school for a Masters in Social Work. A few years ago, she stopped working as a social worker.  And, she’s written two children’s books:  Joni and the Fallen Star: Helping Children Learn Teamwork and Harry the Happy Caterpillar Grows: Helping Children Adjust to Change.  Somehow, she also made time in there to found Yarn Places with her husband, Mike.  Oh, and Cindy is a multi-crafter, enjoying drawing, furniture painting, beading, mosaic, and knitting.

Cindy can be found online through the Yarn Places website, it’s Facebook page, on Twitter, and in it’s Ravelry group.

Cindy, editor of YarnPlaces.com.

Cindy, editor of YarnPlaces.com.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first become interested in yarn crafts?

Cindy: I am kind of a serial artsy craftsy person. I taught myself to knit in high school from a book. I made about four or five sweaters and then moved on to the next thing. Since then, I’ve knitted off and on, but took it up again in earnest when I became pregnant with my daughter, Zoe. It all started with a baby blanket, then I moved onto hats, sweaters, Christmas stockings… then scarves and sweaters for my husband, then me. I love it! It relaxes me- I find yarn very sensual.


UC: What inspired you to start Yarn Places?

Cindy: My husband has a website called Map Muse, which maps all kind of niche interests – everything from farmers’ markets to disc golf courses. One of interests mapped on his site is yarn shops. Over the years, the yarn shops page has been one of the most popular.

As I got more into knitting, I talked more about it – the yarns I liked, the local fiber festival, my problems with gauge, the knitting retreat I wanted to attend one day. I guess he was actually listening, because one day at a coffee shop, he suggested we develop a website devoted to all places yarn! I loved the idea! In no time, he had drafted me as editor, and set his staff to work on procuring info on LYSs, fiber farms, fiber mills, retreats, festivals, yarn crawls…you name it!  (UC comment: You can read more about the founding of Yarn Places here.)


A screenshot of the Yarn Places Wool and Fiber Farm locator for my home zip code.

A screenshot of the Yarn Places Wool and Fiber Farm locator for my home zip code.

UC: Tell us more about Yarn Places.  What are your current features?  

Cindy: We see ourselves as kind of a one-stop shop for everything yarn. We map and provide information (photos, description, hours, reviews, etc.) on LYSs, fiber farms, fiber mills and knitting events including retreats, festivals, yarn crawls, conferences, workshops, cruises, farm tours, etc. I also write a blog in which I try to keep readers up on the latest events and happenings in the world of fiber – everything from upcoming festivals, to yarn bombings, to charity drives, to yarn shop openings and closings.

We feature a yarn place each week, which includes an interview with the owner of a LYS or fiber farm. Lastly, we have developed iPhone and Android apps of LYSs across the US and Canada, which folks find really useful on travel.

The Yarn Places Android app.

The Yarn Places Android app.

UC: How is it possible to keep all that information current?

Cindy: Keeping information up to date is definitely our biggest challenge. We used multiple sources when we developed our database and cross referenced those sources for inconsistencies. Then we contacted the yarn places and asked them to confirm or update their information. In addition, visitors to the site are encouraged to update information, report closings, and add missing shops through easy to use links. Visitors’ input is reviewed for accuracy then posted the next day. Meanwhile, I actively search the internet for LYS openings and closings on an ongoing basis.

UC: How do you envision Yarn Places expanding in the coming year?

In the next year (and beyond), we would like to increase the scope of Yarn Places. Presently we cover the US and much of Canada, but some day, we’d like to cover the world! Something else we have been talking about is creating a Worldwide Yarn Bombing Map with photos and info of major yarn bombings across the globe. We did a Map of International Yarn Bombing Day this year which was a lot of fun – it will be something like that but much broader in scope.


Thanks so much, Cindy, for stopping by to talk to us about Yarn Places!  We look forward to seeing it expand.