Tag Archives: smiley’s yarn

Frantic Holiday Crafting Update

YOP3 sheep

On December 1, I set a goal of finishing a project every other day in December.  With just a few days to go, I’m happy to say that I did pretty well.

First off, I finished three secret for future publication.  (You can read vague details on my Ravelry project pages here, here, and here.)  I can’t show pictures of the finished projects, but I can share the yummy yarns that I used.

Yarn collage

All of these were new-to-me yarns, and I really enjoyed discovering each one!  On the left is Imperial Yarns Columbia, which is a great workhorse yarn, but with a bit more softness than you would expect for a sturdy, worsted weight, wool.  In the center is Rowan Big Wool, which has a delightful feel as well, and it works up very quickly since it’s a super bulky yarn.  And on the right is Valley Yarns Valley Superwash.  The colors in real life are much richer than what you see on the screen.

And then there are the projects I already shared on the blog, a crescent shawl I made for my sister with Mountain Colors Twizzle, which has stunning colors and a scrumptiously soft feel (thanks to the silk content); the plain, ribbed hat I knit for MC using Studio Donegal Soft Donegal; and the brimmed hat I crocheted for my friend using Patons Shetland Chunky.

I did manage two other finishes in December.  Both were inadequately photographed in the holiday rush.  The first was a lap blanket for my grandpa, crocheted with two strands of what Ravelry calls “vintage” Bernat Softee Chunky that I bought at the famous Smiley’s Manhattan yarn sale.

Grandpa lap blanket

I created an ombre effect by changing the strands I held together for each row.  I also made a little heart motif on some of the squares, since my grandpa just had a pacemaker installed.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to make new projects for my other relatives, so I dug through my collection to find some existing projects to gift.

Holiday gift Collage

I gave my grandma the original sample of my Pineapples for Everyone Shawl pattern, my uncle the hat I originally knit for MC (that was deemed “too fussy”), and my aunt a cowl I made as part of a CAL in January.

And then on Christmas Day, I did the last finishing touches (but forgot to photograph them) on the headband for my sister’s boyfriend.  It’s something he could wear to a football game in his current home (New Orleans) or in the new city he’ll be moving to after graduation (Houston).  Each side has a different flavor.

Geaux Saints I am a Texan

At this point, I’m averaging something closer to a finish every 3 days, which isn’t bad for the holiday season.  And, I’m on my way to (hopefully) finishing ten projects by the end of the month.

I have one more secret project to knit.  The yarn, HiKoo Simpliworsted, was a bit delayed in arriving and it looks lovely.

SimpliWorsted

And I received a fabulous gift from Kim Guzman (interviewed here) on Christmas Eve.  She sent me some of her famous apple butter (yum!) and packed the box with yarn (the now discontinued NaturallyCaron.com Country).  So with that, I started a baby blanket for my cousin (who, according to Facebook, may already be in labor).

Heart blanket thru 2013-12-27

This is a refinement of the pattern I made for my grandpa, where the hearts are a bit pointier and the squares are easier to join as you go.  The color that looks brown in the picture is actually a dark purple.

In other yarn related news, my sister gave me some yarn from her recent trip to Montenegro for Christmas.

Ana yarn

It’s now official that my yarn stash is better traveled than I am, since I also have skeins from Italy and Patagonia.

How did your holiday crafting go? (And, my comments are now restored, so I’ll actually be able to read and respond to what you write!)

For more Year of Projects posts, visit this thread on Ravelry.

Frantic Holiday Crafting: Shopping Spree

Smiley’s, a discount yarn shop in Woodhaven, Queens (reviewed here), has an annual Manhattan Yarn Sale.  You can only buy yarn in bulk at this sale (3-10 skeins in each bag), so I have tried to avoid it for the last few years.  While it’s a great place to be if you have a sweater to make, it can also lead to impulsive yarn stashing, which is perhaps not so great if you live in a one bedroom apartment as I do.

Smiley's Manhattan Yarn Sale

Yesterday, I arrived at the hotel where this massive sale is hosted (the picture above shows about 1/6 of the yarn that’s available) right as the doors to the ballroom were opening.  Usually, there are crowds around the room so I thought an early start was the best idea.  You see, I decided in all of my last minute gift making mania to make a blanket for my grandpa.  I needed a bulky yarn and I needed some masculine colors.

Bernat Softee Chunky stash

I was tempted to buy more yarn, but I held firm.  I *only* bought 21 skeins of Bernat Softee Chunky.

Bernat Softee Chunky

Now I just need to finish this blanket by the end of next week :).  I did finish one project this week, but not for the holidays.  This will be sent out to the publisher tomorrow, along with some other secret projects I’m working on.

I’m still having some problems with comments, so if I don’t respond to yours quickly, it’s due to technical difficulties.

Frantic Holiday Crafting: Finish 2

This is the second project I finished since I challenged myself to finish a project every two days in December.

OB hat

I crocheted this hat last night.  It’s for a friend of mine who bought one of my crocheted hats at a craft fair a few years ago.  We went to Smiley’s to shop for this yarn a few weeks ago.  She wanted a remake of the hat using black and grey yarn, and I held three strands of Patons Shetland Chunky together to make it.  It’s super cozy and made with a small brim, just as she requested.  I didn’t weave in the ends, though, because I’m not sure about the size and since she commissioned it, I want it to fit exactly as she wants.  (She lost the original before she could measure the circumference, and described the fit ans not too snug and not too loose.)  The next step is to schedule a fitting.

For more Finished Objects, visit Tami’s Amis.

FO Friday: Booties, 30 Min-Knits Book Review, and Giveaway

I have just a small finished object today, my very first pair of knit booties.  But they come with a long story!  (And, to thank you for reading the whole story, I’m also including a book review and giveaway at the end of this post.)

I have a friend that I haven’t seen in ages.  She used to date (and then was engaged to) a friend of mine from college.  There were about 3 or 4 years when the three of us would get together very frequently and have a great time.  They lived in a nearby neighborhood for a few years and then they moved to the Boston area, but I actually kept in touch and visited regularly for some time.  Then there was a lot of upheaval in my life in 2007-08 and, at the same time, they broke up and this friend moved to California.  I haven’t seen her since then and now we are “Facebook friends.”  (You know what I mean – I think about her, occasionally see a status update, but haven’t actually called or written in ages.)  Via Facebook, I learned that she got married and eventually that she was pregnant.  She actually kept a rather entertaining weekly blog during her pregnancy which I only discovered in about the eighth month.  The humor in her posts reminded me why I enjoy her friendship so much, so I decided to make her newborn baby girl some gifts.

 

Since we haven’t seen each other in about 5 years and I am completely pressed for time, I decided that my standard baby gift (a blanket) was out of the question.  I also didn’t want to buy any yarn, so I started looking for a group of smaller projects that I could make with stash. And that’s where these cuties come in.

I had a second ulterior motive.  I recently received a review copy of 30 Min-Knits: What Can You Knit in Half an Hour or Less? by Carol Meldrum from Barron’s Educational Series.  As the self-professed world’s slowest knitter, I figured I had to time myself making at least one project from the book.  I decided that if I could make one of the projects in 90 minutes, a normal knitter might be able to do it in 30.

The Broad Strap Booties seemed the perfect solution:

  • A pattern fit for a baby (check),
  • Made with small amounts of yarn (check),
  • In a yarn weight where I have some “girl colors” in my stash (check),
  • In an easy care (machine washable) yarn (check).

I used just a wee bit Lion Brand Wool-Ease Sportweight (now discontinued) that I bought years ago at one of the Smiley’s Yarns famous Manhattan yarn sales.  I think they came out pretty cutely.

I’m looking at Little Crochet: Modern Designs for Babies and Toddlers and Baby Blueprint Crochet: Irresistible Projects for Little Ones, both of which I won in blog giveaways (yippee!), for inspiration for some other small items to include in the package.

For more finished objects, visit Tami’s Amis.  And to learn more about the Ripple Mania CAL giveaway, open to all readers on earth with prizes donated by Leisure ArtsLion Brand YarnMagique Enterprises, and Red Heart Yarn, check out this post.

Book Review

I recently received a review copy of 30 Min-Knits: What Can You Knit in Half an Hour or Less? by Carol Meldrum from Barron’s Educational Series.  The book positions itself as “a collection of knitting projects that you can really fit into your spare time…creating fun and imaginative pieces in a half-hour or less.”  The concept appealed to me totally, especially since I knit extremely slowly, but I’ll admit that I was dubious that anything can be knit (by me) in thirty minutes or less.  The book comes with a few disclaimers that put me more at ease.  Finishing is not included in the 30 minutes, and when the project is for multiple pieces (e.g., a set of mittens), only one piece can be made in 30 minutes.  Ok, perhaps there is such a project out there.

The book includes 60 projects, most of which are small and can be made with stash yarn, or which are made with bulky yarn or two strands of yarn held together.  You can tell that Carol is primarily a teacher, because the book is organized by skill level (40 Easy projects and 20 Intermediate projects), and then sub-divided by technique.  At the beginning of the book, there is a gallery of  project photos along with the page where you can find the pattern.  Some of the patterns include a technique marker (e.g., Cable Knitting) on the side of the page.  These techniques are explained in a 14 page illustrated section at the end of the book.

I made the Broad Strap Booties (pictured on the cover) to test out the 30 minute theory.  I gave myself 90 minutes per bootie since I know that I knit extremely slowly.  (As a reference point, it took me 25 minutes to make half a gauge swatch for the pattern – 22 stitches by 15 rows.)  I was able to complete both booties (not including swatching but including knitting and assembly/finishing), in just under 2 hours and 15 minutes.  I consider that a resounding success.

What I liked about this book: 

  • Each project is photographed several times from different angles.  The projects appear against a white background in the gallery, then again in “group photos” every few pages (with each item numbered for reference to the pattern), and then again on the pattern page.  This gives you a really clear idea of how the finished project will look and is also visually interesting.
  • Even though I personally don’t see myself knitting some of these projects (e.g., a Dali mustache), everything inside is actually very cute.  None of the projects “look” like they were thrown together in 30 minutes or less.
  • Most of the projects are great stashbusters.
  • There is an opportunity to try out techniques like shaping, cables, beading, or colorwork on a small and low-risk project.  The technique section in the back includes a “Practice This” box which directs you to the appropriate patterns using the technique.
  • If you tend to procrastinate on gift knits, this could be a great “go to” resource for inspiration.

What I don’t like about the book, or what’s missing:

  • Like other paperback books, it doesn’t lay flat so it is difficult to knit and read at the same time.  There are front and back cover flaps that you can use to hold your place, though.
  • When a pattern includes charts or a template, those are in the back rather than next to the pattern page, so you will need to flip back and forth a bit.
  • Though most projects are clearly made with just a small amount of yarn, the patterns list the full size of the skein used for the project.  For example, the booties that I made used about 34 yards in the main color and about 9 yards in the other color, but the pattern just mentions that I need two balls of Rowan Handknit Cotton DK (93 yards each).  I think the book could get more mileage as a stashbusting book if Carol included the approximate yardage for each project.  Instead, the knitter needs to guess whether they have enough yarn in their stash for any given project.
  • On a related note, it would help if the weight of the yarn was listed for each project.  If it isn’t part of the brand name (e.g., Rowan Handknit Cotton DK), then there aren’t many clues about the yarn weight.  I’m guessing the Rowan and Coats yarns that Carol used for the book are ubiquitous in the UK, but it would be great if it was easier to make yarn substitutions.
  • While arranging the book in order of difficulty is a great idea, it is hard to find projects by type (e.g., women’s accessories) with this system.  It is difficult to determine the scale of a project from the gallery, so it would be helpful if the index listed projects by type.  (The baby projects are listed as a category in the index, though.)

Unfortunately, the patterns are not posted on Ravelry yet and you can’t “search inside the book” on Amazon, so it is hard to get an idea of what is included if you don’t see the book in person.  I would recommend this book for a beginner, advanced beginner, or newly intermediate knitter who likes to make small, portable projects.  If you are trying to bust some stash and enjoy gift knitting, this could also be the right book for you.  The book includes 60 projects, which is more than you would generally find in a book at this price point, but many of the projects are primarily decorative.  I think this would be a fun book to use when knitting with children or teens since the projects are cute and fast to make, and the accessories are on trend.  If you are a more experienced knitter or like more detailed/involved projects, then this is probably not the book for you.

 

Giveaway

To kick off the last minute holiday gift making season, I’m giving away my review copy of 30 Min-Knits: What Can You Knit in Half an Hour or Less? by Carol Meldrum, courtesy of Barron’s Educational Series.  This giveaway is open to all readers with a U.S. mailing address.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday, November 29, 2012.  

To enter:

  • Leave a comment telling me about your quick knitting experience: do you make a lot of fast projects, do you knit gifts at the last minute, etc.
  • For additional entries, like Underground Crafter on Facebook, follow Underground Crafter on Twitter, join the Underground Crafter group on Ravelry, and/or share a link to this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog.  (And then, leave a comment here, on Facebook, on Twitter, or in the Ravelry group letting me know what you did!)
  • One winner will be chosen at random.

Good luck!

FO Friday: Another ribbed beanie

I’m having a lot of fun participating in my first Ravellenic Games.  (Ok, I guess it’s everyone’s first, since the name was changed this year, but this is REALLY my first.)

Speaking of firsts, I got my first medal yesterday for finishing the ribbed beanie for my cousin.

I’ve had this yarn for about two or three years.  I bought it at Smiley’s Yarns in Queens.  It’s Moda Dea Tweedle Dee, which is now discontinued, and the colorway is called Sahara.  This is going to be a Christmas gift for my cousin.

He's the father of the little guy I made this for...

…and the brother of the cousin I made this for.

I’m happy to have another Christmas gift finished and yet more stash used up.

And having my own little metal to commemorate it isn’t too bad, either :).  Now, back to the Games!

 

For more finished objects, visit Tami’s Amis.

Holiday Stashdown Challenge – Week 12

(Join along with me any time if you need a head start or moral support for your holiday crafting.  You can read more details here.)

Just a quick update this week since I was working late last night and I’m rushing off to work now.  I started another ribbed beanie for my other male cousin using stash yarn.

I’m using the same design I used for this beanie since these hats will go to two brothers.  I *think* I’ve decided which one is for which brother, but I reserve the right to change my mind once it’s finished :).  I’m using two strands of Moda Dea Tweedle Dee that I bought at Smiley’s Yarns about two years ago.  It’s kind of interesting because it is a self-striping yarn, but since I’m pulling from two ends of the skein, the yarn patterning isn’t very predictable (to me, at least).

Please feel free to share your progress or link up to your blog post in the comments!

If you need some inspiration for a Holiday Stashdown Challenge post for next week, here’s the prompt for Tuesday, 8/7:  The summer is winding down and fall is just around the corner.  Does anticipation for the change in season help or hinder your progress towards your Holiday Stashdown Challenge goals?  As always, feel free to write a post that isn’t restricted by this prompt but relates to your own personal Holiday Stashdown Challenge journey.

FO Friday: Geaux Saints!!!!

It’s been five months in the making, but I finally finished my sister’s blanket!

Rav project page          Blog posts

Backstory: My baby sister moved to New Orleans in August to attend law school.  She responded to my offer of a housewarming gift (made in August) by asking for a blanket in the colors of the New Orleans Saints (in November! at the height of holiday crafting madness!).  I considered a few different designs but settled on the double Irish chain quilting layout with join-as-you-go granny squares.

This is how I imagine it will look on my sister's (unmade) bed.

The details

Grannies: 375 three-round granny squares (approximately 56 hours).

Borders and Edging: 4 rounds of gold granny borders, 1 round of black granny border, 7 rows each of black granny stripe borders on the right and left sides, 1 round of black single crochet (approximately 7 hours).

Weaving in ends: estimated at 10 hours!  (Why, oh why, did I wait until the end to do this??  And, I will definitely avoid projects with this many black yarn tails in the future.  It was really hard to see what I was doing!)

Yarn: 6.5 Skeins Cascade 220 Superwash in 877 and Black; 38 skeins of Filatura Lanarota Pure Washable Merino in Natural and Black.

Yardage: Approximately 5,100 yards (4,663 meters).

 

Hook: My trusty Etimo in Size J-10 (6 mm).

Yarn Suppliers: Alpaca Direct, Knitty City, and Smiley’s Yarns.

Special thanks to: The nice folks in the New Orleans group on Ravelry for giving me color tips.

This blanket is doing triple duty as (now pretty late) housewarming, birthday, and Christmas gifts for my sister.  But when I look at the cost of making it (even with a pretty conservative estimate), it is way more than I would normally spend on these gifts for her.

Labor Costs (at minimum wage): $529.25

Yarn Costs: $232.56

Postage: Priority Mail with insurance $27.70

Talk about a labor of love!

If I had to put a price on this blanket today for sale, I would ask for $1,000.  (I doubt I would get it, but that’s what I would ask for!)  I only insured it for $500 when I shipped the blanket, though – I figured if I could recover twice the yarn cost, I could probably be persuaded to crochet another one for my sister.  It’s still in the mail, so let’s all hope it arrives safely and I don’t have to put this theory to the test.

For more Finished Objects, visit Tami’s Amis.

Year of Projects: Crochet Master Class – Bullion stitch blocks, week 1

(This post is part of my Year of Projects: Crochet Master Class series. You can read the other posts in this series here.)

With my woven crochet clutch finished, I was ready to embark on a new chapter in Crochet Master Class.  I had the desire for texture, so I moved on to the bullion stitch chapter, which features crochet master Bonnie Pierce.  Bonnie learned the bullion stitch about 30 years ago when she decided to use a vintage pattern (with over 100 bullions) to make a Christening gown for her daughter.  After that, she saw that there was a lack of bullion patterns so she began to write her own.  Bonnie’s website links to 25 of her free square patterns, and she also sells some of her books, patterns, and bullion crochet hooks here.

I first experimented with the bullion stitch in 2006-7, when I crocheted this hat.

This hat is made with TLC Heathers yarn that I purchased on my very first trip to Smiley's in Queens!

Since that hat, I haven’t done much with bullions.  If you aren’t familiar with the bullion stitch, check out this YouTube tutorial by Margaret Hubert (which I learned about when I took her freeform class last year).

YouTube Preview Image

For some reason, this week I had a great need to “kill three birds with one stone.”  So I tried to pick a bullion project that I could also make from my own stash and for charity.  After a bit of searching on Ravelry, I came across several bullion stitch blocks by Donna Kay Lacey.  I started with the Poppy Bullion Block.

The sun glare on the white washes out some detail on this "in progress" picture.
Here's the finished block. I assure you that the wonky sides are not a design feature. Let's just say you shouldn't try to read a complex pattern while crocheting on the subway if you are aiming for perfection.

I really enjoyed the pattern.  A lot of crochet square patterns are pretty predictable, but this one kept me guessing – in a good way.  I’m planning to make at least a few more of these blocks before moving on to my next bullion stitch pattern.

This block will eventually end up going to Heartmade Blessings as part of the March 2012 Crochetlist charity challenge.  I’ll have to add a few more rounds to bring it up to 12″.

In other bullion news, I started to check out bullion crochet hooks on Lacis and Etsy (Sistermaide listing here).  If I’m still feeling excited about this stitch in another 30 days, I may even buy one.

For more Year of Projects posts, visit When Did I Become A Knitter.

WIP Wednesday: The Saints adventure continues

Thanks to everyone who gave their opinions on the design options for the Saints themed blanket I’m planning for my sister.  The Double Irish Chain was the clear favorite.

Last week, I knew the blanket would be expensive but hadn’t actually priced it out.  I soon discovered that I would have to spend about $270 in supplies if I followed my original plan and made it with Cascade 220 Superwash.  I love my sister, but yikes!  I needed to economize.

You may already be familiar with Smiley’s Yarns, the discount yarn heaven of Queens (reviewed by me in my Visitor’s Guide to NYC Yarn Shops).  By some miracle, Smiley’s was having one of its famous store yarn sales last week, so I took the 75 minute subway ride to the store, hoping to find a real bargain.

I was able to pick up about 40 skeins of this washable wool, Pure Washable Merino from Filatura Lanarota, in Natural and Black.  Though each skein is about 1/2 the yardage of the Cascade 220 Superwash, I still saved significantly after calculating the total yardage.

Of course, Smiley’s didn’t have a “Saints gold” color available, so I had to do some re-design on my Double Irish Chain so that the gold would be the least used color.

The new plan.

I’m hoping that KnitPicks Swish in Gold is a close match to the Saints gold.  Otherwise, I’ll end up buying the Cascade 200 Superwash in 877.

With most of the yarn in hand, the blanket became real to me and then the inevitable panic set in.  How could I possibly make a double bed sized blanket in time for the holidays given all the other things going on in my life in November and December?   In response to this question, two crochet celebrities paid my inbox a visit.  Laurie Wheeler, the Fearless Leader of the Crochet Liberation Front, included some holiday crafting tips in the CLF newsletter.  She reminded us that as the holidays approach, we shouldn’t make promises (we can’t keep), nor should we injure ourselves crocheting like fiends (as I have occasionally done in years gone by).  Doris Chan wrote about Crochet Marathoning this week, reminding us to know our limits and pace ourselves.

I decided that a more reasonable self-imposed deadline for this blanket would Super Bowl Sunday.  If I approach this blanket like a quilt (since I’m using a classic quilt pattern) instead of like a granny blanket, I have to make 15 blocks for a double bed size.  (Sounds less horrific than 375 granny squares, doesn’t it?)  If I make 1-1/2 blocks each week, I should be able to finish the blanket in time.  I’m working each block as 25 join-as-you-go granny squares (3 rounds each).

First block finished!
Second block 3/5 done! I'm on track for week 1.
A close up of a granny in Natural.
A close up of a granny in Black.

Now that I had a more reasonable timeline, I decided a comfort hook (allowing me to complete this project without cramped hands) was in order.  So I stopped by Knitty City (also reviewed by me in my Visitor’s Guide to NYC Yarn Shops), and picked up a Tulip Etimo just for this project.

I love these hooks!

And speaking of all the other things going on in my life in November and December, I got an awesome  yarn delivery yesterday.  I mentioned last week that I was going to be collaborating with a yarn company.  I will be working with Galler Yarns to publish some free patterns through their Facebook page and blog.  I didn’t get a chance to take pictures since I got home pretty late, but I’m loving the colors.  I’ll be starting my first project with Heather Prime Alpaca in 207 which is a purple heather.  I got a laugh out of MC by rubbing the skein on my face (hey, it’s super soft!) before winding it.  I’m looking forward to sharing the patterns with you as soon as they are written up and tested.

For more Works in Progress, visit Tami’s Amis.

Reminder:

There’s still time to enter my giveaway for a classic edition of Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book. Check out my knitting stitch guide review post for details.

Visitor’s Guide to New York City Yarn Shops

After I posted about the awesome class I took with Jenny King at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, Evelyn from Project: Stash asked me what I thought of the Studio, since she hadn’t been there yet.  I decided that today’s post would feature my favorite NYC yarn shops.  I often see threads on Ravelry about folks planning to visit and wondering which yarn shops to see, so I also included general information about the wacky world of yarn shops in New York City.

So, what’s the deal with NYC yarn shops?

There are some things that visitors should know about yarn shop culture in NYC to avoid surprises.

Price: You should expect that the combination of luxury yarn prices and NYC prices will make it likely that you will spend at least $10 on a skein of yarn in most situations (exceptions are discussed below).

Schedule: Although NYC is the City That Never Sleeps, yarn shops generally operate on a schedule where they open at brunch (11 a.m. or later is the norm) and close at the end of the business day (6 p.m. is the norm).  Additionally, many shops are only open six days a week, with quite a few closed on Saturday for religious observances and others closed on a week day. Most shops do have at least one “late night” a week, but it is definitely important to check the hours before planning to visit a shop.

Customer Service: It is unfortunately true that many shops with lackluster or even horrific customer service have continued to thrive due to their convenient locations in shopping or business districts.

My favorites (in alphabetical order)

I’ve visited all the shops on this list several times and I’ve found the staff friendly and helpful.  These are shops that are crochet-friendly and have prices which are comparable with other shops in New York City.

Downtown Yarns

I stumbled upon this cute shop earlier this year when I was taking an embroidery class with a friend at the Ukranian Museum.  I’m rarely on the Lower East Side (Manhattan) these days, so I took the opportunity to check out Downtown Yarns.  The shop has a “small town” feel – hard to do, in New York City! – complete with a screen door entrance.  The yarn is stacked up to the ceilings and the store has those great, old-fashioned, wooden rolling ladders you might see in a library.  The shop is pretty small, so I was super impressed with their collection of knitting needles and notions,  which you can sift through on your own.  (I hate having to ask to see things behind the counter – I feel like I can’t really browse because I’ll be too annoying to the clerks.)  I’ve since made the trip back to the store twice and recommended it to my students who are on the look-out for wooden needles.  Their yarn selection is pretty diverse, too, considering their small size.

Knitty City

This is my official Local Yarn Shop.  Knitty City is in my neighborhood (Upper West Side, Manhattan), so I frequent it more regularly than other LYSs in New York City – but I love more about it than its proximity to my apartment!  I love the comfy corner with books and cozy chairs.  I love that the shop is extremely crochet-friendly, and even carries a range of crochet tools rather than just one type of hooks (as many of the knitting-focused yarn shops do).   I love the great selection of yarn at reasonable (for New York City) prices, with a different type of yarn on sale every month.  I love the large bookcase of knitting and crochet books, including Japanese imports, that you can browse freely.  The store also has quite a few events (though my schedule never seems to match up).  I have twice needed a hook or needle in a particular size, which the staff has happily special ordered for me.  If you can only visit one yarn shop in NYC, this is the one I recommend!

Lion Brand Yarn Studio

The Studio sells the full range of Lion Brand Yarn products, which is great if you are looking for a particular color, but not so great if you are looking for another brand of yarn :).  The Studio is located just a short walk from Union Square (Manhattan).  The shop takes a minimalist approach to decor and has a fair amount of open space.  There is a stitching wall where you can work up a swatch in any of their yarns – if only we could do that in every yarn shop, I’m sure many disastrous textures could be averted.  Another nice feature of the shop is that you can print out any pattern from the Lion Brand website in the store for free. If you have been itching to try the LB Collection, Lion Brand’s line of premium yarns, then the Studio is the place to do that.   The prices are lower than most NYC yarn shops, but higher than you would expect if you’ve been buying your Lion Brand yarn at a big box store.  Overall, to me, the Studio is more like a yarncrafter event space with a store in it than a yarn shop.  They offer over 100 classes each month and have many public events which are absolutely worth the trip.  Again, the staff is friendly and are equally competent in crochet and knitting.  I don’t generally shop at the Studio, unless I’m there for an event or a class, or am desperately searching for a specific color of Lion Brand Yarn, but I do like to frequent their events and classes.

Other interesting yarn shops

These shops may be worth a visit if you have a longer stay in New York.

Knit-A-Way

I’ve been to Knit-A-Way a few times, since the shop is around the corner from my dad’s apartment in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.  There is a large selection of yarns not generally seen in the fancy yarn shops.  The store has a mix of big box brands and higher end yarns, which is great if you are on a budget.  The store owner is an interesting character and is allergic to wool, so all the wool is located towards the back of the shop.  On occasion, she has been known to close early or go on vacation (with a little sign left on the door), so a phone call before visiting may be in order.  I recently learned that Tatyana Mirer teaches here, and I’d like to take her Bruges lace class.  (Updated to add: I took the class with Tatyana in June, 2012, and it was wonderful!)

La Casita Yarn Shop

La Casita is very small and is equal parts yarn shop and hang-out spot.  They have a tiny cafe which serves tasty treats and alcohol :).  You may not find the yarn you are looking for since they have a smallish inventory (and the prices are steep), but you will definitely make friends and have fun crocheting or knitting here.  They also have a nice collection of notions, needles, and hooks.  They are open late, too (until 10 p.m. on weeknights), so you would be able to squeeze in a visit after a long day.  Smith Street in Boerum Hill/Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, has recently become a hipster haven with many nice eateries and other shopping options in the nearby area that you can check out before or after your visit.

P & S Fabrics (no website, 359 Broadway, Manhattan, 212-226-1534)

P & S is the type of old-school yarn and fabric shop I grew up with.  The yarn selection is pretty standard in a big box store type of way, but the staff are very knowledgeable and there is a good range of notions, as well as fabric and sewing supplies.  If you run out of yarn during your trip, this is an very inexpensive way to stock up while supporting a local business (instead of going to one of New York City’s Michaels locations).   Call ahead for the schedule.  (Tip: Lion Brand Yarns are much cheaper here than at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, but P & S doesn’t carry the LB Collection.)

Purl Soho

I haven’t been to Purl in ages, so  I’m not really qualified to review it thoroughly.  I did enjoy the overall vibe and that they combined a yarn shop with a quilting shop, but I remember suffering from major sticker shock.  The prices were high by NYC yarn shop standards, but in line with shopping in overpriced SoHo standards.

Smiley’s Yarn

Smiley’s is the ultimate discount yarn shopping location.  The store is located in Woodhaven, Queens.  Smiley’s primarily sells discontinued yarns/colors and their prices are incredible.  The decor is utilitarian.  This is a cash only business and the store is only open on Fridays and Saturdays, except during their famous yarn sales, when they are open Monday through Saturday.  Every year, they have a big yarn sale at the Holiday Inn in Midtown, Manhattan.  At the Manhattan yarn sale, you can only buy yarn by the bag, so it is best to bring a friend unless you need 10 balls of each color of yarn.  Visiting Smiley’s would be the yarn equivalent of stopping at Century 21 while you’re in New York City  – you’d get a great deal and likely come away with a good subway adventure story from your lengthy J train commute.

Yarn Company

After years of being notorious for snooty attitude and poor customer service, the Yarn Company is under new ownership.  While I previously avoided the shop because they were not crochet-friendly, I’ve been there a few times since the change in management, and the vibe is definitely much better.  The new Yarn Company is actively seeking a multi-craftual clientele and it offers classes in knitting, crochet, spinning, weaving, quilting, sewing, and embroidery.  While I haven’t yet fallen in love with their yarn selection and pricing, I do continue to stop in because it is a work in progress and seems to be moving in a positive direction.  (Updated to add: The Yarn Company now carries many exclusive, signature colorways, so it makes a great tourist destination.)

Skip the trip

In my opinion, there are a few shops that you can definitely miss, especially if you are on a tight schedule.

Seaport Yarn is conveniently located in lower Manhattan and has a large selection of yarn and notions, but the shop is messy, and the customer service is poor.  They also have a ridiculously high “credit card minimum” ($30, when I last checked).

String in Midtown East, Manhattan is attractively set up, but the prices are a bit steep.  The staff was helpful when I asked about ordering yarn in a particular color, but I didn’t feel as welcome once I asked about crochet hooks.  The vibe got a little chilly at that point.  Also, they only carry one type of crochet hooks (Susan Bates Silvalume).

Yarntopia on the Upper West Side/Columbia Heights, Manhattan has a nice selection of yarn, but seems to fluctuate in customer service/amiability.  (Updated to add: Yarntopia announced that it is closing as the owner is moving to Philadelphia.)

What about all the other yarn shops in New York City?

The New York City Crochet Guild has a list of yarn shops on its website.  Checking out the Yelp reviews might help you decide which shops to visit.

What’s your favorite NYC yarn shop?