This post was last updated in May, 2017. I’m a native New Yorker who has lived in either Brooklyn or Manhattan for over 90% of my life, and I love to support local businesses! If you’re visiting New York City, check out my recommendations, and let me know what you think!
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.
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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 $10-12 on a skein of yarn in most situations.
Schedule: Although NYC is the City That Never Sleeps, yarn shops generally operate what my mother calls “a banker’s schedule.” They usually 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. Click on the heading with the name of the shop to visit their website.
Annie and Company
After years of hearing that I should add Annie and Company to the list, I finally had the chance to visit for the first time during the 2016 New York City Yarn Crawl. I had a great time (and so did my fellow yarn crawlers, Jessie from Jessie At Home and Amy from The Stitchin’ Mommy), and we definitely agreed that this shop should get added to the list. Although (or perhaps because) it is located off the beaten path on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the store is large enough to allow you to browse comfortably. It includes a broad array of yarn and needlepoint supplies. I really enjoyed the vibrant mood and organized displays. The store also has an active schedule of trunk shows and other events, so be sure to check their calendar or follow them on Instagram to see what is happening when you’re in town.
While we were visiting, we happened to see the sample of Jessie’s Skylark in Wonderland shawl (get the free crochet pattern here) on display, so they are definitely crochet friendly, too.
I stumbled upon this cute shop in 2011 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 several times 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.
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.
Knitty City also has exclusive colorways of certain yarns which make great souvenirs, so be sure to ask about those when you stop by. And, Knitty City now offers the option of winding yarn purchased elsewhere (for $1/skein), so if you packed that extra skein in your suitcase, bring it along with you! 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. You can also buy skeins of unique yarns that were hand dyed by staff.
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. The Studio is also a great yarncrafter event space. 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.
Purl Soho combines a yarn shop with a quilting shop, but expect major sticker shock. The prices are high by NYC yarn shop standards, but in line with shopping in overpriced SoHo standards. If you enjoy sewing and embroidery, too, or if you’ll be in SoHo anyway, definitely stop by for a visit.
Smiley’s is the ultimate discount yarn shopping location. Updated to add: Smiley’s closed their retail store in 2015, but still have their amazing, cash only, “yarn riot” sales in Manhattan. If you’re visiting the New York area, be sure to check their schedule on the website! You can also shop their online store anytime. At the annual yarn sale in Midtown, Manhattan, 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 is 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 adventure story from your shopping experience.
The Yarn Company
Updated to add: The Yarn Company is now web only, but it still makes a great tourist destination. Check out their exclusive colorways online, or look for them at a local pop up shop. After years of being notorious for snooty attitude and poor customer service, the Yarn Company was purchased by new (friendlier) owners a few years back. The Yarn Company sells several exclusive yarn colorways which make great souvenirs and gifts.
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).
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. The NYC Yarn Crawl website includes many of the most sociable yarn shops in New York City. Checking out the Yelp reviews might help you decide which shops to visit. Unfortunately, yarn shops come and go in New York City pretty regularly, so be sure to call the shop or check its website before visiting.
You can also read my tips for How To Find Great Yarn Stores During Your Next Trip in this post, or watch the video version below.
32 thoughts on “Visitor’s Guide to New York City Yarn Shops”
Thanks so much for the info! I am from Michigan and am here for a few days. Need to get some yarn and a pattern for fancy legwarmers for a cousin’s daughter. Also want it so I can start knitting on it in Central Park before I leave for home this Sunday. Now I have three places to check tomorrow! Hope one is open and can accommodate my desire!
Thanks again! Cora, a confessed knit-a-holic (but it keeps me sane!).
You’re welcome, Cora, and I hope you have a great time! I’d love to hear back from you about where you end up visiting.
I am wondering if you know of places to sell hand-knit baby and toddler sweaters in NYC. I currently sell them at an exclusive children’s shop in a popular midwest tourist destination (Mackinac Island, Michigan), but the shop is only open during the summer. I would like to connect with a shop in NYC that sells high-end hand knits or specializes in high-end children’s wear. Thanks for any help you can provide.
Thanks for stopping by, Sue. I would recommend that you reach out to Etsy’s New York City team to ask about wholesale possibilities. I don’t sell my finished projects, so I don’t have any suggestions.
Don’t forget Habu @ 99 Madison Ave (http://habutextiles.com/)…
Thanks for sharing your favorite, Zandra! Since I haven’t been to Habu, I can’t add it to my list, though :).
I’ve been to several on the list…I live in Connecticut and I’ve done my own yarn crawls to the city…last time I did a Brooklyn crawl…visited LA Casita and Brooklyn General , then went back to Manhattan and hit up Knitty City (I think it was my third visit) and The Yarn Company…..I’ve been to Seaport several times…and she is always at festivals/shows now…..I was also not impressed with School Products…although I liked the yarn I got there….Habu is interesting…..I’ve been to a couple of the others, too….I do blog about each, but have not updated from my last visit….I do have page on my blog for LYS in CT and elsewhere
I would add one store to this list – Brooklyn General Store. It has a small town feel and the yarns are chosen carefully in that they usually offer yarns shades and alternatives you might not find at the other NY shops. The quality of the yarns are varied from really luxurious to utilitarian but no cheap yarns here! I always stop here when I am in town visiting even though it is a bit out of the way.
Thanks for sharing, Barbara! I visited Brooklyn General once but in the context of fabric shopping. I will definitely need to check it out again!
ok thanks for this list! Not to be a creeper but I checked out the yarn co, the lion brand studio, and knitty city.
The LBS and knitty city would be easy favorites! Prices in the LBS are the same as on their Website and there’s no tax on yarn in NYC so it’s awesome. Selection was great as well. I got the angora merino wool and it’s delicious. I went to the yarn company and I was instantly turned off. They seemed a bit too stuck up for me. The shop was empty and it didn’t look like any knitting or crocheting went on there.
Knitty city just a few blocks away was packed and they had a greater selection than the yarn co. They were much friendlier too!
I would like to add Annie and co on the upper east side 91st and 2nd. Brie was so nice with helping me find stuff and they are expanding their selection to accommodate crocheters as well. Thanks for the list! It’s great to find some jewels in the city that never sleeps 🙂
Haha, thanks for sharing, Brittany, and you are definitely not “a creeper” ;). I have been hearing good things about Annie and Co. so I will have to check them out for myself one day soon.
Hi—-My wife & I will be in NYC early May 2015, & she would like to visit some yarn shops. We will be staying @ the Radisson—32nd & Broadway. Are there any yarn shops close by that you would recommend?
Sharon, thanks for stopping by. Lion Brand Yarn Studio is just a few subway stops away. You can take the F train from 34th Street/Herald Square to 14th Street. There are some shops closer to your hotel, but I haven’t had great experiences with them.
Thank you so much for this! And I am so happy that you also mention how crochet-friendly the places are! I am primarily a crocheter, so going to stores where crochet is basically an after thought is really a bummer.
Also, on a similar note, I went to Seaport Yarns a couple years ago. Of course, the lady asked me what I was working on, and I said some crochet project. Then I started looking at the mohair yarn, and she said to me, “Oh, you can’t crochet with mohair.” I kid you not. I was very turned off.
I’m so glad it could help, Sarah! I mostly crochet, too, so I always look for crochet-friendly yarn shops :). Sadly, I’m not surprised by your experience at Seaport Yarns.
thank you for this blog. I am new to Underground Crafter. I have always wanted to visit the lion brand store when in NYC . I never knew there were so many yarn stores there. I am going to book mark the blog so I can plan my next trip to NYC well
There are even more than these, Kimberley! Thanks for the kinds words and enjoy your next trip to NYC.
Great article; fyi: Knit-A-Way closed in June 2015.
Thanks for the update, Von! I will make the change.
I visit Brooklyn a few times a year and I was excited to find your list on your blog. I am going to try and check out a few tomorrow, before I go back. I knit and crochet and I get what you are saying about some shops not being very crochet friendly. I will let you know, if I go to any of the stores on your list.
Thanks for stopping by, Tanya! I’d love to hear your thoughts about the shops you visit.
Great list of yarn stores, I’ve been to Knitty City, because I wanted the Freia Ombre Yarn. Staff is friendly, and helpful. I did the yarn crawl last year, and decided to check out Downtown Yarns, not a bad place, but, kind of small. My favorite yarn store though, is Purl Soho, main reason is their own line of yarns. I got tired of working with Manos Yarns all the time. I think I’ve worked with everyone they have, line weight, alpaca pure, and their new one Linen Quill is to die for. Just finished the gradient cowl in that yarn, and working on the Speckled scarf. I’m really picky, when it comes to yarn I knit with, I like high quality yarns, projects, just come out better. They have so many great free patterns, on their site too, using their own yarns. I make handmade jewelry, and hand knits I sell on my site. Sad to say, people don’t understand, how expensive yarn is, plus my time, skill, and designing. They don’t want to pay the price of a quality hand knit scarf, or hat, I don’t work with acrylic yarn at all. I like to go to Saks, to check out their accessories, the sales associates, always go crazy over my cowls. 200 dollars for a plain wool cowl, crazy. Would like to learn how to crochet though, one day I will.
Thanks for sharing your story, Cheryl. I haven’t tried Purl’s in-house brand yet.
Hi – so sad I didnt see this earlier – just got back from NYC. I went to Purl Soho which is just amazing for a yarn starved South African and went to LBS which just a bit offish for me. Then I went on to Boston and WEBS in Northampton is out of this world and Northampton Wool has the most divine kits. I need to go back there sometime!!
Glad to hear you enjoyed your yarn shopping in the Northeast U.S., Lydia!
This blog post is AMAZING! We’re visiting New York soon for the very first time and all the information you have given here has been invaluable in planning our itinerary and the detours I can make to visit some yarn shops! Thank you so much! ??
So glad it could help. Enjoy your trip!