Last week, I took my dream vacation and spent a few days at Pendle Hill in Wallingford, PA. The main purpose of the vacation was to relax, enjoy the silence, (wait, what is this? some kind of retro pop music playlist??), spend some time outdoors, and live an unscheduled life, and what’s more relaxing than a trip to the yarn shop?
I’ve been on a pretty severe yarn diet since December, so I planned to splurge during my trip. On Tuesday, I decided to spend the day in Philadelphia visiting yarn shops. I gave myself a budget of $25 per shop. Since I wanted to spend time outside, I actually walked from shop to shop and back to the train station (about 5 miles, according to Google Maps, plus the mile to and from the train station in Wallingford). It was one of those days when it alternates between pouring rain and sweltering heat, so I thank all of the shops I visited for allowing my presumably stinky self inside!
How did I develop my list? First, I stopped by the Crochet Liberation Front Headquarters group on Ravelry and looked at their list of Crochet-Friendly LYSs. Though I now knit also, I want to spend my money where crocheters are respected and appreciated! Then I got directions from Google Maps and wrote them down on a piece of paper. (Then, I got lost and ended up using the Hop Stop app on my phone, which actually seemed to provide more concise routes.)
Stop 1: Rosie’s Yarn Cellar
Rosie’s Yarn Cellar is a small, quiet shop that’s down a short flight of steps. The staff are very friendly and helpful, but in a quiet way. There is a store dog (a pug, if memory serves), who makes some very cute little sounds while trying to kill his toy duck.
The store has a great selection for a shop of its size and a broad range of prices. I saw yarns for $5 as well as yarns for $30. The prices seemed the least expensive of all the shops I visited, and were certainly lower than NYC prices.
It took me a while to figure out how this store got its crochet-friendly reputation, but it does have an entire shelf of crochet books, and crochet hooks behind the counter. I was super amazed that knitting needles are out on display for you to browse and right next to the door. (You can tell you’re not in New York City!)
My favorite feature of this shop is the little signs by each yarn that tell you the details you would find on the label (e.g., fiber content, suggested gauge and needle size, brand name) as well as the price. This made for much easier browsing. For people who like to buy patterns in the shop, there had tons of binders listed by project type.
It was great to see yarns that I haven’t found locally like Araucania, Bijou Basin Ranch, Mountain Meadow Wool Mill, and O-Wool. In the end, I decided on a skein of Ella Rae Lace Merino that was on sale.
I still haven’t decided if I think it is more black or more blue. I hope it will one day work itself into a project for me – perhaps a pair of socks? (Sock people, tell me now if this is a good choice or if I should move on to another project idea!) I’m still dreaming about that Mountain Meadow Wool Mill yarn, but I didn’t want to go over budget by getting two skeins.
I was somewhat bewildered by this sign in the window.
Stop 2: Sophie’s Yarns
I decided that my next stop should be furthest from the station and that I would work my way back. I guess I should have done more research, because after a very long walk, I discovered this shop was closed. I was surprised because usually Yelp seems to be updated when a shop shuts down, but it was still listed.
Stop 3: Nangellini Gallery
After briefly mumbling to myself, I continued on my journey and went to Nangellini Gallery.
This shop is in an artsy looking area and has a very funky vibe to it. When you enter, the first room is more of a gallery space with freeform, funky, artsy wearable projects on display. I’m embarrassed to say that I had a great picture of this room, but I accidentally saved over it. (D’oh!) You can find hooks and needles on a display rack on this floor as well as some notions like shawl pins and stitch markers.
On the upstairs level, you can find yarn as well as some spinning supplies like drop spindles and batts. The yarn selection completely fits the vibe of the store, and there is a lot of novelty and highly textured yarn, as well as chunky, multicolor yarn. There is a very small collection of crochet books, but it includes some freeform books that really fit into the store’s theme. There’s also a section of crochet cotton.
I don’t use novelty yarn or very bulky yarns too often, so for a while I was debating whether I should buy anything. And then I saw this.
I ended up with a skein of Nancy’s Hair by No Two Snowflakes. I confess I picked it because it was superwash merino and had the most yardage of anything in the local section.
I think this will probably end up as a gift for my best friend from high school, CG. She is an artist and wears a lot of bold colors. Also, she would actually find the story of how I got the yarn entertaining. (And, she’s already on my Holiday Stashdown Challenge list.)
The staff at this shop are very friendly in a more conversational way. While I was in the shop, an older customer came in with a wedding dress her mom had made her in acrylic yarn (insert large number of years) in the past. Everyone oohed and aahed and I could tell you can get as much attention as you want in this shop. There are also some comfy chairs in the gallery area.
Stop 4: Loop
By the time I arrived at Loop, I was tired and a bit nervous about catching the train back in time for dinner, so I didn’t browse for as long.
Loop reminded me the most of a New York City yarn shop. It has a large table in the center (presumably for classes and hanging out) and I was familiar with more brands of yarn being sold in the shop, like Berroco, Brooklyn Tweed, Malabrigo, and Spud & Chloe. It was a bit pricier than the other shops as well.
When I saw the display of Addi Swing hooks near the counter, I immediately understood why this shop was labelled crochet-friendly. And, I gave myself permission to go $13 over budget since I only visited three (instead of four) shops.
This should match my winter coat, so I see some winter accessories in my future!
Loop also has a rewards program and $5.95 flat rate shipping for web orders.
Do you have a favorite Philadelphia yarn shop?