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All That Yarn - Yarn Shops

Updated on July 26, 2017
An older pattern book...no longer in print.
An older pattern book...no longer in print.

Ah, the good old days....

I had a request to make a scarf with Mist Green and White. Well, it’s a good thing I have a stash of yarn since I did manage to have 2 skeins of that particular green. I heard from a friend who had the same request and could not find that color anywhere in town. Another friend had the same problem but went online and ordered some. That got me to thinking about how limited our choices
are for yarn in this town.

Same pattern, using scraps instead of full balls of yarn.
Same pattern, using scraps instead of full balls of yarn.

I made this pattern

My scrap afghan was made from the pattern in the Paton's book. Here's a square from that afghan.

You can see more pictures of squares from this afghan in my blog on scrap afghans.

Only one yarn shop left.

First, we have ONE yarn shop left open, but who knows for how long. It is the last of three that were open over the past 5 years. Since she only carries natural fibers and Wyoming sheep wool yarn, I know that I can’t find my
favorite acrylics there.

Once I tried attending the after 5 pm stitching group and heard from someone I knew who went there that she preferred people to buy her yarn to use in her shop. I had been there with my Red Heart Bright & Lofty yarn crocheting an afghan (that I donate), so I knew she meant me. I did not go back to that group for a couple of reasons other than that one.

Because my carpal tunnel flares up if I go from all day computer work right into knitting or crocheting after work (I had tried another group that met monthly and had the same thing happen), I have to rest a couple of hours after work before doing what I love to do.

Also, some of the language from one of the younger gals (why does the talk among a group of women always end up heading to the sexual innuendos direction?) made me think that I didn’t want to be a part of this group. I wasn’t the only one uncomfortable, but she singled me out for “raising my eyebrow” at her language. I must have done it without noticing, like an automatic response.

Second, the “hobby” shops don’t carry much of what I use either. The local chain fabric store has a pitiful yarn “department” with very few selections and less of a supply. The local hobby shop doesn’t carry Red Heart anymore like it once did after it first opened up for business. The Wal-Mart has yarn, but only the larger size skeins of the acrylics and not the “classic” size which is what the Mist Green only comes in from Red Heart.

I remember when I was in grade school and junior high there was a store called Gibson’s (which later was bought out and became Pamida before closing). I could get a skein of Aunt Lillian’s Rug Yarn for just twenty-five cents. I had a small allowance so that was what I could afford to get and what I worked with for a few years.

Yarn, yarn available everywhere!

Also, selling yarn back in the 1960s and 1970s up to the early 1980s were other places that quit doing it. Safeway (a grocery store) had their own brand/label yarns. Kmart had it’s own label as well as other yarns. Wolco/Woolworth had yarn sections to feed my habit. In fact, Wolco had Pounder skeins of yarn that when un-skeined and rolled up was the size of a basketball. It was cheaper and plentiful. Ben Franklin stores were another source of Red Heart yarns and other obscure brands that are no longer available like Bear Brand. Red Heart was also under the Coats & Clark Wintuck Red Heart label which I have a few in my stash.

Old Yarn Labels

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Red Heart WintukWintuk label continued.Bear Brand yarn (twin pak)Bear Brand priced at 99 cents from Bergner's.
Red Heart Wintuk
Red Heart Wintuk
Wintuk label continued.
Wintuk label continued.
Bear Brand yarn (twin pak)
Bear Brand yarn (twin pak)
Bear Brand priced at 99 cents from Bergner's.
Bear Brand priced at 99 cents from Bergner's.

Almost a job...

Even JC Penney’s and Sears had yarn in their houseware departments in their store basements. I even had a brief job with JC Penney’s when the guy in the office wanted to promote their yarn sales by offering classes. I was set up to teach a beginning knitting class once a week for a set of weeks.

When I went to my first day, and there was nothing set up for me (no table, no chairs, etc.), I went to see him about it. He informed me that no one had signed up for the class and he had forgotten to call and let me know not to come in. The only thing I got out of that was the employee discount on the instruction book, yarn and knitting needles he let me pick out to do my samples for the class. I didn’t get paid since there was no class after all.

Small town...big choices.

My grandmother’s small town had the Yellowstone Mercantile which had a basement with a whole section devoted to knitting, crochet, tatting, and embroidery as well as other crafts. They had knitting needles and crochet hooks that were still marked with the original prices that were much lower than anything I had at home. Another great thing about the Yellowstone Basement was that they could also order large quantities of yarn for people who wanted more skeins than what was in stock.

My grandmother had boxes (Red Heart boxes, not regular boxes) of Red Heart Wool yarn in each of the 9 colors that she used to make each of us girls’ afghans. I didn’t know about it until after she was gone and we had to go through her things to sort out everything. Since I don’t like working with wools, I didn’t take the boxes of wool yarn and I kind of wish that I had put them in my stash.

A local yarn shop that I used to frequent before it closed had a variety of affordable yarns for people to buy. They weren’t the brand labels like Red Heart and Lion Brand, but they weren’t all wools or wool blends or expensive types. I found some funky light purple cotton with a little of a boucle style. I made one of my teddy bears with it and thought it turned out rather cuddly. I found that yarn in the bargain bin and bought all of it. She didn’t care what yarn we brought in to work on in the Thursday evening group or the Friday afternoon group, just that we showed up and had a nice time together. She had to close since the business was costing more to run than it was making, but she had a loyal following of customers who still miss her and that shop.

Could have had a shop of my own.

A long time ago I had an opportunity to purchase a yarn shop. It was a nice dream but I didn’t have the funding to do it and would not have been able to keep it afloat on my own. It was offered to me by my college knitting instructor as she had heard about it and knew I had a passion for knitting and crocheting.

Another shop, another closing.

There was also, for a brief time, a yarn and embroidery shop at the Eastridge Mall. It was run by a mother and daughter. I like going there but it also closed due to costing her more to run than it was taking in from sales. She had kept her leftover stock in her basement after closing the shop and would do “by appointment” openings for people she knew who wanted certain items she might still have in the boxes in her basement. I went there maybe a few months after the shop was closed and got some crochet thread in colors I could not get anywhere else in town. This was all before the internet and online shopping, so getting it from somewhere else without making phone calls all over the state and surrounding states was my only option.

I ran across the daughter a couple years ago at a Knit in the Park day. She was planning to move out of town but still had leftover yarns and accessories from the store. She had a garage sale going on that weekend so she asked me to drop by and see if there was anything I wanted while she still had some yarn on hand. I did go and got some bulky yarn that is no longer available, and stocked up on crochet hooks and knitting needles for the classes I teach.

I do miss the bargain hunts.

I miss the many odd shops that carried their odd ball yarn brands and variety of acrylics. The “craft phase” of the 1980s pretty much wiped out a lot of the little stashes that different stores tried to have on hand. It came and went and so did the yarn.

Businesses came and went as well, leaving me with only old labels and pattern books of yarns that “used to be” available almost everywhere. Like a lot of businesses, small shops can’t keep going because people can go online and get it cheaper (but not always faster) and have it delivered to their door. The only small shops left tend to go to specialty yarns that are produced in smaller quantities…or locally ‘grown’ companies. Places like eBay still have the occasional find of older yarns in lots for sale from estates.

The yarn places I remember are long gone, but remembered fondly. I still recall the joy of finding a bargain at the small town shops and going nuts with buying up stuff that I couldn’t find at home or at least not at those pre-printed-on-the-package prices.

Seeing (and feeling) is believing.

Touching and handling the yarns is a big part of deciding on what to make from it. Putting skeins next to each other at the store to see what goes together is more fun than guessing what will work. Colors are better “in person” than on a computer screen or in a catalog. Vintage patterns and yarns still pop up from time to time on the internet. Even the 1970s books that I have are now considered “antique” and are hard to find. I cherish my patterns, my old yarn labels (and a few projects I have with old yarns), and my memories of the by-gone yarn from shops that used to be handy.

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