The past week, work totally kicked my hiney so I kinda fell off the internets there for a bit. I guess it figures that when you actually have things to post about, you don't have time to do it, but when it's boring, you get to post ad nauseum and announce to the world that you have an entirely empty calendar. Oh well, not that you want to hear the joys about designing posters, websites and conference abstracts anyway...
So, first things first. Pam in Niagara Falls asked me about yarn shops in the area so I thought I’d type up a completely subjective list of shops that I frequent. Thought I’d share to help any visitors to our fine, fair city spend a little moolah and find some stash additions. This isn’t a complete study (not that I’d mind pursuing such an investigation), but just places that see and will see my credit cards in the future.
Elmwood Yarn Shop
1639 Hertel Ave, Buffalo
This is probably my LYS, if I were to choose a single brick & mortar store to remain faithful to. They’ve got a solid collection, nice variety and excellent classes to support your habit. The staff is extremely knowledgeable and helpful, especially when it’s quiet in the store. Saturdays are busy, so be forewarned that you’ll get more individualized service if you can make it on a weekday. This is the kind of store you can go to and find yarn and a project that you will actually make and wear. They have some trendy, novelty type stuff, but it’s pretty minimal, or maybe I just haven’t been looking for it. They change stock with the seasons, generally adding more every time you vist, but you can go in and always know you’ll find a worsted weight wool or basic sock yarn with no trouble. Also expect to find a few goodies in the sale bin every time you go in. Basically, they have good yarn at fair prices and a staff that knows their stuff. I’ve taken numerous classes there on everything from fuzzy mohair mittens to felted fair isle bags and I’ve come away with lots of knowledge and excitement every time. This is the real deal.
And while you’re on Hertel, be sure to make time for lunch. Taste of Thai and Romeo & Juliet’s are my favorites. Definitely worth your drive from the Falls, Pam!
Neighborhood Collective, 810 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo
I actually read about this on Annie Modesitt’s blog before I ever knew it was there, despite living blocks away, walking past the shop on a regular basis and having a friend that worked in the restaurant part of this establishment. (I’m pretty sure my friend was trying to help my yarn diet by not telling me about it… which was a good thing.) The one time I really checked out the wares, I only saw the small corner in an artist collective where she always has stuff on display. She does classes and I believe some, if not all, of her own hand-dying. The selection is small and the day I visited there were only two color schemes, but I think she’s expanding the business. From the website it looks like there are days where you can check out more of the wares, but I’ve yet to see what looks to be a real gem. Although, that may change as of tomorrow… I can say that it’s really nice yarn and the dying is very exquisite. This is the “treat” kind of yarn that you want to get for a special project.
If you’re coming to Buffalo, Elmwood Ave. is a must-see anyway with all the boutiques and shops. I’d recommend hitting Elmwood Fabrics just down the street if you’re into sewing. And again, because it’s Buffalo, you’ll have to eat again. Go anywhere… it’s all good.
Karma Knitting & Clothing
5446 Main Street, Williamsville
I’ve actually got a gift certificate for this shop sitting on my desk as I type. I’m not really going to review the shop because I don’t know it well enough. I went in once, found the yarn organized in a very confusing manner and the staff entirely unhelpful. I also have read blogs of devoted customers so I’m just going to say that it was probably because I was grouchy and they were having a bad day. I think I was turned off because the novelty yarn display in the front window just wasn’t me. I’m sure when I go back in this week it’ll be a great shop and I’ll find another place to spend money!
The Wooly Lamb
Main Street, East Aurora
Two words… yarn overload. Seriously, if there can be too much yarn in once place, it’s here. Don’t be in a hurry when you visit because there is so much to look at, you’ll be there for hours. It has the usual East Aurora historic Main St feel to it and yarn is stuffed in every square inch of the shop. You will find something to buy here… it’s inevitable. You’ll find all the yarns you’ve read about and many you’ve never heard of. My only suggestion is to go in with a project or two in mind and have the yarn specifications handy. Most likely they’ll have the book you want to knit from anyway, but this is the kind of place where it’s easy to get overwhelmed and walk away knowing there are things you want, but you can’t remember what they were because you want everything in the shop. If you aren’t really sure what you want to knit, this would be a magical place to do some daydreaming. Take your time, come up for air and enjoy!
If you’re going to attend the Knox Fiber Festival, I definitely recommend giving yourself time to go into town and check out this store.
This is an adorable little shop that I wish was a little closer so I could pop in regularly to knit. The selection doesn’t appear huge, but it’s all very nice yarn, there’s more of it than you realize, and all is well supported by patterns. They seem to do a good job of getting the various trunk shows from designers and magazines as well so beware. Walking in and seeing the latest Debbie Bliss sweater will easily make you cave and buy yarn to make it immediately! Their classes are fun and have a nice variety. I took a dinner class there where the shop owner’s husband cooks up a big meal and you work on a small project. We did bead knitting on teeny tiny needles (hmm… a project I never finished, imagine that) and it was the kind of thing where you needed some help getting started but not so much that you needed a long, in-depth class. Oh, and you needed wine to make you forget that you were knitting on sz. 0000 or something like that… wine was provided. You’re on your own with the credit cards that you’ll need here.
Those are my usual haunts. I’d also suggest the Knox Fiber Farm which is having a festival in a few weeks. I bought some of their handspun last year and love it. Will have to be digging out that scarf very soon, I think. I believe there may be another shop somewhere in Williamsville but I haven’t found it. And I know there’s a place called Yarn It All in the North Tonawanda/Pendleton area. I took one class here on double knitting (the technique discussed in the recent Knitty article on doing two socks at once) and learned a ton. I haven’t been back only because it’s on the way to an ex-boyfriend’s parent’s house and well, just not on my route any more. I can’t seem to find a website for them, but they had a really extensive selection and from what I remember, it was a mix of Red Heart type stuff and higher end yarns. I remember thinking that it was an odd assortment, but I’d be willing to bet I could find something I had to have without too my effort!
Hope this helps anyone looking to explore the WNY yarn shops!