Dec 29, 2006

Knitting's Dark Side

Y'all. I'm in Texas visiting my brother and SIL. It's strange to be back in Tejas after a 10-year absence, but that is not what this post is about. I started writing this post in my head a couple of weeks ago and a short visit to Twisted Yarns just reminded me to post it.

I write instead to the crazylove given to the LYS. I understand, of course, that there are many very nice and lovely and welcoming shops but I've gotta say that those are rare. Two of my favorites have been Kraemer Yarn Shop in Nazareth, PA and Woolcott & Co in Cambridge, MA.

They all may be local and unique, but my complaint for each is the same. In Bethlehem, it was Tangled Yarns. You practically had to twist Barbara's arm to order something for you and then you'd be lucky to get a call when it was in. More recently, it's Montoya and even CloseKnit in Evanston. I was psyched to have two(!) LYS so close to my new house when we closed last year but that ship has sailed.

I have gone to these stores straight out of bed with a skull sweater and bedhead as well as after work looking like a well-dressed commuter but I'm usually treated like a crackhead (at worst) or a girl from a rival sorority (at best) when I need assistance.

The most recent example: I rushed into CloseKnit right before closing to buy some Lamb's Pride for a last-minute gift. I asked how long until they closed as soon as I walked in and was shortly informed '5 minutes.' I put my World Market bag down inside the door so as not to crash around the shop with it and I swear to God the woman there looked at it as if it contained a bomb. In less than 2 minutes, I had my yarn and needles at the register and a new knitter came in to ask about the Lamb's Pride Bulky she'd recently purchased from them to make a gift 'for a man.' She wanted to know if it would shed. The woman ringing me up said of course not - which is absolutely untrue (it is 15% mohair). I couldn't believe it.

Even though I don't have a ton of extra money, I don't mind spending a little more to support local shops. However, I think I'm over the LYS. I've had a much better time ordering yarn from the manymany online retailers and have received more communication and support from THE UK than from most of them.

I'm wondering how many of you really love your LYS - like, loved it from the first moment you stepped in and not months later, after you'd spent enough money to get street cred or major orthodontics.

Now. To offset my surliness, I leave you with a cute photo of Barley trying to boil his brains as I go...


Blogger Chris said...

I'm not sure there's a LYS that I love. There are a few I like ok. A few I despise because I'm treated like an undesirable idiot. One I'm fond of, but I have a friend who works there. I haven't ever bought much yarn there because here's the rub - when you need enough yarn for a sweater? Most LYS don't have enough of one color for a sweater.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have always loved the yarn found at store near my moms' house. I never had any luck with the people there (I think one might have said something mean about homeless people but I wasn't really sure). This year I've been there twice. First the older woman was sweet as can be, checked in the back for more yarn, tried to find another for me and gave us 20% off since they didn't have what we wanted. The second woman was also really sweet, talkative, helpful and even offered to help me with my sock if I came back. I was happy to see the change in this shop but I'm with you about most others including Tangled Yarns.

Blogger Anne said...

I've had varied experiences, but there are two shops, both of which I sort of consider LYSes (one in my city, Boston, and one in my hometown in Maine), that I've had nothing but fabulous experiences in. I think a lot of it depends on the people and the type of yarn store it is - I prefer yarn stores that are pretty basic, not too much crazy novelty yarn, carrying most of the really good workhorses, like Cascade 220 and Brown Sheep and Dale. I also prefer stores where the store's employees aren't too overhelpful - I can't stand it when people repeatedly come up to me and ask me if there's anything I need. But in both places, I've always gotten good, specific advice and help when I asked for it.

Anonymous Moe said...

I have some that I love, and some that I had to earn my street cred.

My local LYS is one of the latter - they have never been rude to me per se, but now that I'm a regular, and considered a "real knitter", they are super friendly.

Tangled Skeins in Dartmouth and The Loop in Halifax have been awesome right from the first time. They are both rather new shops run by young women, which might be a factor.

So far, I haven't had overt rudeness anywhere in my travels, but my LYS exposures have been modest.

Blogger jennysbelly said...

I know what you mean about Tangled Yarns -- I only go in there when I have to and not so much anymore since my office isn't in Bethlehem anymore.

Apparently a new shop opened in Hellertown but I haven't ventured that way yet.

I still can't believe we didn't meet while you were here!

Anonymous amanda said...

the people at closeknit really need an attitude adjustment! i went in there last year (when i was in grad school at northwestern) with a pattern and i asked them if they had the yarn the pattern called for. the woman said no. and didn't offer any sort of yarn substitution or anything. i ended up leaving the store with nothing because she just couldn't be bothered to help me. now i'm a little more educated about yarn and either buy online or go to the yarn shop that two women from my knitting group work at. it's unfortunate that so many LYS don't seem to get customer service (especially towards younger customers.)

Blogger MeBeth said...

I've definitely had mixed experiences in NYC, but there's one store I love. It's definitely not the typical new and hip yarn shop; it's been there forever and is staffed by ladies of a certain age who are practically willing to knit for you. Plus, baby cashmerino in every color of the rainbow!

Blogger Ashley said...

I do love my LYS, but I know exactly what you mean--I did NOT love my LYS in Texas. I liked it ok, and I loved its selection, but I wanted a little more warmth. At my one here, they remember my name, always ooh and aah if I'm wearing a handknit (they loved my pink and green writswarmers that you knit me!!) and offered to teach me continental for free.

I forget which Evanston yarn store I went to with you, but as I recall, both of us knew our stuff much better than the lady working there did, and if it was the same one who told someone that Lamb's Pride won't shed, well, no. I wouldn't go back there except in a yarn-needing emergency. I've had great and speedy service from kpixie, Yarnzilla, Jimmy Bean's Wool and Purl, among many, many others, is all I'm saying.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy New Year!

I recently took a knitting class at this LYS in Wicker Park. They seemed pretty nice. A bit of a hike from where we are, but definitely worth checking out sometime.

Love, Beth

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How funny that I should come across your blog when I've been thinking the exact same thing lately. I want to love my LYS. I hav almost have a romantic notion about what a LYS should be. BUT most often I have experienced the same kind of reception I have sometimes gotten in gourmet food shops. Get a grip ladies, you're not all that. You're selling yarn for pete's sake, not diamonds.

Blogger Dani said...

We have got to talk about this... Ditto the entire post! Missing you! -Dani

Anonymous pam said...

It's so cold here I sympathize with the dog.

As much as I love my LYS, there's something to be said about shopping at KnitPicks and getting everything you want all at once for next to nothing.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I go to Tangled Yarns on occasion, but only for things that she has in stock. I am not yet advanced enough to ask her for help or to order. I have never been to Kraemer's, although I should go, because the whole layout of that place confuses me. Is the door right down those little stairs there where the sign is, right amid the factory-ness of it? I know they offer classes there and have gotten information from them via e-mail. Maybe I will try it out. Also, do they sell more than Kraemer yarns? Maybe I will have to check them out since you liked them so much...


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