Tuesday, May 21, 2013

LYS Tour 2013

For the past several years, local yarn shops from the central Puget Sound up to the Canadian border have hosted a weekend-long yarn crawl. Since my personal stash is entirely out of hand, to say nothing of my business inventory, I usually just visit a few nearby stores during the tour.

But this year, the Northwest LYS Tour included five stores in my county, plus three in the next county, and there were some incentives to hit at least eight stores. So I carved out a little time from moving into my new studio, and went adventuring. From a business perspective, I was curious to see what stores were carrying, and I also wanted to try to find a local source for Chiaogoo and Hiya Hiya sharp needles.

On Thursday, I went down to Skagit County to visit a friend recovering from surgery and then hit my first stop, Knot Just Yarn in Burlington. The staff is warm and welcoming, and I found just the right shell buttons to finish off my Low Tide cardigan. I also picked up some pretty beads--no project in mind for them just yet, but they're my favorite shades of purple and blue, so I know it's just a matter of time.

Their featured yarn, a merino/bamboo/nylon blend, was from their in-house dyer, Eweneek Yarns. The free knitting pattern is the Lady Grantham shawl, which is the blue-grey shawl in the photo.

Next up was Wild Fibers in Mount Vernon. This is such a pretty store, with beautiful fixtures. Their featured yarn was Herriot from Juniper Moon Farm, a naturally-colored DK alpaca yarn. I've liked the looks of Juniper Moon yarn for a long time, so it was great to see a lot of their lines in person. I love colors, of course, but there's such a soothing appeal about the subtle palette of naturally colored fiber.

I fell hard for a kit, a collaboration from Dancing Sheep, Stick Chick Knits, and Hazel Knits. I couldn't stop looking at the bag; I think it will be just the thing for carrying a spindle project. So it came home with me.

Ana-Cross Stitch in Anacortes was next. Somehow I always end up in Anacortes on a Sunday, when the shop is closed, so I'd never been here before. This was the first shop that had Hiya Hiya needles, though not the sharps. Their featured yarn was a very interesting cotton, Tahki Ripple. It's a tubular knitted ribbon yarn, but what makes it unusual is that it's thick and thin. I spend most of my days wearing grubby clothes that I can spill dye on, but if I were looking to make a summer-weight accessory that I could wear to the office, I'd be thinking hard about this yarn. This is their knitting pattern, a shoulder cozy. (You can see their huge array of embroidery thread in the background.)

I raced home to pick up my child from school, and then dropped in at NW Handspun Yarns. They featured one of my merino/cashmere/nylon yarns, Huckleberry Knits Cascara lace. This is one of only three shops in the entire state, to my knowledge, that has a real focus on spinning, though of course they also carry plenty of yarn. Sorry about the bad photo; the sun was coming in at just the wrong angle and I was in a hurry to get to taekwondo class.

The next day was my main moving day, so I just visited the two other shops in town, Apple Yarns and Mrs. Hudson's Yarns and Teas. Reverting to my usual blogging form, I forgot my camera for these two stops. Apple Yarns has a gorgeous seating area in its new location, with an incredible amount of natural light and cheery red chairs grouped around an electric fireplace. Lots of colorful Sweet Georgia Yarn, as well as Manos (the featured yarn) and some of my sock yarn.

It's odd, but despite living a mere 15 minutes away, I'd never been in Mrs. Hudson's before. This shop is small but cute. Their mainstay supplier appears to be Cascade, with a broad variety of lines. They also had two vendors that I hadn't seen in the flesh before, Swan Island and Imperial Stock Ranch.

On Saturday, I went to the last two stores on my list. The first was Beach Basket Yarns, in Birch Bay. They have an amazing variety of yarn here. I was drawn to some of the Classic Elite lines, especially a stunning cotton/alpaca sport/DK yarn. Practicality barely managed to assert itself; if I wanted a cotton yarn for warm weather wear, I certainly wouldn't want alpaca in it. Stupid pragmatism.

I really liked their lace section, too.

We took a lunch break after this. My son wanted me to show you his tomato basil soup in a bread bowl.

My final store was Wear on Earth in Lynden. There is a surprising variety and amount of yarn tucked into this store; I honestly hadn't expected much, but was impressed. And the sheer quantity of needles! Of the stores I saw, this was easily the one with the widest and best selection. Here, at last, was Hiya Hiya heaven. Not only did they have the fixed circulars and the interchangeables, but they had half a wall of sharp tips and cables. I ended up getting just a pair of tips and a cable so I could test out the cable and join before investing in a full set of interchangeables. I love my Chiaogoo fixed needles, and am sort of lukewarm about my fixed HH needles with the regular tips, but so many people love the HH sharps that I feel it's my duty to try them.

I turned around from the HH wall and saw this shawl hanging on a chair. I thought, "Hey, that looks just like my Winesap colorway." Turns out that it was. I'm not sure exactly why they had a store sample of a pattern that they don't sell (it's the free Multnomah pattern) in a yarn that they don't carry, but they did have at least one customer who appreciated it.

I made a Rogue sweater out of discontinued Queensland Kathmandu Aran, and while it wasn't a great match for the pattern (the yarn isn't crisp enough to show cables to their best advantage), I love how soft and cozy the yarn is, and how the tweediness livens up plain stockinette. So I was excited to see sweater quantities of this yarn in several cubbies.

This year got me really wanting to do the full tour next time. So much yarn waiting for me to come and see!