Sunday, January 28, 2007

the great yarn crawl of 2007 (LaLa Land episode)

A few weeks ago, Chelle mentioned that she wanted to do a Mom's Day Out (where we mommas do something fun that doesn't involve the littles). Her plan was to get a bunch of us knitting/fibery types together and break through the Orange Curtain to visit some yarn shops in LA. She really wanted to visit the Black Sheep Knittery (and get away from the small ones for the day).

It turned out that the other ladies who wanted to attend couldn't make it for various reasons. So just Chelle and I jumped into the car for the trip to La La Land. She had directions to three different stores in the heart of LA, all within a few miles of each other. Our plan was to hit each store, have lunch at some point during the all the yarn-y goodness and then head on home. So here's my capsule review of the day:

Black Sheep Knittery: Located in the shadow of the Capitol Records building with some metered parking out front. Unfortunately we had a difficult time finding parking and ended up with a metered spot about a block away. The neighborhood is a mix of residential and small storefronts, so not much else was open.

The BSK is long and narrow, with a big table in the middle for classes or knitting meets. Yarn is in cubbies on two walls, with some placed in baskets or hung in the display windows. They also have a loft in the very back of the store...I didn't notice it till we had been inside for a while. We were greeted by a nice young lady as soon as we entered (tho she didn't introduce herself or ask if we needed any help). Yarn is organized by brand and somewhat by type. The two walls of cubbies held lots of wool and wool mixes: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino, Rowan Yarns, GGH, Blue Sky, Noro etc. They had a pretty nice selection of Koigu KPPPM and Lorna's Laces. Some yarns I hadn't seen before: Rio De Las Plata, a new Noro with sparklies (don't know the name), a twisted tape/rope Noro in a DKish weight, Blue Sky Organic Cottons.

Upstairs in the loft, there was a small couch and a big blue fluffy rug as well as most of the needles, knitting accessories and a small wall of cotton yarns. Patterns and pattern books were spread throughout the store. They have a 50% off clearance table next to the cash register with patterns, needles, older magazines and assorted small bags of yarn. There was a pretty large stack of sweater kits next to the stairs. I ended up buying Louisa Harding's Winter Muse Classics pattern book (like I need more pattern books, but I couldn't resist!).

Overall, the prices were fair, the store was pretty easy to navigate and they had a good selection of workhorse yarns, as well as some more expensive stuff like angora and cashmere. The shopgirl was very helpful as we were paying and even cheerily broke a $10 for some meter change (anyone who lives/works in the city knows how unusual that is).

Next we headed over to Suss Designs:
The store is located in a tonier section of LA, on Beverly Boulevard. There was a lot more retail here, so more foot traffic. Metered parking is available on the street in front of the shop, but we had to park around the corner in a residential street (free parking for 2hrs, no parking after 6pm without a permit).

A big, airy space with exposed brick walls and lots of yarn cubbies. Suss carries her own yarn line which includes merino wool, alpaca, cotton, and several blends. All of them were priced very competitively (for example: approx 200yds of nice alpaca in natural colors for $9.00). Books and patterns were placed in a central area & organized so it was easy to look through them. There are comfy chairs & couches in the main display area, a back room with a big table (for classes, I'm sure), and what looked like a coffee or wine bar in the back of the store.

Yarn was organized by type/brand and easy to browse through. Lots of sample swatches were tucked into the cubbies with the corresponding yarns. Needles and notions were all on one wall toward the back of the store. I saw: some Blue Sky Alpaca, Debbie Bliss, Lamb's Pride bulky & worsted, a big basket of Artyarns Supermerino, etc.. Yarns I hadn't seen before: Suss' entire line, the Artyarns, some GGH yarns. I'm not sure that I spotted any Noro, but it might have been there.

About a third of the store is dedicated to Suss' own line of knitted goods and fashion. Some of the sweaters were interesting, but I didn't really browse through the racks since that wasn't why I was there.

The only employee in the store was a very friendly and knowledgeable shopguy. Chelle was looking for yarn to match some handspun she had been gifted with, and the shopguy was helpful without being annoying. I was also impressed by his ability to help three people at once without getting flustered. Kudos to the shopguy for being so on the ball.

Finally we headed over to Knit Cafe, which is in another tony part of LA, very near the Beverly Center. Metered street parking is available (we parked about 1/2 a block away).

The store itself was quite small, but very charming. The shopgirl had a sweet (French?) accent & was helpful without being too pushy. There were some comfy chairs located in the center of the stores (they seemed to have a small sit n knit going when we got there), as well as a table in the front. There was a coffee bar in the rear of the store & another larger table in a back room.

Yarn in the cubbies included Colinette, Rowan, GGH, etc.. Needles & accessories were in a central spot on one wall. Pattern books and mags mostly clustered in near a shelf. I saw quite a few purse handles and buttons.

They had a lot of crocheted and knitted items out- I loved the tiny little crocheted cowboy boots and knitted cupcakes. Some of the yarn was displayed in old 50's style wooden cabinets. There was a small but decent selection of sock yarns (Regia Cotton Surf, Regia Crazy Color, etc.). I found a small stash of Colinette sock yarn and one of them said "Buy me", so I did. Prices overall were reasonable/competitive.

And that wrapped up our yarn crawl for the day. Since we were right near the Beverly Center, we headed over there to get some lunch and rest our wallets.

The only other eventful thing we saw today:

day 28 of 365/photo a day
day 28 of 365

That's right: this is the only photo I took all day and it's of Bobby Trendy's 'shoppe' in LA. And let me tell you, I felt like quite the tourist holding my camera out of the sunroof for some drive-by photography. (I know I'm one sick puppy, but as soon as I saw the sign, I couldn't resist!)

So, that was our Mom's Day Out/Yarn Crawl. Thanks to Chelle for the great idea and we'll definitely have to do something like this again!


Christie said...

Aw, nice to see you visited my LYS's! I love BSK and Knit Cafe, but usually avoid Suss unless I'm desperate for something. That store never seems to have anything I want. Well, I'm glad you enjoyed yourself!

Chelle said...

Great review of all the shops. It was a lot of fun! Love the picture, too!

LLA said...

Sounds like a lovely day! I really appreciated the well-written review of the various yarn shops - I felt like I was getting a glimpse inside of them, which was nice, since I'll probably not ever make it to any of them in person...

Oh - and if you could only take one picture today, excellent choice! I couldn't have resisted either....

Obsessed with knitting said...

What a great excursion! Your pic made me homesick.... I *heart* L.A.!

Woolfairy said...

It sounds like a lot of fun. One of these days... And I had no idea whose shop that was. I had to go looking! BTW, I was wondering if there was any way I could get a copy of the IK Waving Lace socks. I've been looking for a copy of the magazine (I thought I had it, but no luck) and I neeeeeed to knit those! BTW, check your email - spam folder. *sigh*

Kathleen said...

OMG! Bobby Trendy, Anna Nicole Smith's (RIP) favorite designer! Who could resist a photo like that?