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January 08, 2005: All about the yarn

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Friday night was the usual craft night. I brought along a bag of yarn and spent the evening starting and ripping out the same baby blanket over and over. I finally settled on a pattern that seems to work with the yarn (which, by virtue of its mohair content, has a wispy quality that creates the occasional knitting issue), which means that the evening might be considered not very productive, except that I am going to call this my version of swatching and thus useful after all.

Last month at craft night one of the other women mentioned a really nice yarn store in Walnut Creek, and somehow or other we all decided we ought to do a field trip. We did that today, meeting at the craft night hostess' house, and piling into one car to begin our journey. It was just four of us me, my knitting-enabler friend, and a mother and daughter team who are funny and smart and who have been a recent and wonderful addition to our craft night gatherings.

The yarn store is tucked away in a tiny strip mall across the street from the Kaiser hospital, right next door to a quilting shop, and it doesn't seem like much at first glance. But then you open the door and walk in and you are surrounded by a selection of yarns that would make even the strongest get a little dizzy. We wandered the aisles, reverently touching skeins of this yarn and that yarn, swooning over the colors and the styles and the textures. We were not the only women in there experiencing this place for the first time. I had come with projects in mind, and with a short list of yarns to track down, since I knew I'd be tempted to buy, and figured I might as well buy something I needed. So I poured over various wool and cotton blends and compared yardages and weights to what I needed, and I must admit that I did succumb to the lure of a silky soft selection that I do not need in the slightest.

It was while I was digging through the colors of the yarn that I did not need (but ended up buying anyway because I simply could not resist) that the day's excitement happened. Turns out the daughter of the mother-daughter trio ended up chatting with the manager, and to make a long story short, we were given permission to fill up a sack with an assortment of yarn, to take home and swatch for the store, for free. Free!

We were like kids in a candy shop. She and I skittered around the aisles, picking up and discarding skein after skein, looking for things that had not already been swatched (for those of you non-yarn addicts, since many of the yarns have unusual color combinations or textures, having a swatch already knitting next to the yarn display lets the buyer get a sense of not only what it might look like when knit, but also what it will feel like, since it's often impossible to tell that just from picking up the skein). We ended up with a dozen skeins, and probably could have taken more but we were still half convinced that this was all somehow a joke and she'd make us put it all back. Free yarn! We were going to get to play with yarns that were new to us, to see how they worked, how they felt, whether we would ever want to justify the expense of getting enough to make a real project later! It was a knitter's dream.

We were pretty much giddy the rest of the day. We left the shop carrying bags of new fiber goodies and headed immediately for the California Pizza Kitchen for lunch. Once there, we could not stop talking about that wonderful bag of yarn just waiting for us in the car. We ate our pizza and talked about knitting and yarn and other yarn stores, and more about knitting, and had a wonderful time.

Back at the starting house we piled all the free stuff onto the table and then divvied it up between the four of us. We're meeting again next week (they're going to demo knitting machines for us) and our goal is to for each of us to have our swatches completed by then. There is also talk of another lovely knitting store in Benicia, located quite conveniently next to a tea shop. I sense more field trips in our future. And if all goes as we are hoping, the owner of the shop in Walnut Creek will like our swatching so much she'll let us do it again. Yum!

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