The Great Rhody Yarn Crawl (with pictures)
WAY BACK in April, I took part in one of the most fun and foolhardy experiences of the year, the Great Rhody Yarn Crawl. 15 yarn stores in 2 days, all across the little state of Rhode Island. I had totally intended to photograph all the places I visited, and totally failed at that, but did get some good shots and some great experiences! It’s been a few months, now, so the impressions I present here are the ones that were truly lasting. I hope you enjoy my knitting travelogue across the state of Rhode Island as much as I enjoyed the experience, and for anyone near RI, I highly recommend it for next year – it’s already in my calendar, April 13-15!
And so it begins…
555 Thames St, Newport
This shop is down off the main drag of Newport, and as the first stop on my epic adventure, set the standards for what was to follow. It was cheery and colorful, and the owner was really welcoming (considering I was there just minutes after the shop opened). The visit was sweetened by winning a shop model sweater – a pink thing that I don’t think I’ll actually ever wear, but still – a free sweater!
575 E Main Rd, Middletown
The Knitting Corner was tucked into a little strip mall, and as such I completely blew past it on the first try. No GPS, no smartphone, but I did have my trusty-rusty Rhode Island road atlas, from the days when I’d first started driving, so I was able to correct my mistake and find the shop without much trouble. I loved the combination of beads and yarn, and the adorable little girl keeping an eye on the beading counter. I picked up 4 skeins of SWTC’s Bamboo yarn in gold, to make myself a Clapotis just like the shop model we have at Stitch House. At half off!
3988 Main Rd, Tiverton
Of all the shops visited this weekend, Sakonnet Purls was definitely the highlight. After pulling down the gravel drive and walking into the farmhouse/shop, I was greeted by a tray of scrumptious baked goods and a friendly cat, not to mention wall-to-wall yarn set into warm wooden shelves in this rustic farmhouse. Room after room greeted me with yarn of all kinds, and then, there was the discount barn! An entire room (bigger than many metropolitan yarn shops, full stop) devoted to overstock, extras, and bargains. I picked up a bottle of Eucalan in grapefruit scent, tried to get the cat to give me some love, and soaked in a bit more of the wonderful, warm, yarny ambiance!
476 Main St, Warren
Bella Yarns, in downtown Warren, had a tough time coming right after my visit to Sakonnet Purls, but it was clear what a difference being in a more “urban” setting had. This shop, unlike the previous ones I’d visited, was bustling with customers, and the sales staff were cheerfully highlighting different yarns, showing off the raffle baskets available, and ringing up the perpetual crowd. The stock itself didn’t make much of an impression on me, except that I was delighted to find a wide array of sock reinforcing yarn! I picked up a few different colors and headed off!
769A Hope St Providence
Fresh Purls was one of only two shops on this whole adventure that I’d been to before – I’d stumbled in on their 3rd anniversary party, so I’m used to seeing it in a festive mood! I had just had lunch (falafel pocket at East Side Pockets – my favorite!), so I was fed, fortified and ready for more yarn. For a small shop, they cram in a lot of quality – Lorna’s Laces, lots of good sock yarn, some amazing hand-dyes, Jade Sapphire cashmere…I picked up a ball of rainbow-colored Zauberball and hit the road!
The Yarn Outlet
50 Division St, Pawtucket
After leaving Providence, I headed north for Pawtucket. A Yarn Outlet in the center of Pawtucket? Really? This was just one of those instances where I was immensely glad for the Yarn Crawl to show me things that I’d never know about otherwise. The shop itself was roomy and had a good selection of lower/mid-range yarns, and a really fine selection of needles and accessories. I picked up a set of 4″ HiyaHiya dpns to try out (turns out I hate them – anyone want to buy them off of me?), and upon checking out, was chitchatting to the woman working, when I realized…there were 15 shops on the crawl! Well, on the Google Map that the organizers had created (and which I’d been using as the starting point for planning my own itinerary), there were only 13. I was missing the Wayland Yarn Shoppe on the Prov/Pawtucket line, and Manmade by Jonne in Warwick. Phew, at least I had time to go find them, and the Wayland Yarn Shoppe wasn’t too far from where I was (and, I was running ahead of schedule by quite a bit). So, back to the south!
Wayland Yarn Shoppe
112 Raleigh Ave, Pawtucket
This shop was tricky to find, and looked a bit like an old 1960’s hair salon that a big-haired Italian grandmother might own. I’d never heard of it before, which really surprised me, as I used to live not too far away, and considering they’d been open for 30+ years! But, when I went inside, I realized, this is your grandma’s yarn store. The clientèle inside, sitting around a table, were all little old ladies, and I got the distinct impression that I was a disruption to their routine when I entered. The proprietress was flustered, showed me to the raffle table, and that was about it. A quick look around the small space showed mostly acrylic/baby yarns, overflowing the shelves. I moved right along to…
Peter Patchis Yarns
174 Cross St, Central Falls
If Sakonnet Purls was the nicest yarn shop I visited, the coolest by far was Peter Patchis Yarns. Yarn Warehouse! For realz! This shop is not for the fainthearted, and the owner (Peter, I assumed) is not your usual chatty LYS owner – he seemed a little shy, and certainly well-suited to this quirky shop. Located in a warehouse building in Central Falls, this is the sort of place where you enter alongside a loading dock and follow homemade signs on looseleaf paper stapled to the wall, directing you upstairs. Inside, you find bins upon bins of cones of yarn, sorted roughly by fiber content. Wool, cotton, chenille, acrylic, etc. Also, you can find boxes of zippers, trim, ribbons, and much more. Not well organized, not well labeled, but in abundance and at good prices (yarn prices are by pound). If I get into machine knitting or weaving, I certainly know where to go for supplies – check it out!
Manmade by Jonne
247 Pawtuxet Ave, Warwick
Next stop was Manmade by Jonne. I have to admit, I didn’t get the best impression from this place. First off, I only got one raffle ticket (when you show up, you get one, and when you bring an item for donation to the Food Bank, you get a second). The owner (Jonne?) was polite, but we had a strange conversation in the spinning nook. I was impressed to find a Kromski retailer in the area, as I have a Symphony, and am thinking about someday getting a Sonata for travel. I was talking about how nice the finish is on the Symphony he had, as I’d done the finish on mine myself, and it needed more work. I then got a lecture on how you should never try to finish a wheel yourself, because we’re in New England and the humidity changes. I sort of scoffed, saying that furniture makers have been making expert wood pieces in New England for centuries, and that I have some woodworking experience, but he just continued saying that you should never, ever do it. Well…sorry…but I already did it, and I’m happy I did! Jonne then went off to teach a cello lesson and left me to wander the small shop by myself. There were some nice fleeces, but no yarn that really spoke to me, and I was feeling a bit put out. I needed rejuvenation, which I happily found at…
5600 Post Road, East Greenwich
Unwind! This was, hands down, the friendliest yarn store of the crawl. I was quickly ushered in, had a piece of cake placed in front of me, and was encouraged to take a load off and knit along with the ladies. They all ooohed and aaahed at my Bayerische Socks (more on these later), and made me feel just like I belonged there. They had a great sale on Cascade 220, but they were already out of the colors I was interested in by the time I got there. They also introduced me to Tanis, a Canadian yarn company (one-woman show turned indie dyer turned international yarn producer), with beautiful sock yarns. If their stock hadn’t been so depleted by the time I got there (they had a good day of business before I’d arrived), I would have probably taken something home. As it was, I stayed later than I should have, and finally had to pry myself away to get to Woonsocket with enough time to both get to Yarnia and then get to Forge Park to pick up my husband for dinner!
68 S Main St, Woonsocket
The eleventh shop in one day, I admit I might have been a little burnt-out by the time I got to Yarnia. I also might have been a little short on time, and perhaps speeding to get there…oops. But, I did get in before they closed, and got to wander around a bit. I’d visited the shop once before, when they occupied the second-floor retail space. They’d since moved downstairs, and had added a lot of coziness. Sofas and rugs helped a lot. Unfortunately, in my rush, I didn’t linger much on the details, but I did pick up a braid of BFL to spin, in rainbow hues. With that on top of my Verb for Keeping Warm acquisitions and my Hello Yarn fiber club subscriptions rolling in, I’ve got a lot of beautiful spinning to do! Luckily, Yarnia is just down the street from my grandmother’s house, so I’ll be certain to be back for a more leisurely look. I ran off to go grab the hubster from the train station, and then we had dinner with my dad and grandmother. A lovely day full of yarn.
Saturdays, I work at Stitch House, so I couldn’t travel southward in pursuit of fiber. There was, however, Sunday, accompanied by my darling husband!
Millpond Plaza, Westerly
Getting the lion’s share of the travel over with early in the morning was wise on one hand, but also didn’t set me up for particularly good yarn shopping. Earlyish on Sunday, we started off for far-flung Westerly, RI (for those who don’t know, this is essentially Connecticut). Knitwits was a cute little shop, but as I was a bit bleary-eyed from the drive, I can’t say that many details of the shop stick firmly in my mind, except that my husband was intrigued by the cart they stored yarn on, and that they had a good amount of buttons!
Knit One, Purl Too!
406A Main Street Wakefield
Knit One, Purl Too was set back off the road, and had a really pleasant atmosphere. I particularly enjoyed the labyrinthine setup of the yarn display, maximizing space and also keeping the yarn orderly! After poking around, J and I went to get some lunch at a little cafe just next door on Main Street, then hit the road back north!
Oak Harbor Village, Exeter
Eneri Knits seemed to have the best marketing campaign – the logo was smooth and attractive, the name wasn’t too kitschy, and the shop, despite being tucked into a shopping plaza, took full advantage of its space – particularly with the kitchenette in the back, stocked with yummy baked goods! The space was bright and airy – I only wish that I’d been able to see the ALPACA that visited the day before! I was able to replace my set of folding scissors there, and enjoyed looking through the well-chosen selection of books!
The Mermaid’s Purl
1 Main St North Kingstown
Our last stop! Never have I been so happy to find a yarn shop in my life (to date, at least)! This shop comes in at a close second for most lovely (although I have to wonder if the euphoria from finishing my epic quest added to that), and perhaps deserves to tie, as it’s really wonderful, albeit quite a different shop from Sakonnet Purls. It’s a cozy little nook, filled with luxury yarns. Buffalo? check. Hand-dyed sock yarn of all sorts? check. Pitcher of sangria on the back table? Oooh la la, check. The ladies working here were exuberant and delightful, and I really wish that I’d had some must-buy item that needed to come home with me, but alas, I resisted temptation and spared my checkbook…this time.
All told, it was a tremendous amount of fun. After the shops, we headed to the Slater mill for the Culmination Ceremony (which was, unfortunately, a bit anticlimactic). I entered all my tickets into the raffle (and, boo hoo, didn’t win a thing!), snuck a peek at Ysolda Teague, fondled some yarn by Dirty Water Dyeworks, and then went back up 95 to Beantown, stars in my eyes from so much pretty yarn.
Who’s gonna join me next year?
UPDATE: Just hours after posting this, I received an email from Sakonnet Purls – quite arguably my favorite of the whole lot from the crawl (making it perhaps the best yarn store in RI!), saying that they’re closing their doors forever, and soon! They’re looking for a buyer, ideally, but may just be liquidating and moving on. So, does any of you have an extra $100K you can donate to a worthy cause (that is, my buying a yarn store, and saving the best yarn store in RI from disappearing off the face of the map)? Anyone?