Saturday, March 10, 2007

Yarn Crawlin'

There are 26 Local Yarn Stores in New York City. Where does one begin? You might need help. I need help! But I’m doing my best to come up with some good routes to hit a few of them in one day.

The fine print writ large: I have only been to 13 of these stores (I know, can you believe it? I haven’t met HALF of the yarn in New York!). This information is all gathered from the world wide web. I’ve only included information I thought was quite reliable, but if especially if you’re dragging a gaggle of knitters out into the wild, it may be advisable to call and make sure of hours, etc.

Below are the first two proposed routes. More routes are forthcoming – these barely hit on Manhattan! Also, I wish I could elaborate on these tours a bit - I could spend the next six weeks adding descriptions of these places - but these yarn tours are intended as a favor to Stephanie and her hoards of devoted knitters, crocheters, and general yarn-a-philes, who will descend on this town on or around March 22. Time to get this out there, already!

The Driving Tour, aka The-Manhattanites-Have-No-Idea-What-They’re-Missing
Those who are in Queens or Long Island, looking for the slow road into town. Alternatively, someone with a yarn-loving, car-driving friend in town and you want to hit the places with the Mega-Inventory. In New York, the further you are from Times Square/Wall Street, the cheaper the real estate, the bigger the yarn stores. And the bigger stores can afford to carry more yarn and less-expensive yarn.

Start: All the way out at Knitwits Knitting Studio
in Bayside, Queens. Cruise on in to Smiley's in Woodhaven, Queens for crazy crazy low prices on massive quantities of yarn. Smiley’s has a somewhat limited breadth of inventory, and yes, some of their cheap yarn is inexpensive anywhere, but you can get $3 balls of good-quality name-brand 100% wool there. A place where you can buy the yarn for a queen-sized blanket all at once (without re-mortgaging your home). I’ve been there, done that. Almost done with the blanket.

If you want to remain in areas where there are single-family houses with yards for a bit longer, come down to Roxy's on Coney Island Avenue. If you want the full Brooklyn effect, you can take the scenic route and go all the way down to Coney Island, ride the Cyclone or get a Nathan’s hot dog, drive up through Brighton Beach, admire the crazeee Russian signage & groceries on the way.

When you’re ready to visit a neighborhood that your Manhattan friends have heard of, come up to Red Hook to Brooklyn General Store. If you’re NOT the driver and you’re ready for a drink or a bite to eat by now, you could take a quick detour to Hope & Anchor, a really great place for a cheesesteak, ground pork burger, milkshake, etc., and they’re got really nice house cocktails. If you ARE the driver and you’re starting to think about what you’d like to drink later (or what you’ll have to bring home with you to dull the shock at home over how many bags of yarn you managed to fit in the trunk), stop by LeNell's. LeNell bills herself as a liquor boutique, but not because she’s high-falutin’. She’s got a really amazing inventory of liquor and wine, vast knowledge, and she’s just plain charming. She’s happy to recommend a great $13 bottle of bourbon or a $70 bottle of real Holland gin, it’s all what you’re looking for.

From here, if you’re still ready to look at More! Other! New! yarn you haven’t bought yet, check out the Inner Brooklyn tour or any of the others. Otherwise, if you managed to get through all of that while it’s still daylight, go for a walk in Prospect Park or the waterfront park in Dumbo, between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge. Or hurry up and get up to FIT to see The Yarn Harlot.

The Intrepid Brooklynite Tour
Those of us who know our way around a bus. And everybody else who’s been curious about what’s so cool about Brooklyn. Seriously, I can’t believe you don’t know yet.

Start: If you’re starting at lunch time, take the F train and get out at Carroll Street in Carroll Gardens. Stroll up Smith Street, one of the best restaurant districts in all of NYC these days, and pick a nice French, Peruvian, French, Italian, French, or French place for lunch. When you’re ready for a walk to work it off, head down Union Street to Brooklyn General Store. Or take the B71 bus at Sackett Street and Smith Street down Union St. to Columbia St. to get there. From there, the B61 bus will take you back to Atlantic Avenue.

Try not to get too distracted by the many amazing new and antique furniture places on Atlantic and get out at Bond Street and check out Knit-A-Way, with a wide variety of yarn types and a comfortable browsing space. They’ve got Noro, they’ve got Brown Sheep, they've got Red Heart Pound O’ Love. From there, you’re a short walk to the big subway stop at Atlantic. Take the Q or B to 7th Avenue in Park Slope. Navigate through the strollers down 7th Avenue a few blocks to Lincoln Place. Ozzie's Coffee is right on the corner if you’re ready for fortification, and Stitch Therapy is just barely up Lincoln Place, one or two storefronts uphill from 7th Ave. When you’re ready to move on, walk uphill to Grand Army Plaza at the northern end of Prospect Park. There you can admire the lovely Grand Army Arch in honor of the Civil War veterans, see the lovely art deco fountain, the art deco Brooklyn Public Library Central Branch and… duck back into the subway. Take the 2/3 into Manhattan. You can get out at the Fulton St stop (Fulton/Broadway/Nassau) in downtown Manhattan to visit Seaport Yarn - So much yarn! Of every kind! Beware, cash or Personal Check ONLY! Or proceed directly on the 2/3 to 14th Street, step out and across the platform to the 1 train (the local!) and get out at 28th Street. That drops you off at the campus of FIT for Stephanie’s engagement.

Okay, can you tell I love Brooklyn? Really, there's a whole lotta yarn in Manhattan. More on that soon.



Anonymous Lizbon said...

Yowza. Fab concept. I have a suggestion for another route if you care to email me (lizbonATgirlwichDOTcom) for it (I looked for but couldn't find your email address on your site). I will be leading a yarn crawl on the 23rd or 24th via this route, but thought you might want to put it up here for soloists, as it is walkable.

3/15/2007 5:29 PM  
Blogger jacqui said...

That is amazing! Thank you so much for putting this together. I won't be able to make it next week (it's a bit far to come from Melbourne) but will be in NY in May and will definitely take your tour of Brooklyn. Thanks again!

3/15/2007 6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's also the Yarn Tree - it's on Bedford Ave. in Williamsburg. Not all that close to the other places but well worth a visit. And you could have a great lunch at Dumont Burger right down the street.

3/15/2007 9:58 PM  
Blogger Sojournknitting said...

Yes! The Yarn Tree has fiber in the back. They've got merino and silk. Wonderful colors.

3/16/2007 2:02 PM  
Blogger Nikki said...

Thanks for this. The Brooklyn tour sounds like just the thing. I'll be staying with a friend in Brooklyn, and Brooklyn General and Seaport Yarn are on my list. Can't wait til the Harlot starts listing some tour guides; I'm easily lost.

3/17/2007 12:10 PM  
Anonymous knitnerd said...

You miss all the south Brooklyn yarn shops. Roxy's Yarns and Stitch n'Stitch are both on the same block(Coney Island Avenue between I and J). T&D Carpet, on Coney Island Avenue just off Brighton Beach Avenue, has imported Turkish yarn in wild colors at great prices. Then you can have a hot dog at the original Nathan's in Coney Island or cheesecake at Junior's or bargain Chinese at Flatbush Buffet.

3/17/2007 1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing to note about The Yarn Tree in Williamsburg--it's only open on weekdays from 5:30-10pm. Its only daytime hours are on the weekends, from noon to 8pm. The best place in NYC to get a wide variety of hi-quality yarns and fibers for knitting, weaving, spinning, and felting.

No, I don't work there--I'm just an often-visiting addict.

3/19/2007 5:36 PM  
Blogger Martha said...

I live by the downtown Brooklyn yarn shops and would be happy to herd, I mean, show people around. Let me know if you need helpers.


3/19/2007 8:51 PM  

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