Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The Role of Your LYS

For the non-knitter, or the knitter who isn't on-line a lot, LYS stands for Local Yarn Store.

Local versus World Wide Web

Your LYS used to be the sole source for many knitters for providing you with yarn, needles, patterns and of course, help when you need it with your knitting.

The biggest competitor up until a couple of decades ago, was Woolworth's or other low price department stores, where knitters could get some of the less expensive acrylic yarns, but really couldn't get any assistance if they ran into a problem.

Today, the knitter's world is vast.  On-line tutorials and videos for every aspect of knitting that could be imagined, virtual stores selling every yarn, needle, notion and pattern book ever made, not to mention Ravelry and various other on-line forums to create a virtual community of knitters across the planet (Ravelry alone just exceeded the 3 million member level!).

So, with all that, what would I need a LYS for?  And what value-added service can they provide?

Here are a few things I think good yarn stores can provide:
- A selection of yarn brands and colors that can help a knitter make good choices in their yarn buying, where the store owner has helped limit the seemingly unending vastness of options
- In-store classes that provide hands-on assistance
- Knitting groups that can get together and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee while they knit
- Knitted store samples that show how a yarn can be used or how a book pattern looks when knitted up
- The ability to feel what a yarn feels like

I had the opportunity to go to visit Pinewoods Farm Wool Shop (please "Like" them on Facebook!), a yarn store in Saugerties, NY.

A co-worker/friend of mine is step-related to the owner and she had been encouraging me to stop in and check it out.  I wasn't overly enthusiastic about it, but I finally took a drive down with her the other evening.

I honestly had forgotten how useful browsing a yarn store could be!

I bought some yarn (I know, you're shocked, right?), and it was a standard brand (Cascade), but they were both yarns I had never even heard of, and she had knitted garments in both yarns to show what they could do.  I have to admit, I NEVER would have purchased either of these yarns had I not seen them in person.

Here's what I got:

The gray yarn on the left is Cascade Eco-Duo.  It's a blend of wool and alpaca that is exceptionally soft.  But what I love about the yarn is that it's two subtly different shades of gray that self-stripe in a gray-on-gray way that is just beautiful.  The bright colored yarn on the right is Cascade Casablanca, which is also a long-color-repeat yarn, made up of wool, silk and mohair.  In the hank, this yarn feels stiff and pulpy, but fortunately, the LYS had a cowl knitted up with it that was soft and drapey and quite beautiful.

I had trouble not picking up some Poem yarns by Universal she had...the colors were as good or better than Noro (and I think that's a big compliment) and they were MUCH softer.


When I'm home, my LYS is Twist Knitting and Spinning.They're also a great yarn store (for many of the same reasons I like Pinewoods Farm), and a week from this Saturday, they're sponsoring an important charity event to benefit Autism Speaks.  Please support them in any way you can and check out their web site for details.

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