It’s March, so once again it’s Yarn Crawl time! It’s time for the scenic drive from Salem to Gloucester and back again. This year’s crawl seemed a little scaled back for some reason. Maybe it’s the economy, the “sequester” or the cold weather, but the stores I visited were less crowded than usual. Even the Ravelry boards were quieter than usual as the Crawl approached. *shrug* I scaled back a bit as well, crawling on Saturday only due to impending bills and my dental payment plan of $330 looming this week. So I gave up my Sunday route of driving up Route 22 to Newburyport. Stupid root canal…
My sister/partner in crawling came along as usual but didn’t spend any money this year. I admire her restraint. I can’t say I practiced much of it myself Saturday, but compared to last year, I kinda sorta did. Saturday was a beautiful day; sunny but freezing. We started our crawl at our LYS as usual: Seed Stitch Fine Yarns in Salem.
For the second year local dyer Ana from Toil And Trouble had a huge table bursting with colorful yarn at the front of the store. Can I resist gorgeous sock yarn? No. No, I can’t. Look at this spread. Ana is a one-woman color factory! It was hard choosing what color I wanted, but I knew it would be sock yarn, and I knew I would pick up two skeins because I didn’t want to run out in case one skein wasn’t enough for a pair of socks. The sign to the left is cut off, but it reads “Need sweater quantities? Let’s do it!” I like the way she thinks! Unlike some of the other stores, Seed Stitch was pretty crowded. Andrea at the cash register greeted us when we came in and said with a smile, “I knew I’d be seeing you today!” I love Seed Stitch and I’m so glad they’re in my own town. I chose two skeins of single-ply Superwash Merino in the color Kelpie from the Mythos collection:
The flash on my camera’s obscuring the color a little, but you can see it pretty clearly. I like the little tags; they read “bookishly inspired.” At Seed Stitch I also picked up the Spring issue of Vogue Knitting–just in time for another storm and 8 inches of snow on the ground!
We left Salem and drove through Beverly on our way to Beverly Farms. I love driving through Beverly on Route 127 because the ocean is on the right the whole way. We pass beautiful houses; some were built in the 1700s, some are new and mind-boggling mansions, as well as the beautiful campus of Endicott College. I always sort of hold my breath before plunging into Yarns In The Farms much like a diver hitting the water because this store is very tiny and during Yarn Crawl it’s packed full of people. It makes me a little claustrophobic because the layout of the store means that people tend to mill around the entrance. I was pleasantly surprised to find the store fairly empty. There is a large table near the front that was switched from a horizontal position to vertical and that made a lot more room near the front. I was happy to have a little breathing room (literally) but I’m sure they had a ton of people in and out during the Crawl. I say this every year, but I love Yarns In The Farms for their eclectic vibe and funky attitude. Some day I’ll take a class here, I swear! My sister was disappointed that she didn’t see any CYE pattern booklets for sale this year. I didn’t buy any yarn but I bought two small packets of roving for needle felting.
Leaving Yarns In The Farms, we drive for miles and miles and miles through residential neighborhoods until we get to Gloucester. It’s only a half hour or so, but sometimes the remainder of the drive seems endless until I start seeing signs for downtown Gloucester and its tourist attractions. I get somewhat restless until I know I’m approaching Stage Fort Park and the famous Gloucester fisherman statue. (No, it’s not the Gorton Fisherman, but it’s down the street from their offices). Now Sis and I are excited: we’re heading towards Gloucester’s notorious Coveted Yarns–famous for staying open crazy late hours and during blizzards. Their Yarn Crawl hours this year for all four days were 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM. I know I can get quality spinning fiber here, and it’s become an annual tradition that Heather, aka Mad Color Fiber Company, takes over their back room with a huge rack of her hand-dyed yarn and fiber. She never disappoints and this year was no exception.
Coveted Yarns was not as crowded as usual for the crawl; last year the cash register line stretched back to almost the last room in the store. I counted 20 people when I got on the line and staff members actually went down the line distributing free yarn to make up for the long wait! This year there were only three people ahead of me in line. I picked up some amazing Blue-Faced Leicester in a color called “Police Box Blue.” Heh heh– It’s a special reference for special people. *coughscifigeekscough* Heather and I had a great fangirl discussion of the sci-fi TV show Doctor Who (it’s about an alien who travels through time and spacein a spaceship that looks like a blue old-time British police box, in case you didn’t know). My spinning stash was greatly enhanced on Saturday. In addition to the solid blue, I bought two braids of Shetland Combed Top in Acid Wash.
The batteries on my digital camera died so i don’t have photos of the Police Box Blue on my spindle. So sad.
It’s become an annual tradition to pick up another bumper sticker at Coveted Yarns. Look at my car! So classy!
This year, a new store participated in the crawl. Hooked Knitting in Essex opened their doors in January. I do love investigating a new yarn store. Foregoing Route 127, I took Route 133 over to Essex, and I could hop on the highway or stay on it to get home from there. I like to have my driving routes perfectly planned, so if I seem a little OCD about describing them, forgive me.
The first thing we did when we got to Essex was pull into Woodman’s Fried Clams. This family-owned business has been thriving for over 100 years and is famous for inventing the fried clam. But I don’t like seafood, so I go there for the onion rings. Best. Onion. Rings. Ever. Seriously. Look at them! Woodmans is open year-round. In the summer the lines are out the door and around the block for their fried clams and fresh lobsters, and even on a cold day in March the line was almost out the door.
Sated by onion rings, we set off to find Hooked Knitting, and, as far as Essex goes, the store couldn’t be more conveniently located. It’s on the first floor of a bank building, but in the back, right on the only public parking lot in town. Since this was where I had planned to park anyway, I was pretty happy. (The OCD thing applies to parking, as well. Sorry!)
Hooked Knitting is a small and very pleasant store. The owner stocks some high-end stuff like Malabrigo and Shibui, with a good magazine rack in the back. What set Hooked apart from the other stores on the crawl? Food! Yep–they had a lovely spread in a small side room with three crock pots, coffee and some baked goods. ”Have some lunch!” the owner greeted everyone as they came into the shop. It was here that I made my most extravagant purchase, and, as my dental payment looms, I feel a little guilty about it. I bought this gorgeous ShibuiKnits silk scarf kit. Look at those beautiful colors! There was a sample knit in the store and the silk knits up beautifully. These colors just got to me, they’re so organic. This will surely be a classic wardrobe staple once it’s done.
So all in all Saturday was a good day. Lots of new yarn to spin, lots of fun stuff to knit. And the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem had some beautiful live Shetland sheep for visitors to greet outside the museum. They were holding a fiber and wool event! I don’t know if they held it during the crawl on purpose or not, but sadly, I didn’t go, deciding to buy yarn instead of learning about it’s history. Most of the events sounded like they were geared more towards children, but I would have liked to watch the woman who spun fiber from the Angora rabbit sitting on her lap. Oh well. Maybe she’ll be back next year.
my sister, as seen through a Woodmans onion ring.