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Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Old Town Yarnery in Fredericksburg (long post)

Nothing so warms the heart of a knitter than news of a New Yarn Shop. When it opens up in one of the quaintest, most charming little colonial towns just a short 1 hour drive (with almost zero stoplights and only 4 turns) from her house - through some of the prettiest countryside of Virginia - well - that heart beats warmer and warmer. When that knitter arrives and finds the friendliest staff, a good basic selection of a classic workhorse yarn, a nice array of some luxury yarns, solid colored sock yarn as well as self striping (an important feature for certain TheQueen-ly knitters), and the smell of fresh coffee, all tucked into a cozy shop that has a lot of room to spread out, take a class, or just kick back with your shoes off ... well now - there just ain't nuffin' better'n that.  

It was just a few short weeks ago when I was sighing to J that it was really just too bad there wasn't a yarn shop in Fredericksburg. There used to be one and I don't know why it closed - many things happen in a business that the customer will never know. But I know this city, with it's huge influx of federal government commuters, as well as a creative university staff and a homesick student body longing for those little comforts left back in their home towns ... things like Mom knitting cozy hats... can support a yarn shop. And right then, as I was whining about the lack of such knitterly diversion, my car was parked in front of this little white shop with it's fabulous natural light flooding in its south facing window. I promised myself I'd visit during my Christmas vacation.

A google search had yielded up a phone number [540-373-YARN (9276)]   on the Virginia KnitMap along with posted hours (which I believe are about to change - so - call first). This was good because, though the shop has a facebook page,  I don't believe it yet has its own website - or if it does - it's not vibrant yet. Quite understandable when you realize it's only been open a month. I took a chance, called and got the owner who confirmed her opening days and hours. So, early yesterday morning I picked up my knitting buddy and we tooled on up the highway. 

We stepped through the door around 10:30 and right away I was swept with that delicious feeling I get when I walk into a room full of yarn - the quiver in my nose at the faint scent of fresh new fibers - the little shiver that rolls up and down my arms at the nearness of so much yarn goodness - that flexing of the fingers just itching to touch - and the heady knowledge that here it's okay to touch. You'll be offered touchable opportunities by your friend, the shop owner, her husband. There's something so connected about that moment when you start talking fiber to a kindred soul.

At the front of the shop was a table - full of yarn at the moment and I suppose they'll be wanting to keep it as a shop window display area - but I hope they'll also keep an area clear for you to lay out yarns in that fabulous natural light to be sure you've got the color combos you want. There was also, at the front, a drop dead gorgeous Great American Aran Afghan, knit in Cascade 220 heathers, with a sign noting that there was going to be a winter knit-along on Sundays. I regret I didn't get a photo of that but I will say, that afgan is so much more attractive in those cozy heathery colors than in the white cashmere I was working it up in. (I like the cashmere yarn. I like the pattern. I just didn't like doing the one with the other) 

The owner introduced herself right away - or at least right after she'd hung up the phone. Her name is something lovely that I have now forgotten because she said "Everyone calls me Mo". There was a 'Mr. Mo' working away on the computer system. There was a very pretty young woman at a table who was introduced as Alex - the shop instructor. This is a good sign - that the shop is ready with someone skilled who can help. 
I'd seen on the KnitMap that Mo uses Cascade 220 as her staple workhorse yarn which was an added thrill. That yarn disappeared from the Richmond area before I ever got around to buying any. I used to see it in Ben Franklin and think about getting enough of a handful of colors to make something really vivid and striking in stranded colorwork - something you might design based on the work of Lise Kolstand in her books Small Sweaters and More Sweaters. I just never got around to getting any. I was thrilled to find that OTY has the full 90 colors of Cascade 220 and while she has other  Cascade yarns, if she doesn't have the color you wan't she'll order it in for you. You can see the 220 tucked into bins on the left of this photo.

 There are also tables, shelves, baskets and bowls full of other yarns: Noro, of course, and Debbie Bliss (Yea! of Cashmerino fame a la Brica), Plymouth, Berocco and, as I said, sock yarns in solids and prints. Mo also has some  unusual buttons and closures, most of them displayed in individual glass jars. Best of all - she carries Addi needles. Because, if you know TheQueen, you know a yarn shop that doesn't carry Addi needles just doesn't understand!!! 

Here's C, who can't help fondling some Debbie Bliss Angel - super kid mohair and silk - well, who could resist?

A nice stream of knitters wandered through while C & I lingered. It was nice to see the staff ready to help, but not pushing themselves on the customers. As knitters themselves, they understood the need to linger, to stroke, to think about it before actually spending. A nice blend of friendliness and respect for privacy.

So. What did I buy? Why - what do you think? With the aid of that lovely natural light I picked up 6 colors of Cascade in TheQueen's colors. I know. I know there is an oatmeal tweed aran sweater sulking upstairs and I'm not going to leave it languishing in the spare room stash. But I'm not taking any chances either. I want that inspirational color in my house - not an hour away in an admittedly lovely shop.

And so - aren't we just the lucky ones - to have such a wonderful new yarn shop in the Fredericksburg area?  I hope to see you there sometime.

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