The LYS experience

On my way into work this morning I was thinking about what a different experience yarn shopping is today then it was when I first started knitting in college. For one, most fiber stores back in the 80's were geared toward weaving not knitting or crochet. And then, there were the uppity "fiber majors" that ran and owned the shops. OMG, I hated them. The minute you walked in the store they had to make it clear that they just didn't peddle yarn but that they were "artistes" with fiber doctorals from Vassar or something. And it was totally a women's world. I've been snubbed more times then I care to count which was fine because I rarely found anything I wanted.

But now the LYS is a social adventure. I can't go without spending an hour just visiting and hanging out. I'm rarely the only guy there (we aren't even novel anymore) and it's hard to find a yarn I don't want. Sandy, the owner of my favorite store is fast becoming my best friend. All of the LYS's that I've been in have a work area where you are encouraged to hang out and knit. I love the fact that knitting has become so trendy because it provides us with these great knitting communities that we call the LYS.


QueerJoe's picture

Yes...very nicely put. My first not-so-local yarn store experience was at one of the snootiest stores in Princeton, NJ. While I didn't know it at the time, all I wanted was gray worsted weight wool for a cardigan pattern. They looked at the pattern (which called for acrylic), and said they didn't carry that yarn. I asked if they had anything that I could use and they ended up sending me home with a wool/cotton blend that made the heaviest sweater on the planet.

They were not nice ladies.

My current LYS is much like yours it sounds like.

albert's picture

At first I misread "Sandy" as "Sadly"- I reasoned that you were thinking: "Damn, now that I'm friends with the shop owner I'll be spending more money on yarn." Best not to read with tired eyes.

Parrot's picture

There is a LYS here that has become my favorite place to pass the time . . . work on projects, visit friends, drink coffee/tea, meet tourists, etc. The owner and her family have become very good friends, and socialize outside the shop. Several locals feel the same, so the shop is a favorite gathering place for many people. The shop is now growing . . moving around the corner to a space nearly three times the size, and will include a yarn shop, offer other needlecrafts, a fiber gallery, a weaving teaching studio, a meeting area, a wet area for dyeing fiber and felting, an outdoor courtyard. The move would not be possible without the support of all the friends of the shop. Several of the regulars will participate as instructors for a variety of fine crafts.

It's great to have such a place to go to, learn new skills, and enjoy all the wonderful new fine yarns that arrive. I would not enjoy this craft, or possibly even continue, without the enjoyment and encouragement of others that I get from the shop. To see more . .
The name of the shop is a Lumbee Indian word, meaning, "the end of the trail". The shop owners husband is from Lumberton, NC, the home of the Lumbee Indians. Sybil and her husband owned and operated a B & B on the Outer Banks of NC, called The Inn at Kimbeeba, hence the reference to the end of the trail. Sybil's husband will also have a law office as part of the new space (with a separate outside entrance). A variety of classes will be taught in the new teaching studio . . soapmaking, weaving, knitting, crochet, handpainting fiber, tie dye, batik, lampwork, wet/needle felting, and more. Some classes will be only a few hours, while others, such as large loom weaving, will be 3-5 days. We are all excited about Sybil's new venture, and learning new skills. One thing I have learned . . you only get as much out of this craft as you are willing to see out. Find a great LYS (sometimes hard to do; especially if the owner is just wanting to peddle yarn for $$, and not that interested in teaching or the customers.) and form a good relationship with those that can help you, and you can help others, in return. It's obvious in my LYS, that Sybil just happens to sell yarn . . . her real passion is people; teaching fiber crafts, and encouraging others to challenge their fibers interests.
Sybil recently surprised me a wonderful gift . . a set of Denise changeable needles! along with books and yarn.

If anyone visits the Outer Banks, NC (a wonderful place to vacation, get away for a few days, or live) . . . be sure to visit the shop in Manteo. Chances are, I'll be there!


scottly's picture

I visit the OBX anually but spend my time north in Duck and have been to the LYS in Southern Shores which I think is called Knitting Addiction, it very nice as well. I've never been as far south as Manteo but I will make sure I make the trip when I'm there this October. Thanks for the info.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Yeah - LYSs can be such a hit-and-miss situation. We had a really good owner of a local shop who, for the most part, was a friendly and fun person to be around. Interested in the clientelle and the local fiber scene. Then, she had to sell the shop because of health problems. I happened to go in and check if they could use some extra help over the Holidays. Man, what a difference. The new owner was borderline rude, especially since I was a man and NOT a paying customer. (At least, that's the impression I got.) I just cannot convince myself to go back. By contrast, the owner of the other little shop in town was overjoyed to finally meet me (being friends with the woman who has dubbed me her "knitting guru") and has been extremely welcoming every time I've dropped in. Even when I happened to come in during a class, she invited me to sit in, meet the other knitters, and sought out my advice on a personal project. Now, that's someone whose shop may very well get my business. Once I lower the level in my stash, of course. LOL Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Parrot's picture

Glad to hear you found a great LYS. You know exactly what I mean about being made to feel welcome and a part of the business. From what I read here and other places, these LYS are far and few between; especially when it comes to making men feel welcome in the store.