Kniftybits's Blog

All knitting, all the time.

Rock on Table Rock Llamas July 22, 2011

Along the rural, wooded route of Shoup Road, nestled in amongst the pine trees of Black Forest, Colorado is Table Rock Llamas Fiber Arts Studio, a lovely log cabin of yarn.  I think I saw a gingerbread house nearby, but I can’t be sure. Shopping yarn appeals more than gingerbread and didn’t involve a fight to the death with a witch. At least not this time.

Could this setting be more awesome?

The shop, is open Tuesday-Friday 10 -5, Saturday 10-4 and consists of a front multiroom building chock full of yarny goodness, and a back building where the classroom spinning, dying and other teaching magic happens. Coincidentally, or maybe not so coincidentally, this is where Julie from Tompkins Alpaca Pride learned to spin.  This outbuilding also houses roving and other spinning materials, lovely spinning wheels, classroom space and sale yarn. Table Rock was recommended by Julie and another yarn shop, so you know it’s gotta be good.

Ladies, start your spinning wheels.

Of all their lovely yarn offerings I opted for some local hand-dyed sock yarn from a multitalented husband wife team. The yarn looks like a rainbow puked on it, which means I LOVE it!

Yeah, more sock yarn!

An interesting thing I learned there – you can buy silk worm cocoons to either turn into yarn or use as decorative elements in your fiber creation. You can hear the dead silk worm rattling around in there, which kind of weirds me out. If anyone out there ever thought giving me a silk worm cocoon was a good idea, let me politely decline the offer now.

The staff is super friendly and knowledgeable. Stop in a check it out.

6520 Shoup Road
Black Forest, CO 80908

Phone: 719-495-7747
Toll Free: 866-495-7747

Black Forest is located about 30-minutes from Colorado Springs.  Do you have any Colorado Springs area yarn shop suggestions?


Why Can’t I Pet the Alpaca? July 19, 2011

While visiting my dear friends in Monument, Colorado we spent one afternoon admiring yarn and houses. I bought some yarn, but no houses. For our first stop, we arrived at the Monument weekly farmers market with minutes to spare, which is all I need to inflict damage to my bank balance! Though, not as much as if I’d bought a house. See, it’s all about perspective.

I immediately rushed to the Tompkins Alpaca Pride booth. This local alpaca farm is owned and operated by Martin and Julie Tompkins. The previous week my friend posted a picture of the yarn spinner half of this alapaca operation, Julie, spinning. During my visit she was away visiting family, but an ethereal purple-blue yarn she spun and hand dyed caught my eye.

Resistance is futile.

As did the camera shy alpaca adjoining the booth. Every time I am face to face with an alpaca I am reminded how adorable they are. Martin and I discussed the ease of caring for alpacas. I asked if they would let him pet them or if they were standoffish like sheep. More like sheep, apparently, so I wouldn’t be petting an alpaca.

"Yes, I am adorable!" He seemed to say.

Mr. Touch-me-not was fun to watch and sort of reminded me of a dog. When a coffee can of treats was shaken he dropped whatever he was doing (eating hay and ignoring me) and hurried right over. I also discovered they have a cleft upper lip that opens, which was interesting. And when he gets anxious he makes a high pitched whine of concern, which he did when Martin started packing up the stall. He was immediately at the side of his pen and very concerned that he was being left here with all these strangers.

By the by, there are alpaca farms all over Colorado. We drove by at least four in the Monument area.

I purchase one skein of worsted weight yarn, which has 98.3 yards. What do you think I should do with it?


Value Craft: Why important things like finding a yarn store shouldn’t be left to the last minute April 8, 2011

It was Monday. The knitting store equivalent of a holy day. I know this must be true, because despite the myriad shops found on my iphone only two were open.

We were in Rancho Bernardo, CA and leaving bright and early the next day. It was as apparent as bright pink underpants under white slacks that for a visiting knitter jonesing for a yarn fix to wait to to the last minute to find a yarn shop was as bad an idea as wearing bright pink bright pink underpants under white slacks.  I guess I could’ve foregone the hot air balloon ride in favor of the best local yarn shop. Yeah right! Even I am not that addicted.

Yarning For You and Common Threads were closed because of the holy day, Stitchers Treasurers didn’t look a knitting place, Twisted Sisters turned out to be a wholesaler, and Knitting by the Beach, was not only closed, but about to be closed permanently according to their answering machine. I was especially bummed about Yarning for You being closed, because with a name like that how could I stay away? Much like a person who chooses a bottle of wine based on the label or a book based on the cover, I will choose a yarn shop based on a clever name. As to the others, I plead the fifth.

So my only nearby options, Value Craft and Black Sheep, were going toe to toe. I do love a bargain, but had a feeling I knew what options they would have. Value Craft was against the ropes with Black Sheep delivering merciless body jabs, but the bell hadn’t rung and the ref hadn’t intervened just yet. I went onto Yelp and Value Craft delivered a knock out punch to Black Sheep when I read the reviews. Such ominous warnings as, “I want to love this store but I can’t. I have been in this store 3 times and all 3 times I have heard them make horrible remarks about their customers as soon as they walk out the door and they don’t even care who hears them…” or “Do not find the staff to be that friendly or helpful.” and “I have yet to be greeted warmly. But I can guarantee a thorough inspection of your person and intent if you skulk around long enough.” also “Maybe they were too busy to be nice.  Maybe I didn’t look rich enough.”  So, Black Sheep was one of “those” yarn shops and frankly I wasn’t in the mood to deal with snobby people. Value Craft received the title belt.

Off to Escondido we drove.

Value Craft was pretty much what I expected. Let’s just say, that I never knew there were so many different kinds of Red Heart.

Nothing like the warm glow of florescent lighting.

On the up side they had things for the fam to look at and I did get the last three balls of Lion Brand Hometown USA that I wanted for a scarf. They cost $4.69, as opposed to $4.79 at JoAnn Fabric, so it was a value.

And they did have a large yarn section, even if it was 87% Red Heart.

For some it would be a knitting nightmare.

As I wandered along the florescent lit linoleum tiled pathways of metal and wood shelving, complete with one dark section from the out light fixture, I was brought back to my childhood when I walked similar hobby aisles in the little Ben Franklin, now long closed, in the sleepy small town my grandparents lived in. It was at the Ben Franklin I purchased the eight gazillion strands of floss needed for the table cloth I would start embroidering in my early twenties and my mother would finish for me over ten years later. So, though Value Craft is as far from a luxury yarn shop as it is possible to be, I still enjoyed my visit.

The name says it all.



LYS Losses April 4, 2011

Here in the great crafting state of Utah I have at least 9 local yarn shops within an hour drive of my house, so as I visited Northern California I looked forward to checking out a LYS or two.

My friend asked a crafty friend of hers where the nearest yarn shop was and was told Vacaville. My i-phone relayed the hours and I thought we were set, until I check again on my computer. It turns out there are two different webpages, the outdated one my i-phone found, and the updated one, which listed under address: To Be Announced. Spin a Yarn in Vacaville is closed! Sad!

Not to be deterred I searched the web and came across Fig Tree Alley in Sacramento. My hopes raised only to be dashed on the cruel rocks of the economy! Fig Tree Alley is online only these days; their mid-town location closed.

Fortunately, all was not lost, as I discovered Babetta’s Yarn and Gifts also in Sacramento.  Once we had an address we raced to the shop before it vanished in an instant of economic sabotage and were well rewarded for our efforts. Check out my review, here!

I know these are hard times for everyone, but according to the report I heard in NPR knitting up-ticks in times of economic hardship. Let’s hope for all the LYS’s sakes that it sees most of them through, before we’re all consigned to Joann’s and Micheal’s for the remainder of our days. Not that they don’t have their place, but give me a LYS or give me death! Ok, maybe not death…

How are the local yarn shop’s faring in your area?


Blazing Needles Yarn Shop March 3, 2011

I can’t get over how many yarn shops there are in this area!  And one of the most impressive is Blazing Needles in Salt Lake City.

Blazing Needles won a “Best of Utah” award in 2010. For those of you who don’t know what that is, like I didn’t until I saw the banner, “Best of Utah” is an award bequeathed by Salt Lake City Weekly based upon votes and staff picks.

Walking up to the quaint house converted to yarn shop in the Sugar House section of SLC, already it’s easy to see why it’s a winner. And once you’re inside it is knitter heaven!

Not only do they stock amazing yarns, like Alchemy Yarns, ArtYarns, Tilli tomas, Habu, Malabrigo, Hand Maiden, Queensland, Imperial Stock Ranch, and Koigu, they also stock a plethora of sundries and accessories. The entire place is like visiting a yarn art gallery, look at the amazing display below.


Front room of Blazing Needles.

They also have a little drinks station, where you can help yourself to a cup of coffee for a small donation. (I hear there’s wine at their knit night.) Lovely sale yarns are kept on the landing and knitting patterns abound with scrumptious knit samples creatively displayed for the shopping knitter to ogle.

The back room is filled with gorgeous yarn and a nice table where they host knit night. Did I mention the wine?


Sock knitter nirvana.

So many yarns, it's hard to choose!

Plus, they keep your frequent shopper information in their computer, so you get rewarded for your purchases without having to carry something else in your purse. They will ball you skeins with their handy automated baller at no extra cost, though if you opt for this, you won’t be able to return the yarn. (Return yarn? Who would do that?!?!) They also have a ton of classes, which you can checkout on their website.


I love the sculpture in the garden! A fellow shopper jubilant with her purchases!

I’m thankful my knitting friend brought me here!

They’re one of the few yarn shops open on Sunday, if you need a Sunday yarn fix.

Mon-Wed, 10am-7pm
Thurs, Knit Night, 10am-9pm
Fri & Sat, 10 am-6pm
Sun, noon to 5pm

And you can find them at 1365 South 1100 East, Salt Lake City, Utah 84105. Phone: (801) 487-5648


America’s Oldest Yarn Shop! February 16, 2011

It was an odd twist of fate that brought me to America’s Oldest Yarn Shop. More accurately, the terrible grinding noise my KitchenAid mixer emits whenever it’s turned on. This unpleasant turn brought one pleasant outcome, which is the discovery of the aforementioned yarn shop.

How does a KitchenAid screech lead one to a yarn shop? Well, since I had to drive over an hour to the recommended repair shop I vowed to spend the day in the area!

It never occurred to me that America’s Oldest Yarn Shop could be in Utah. If I was stopped on the street and asked where America’s Oldest Yarn Shop was I would’ve suggested somewhere in the Northeast of our great nation, but according to Ted, the owner and operator, the next oldest shop, a mere 60-years old, was in Boston and has since closed.

I just never thought as I did an i-Phone search for a nearby yarn shop that I would stumble into a national treasure.

Heindselman’s is located on Center Street in downtown Provo, Utah. Not it’s first location, but it should be there for a while since Ted owns the building. Center Street is a historic street, but there is development planned for the block, a blessing and a curse for old Main Streets throughout America (in my humble opinion).


Who knew?

The shop itself is reminiscent of main street haberdashery shops I visited in England. (Haberdashery means something different in the UK, than it does in the US, in case you were wondering why a mens clothier would be selling yarn.) The front of the store is filled with gifts and knick knacks. Florescent lighting races down the center of the shop and as I looked at the bits and bobs I initally didn’t have high hopes for the yarn selection. You see, in the UK, many haberdashery shops abound with acrylic. I once went into a shop looking for wool to make soakers and the women in the shop looked at me like I was insane. So, I had some reservations.


Looking into the shop, past the gifts section.

But, I was pleasantly surprised as I ventured farther inside. My eye first alighted on some fabulous yarn that I bought in the UK, foolishly thinking it wouldn’t be available here. KnitCol from the Adriafil Collection, in case you were wondering. As it turns out this fun yarn is from Plymouth Yarn Company, and there is much Plymouth Yarn Co. yarn in this shop. But, I didn’t mind the preference, as their yarns appeal.

Heindselman’s have the yarn well organized by use with all the sock yarns hanging out together, sweater yarns, lace yarns, etc.


Lots to look at!

And though, there is plenty of Plymouth Yarn, there is also some other great stuff, such as the amazingly vibrant hand dyed and spun sock yarn from Raven Frog Fibers. Apparently the fiber artist who produces this amazing yarn previously worked at Heindselman’s.


Must take some of this home!

The staff were extremely nice and helpful. And the fellow visiting yarn lovers were conversational, which is always nice.  Ted even told me that if I bought yarn for a project and got too much I could always bring it back, even if it’s been a while and I didn’t have a receipt. How’s that for a friendly policy!

All in all, a place worth visiting! One could argue, a national treasure for knitters. 🙂


Jaunt to Needlepoint Joint February 7, 2011

Finally, things have settled down enough that it’s time to start exploring my knitting community.  Envision me rubbing my hands together in gleeful anticipation. Or should I say rubbing my needles together?

Based on web presence and proximity, the first on my list was Needlepoint Joint located on Historic 25th Street in Ogden, Utah. There’s definitely something to be said for being online.

25th Street is a really cool area filled with nifty shops and trendy restaurants with the walkability and compelling architecture of an older time. While we were there street parking abounded and there’s also a parking lot behind the store.

They were packing the street with snow for Winter Fest! How cool is that?

Needlepoint Joint looks like an awesome shop and I couldn't wait to get inside.

Inside doesn’t disappoint. The place is huge!  A lovely, beautifully organized rainbow of yarn covers walls and walls, shelves and shelves, and apparently even drawers. There was so much to ogle that it’s hard to take it all in. Plus, it actually spans two storefronts. One is dedicated to yarn and the other needlepoint/crossstitch.

You can see my latest sock yarn acquisition waiting on the counter.

Oriental rugs adorn the floors and antique display cabinets house an array of threads, buttons and other items. The result is charming, inviting, and luxurious. This is definitely one of the most spacious and lovely yarn shops I’ve ever been in.

There’s also plenty of space for classes and knitters on knit night. I can’t imagine what a knitter could want that they don’t have.

Where knit night meets.

I’ve been to Needlepoint Joint several times now and the vibe changes depending on time of day and who’s working. The first time I came, it was crazy quiet. Like I should be praying at the alter of yarn instead of shopping through a store. But, when I returned during Winter Fest the place was hopping and I met some wonderful women who invited me to their first Thursday Knit Night!

All in all, definitely worth a visit. Be prepared to find a luxe yarn that you’ll love. I know I did!

Give me yarn, lots of yarn on lovely, honey shelves. Don't stitch me in...