A Tale of Three Yarn Shops

I am a fortunate person, this I know.  Many people do not have even one LYS (that’s Local Yarn Shop to you non-knitters), and my city has three.  We’re spoiled.

LYS #1 is somewhat near my house.  I like it because it is open and bright, and the yarn is categorized by weight.  If I need laceweight, I know where to go.  If I need bulky, there’s a big area devoted to just that.  It makes shopping for a particular pattern easy, because I can compare the yarns easily.  I won’t say they know me there, but they do recognize me, and they recognize Wildling.

Sometimes people are intimidated going into their LYS for the first time, and I understand that. The first couple of times I went to LYS#1 I didn’t like it. I would walk in and there would be a knitting group or something going on, and they’d look at me like an interloper.  I felt like I was intruding on someone’s social gathering, and the employee kept watching me suspiciously.  I later heard from others that young-looking people are often viewed that way in yarn shops, treated as though they don’t belong and don’t deserve to touch the beautiful fibers found there.  I complained to Will about it and, of course, proclaimed that I was never ever going to that LYS again, ever!  But I did, and eventually I stopped feeling unwelcome.

Side note: Don’t ever take a significant other with you.  Salespeople hone in on them. Will once was admiring a yarn, a saleswoman walked up to him, and the next thing I knew he was handing me six skeins and a pattern book and showing me what I would be making next.  On a different occasion, I let him choose the yarn for a hat – and he picked the most difficult one to work with.

So that’s LYS#1.  There’s also LYS#2, the one I went to last weekend.  It was my first time there, and it was awesome!  While LYS#1 is a bright and organized store, LYS#2 is a visual cacophony of color madness.  The walls are covered in yarn, there is yarn of all kinds everywhere you look, so much that it is almost overwhelming.  I don’t know how it is organized – I wasn’t there long enough to decode it (I would have stayed longer, but I had Wildling with me). I was there for one particular thing.

The employee there greeted us as we walked in.  I told her I was looking for a bamboo laceweight or maybe a fingering weight to match the project I was working on.  Wildling immediately stepped in front of me, raised her hand for emphasis and declared “But my mama is allergic to wool.”  The saleswoman was utterly charmed by her, and they had a wonderful discussion about colors and she even let Wildling help her wind my yarn for me.  It was a very welcoming experience, and it’s my new favorite yarn shop.

And that brings me to LYS#3.  It’s in an old house, and the layout is kind of hard to figure out.  What I like best about it is the veggie room, where the yarns are animal free (or supposed to be – I found a wool cotton blend in there today).  I like the idea that i can use anything in that room, and I sometimes find really great stuff.

However, the customer service leaves a lot to be desired.  For one thing, the owner has a big dog, and it is often there. It was there today, and the owner tried to invite Wildling to see it.  But Wildling is scared of dogs, and this great big creature was taller than her, so I understand her intimidation.  I’m not an animal fan in general (allergies!) and I think having a shedding beast in a fiber shop is just a bad idea.  But it’s not my store, so I won’t complain (much) about that.

What I will complain about is the owner’s attitude.  Once, I was in there to purchase yarn and she was standing there complaining to someone about how she just can’t tell what people want and she tries but blah blah blah, meanwhile, I was standing right there with a blanket’s worth of yarn in my hands wondering if I should shop someplace else.

Today though, today was bad, and I’m annoyed enough I might not go back (even though it is much closer to me than LYS#2, customer service makes a huge difference).  As Wildling and I were paying for yarn for Mellow’s first birthday dress, I was also looking at a few skeins near the register.  One really caught my eye and I picked it up and put it back a couple of times, before finally checking the label.  The owner saw me, and I said that I needed to remember the yarn name so I could look up patterns for it.  I was going to continue by saying I try not to buy yarn without patterns in mind, but I didn’t get the chance because she looked at me kind of condescendingly and said “You may want to look at the price first.” The price, while high, did not shock me. Ok, yes, it was expensive, but I’ve bought pricier yarns.  It was the attitude that shocked me.  I wanted to say something about Will’s and my professions and how I can certainly afford any yarn that I want, or just something to make her not treat me like some street person that walked in and dared to touch her precious commodities.  But I didn’t say anything.  And I’m not going to go on Yelp and give her poor reviews for customer service (but other people have – I checked).

So that’s it.  Those are my LYS (LYSs? How do I make that plural?).  I know I’m lucky to have so many in my local area, though I’m going to be shopping at just two of the three for awhile, until I calm down and forget my annoyance, or until I discover I didn’t buy enough to complete Mellow’s new dress.


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