Saturday, August 22, 2009

Annapolis LYS: Yarn Garden

Last week I was in Annapolis for Sean's dental appointment. Instead of spending the 90 minute appointment in the waiting room, I drove over to the Yarn Garden yarn store. I'd been meaning for years to stop by and check it out. I was glad to finally have time to do so.

As always, I try to be completely honest with my yarn store reviews while trying my best to soften the negatives. (Can you tell where this review is going?) So please know that this is my honest opinion of the store, not a dig at the owner or patrons. Here goes...

This may be the worst LYS I've visited to date.

The Yarn Garden is located on the second floor of a building which is part of a strip mall. This strip mall is now adjacent to a recently built and GINORMOUS residential/retail area with high end condos and apartments, restaurants, and specialty stores galore so the stores and store facades look a bit old and dated. I still had hope for a cute little store as I walked up the stairs to the store.

Yarn Garden Annapolis

Upon entering the store, I was unimpressed. The lighting was bad, the walls needed paint and the merchandise was soooo unorganized. There were no prices on the yarn. Instead, what appeared to be post-its cut to size were taped to the shelves with handwritten yarn names and (sometimes) prices. I could not figure out the organization of the yarns as to color or manufacturer or fiber content or use. It was maddening! There were patterns available - but they were in different parts of the store and organized in one place by publisher, another place by type (blankets, sweaters, etc) and another place by a combination of both - I think. I'm really not sure.

But I looked beyond all the disorganization and searched through the shelves for something to catch my eye. Something different, something unique, something that I had to have.

I found nothing.

Not a skein, not a hank, not a pattern, nothing.

I'd seen most of the yarn before in other stores and online, in better colors and at better prices. The sock yarn was drab and scratchy, the stocking patterns were hideous, and the wall of notions was behind the counter so I couldn't even see if there was something I might want. When I did see a book I thought I might like, I picked it off the floor (where it was displayed, propped against a shelf) and attached to the book was a giant dustbunny. While I had originally assumed it was the disorganization of the place giving me not-so-great-vibes, it was now confirmed that in fact this store was dirty. I left not long after the dustbunny encounter.

The woman behind the counter was nice enough - she did say hello and good-bye - and I didn't think she was rude, but I didn't find her that friendly or warm. There were ladies at a table learning to knit and they were having a good time so maybe I missed the subtle, unconscious charm of the store that they seemed to enjoy.

In summary, I won't be making any return trips to the Yarn Garden and I can't say that I would recommend it to anyone either living in or visiting the Annapolis area. I hate writing such a negative review because my dream is to someday own my own yarn store and I imagine the owner of Yarn Garden loves living his/her dream of owning their yarn store.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Completed Project: Knitted Socks

I finally did it! I knit socks!!! Wahoo!!!!

Basic Socks 03

Basic Socks 02

And here's proof that I did knit the pair of them.

Knit Socks 05

All the details are on Ravelry but here are the highlights... I used the basic sock pattern from "How to Knit Socks" and bamboo DPNs. The bamboo made it much easier to learn to use DPNs since the yarn wasn't sliding all over the place like it was when I used metal DPNs. The yarn is Opal Harry Potter sock yarn that I purchased in Ohio. I loved the colors of it - even more when knitted - as well as the name of this particular color: Dumbledore.

I'm going to be a bit boastful here and say how proud I am of myself that I learned to knit socks and that they came out looking so good. The only problem with them is that they are a bit too small for me. I can put them on and they are comfy but the knitting stretches a bit too much for my taste. I should have swatched it to make sure the yarn and needles worked with the pattern but I was so determined to just knit. So instead of keeping this lovely pair and never wearing them, I'm gifting them to the lovely KMP who just moved back to the area and will need some warm socks when the colder winter months approach. I'm glad to know these special socks will have a good home.

I'm now on the hunt for some good baby bootie/sock patterns to accompany all the baby hats I'll be making. Thank Goddess for Ravelry, Lion Brand and all the other online pattern searches! If you know of a particularly good one, leave a comment or send an email.

Knit Socks 08

Monday, August 17, 2009

Completed Project: Felted Scarf

Here's the felted scarf made with Blue Heron chunky chenille that I bought at Frivolous Fibers in St. Michaels. I started it on MS&W weekend and finished knitting it in early July. I didn't get around to felting it for a month. This is my first knitted scarf and my first felted project! (quasi felted, really)

Here are the before felting photos:

Felted Chenille Scarf 04

Of course, a finished project must be appropriately modeled...
Felted Chenille Scarf 07

And the after felting photo:

Felted Chenille Scarf 08

Seamus found the scarf to be uber stylish and uber tasty.
Felted Chenille Scarf 09

All details are available on Ravelry. I meant to measure it before it was felted but I didn't remember to do it until the washer was on the spin cycle. Oops.

If I didn't have all these babies to knit and crochet for, I would consider getting more of this yarn and making lots of hats and scarves for Christmas gifts. The colors are so rich and vibrant and the yarn is soooo soft. Looks like all the adults are getting store bought items this year.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Completed Project: Baby Hat (1 of at least 5)

While all's been quiet on the blogging front, I have been busy knitting away the summer. I've needed to keep all needles going at every break since I currently have five...count 'em FIVE... prego friends who are all due between November and January.

During my last trip to St. Michaels and Frivolous Fibers, I bought 2 skeins of Encore yarn because they came with a free hat pattern. The pattern came in newborn and toddler sizes. I got one in blues and one in purples/pinks since the gender of two babies is known (boys) and the other three are surprises and/or unknown right now.

Last Sunday, on the train ride home from New England after my brother-in-law's wonderful wedding, I cast on for the newborn sized hat. That evening, while watching TV, I had a finished hat. I couldn't believe I finished it in one day! Sure, the 7 hour train ride helped but still, I must be a tad bit faster at knitting than I was before.

Knitted Baby Boy Hat 01

This first hat is for Julie's baby boy who is due in early December. All details are available on Ravelry. I'm hoping to make another newborn hat from the same skein and maybe even have enough yarn left over to knit up some matching booties or socks. If not, the yarn was under $6.00 per skein so I can always pick up another one (or more depending on how many other pregnancy notices I get in the coming months).

Between the hat and the socks I'm working on (yes - I'm really making socks!) I've come to really love my DPNs... yes, the same DPNs that used to scare me with all their points sticking out. I think the switch from slippery metal to smooth bamboo DPNs made all the difference.