As of Sunday afternoon, the Best Little Yarn Crawl in Texas 2010 was over … well, at least for me.  The event continued through Monday but I’m happy for a day to rest.  I visited all 11 shops on the list — from Paige to Horseshoe Bay to Comfort to San Antonio — and drove 534 miles in 2.5 days.  Whew.

Yarorama in Paige, TXTo participate in  the  Yarn  Crawl, individuals purchased a passport and had it stamped at each of the participating Local Yarn Stores (LYS).  In return, each store created a take-away for each participant — it could be yarns, patterns, or tools.   Since I’ve only been to 1 of the 11 stores before the event, this was a great opportunity to learn about other LYS and see a bit of the Hill Country.

I started the weekend by driving to Paige, a small town along US290 that I’ve regularly driven through for the last 17 years but never had a reason to visit.   Yarnorama is a delightful store!  It wasn’t too busy on Friday morning, so I had plenty of time to wander around the  store and look at all the supplies for spinning, weaving, knitting, and crocheting.   The store gave us a well-made pamphlet with help on reading charted patterns, provided an alphabet chart, and included a washcloth pattern along with a skein of cotton chenille.  I’ve never used chenille and I’m looking forward to trying it.  After touching a lot of yarn there and purchasing a gorgeous skein of hand-dyed yarn from Nova Scotia, I moved on to the three Austin-area stores.

The Knitting Nest, Austin, TX I visited Gauge Knits and Hill Country Weavers – both locations are easy to find and had a nice variety of yarns.  Bought a skein of cotton, some small beaded stitch markers, and fun buttons.  Both stores provided a skein of worsted weight wool and hat patterns — these will come in handy as I’m planning to make some hats (a fellow knitter is planning a second mission trip to Romania, where hats & scarves are much needed and appreciated).

The final stop for the day was The Knitting Nest (my LYS).  With the regular Friday traffic, the extra volume caused by the filming of Spy Kids 4, and the preparations for ACL Fest, I wasn’t sure I’d make it down South Congress before Stacy closed up for the day.  Fortunately,  I did — and had time to pick up a Christmas present for my niece.  The take-away was a kit to make a felted bird house – creative and quite practical for bird watchers.

Saturday was a day of driving, made all the more fun by traveling with a friend.  We started out at Old Oaks Ranch, where we were  greeted by a herd of friendly alpaca.  We received some incredibly soft yarn and patterns for crocheting, knitting, or weaving it into a gossamer creation.   The long drive to Nan’s Needlework in Horseshoe Bay passed quickly thanks to good conversation and gorgeous Hill Country scenery.  Within a nondescript office building on the banks of Lake LBJ is a warm and welcoming store.  Bought a pattern for a lacy cotton sweater (Krista by Little White Lies Designs) and was given some silky soft yarn with patterns for an iPod/phone cozy or a rose necklace.

After stopping for lunch, we headed into Fredericksburg to Stonehill Spinning.  The store had  a wide variety of other needle arts, and I enjoyed looking at their samples of hooked rugs and felted wool appliqué.  The best part was the 75% off bin on the porch – I scored an older Rowan book (with patterns in a style I’d wear) for less than $7.  We received a kit to make a sachet – complete with a little bag of fragrant lavender.  Mmm.

Tinsmith's Wife, Comfort, TXEveryone I know told me that I’d love the Tinsmith’s Wife in Comfort.  What’s not to love?  The store is huge, well-staffed with knowledgeable people, and there are at least two shop cats that were happy to sleep through all the commotion.  Wanted to pick up some yarn for Anne Hanson’s Pea Vines shawl, but couldn’t find more than one skein of anything in a colorway I liked.  I’ll check back again since they had a number of the recommended yarns and had many of Anne”s patterns in stock.  I’m not sure what the take-away kit will make (I haven’t opened the bag yet), but the ball of limey green silk yarn peeking through the cellophane definitely made me a little giddy.   The last stop of the day was Rosewood Yarns in Boerne, a yarn and spinning shop that, unfortunately, was difficult to reach thanks to the police barricades. Nothing sinister, just a classic car parade along the main street that blocked our progress.  After being diverted from our intended route we  lucked out and found the back road to the store.  Both my friend and I were lured into buying supplies to make Evelyn Clark’s Swallowtail shawl (examples), and I couldn’t resist a hand-made wood needle case.  The store take-away was a package of useful tools – a crochet hook on a split ring (to hook onto a project bag so it won’t get lost), darning needles, and a stitch marker.  I’m such a geek that I was more excited over the tools than the yarns.  Heh.

Yarnivore, San AntonioWell, in for a penny, in for a pound — I completed the Yarn Crawl on Sunday by driving to San Antonio and visiting the last two stores.   Yarnivore is a roomy shop with a lot of fun notions.  I arrived along with a bus of Crawlers, so I mostly tried to stay out of the way.  I was focused on finding yarn for Pea Vines and I didn’t see anything that seemed appropriate, but I did find a useful sock keyring with a Kitchener Stitch summary and a pocket to hold a darning needle, and tiny little birds to knit into my projects as a “signature” (I know it’s dorky, but I like the idea).  The take-away was  a pattern for crochet wristlets or knitted cuffs and a ball of hemp yarn – which was far softer than I expected and might be a good option for those  allergic to wool.

Yarn Barn, San  AntonioThe final stop on my tour was the Yarn Barn, a delightful store with a touch of whimsy.  The needlepointers kindly deferred to the knitters during the crawl, so we filled their room with passport  stamping and take-aways (a fingerless mitt with novelty yarn trim – I chose green wool with a purple accent – fun!).  They had a nice variety of shawl pins, too – once I finish some shawls I’ll need one.  I will definitely plan to stop by the next time I find myself in San Antonio.

My 2010 Yarn Crawl adventure may be over, but the projects will keep me busy for a few months.  I’m glad I had a reason to visit each location and learn more about each store’s specialty.  It was a wonderful opportunity to meet yarn shop owners and the staff who work in them – everyone is so knowledgeable and willing to help find the right fiber for any project.  And I’m doubly glad that feeling a bit better this year led me to venture out of my self-imposed isolation and sign up for a knitting class.  Knitters are friendly, welcoming, and seem to have an uncanny knack for finding other knitters.  Being around like-minded creative people is such a joy!

Fleece Artist - Sea Wool

Fleece Artist, Sea Wool (from Nova Scotia)

My new-found knitting obsession led me to plan some vacation days around this weekend’s Yarn Crawl – four days to visit 11 local yarn shops (LYS) in Central  Texas.  Two and a half days and approximately 500 miles later, I’ve finished the Crawl and have a dining room table full of take-aways and purchased goodies.

Alpaca Lace in Red Wine Heather

Alpaca Lace in Red Wine Heather (with beads)

Fortunately, I had the foresight to take a couple of vacation days after the crawl – I figured I would want time to knit after being inspired by the shops and new supplies.  So I have two more days to rest up, do some housework, and knit.  Need to finish my Susie sweater, make progress on my Mad Men Mittens, and I want to start working with my new yarn!  The Sea Wool is meant for the Eleanor Cowl, and the Alpaca Lace will become a beaded shawl (still searching for the pattern – I think I wrote down the wrong name).  Anyway, I have more than enough projects to keep me busy.

Beginning the Yarn Crawl

In addition to being surrounded by creative people,  a few days of driving around Central Texas and the Hill Country (in a reliable car) was a joy.  I’m not sure if I’d want to do a Crawl every year, but I certainly found shops that I’d like to visit again – especially when there are fewer people in the space.  It would also be nice to travel during cooler  weather – mornings started out comfortable, but temps reached the upper 80s and it was pretty warm getting in and out of the car all day.

Doormat (and cold water) greets visitors to the Yarn Barn

Following this blog entry I’ll post a travelogue of sorts.  I wrote up the details to help myself remember what I did and where I went for 3 days — along the lines of “where I went on my fall vacation.”  Feel free to skip the text, but I’ll tempt you to look at the photos by saying there’s a decent shot of an adorable alpaca.

License plate spotted in Comfort, TX

Taking time off from work is good.  I used 2 day last week and have another 2 days to go. I’m glad I scheduled this ahead of time; something is making my sinuses swell shut again and after nearly a month of breathing issues I still looked forward to this event.  Not sure when (if?) I’ll feel better, but at least I did something that made me happy and helped take my mind off the misery.  That has to be progress, right?

LYS take-aways

Big thanks to all of the participating LYS – this event took a lot of planning and they made it look effortless.