2008 LYS Tour—Destination: YARN

All year long I've looked forward to Puget Sound's LYS Tour.

The graphic image even looks like me tooling around town on my scooter.

Except that I drive a retro Yamaha Vino, not a Vespa... ...and it's silver not pinkish brown... and I wear a helmet and other smart safety gear rather than looking like a fashion plate... and I'd never leave my yarn and needles sticking out the top of an open bag as I zoomed down the street even if I were keeping my eye on the WIP more than on the road! But I do ride a scooter, and I do wear cool boots on my scooter, and I've got the same haircut as Tour Girl.

Last fall when my sister and I initially talked about the possibility of doing the LYS Tour or the Sea Socks 2008 Cruise and Yarn Expedition (also out of Seattle), I said I couldn't guarantee that I'd be done with my dissertation by May and that if I weren't, I wouldn't be able to take the time away from my dissertation to do either fun fiber thing this year. Of course, in the back of my mind I kept open the what if. Last month I started thinking the tour would do me some good. My sister and I dreamed up schemes for getting her here from New Orleans so we could tour together. That didn't work out. As the date approached... ...I thought maybe I'd go it alone and even considered posting a carpool call for other north-end knitters. Then, about a week before the big event (which started on J's birthday), I flipped back and decided I wouldn't participate at all. Believe it or not, I was actually feeling a little LYS burned out! For a few months now, I've been in one if not two of my favorite's each week, and while I may not be satiated, I wasn't so sure that I cared to hurl myself through the gauntlet of 24 stores around the Puget Sound region in 4 days—with what I imagined would be massive crowds.

Thursday and Friday went by with no pangs of regret. I did enjoy reading all the interesting comments in the LYS Tour Forum on Ravelry, though. Saturday morning, as Seattle experienced a record-setting heat wave, I even felt something akin to a smug justification that I would not be attempting the tour in my freon-challenged Volvo.

See that temp? I took this picture at 10am, and it was already 86 degrees...

... in the shade! See the overhangs?

The day passed in a sweltering, uneventful haze. And then it was time to take C to her Irish Step Dance class. Usually J and I both take her, but this week I went alone while J assembled our new and much-needed lawnmower and grill. I hopped in the car with my Pysanky Spindle and Song for Dalai Lama fiber in-hand, ready for the hour's wait while C twinkled her little toes off.

C's class is located in her dance studio's annex, though, and it doesn't really have anyplace for parents to sit and wait—and it was really, really hot. Often, J and I will use this time to pop over to Acorn Street or Weaving Works because both are nearby [see sidebar for links to my LYS sites]. I wasn't even thinking about the LYS Tour when I started driving. I was thinking, "Mmmmmm... air conditioning!" It was a bit of a surprise to realize I'd air-conditioned myself smack into the middle of the tour.

DIGRESSION: Recognize a pattern here? I did the exact same thing when I spindled my way smack into the middle of Weaving Works' big Mother's Day Sale—which I also had resolved not to attend. Not that I don't want to support the store(s), mind you. I'm just not much of a crowd person. I prefer to take my time in a state of relative ease, luxuriating at the touch of each fiber. And for the smaller amounts of money I usually spend, the 10-20% discounts don't really mean that much.

BACK ON TRACK: C's Step class was the beginning of the end. I knew I wouldn't do the entire tour, so I called it my LYS Light Tour. I hit both Acorn Street and Weaving Works before C's 50-minute class ended. Then today I convinced the family to hit "just two" shops with me after church. Two that turned into four for a total of six nearby shops on my tour. My passport got the appropriate stamps:

Of the six, I had never been to three before: Tricoter, Full Circle Yarn, and Bad Woman Yarn. My LYS Light Tour didn't even include two of my regular area shops: Village Yarn & Tea (which was part of the tour) and A New Yarn (which was not part the tour). I trust they'll forgive me, especially since I see them so frequently.

Here are the fun, free patterns I got on my journey:

  • Acorn Street: Spring Purse (felted)
  • Bad Woman: Knit Buttoned Necklet
  • Bad Woman: Crocheted Eyelet Necklet
  • Fiber Gallery: Mountain Shokay Baby Sweater
  • Full Circle: To Felt Or Not To Felt Double Knit Clutch Bag
  • Tricoter: Diamond Lace Scarf w/Ruffle Edge
  • Weaving Works: Plain or Fancy Felted Tea Cozy
  • Weaving Works: Bamboo Crocheted Hand Towel

Acorn Street gets a prize for nicest presentation of its free pattern, which came in a plastic protection sleeve. Bad Woman gets a prize for most aesthetically pleasing design of its patterns—simple but elegant. Tricoter and Weaving Works both get major snaps for handing out 15% off coupons good for the total order of my next visit (I'm soooo using those!). Full Circle and Fiber Gallery both get heartfelt thanks and kudos for tracking down obscure, non Tour-related patterns for me. They really went above and beyond the call of duty. Full Circle, of the four shops I visited today, gets an especially high mark because the ladies working actually took an interest in C, asking her about her own knitting, talking to her as a participant rather than just as a kid to shuffle off to the play area. (Most of the stores had some kind of play station set up for kids, but none of them came close to the amazing play room at A New Yarn—which will continue to keep that shop at the top of my list locally even though I don't have C with me every time I visit a yarn store.)

Everyone was very friendly, across the board. The most vocal about their friendly factor was Tricoter, which seemed to be aggressively working to live-down the bad rap they've gotten on various internet forums as being a shop that projects aloofness and elitism. Every single Tricoter employee not only spoke to me and eagerly sought to help me but also delivered some variation of the following line, "We are a friendly store with outstanding customer service. We will help you with anything you need." They did the same for J. They may even have done the same for C. Now, she's a bright, self-possessed 8-year-old, but she's not packin' anything in her pocketbook except play money!

What did I buy? I had promised myself that participating in the tour didn't mean I had to buy anything. I have more than enough to work on right now, thank you very much—I just wanted to explore some new shops and check out the tour patterns (since people rave about many of last year's). Actually, I felt really good not buying anything and functioning as tourist rather than consumer. That's directly in line with the premise of the enterprise, if you ask me.

Will it surprise you, then, to learn that I cracked under the pressure? Not a big crack, but a crack, nonetheless. Blame it on the bad woman... bad, Bad Woman Yarn in Wallingford, just up the street from one of my previous homes. Can you imagine the carnage if they'd been open when I lived there?! The shop, which was founded in Oregon in 1999, moved to Seattle about a year ago. This was my first visit. It will not be my last (and I'm not just saying that because they set out chocolates and it's located 50 yards from a scrumptious cupcake shop called Trophy Cupcakes). Lee, one of the owners, was absolutely delightful. The first thing I did when I returned home was look up her and the shop on Ravelry, and I friended her instantly. She may be one of my favorite yarn store ladies ever. She's right up there with Claudia at A New Yarn, although for very different reasons. Bad Woman Yarn was the revelation of my tour. It's a lovely store with a great atmosphere and a nice selection of samples and shop patterns.

What broke me? The Bad Woman Wrap:

Lee designed it. It's elegant and understated. I had to have it. It called to me on that deep, indescribable level of yearning we've all felt at least once. She showed it in two yarns. I went for the Ultra Alpaca version and selected a rich teal. Unfortunately, there's no FO picture on the pattern to show you, I didn't have a camera with me at the store, and it's not up on Ravelry yet. I guess you'll just have to wait until I get mine done to see what it looks like!

Thank you to all the participating shops and tour organizers. It was enlightening to see the unique offerings at each store. Even though I didn't buy much on this year's tour, I will be back in months to come to buy things from each of the stores I visited—and I'm hanging on to my passport so I can visit those I didn't get to. More than that, I will most definitely do the full tour next year. I've already called my sister and requested the honor of her presence so we can enjoy the fun together.


soknitpicky said...

What a cool event! You held out *way* better than I would have if I had the opportunity to do something like that!

juicyknits said...

I was in Seattle last year and I wish I would have visited at least one knitting shop. LYS Tour sounds fun.

Elizabeth said...

Maybe you should up your search from a spinning wheel to a house for me and there won't be any problems with me touring with you next year and all the years after. I'm totally jealous of all your LYSs and so ready to be a Seattle-ite!!

Luv u loads, B-