Our wooly journey headed back towards Providence from the northwest, then back towards South County where we stay during our visits. On the way down we stopped at a random orchard, where we bought some crunchy early apples,
And an ice cream place called “Awful Awful.” The milkshake was fine; I’m chalking the whole experience up to the New England sense of humor.
South of providence, our next stop was a yarn store called Manmade by Jonne. I specifically wanted to stop there because knitmap suggested an emphasis on spinning. We were not disappointed.
Jonne is a serious crafting dude who has been at this for a long time. (Click the link above to see his picture; he was camera-shy for me.) He has weaving supplies, spinning supplies, a selection of wheels, an amazing amount of his own handspun yarn, and lots of roving and commercial yarn for the highly traditional knitter. The sort of stuff that has been keeping people warm for a long time. The sort of stuff that is after my own heart.
He yakked it up with us for a good hour about his favorite wheel brands, the history of spinning in the arts & crafts movement, and a seriously ancient little mulespun mill he visited in Maine. We bought some roving and yarn from this mill, and he gave me a drop spindle to check out in case I want to buy a bunch for my upcoming drop spindling class. How can you beat that? If your crafting interests drift to the production of yarn, this is a must-see stop in Warwick.
Back “home” in Narragansett, we made one traditional stop. When we go up to RI, we always go over to Wakefield a couple of times for a party at Uncle Dave and Aunt Steph’s (which doubles as a freakin’ adorable Bed and Breakfast). Just a few blocks down main street from Sugar Loaf BnB is Knit One, Purl Too! It would some how be wrong not to visit a yarn shop that’s just a few blocks away.
K1PToo has a few things that keep bringing me back. First, they have some pretty wicked sales. I finally finished a skirt I’ll have to show you soon, made out of novelty yarn that was once very expensive, for which I paid 1$/ball. They must be doing pretty well to offload like that, and I have trouble saying no to a deal that good.
Second, they stay shockingly on-trend in a couple of ways. There’s an out-of-control scarf fad going on right now, if you hadn’t heard. Hanging on that center mannequin, and on hooks to the left of the above picture, are examples of these ruffley objects that started cropping up in the spring. They’ve taken off like gangbusters, and K1PToo has nearly an entire side of an aisle of this stuff. They must have bought every color of every available type, and some of it’s even on sale already! I personally think the things are monstrous – they’re sort of fun to make, I guess, but I’ve been bored before the end of the ones I’ve made, and I doubt I’d ever wear one. But they’re very in, and this store is on top of it. They’re also on top of some new yarns that I like very much; I very nearly fell down and bought a whole sweater kit in a yarn I forget, but it was a very pretty DK-weight merino with 2 plies of one color and 1 ply of a slightly lighter color. It marled perfectly.
One last stop was made on this journey, on the way home from RI. Jared insisted on this one; I’m not even kidding (and I don’t really know why). The famous and amazing WEBS.
Everyone should go to WEBS once, just for the experience. We made a beeline for the warehouse this time; Jared was looking for a couple of things. I resisted going down the aisles myself; Bad Things would have happened involving our credit card, and we barely got out with our savings intact as it is. (All the yarn Jared is holding above is for my mother. I promise I’m not deflecting.)
Their showroom is nearly as overwhelming, so I spent most of our time wandering in circles in the fiber area. (Sadly, they do not have a fiber area in the warehouse.) I hadn’t noticed this before, but apparently they have an entire wing full of looms devoted to weaving classes! And they have what I can only suppose is an impressive amount of weaving supplies. I was kicking myself for not figuring out ahead of time what I need to repair the loom in my basement. (Have I mentioned the loom in my basement?)
The thing is, I have issues with WEBS, which is why I was not super excited to be there (in addition the fact that my yarn budget is zeroed out ’till September, and I’ve gotten rather stash-conscious lately). WEBS is a family owned business, and is indeed a local business in Northampton, Mass. They’ve worked hard, I’m sure, to acquire such an amazing selection of yarns and other woolly products. But here’s the thing – they’ve used their hard-won hugeness to start undercutting the competition. They have enough stock that if you buy enough there, you always get a discount – a really good one. Most local yarn stores just can’t compete with that, and it seems a little less than ethical to me. WEBS is still a small business, and I believe in supporting small businesses! But even more important than supporting small business is supporting local small business. If you have a choice, even if it means spending more and buying less, it’s always better to support the business in your locale, instead of using the internet to save a few bucks from someone who can afford it.
Still, there are some things for which places like WEBS (and Jimmy Beans) are irreplaceable. Namely, when I need a really specific yarn that I can’t find anywhere else. I’ve got an upcoming project for which I needed a very specific color of Madelinetosh Merino Light, which is notoriously hard to find. I’ve gotten really fussy about the color, so I needed to see it in person. This trip was perfect – they had exactly what I needed, and we bought enough other stuff (we get our blanks for Mom’s worsted-weight dyeing from WEBS; they have their own exclusive yarns that are the best affordable worsted blanks we can get) that we got the discount. (Jared may have fallen down and bought some alpaca.)
So there you have it – a brief look at New England through our felt-covered glasses. We didn’t hit up Mermaid’s Purl or Unwind, for lack of time, and because we’d been there before. Anyone else been to RI and know some awesome spots we should hit up next time?