July 21, 2014

Hill Country Weavers

For a little change of pace I am going to review a yarn store today. Well maybe review is not the right word, perhaps praise would work better.

In DFW, if you want yarn you go to Joanne Fabrics, Michaels or Hobby Lobby. If you want good yarn I hear there is a small place in Fort Worth that is good, but I have no idea where it is or what it's called.

Doing a search of Austin for "yarn" on Google and you get the same sort of results, but put in Knitting and that is a different matter. This is the second time I have been to Austin, and I walked up and down South Congress Street for days and did not see this gem sitting there plain as day. Well perhaps because it looks like a house, or perhaps because I was on the opposite side of the street, I did not see it until the second day of my trip.

Hill Country Weavers
1701 South Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

Entering the home, as clearly it once was, you are faced with the staggering good smells of yarn and wood. And your eyes immediately have to adjust to the COLORS.

The Entry.
They don't mess around in here. You had better know what you want: color, thickness, purpose, amount, fiber content, etc. I had two upcoming projects in mind so I got out of the store spending under $100, but with no plan or focus I could have bought everything.

Each room of the home is full, floor to ceiling with bins and boxes and cubbies of whatever you could want. Prices seem to range from the low end of about $8 a skein (though I bought some on sale for 6.25) to $50 a skein, or more.
Part of a room.
You can see not only is there yarn, but samples of nearly everything worked up for you to see and feel how it will look or hang, unlike the tiny squares in "craft stores". They also had an entire wall of threads, I assume for quilting or embroidery.

Each room had chairs and some of the women seemed to just be hanging out as much as shopping. One lady sat chatting and knitting near the register, it was both odd and perfect. The staff is very knowledgeable. Even though I knew what I wanted, I did not have a clue on how to find it, except to look at everything. Once I had, I asked to be sure I located all my options.
Another room.
They also had a wall of needles, hooks and all kinds of yarn crafts needs. Cute project bags and carrying cases, fancy stitch markers, etc. It's like a candy store. In the back room there is a corner with markdowns and sale items. They also had a building next door which said Outlet, so I can only assume there is even more, but I had to leave before I spent anything else...
Yet another room.
In one room I sat while my purchase was balled for me. The skeins on the shelf are not really friendly to working from, so they have a machine which will ball the yarn for you... that does mean that you cannot return it then, but why would I and that saves me a lot of work later on. While I waited I looked through their collection of books. I must say that this store does cater more towards knitting folks in that regard, but their range of crochet books was very good, just less large than knit. Also their signs on the porch say knitting, spinning and weaving... :(  As a "hooker" I felt only a little saddened to be left out.

So, what did I buy? And for what?
What I got.
Well I am still in the middle of a project at the moment, a tunic sweater, but these yarns are for the two projects after...

The dark blue, purple, gray, green yarn is Madeline Tosh, Tosh DK in "Stargazing", 100% superwash merino wool. A dk weight is similar to a worsted weight. It can be machine washed, but has to air dry. It is dyed in Texas and made in South Africa. I plan to use it to make Otachi. This yarn was the most expensive of the three I got, but the colors were too perfect for what I had in mind for his color scheme to not get.

The middle blue, single skein, is Nature Spun, worsted weight wool in "Fanciful Blue". It is made by the Brown Sheep Company in Nebraska. I plan to use this for the glow spots on Otachi, but I might use the lightest one I got if I have leftovers... I got this one because it was in the sale bin, close to the color I wanted and $3. And I can always make a little headband or something with it, if I don't use it for my kaiju.

The lightest blue is Berroco Weekend DK. The color for this yarn is 2982 or "Coast". It is 75% Acrylic 25% Peruvian Cotton, and can also be machine washed but air dryed. That was important to me because this yarn is for this Lion Brand Open Air Shrug pattern. Note: you might need a Lion Brand login to see/download this pattern. This yarn was very reasonable at the 6.50 a skein, and of much better quality and feel, in my opinion, than say a Red Heart or Vanna's Choice, and for something that I am going to wear and have on my skin, I want it to feel good. They had a sweater made up from it that really sold me on how it would look and wear.

So basically this place is heaven. Tips for a visit:
1. Have a Budget.
2. Have a Pattern/Plan/List.
3. Ask for help.
4. Be inspired.