Like many knitters, my wife and I spend a good deal of time visiting yarn stores, diving into potential projects, chatting with the shoppers, searching for books, or just squishing the yarn. While we do have “our” knitting store, the various knitting stores of NYC are kind of like our grocery shopping: while most of our everyday shopping is in one location, once in a while we run out of X, Y or Z and have to go someplace else.
Our favorite knitting store isn’t actually in New York City proper. Knit is technically in Roslyn, NY – approximately 25 miles from the center of Manhattan. However, there likely isn’t a better knitting store nationwide. Cheryl and Audrey – in addition to being informative and helpful to no end – have created a cozy store that really feels like home. When I have extra time, I look forward to stopping by, sitting, chatting, and of course knitting. Unlike many of the yarn stores in Manhattan, the space itself is large and welcoming. The selection is also fabulous – especially if you’re a sock/fingering weight knitter (thankfully, I am). My wife quite fancies the store’s selection of worsted and bulky yarns as well. While I haven’t delved into their baby yarn collection, if that peeks your interest they have a wide selection.
Even if you’re in NYC, I recommend taking the trip out to Knit – it’s definitely worth the price of an LIRR ticket.
Moving past my clear bias (though it’s only a small bias, Knit is an awesome store) , here are some of my favorite knitting stores in the city. Different people look for different things in a local store, and every knitting store has its own vibe so I invite you to visit as many as you can and find what works best for you.
Knitty City – This store packs so much into such a small space! They offer a wide variety of beginner and intermediate classes, but I go mostly just to dig through the extensive yarn selection – in all weights and fibers and prices. Lace and sock seem to be big areas of stock here with yarns from Scrumptious to DIY fibers like Neighborhood Yarns. My biggest dislike about the store is that I love to sit-and-knit and frequently the chairs are all filled! My claustrophobic wife also sometimes gets a bit overwhelmed – it’s very crowded, but it is definitely worth a stop.
Purl Soho – Personally, I’m not a big fan of Purl Soho. I enjoy knitting stores where I’m welcomed to sit and knit and chat. Purl Soho has a lot of hustle and bustle going on with not a chair in sight. I’m also not much the sewer/quilter so the beautiful fabrics in the back are lost on me. The Mrs tells me that they’re the only local stockist of the popular Brooklyn Tweed yarns, however, they’re also the only yarn store I know of in the city that charges sales tax. Buyer beware! They do have a decent selection of a variety of yarns, however, and the staff, themselves are very friendly and helpful, just very busy!
Lion Brand Yarn Studio – I know, I know – LB is known for their acrylic fabrics*. Well, get past that association! LBYS is a nice, open space where you can sit and knit and chat for as long as you’d like. Though they do have a wide selection of the acrylic fibers that they’re known for, they also have the exclusive-to-the-studio-and-website LB Collection yarns that come in lush fibers, including a recently launched dyed silk. I can’t ever seem to find time to go in as often as I’d like, however, as they’re closed on Saturdays and closed early on Fridays. However, even passing by to look at their yarn-based display is worth the adventure (I’m serious; their displays are epic).
*I should note that I, personally, have nothing against acrylic yarn. I prefer animal fibers for most of my projects, but I definitely think acrylic is the best choice for others. Besides, my Beetles and Combs is made from an acrylic blend, and I love that shawl (not that I can wear it, being a guy).
Seaport Yarns – We found this quaint, little store because of a lot of disappointed but glowing online comments the year that they weren’t in the NYC Yarn Crawl. The space is actually pretty unique being that it’s inside of a many-roomed building. It’s located in the Wall Street area, but with the recent Fulton Street construction project, it can be frustrating to actually get to the store. Once there, the husband and wife team who run it are a delight to chat with, and the affordable prices of the yarn definitely make this a store to visit. On a recent visit, I found this workhouse Australian wool that I keep planning to use to make a hat. They also stock quite a bit of the Lorna’s Lace yarn collection, more so than other NYC stores, and the last time we were there they even had the Lily Chin yarns.
The Yarn Company – I don’t like this yarn store too much. I find that they don’t stock any yarns that I really like and the few times I have been in there, I haven’t been able to “shake” the staff to look around so I left without yarn in hand. It’s also kind of cramped. Many people do love this store for their exclusive colorways of many a knitter’s favorite yarn lines, including Madeline Tosh and Malabrigo.
Downtown Yarns – I’ve never personally been to the store so these notes are from my wife: “This store is small. Think bedroom yarn storage small. But that’s OK. The first few times I was there, the staff was pretty off-putting but the last time or two they were really nice. I loved their selection of MadelineTosh Prairie during the MadTosh shortage of 2013 and the Zephyr Spun is crazy fab. Worth it if you’re in the are boozing up in Alphabet City but not really worth going too far out of your way.”
Habu – All I have to say about this store is that it’s happy land of impressive fibers and blends you have never heard of. Looking to knit with paper? Or bamboo…alpaca? Or wire? Head on over – they’re waiting for you!
Schoolhouse Products – Being a designer, I was frustrated that all of their yarn was off label but their crazy low prices on an oz. of alpaca would make anyone smile. One of the few midtown yarns stores left as well.
Brooklyn General – If you’re looking for a quieter, more spacious version of Purl Soho that doesn’t charge tax, look no further. They have a fabulous selection of fabrics (again, not my scene) and a nice selection of all the yarns one would expect. Their own yarn lines are pretty decadent as well. The staff is friendly and you get 20% off once you manage to spend $200 (like that’s hard…). The staff here helped me find the yarn for my first big design, my Six Braid Wedding Ring Scarf. The one time we had an issue (we were mis-charged), they figured it out, sent us an email before we could reach out to them, and issued a credit immediately. Talk about customer service!
La Casita – This cozy little shop features friendly staff and a focus on luxury yarns. Most of the fibers aren’t really my scene but some people have a cult-like following for this small little store. I did buy the yarn here that I used in my Beetles and Combs (and they were kind enough to order more in the same dye lot when I realized I didn’t have enough). We also went to a Shibui Yarn tasting here once and had a great time. I later revisited one of the swatches I made there for consideration in a new project when my own locale store, Knit in Roslyn, NY, started stocking some of the Shibui yarns. La Casita also has a wine bar in the back with snacks for those whose boat that floats.
Argyle Yarn Shop – We have the hardest time getting to this little shop due to how far away it is for us, but they’re such a great size and don’t mind sitters and knitters and crocheters alike. My wife visits this shop almost exclusively as they’re the only local stockist of Quince and Co. yarns, and the store has a back space perfect for classes. David and Ester are fabulous owners, and it is well worth the trip no matter how far away you are!
What about you? What’s your favorite knitting store, NYC or otherwise?