Description: Planet Purl heads to Boston for a little American history and a lot of yarn shopping.
03/11/2009 - Windsor Button
Our last stop, Windsor Button, really should consider changing their name to “Windsor Button, Lots of Yarn, Beads, and Most of the Other Crafts Your Interested In”, even though it would be difficult to fit on a business card.We went in prepared to see a few skeins stacked here and there with knitting taking a big backseat to buttons (they are in the name after all).Were we ever wrong.They had the largest yarn stock we found in Boston.
Windsor Button carries Berrocco, Crystal Palace, Sublime, Debbie Bliss, Plymouth, Claudia Hand-Painted, Cascade, Lamb’s Pride, Ella Rae, Art Yarns, Dream IN Color, Noro, Malabrigo, Elsebeth Lavold, Blue Sky Alpacas, Nashua, Manos del Uruguay, Patagonia, Steadfast Fibers (a pretty mohair we had never seen before) and they were the only shop where we found Rowan-- earning them instant Brownie points.
They also carry a wide selection of needles from Brittany, Clover, and Susan Bates.The eponymous buttons do not disappoint: playful, sophisticated, vintage, bulk; there’s a wide enough range to make your eyes and brain hurt from looking, but it might be worth it.
If all that wasn’t enough, the shop is just one block off of Boston Common, a beautiful public park that’s 150 years older than the US Declaration of Independence.If you’re coming to Boston as a tourist you should probably visit the Common, or have the decency to lie about it.From the corner of Windsor Button’s block you can see the Common and the shining golden dome of the Massachusetts Statehouse.It was a lovely and perfect end to our Boston adventure.
Our next visit was to Newbury Yarns in the chic Back Bay district of downtown Boston.Surrounded by high end boutiques, and the likes of Hermes, Brooks Brothers, and Chanel, this classy yarn shop is a fine fit for its upscale neighborhood.A trip this way will give you a very England in New England experience-- the streets look like Chelsea, right down to the presence of popular English shop John Lewis, and the owner of Newbury Yarns used to be a working designer in the UK.She even designed knit uniforms for the English cricket team, among other clients, and she stocks the sale bin with beautiful vintage discontinued yarns from those designing days.
The shop carries a huge variety, especially for its size, stocking Noro, Universal, Wisdom Yarns, Manos del Uruguay, Dream In Color, Feza, Malabrigo, Ella Rae, Jojoland, Reynolds, Dalegarn, Mondial, Maggi Knits, Louet, Elsebeth Lavold, Classic Elite, Shetland Wool, Karabella, Louisa Harding, Anny Blatt, Cherry Tree Hill, Misti Apaca, and Queensland Collection.
Newbury Yarns has a big table with plenty of chairs and a lot of classes to offer.They do courses in lace knitting, knitting with beads, and felting, as well as a comprehensive six-week beginner’s course with the most thorough curriculum we’ve ever seen.It has a great balance of being incredibly refined while staying very inviting.A visit is highly recommended.
Still outside of Boston proper, our next stop was Mind’s Eye Yarns in Cambridge.Right off the “Porter” stop on the “T” Public Transit system, Mind’s Eye wins the award (hands down) for cutest building.Housed in a pink Colonial style cottage, it has a classic New England feel.And Cambridge, home to Harvard and M.I.T., has more than a few neighborhoods full of these beautiful homes.You could easily imagine yourself strolling through a different century if it weren’t for electricity and all the Dunkin’ Donuts (New Englanders loooove their coffee).
Mind’s Eye Yarns carries Austerman, Marks & Kattens, Noro, Elsebeth Lavold, Cascade, Katia, fun “Poof” balls from CrystalPalace, Louisa Harding, Araucania, Jojoland, On Line, Icelandic Wool, and Ella Rae.They also have a store brand in both a merino and sock yarn, all hand-dyed in the shop.
The owner is a spinner as well as a knitter, and she teaches in-store classes on both crafts.It was the only Boston-area shop we visited that sold spinning wheels, fiber, and roving.And what great fiber!They had beautiful, cotton, silk, and wool, but it was theun-spun merino that was so soft we were ready to curl up and live in it, no spinning or knitting necessary-- shame on us for even thinking that!
Also worth mentioning is that Mind’s Eye is only one “T” stop from Harvard Square, the center of the Harvard campus.Big green spaces and benches abound, and the combination of the gorgeous formal architecture and geniuses walking around makes for plenty of inspiration if you want to do some knitting in public.
Boston encompasses a spread out area and we had been tipped off beforehand to check out at least one of the many suburban LYS’s.So, on our way into town we stopped at Island Yarn Company in Waltham.It’s an un-assuming shop, tucked away in the ColonialShopping Center, but they pack a lot of fiber, including a line of sock yarns hand-dyed in the store.A couple of skeins and you could have your own soft pair of authentic “Boston Red Socks.”(Sorry, but opportunities for knitting puns are so rare we couldn’t resist).
They carry other hand-dyed yarns by Madeline Tosh and J. Knits, along with lines by Elsebeth Lavold, Lana Grossa, Araucania, Di Ve, Reynolds, On Line, Laines du Nord, Jojoland, Patons, Patagonia natural cotton, and a really big selection of buttons.
Island Yarn Company also offers some fun extras like Pattern-of-the-Month Kits-- during our visit they sold the “Everything But the Kitchen Sink Blanket”, which looked very cute and very warm.They also have a de-stashing service, in return for cash or store credit.The owners started the service because their customers were running out of room for new yarn.We sympathize, and figure that if you don’t have a family member you can kick out of their room for a yarn closet renovation, then the service might be a good alternative.
03/11/2009 - One Skein if by Land, Two if by Sea.....
Boston, Massachusetts is one of the United States' most historic cities. Paul Revere, the old North Church, Faneuil Hall, Boston baked beans, and baseball. But more importantly, it has yarn! Join us on the Freedom Trail as we scope out some great places to do a little yarn shopping.