Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Location: Bakersfield, California
Shop:       Bead & Yarn Studio
Owner:    Lisa
Bakersfield, aka Buckersfield, is California's 9th largest city with over 300,000 people and home to some good country music. You can drive on Merle Haggard Ave or Buck Owens Drive, I'm sure there's more, but those stood out to me. Also home to Buck Owen's Crystal Palace which has one of the best chicken friend steak dinners I've ever had, speaking from experience.

Two things really stand out in this shop; first of all, they have beads, and second, all of their yarn is 40% off. The shop originally opened as a rock and gem shop over 20 years ago. Lisa's parents were the rock hounds, digging up a lot of what the shop sold. Slowly, they started to get more female customers and their bead business expanded. With the many woman the rock shop was now selling to, the yarn just seemed like a good idea to add.
Lisa's able to offer all of her yarn at 40% off because of the lots she purchases. They're usually lots that were made not to the original specifications, or that the company might have had too much of, or that a store simply didn't want anymore. She gets the lots at discounted rates and passes the savings on to her customers. Pretty sweet deal, I think.
Classes a plenty, whether you're interested in beads, crochet or knitting. There's also plenty of room for you to hang out and knit or bead anything. Need help on something? Just ask, the store is full of friendly & crafty people.

Next stop: Bakersfield, CA  (again)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Location: Sacramento, California
Shop:       Fabric Garden
Owner:    Jill

Sacramento is the capital of California, and it's just north of the middle of the state. There are just under a half million people in Sacramento, about the size of Seattle (my home town). But just over an hour away is San Francisco Bay area with over 2 million.
One of the few quilt shops on our tour, but well worth the stop. Jill just opened Fabric Garden last May (Cinco de Mayo, to be exact), so she's getting ready to have her first anniversary (yay!). For a store that's less than a year old, I never would have guessed how young they were with as well stocked as they are.

There's something happening every day of the week in this place, whether it be a kid's quilting class, or maybe a 'sit & finish' day, the calendar has something going on every day they're open. Lots of fabrics and some great accents, including plenty of ribbon.

Quilting, one more hobby I don't need but would love to start. Whether you've new to quilting or not, this store has a lot to offer. Absolutely everyone that works here can help you in your projects and steer you in the right direction.

Next stop: Bakersfield, California

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Location: Fair Oaks, California
Shop:       Knitique, A Yarn Boutique
Owner:    Danielle

Fair Oaks is in Sacramento County and is a suburb of Sacramento. The town itself only has 30,000 people, but the county has almost 1.5 million. One of the first things I noticed was the abundance of citrus trees in the area, one thing we don't have in Seattle. It's mid-late winter, so the fruits are almost overripe. You have to really search for the ones that aren't already rotting on the trees. I haven't found one that is reachable yet.
I walked in to Knitique at about 11:30 and it was bustling, not just with shoppers, but there were about 5 gals sitting  in the center of the store just having a ball, knitting and talking (but not necessarily gossipping). This wasn't a class, just gals hanging out, and it looked to me, everyone had a comfortable seat to sit in. There's a few of the gals in the pic below.
Tons of samples, and I mean tons, but not in the literal sense. Right now she's got a few boxes in the back room filled with retired samples. She lists some on Etsy, but they're not moving fast enough, so she's considering some other options, including a possible charity auction event.
Danielle has a few gals that help her in this bustling shop, but for the first part of our appointment, she handled everything. Somehow picking out buttons, offering advice to customers and ringing people out. One of her employees came on shift a bit later which helped a little bit.
Knitique has probably one of the more extensive books and patterns selection I've seen, you could be inspired by those alone for hours. But don't forgot about the gazillion other things around the shop to be inspired by.

There were so many things to look at in this place that I forgot to ask about classes. But it's pretty obvious by the table in the back area that classes happen.

Next stop: Sacramento, California (the capital)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Location: Elk Grove, California
Shop: Babetta's Yarn
Owner: Babetta

Elk Grove is a suburb of Sacramento, and although only incorporated 12 years ago, boasts a population of over 150,000. It's in the bustling Sacramento County, which holds almost 1.5 million. Not at all a small town, quite a few yarn shops, and we visited a couple.

Babetta's was the first stop in the area, and the first sign of palm trees. This is what I remembered about California. Although that was 30 years ago, and Disneyland was the main existence of my memory, but palm trees stood out because they reminded me of Gilligan's Island. I loved that show. The Professor and Marianne....

Several things stand out about Babetta's. First, there's a lot of stuff in here, "Stability through variety," is Babetta's motto. She's been open 7 years, and Babetta works seven days out of each week. Her daughter comes in and relieves her for Sunday afternoons and she has a niece that helps as well.

Several years back, Babetta, a single mother of 5 children, purchased her first house by borrowing her daughter's income tax return. Several years later, much to her surprise and delight, her house went up in value. She remortgaged the house and with the money opened up her yarn shop. Pretty inspiring.

Her shop is expansive, lots & lots & lots of yarn and accessories. You could lose a few hours in this shop quite easily. She opens at 8am for you early birds, plus she serves espresso for your friends you drag along that aren't early birds. (For those of you paying attention, she opens at 8am, closes at 6pm, that's a 10 hour day, and she does 6.5 of those each week)
And of course, she's got an extensive book selection to go with her extensive yarn collection. Babetta claims she sleeps well at night, I'm left wondering: "How the heck does she do it"

Next Stop: Fair Oaks, California

Friday, February 24, 2012

Location: Ukiah, California
Shop: Heidi's Yarn Haven
Owner: Heidi & Stitches

Another shop with a shop dog, I already love this place. Stitches is a cockapoo (cocker spaniel & poodle). He reminded me of my childhood dog, Sassa, except she was white. The front door to the shop was open, so Stitches had to be tethered, but he didn't seem to mind. He was tethered to a table where three to four gals were knitting when I came in. One of the gals just came in to show off the blanket she had just knitted for her grandbaby, one had just come in for some quick help on a daunting project, while two were just hanging out. They were pretty comfortable in this store, even answering the phone when Heidi was busy.

Ukiah is the county seat for Mendocino County and has about 17,000 people. It's been voted #1 best small town to live in California and it made #6 on the national list. The area used to be known for their hops, now the entire town is surrounded by wineries, including the famous Kendal Jackson. No time to stop and taste the grapes though, maybe next time.

Heidi's been in business for 17 years. From my short time in the shop, she's got excellent customer service. She also offers one of the best beginning knitting programs I've come across. You pay $45 for 5 sessions. You get a punch card that she'll punch every time you come in for one of their ongoing classes which is any Tuesday night. In my opinion, that's a great deal.

Heidi's shop is a full spectrum shop, which means she carries both synthetic and natural fibers for you to choose from. And you can tell by the pictures, whichever fiber you choose, she'll have it in a color you like.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Location: Mendocino, California
Shop:       Mendocino Yarn Shop
Owner:    Annelle

Mendocino and Ferndale are now tied for being dang cute towns. Mendocino lies right on the coast of northern California. The town itself has less than 1000 people, but Mendocino County has almost 90,000.

Water towers are everywhere in this old town. Mendocino is over 160 years old, and most of its  buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, including one of the oldest continuously-used Presbyterian Churches in California, originally dedicated in 1868, and one of the oldest Chinese houses of worship, the Temple of Kwan Tai, originally dedicated 1854.
The town definitely caters to the arts, and this yarn shop fits right in. Annelle's shop is the only yarn shop in Mendocino, and for a town with only 1000 residents, this is an impressive shop. She's got everything you need to knit (or crochet) to your heart's content, along with some great samples to inspire you. The shop, which looks like it used to be a house, has been a part of community for eleven years and  is right in the heart of Mendocino's tourist area. A short walk, and you're taking in the sights of Mendocino Bay.

I'm really looking forward to my trip here in September. As long as I have some extra spending money, we'll probably stay for a couple of nights. Although the gas was a bit cheaper than other places, everything else wasn't. The town is full of cute little trendy shops; clothing, jewelry, cafes, candy, and even a bead shop. I love beads, a lot.

Next stop: Ukiah, California

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Location:  Ferndale, California
Shop:        Foggy Bottoms
Owner:     Jacque

Ferndale is our last stop in Humboldt county. There's around 1500 folks who call this place home. It's probably the cutest town I've been to so far. The bridge leading in to town over the Eel River is over 100 years old. One of the only bridges in the area to withstand some devestating floods and earthquakes. It is narrow, I'd hate to see a couple of 18-wheelers meet in the middle. Heck, I'd hate to meet an 18-wheeler in the middle. There's a reason my husband does most of the driving, he takes everything nice and slow, and I sit back and relax and enjoy the views. It works out.

Back to the cutest town I've been in. The first thing I thought was 'Wow, there's a lot of painting going on in this town'. Of course, my husband being a retired house painter, that's what I think about. But there is. A lot of the houses, and most of the buildings on their main street have a Victorian look to them.
Jacque has had Foggy Bottoms for over 20 years. She's open six days a week, closed on Tuesdays. This is a pretty decent sized shop, and Jacque is the only employee. She needs to have one day each week to maintain her sanity. She chose Tuesday because that's the one day during the week she had things going on, including her knitting group.

Foggy Bottoms is the only store I've visited (so far) with a pellet burning stove as the only heat source. Plus, they have a wide range of yarns & needles and a back room filled with clearance or sale items.
Not seen in other stores, is the Yarn Spinner, made by Jacque's son. You wind the yarn on yourself by spinning the disc, then it unravels as you use it, no tugging. I'm not sure if he's marketing this anywhere else, but it is nicely made.
Foggy Bottoms was our last stop in Humboldt County. I will miss this place. I have a couple of good friends here, the redwood forest, the Ave of the Giants, the Pacific Ocean, and another thing, but I can't seem to remember.

Next stop:  Medocino, CA

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Location: Eureka, CA
Shop:       Yarn
Owner:     Sunni

Home to about 27,000, Eureka is the county seat for Humboldt County, which holds 7 incorporated towns, plus 40 unincorporated towns. That's a lot of towns. There are over 44,000 square miles of Humboldt County, located in the top western part of California.
Yarn is in what's considered Old Town Eureka. The shop itself is about as cute as a button, no pun intended.
Once, past the cute worn welcome mat, you'll find that it's probably the tiniest yarn shop you've ever been in. But Sunni made great use with this tiny space. There's absolutely no backstock, the place is too tiny to have a back room. Everything she has is right there in your face, and she has some cool stuff. They tend to focus on natural fibers and locally dyed yarn, which came in some fabulous colors.
One wall of yarn, and I'm serious about the wall. Every nook is filled with some great stuff. The ladder shown in the above picture gets you to some out of reach spots, but not climbable by customers. If you see something you can't reach, just ask Sunni, or one of her 3 part time gals, they will most likely point out where you can find it at a lower level.
Yarn has been in business for four years. They have classes and every Sunday is Sit & Knit. They also carry locally made things, including knitted items, chocolates, jewelry & yarn sacks, just to list a few. And, just like any great yarn shop, they've got a nice selection of books and patterns. I'm amazed that with as tiny as the shop is, they've manage to strategically place some really cute samples.
If you plan on visiting Eureka, you should know there are three yarn shops in town. I did not visit the other two, but this one had everything I would need, plus as I said before, it's about as cute as a button.

Next stop: Ferndale, California