Last time I ventured into a knitting shop several years ago it didn't take me long to walk back out. The women who worked there didn't even give me the time of day which I found odd as quilt stores I would visit would mostly have the most personable and helpful people in the world and I had worked with people who wrote knitting instructions for a living and they were nice people. I had visited one other knitting shop before that and the ladies were nice but at that time everyone was on the older side and the selections of yarn were minimal. The shops just didn't feel like me.
Thank goodness times have changed. Now that knitting and crocheting are growing in numbers among all ages of people the knitting shops are not only traditional but becoming very hip. There are several in the Chicago area and I plan on visiting them all and I will share what I find here. Today took me to West Dundee and East Dundee, Illinois.
The first shop I stopped by was The Gifted Purl on Main Street in West Dundee. This is a quaint shop in an old downtown storefront with a creaky wooden floor. The staff is super friendly and very helpful. There are comfy chairs and a sofa to sit and stitch at any time you would like to stop by. My 6 year old daughter was with me and took advantage of a box of toys from which she built a town from Lincoln Logs while I browsed. You can choose from several classes including knit and crochet although they specialize in knitting. Their signature activity is Friday Night Stitch In which they do every Friday beginning at 5:30 and ends whenever. The shopkeeper said last night they were there until midnight! They have been in business for 2 years and have a great selection of specialty yarns including cottons, wools, silks and blends.
The second shop was across the Fox River in East Dundee on River Road also in an old storefront. The Fishbed Knitting Emporium has only been open for 3 months but looks like a lot longer with the great inventory of yarns especially wools. There were so many colors it definitely was like visiting one of those candy shops with the rows of colorful candies along the walls. My daughter was impressed with this one because there was real candy to sample and the owner was very sweet to her. The coolest items in the shop were not even knitted. The owner, a fashion design major in college, had a couple of fiber art headdresses on display. One was made with wire springs, cut out pieces from scrap CDs and old computer parts. I wish I had had my camera with me.
Of course I couldn't leave either store without buying something (see the photo). At the Gifted Purl I purchased a handcrafted kettle-dyed wool by Manos del Uruguay and at the Fishbed I purchased a 100% corn fiber (yes corn like you eat) called aMaizing by the South West Trading Company. Now I just have to make something. I am a new knitter but have been crocheting since I was 5 so I will probably choose crochet over knit for now. I want to do a felting project with the wool and I'll have to see with the corn. I'll share with you what I discover with both of these. Corn! I still am aMaized.