MKG Cable Gram - Volume 20, Number 4
Our state is graced with an extraordinary number of fine yarn shops - and in this new Cable Gram column, we plan to give you an exclusive, inside peek at every one of them. We’ll find out what makes each shop special and why MKG members might want to visit. We’ve decided to tackle this task geographically: In each issue, we’ll tour the shops of a specific region. So grab a map, hop in the car and join us on A Knitter’s Tour. We begin our travels in the Twin Cities, visiting "South of the River" yarn shops.
Three Kittens Yarn Shop, Lilydale
- The Place: You’d never expect to find one of the biggest yarn selections in town tucked into a place called "Diamond Jim’s" - a rugged strip mall that looks like a frontier town, complete with wooden walkways, a cigar shop, and faux storefronts straight out of a Clint Eastwood movie. Maybe that’s why knitters have been known to gasp when they step through the door of Three Kittens for the first time. It can be a little disconcerting to leave the Old West and find yourself suddenly surrounded by yarn. Floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall yarn. More than 1,000 (yes, thousand) kinds of yarn. Three Kittens owner Karen Weiberg has been inspiring Twin Cities knitters for more than 20 years with her constantly changing, growing, up-to-the-minute stock. Last year, she expanded Three Kittens to 2,400 square feet, making it one of the largest shops in the Twin Cities. They now have ample space for classes and an entire room devoted to novelty yarns. They’re also open seven days a week, so you can satisfy your urge for a splurge - or need for needles - anytime it strikes.
- The Yarns: Here’s what Karen doesn’t carry: Rowan and Anny Blatt. Other than those two exceptions, if you can knit with it, you’ll find it at Three Kittens. Berroco, Classic Elite, Colinette, Fiesta, Katia, Mountain Colors, Noro, Phildar - the list is truly endless. If this store has a specialty,it’s softness: You’ll find plenty of cashmere, along with Debbie Bliss and Adrienne Vittadini. You’ll also find the popular Three Kittens line of patterns, sold in more than 100 yarn shops across the country, which Karen has been designing since 1992. And don’t miss the wall of buttons (pewter, shell, wood, novelty, fused glass), the shelves filled with pattern books and vintage knitting books, or the display case sparkling with knitting jewelry and gift items (hint, hint to the husbands out there).
- The Classes: Got a half-finished project stuffed in a closet? Dig it out and sign up for "Knit Again," where you’ll get the help you need to complete that oh-so-impossible sweater. Other classes include ponchos, bead knitting, afghans, color work, crochet, socks and mittens. Three Kittens also takes requests: If you’ve ever found yourself sighing, "I wish someone would teach a class on (fill in the blank), - all you have to do is ask. Visit the shop to grab the latest list of classes and trunk shows.
- The Inside Info: If you feel overwhelmed by all that yarn, ask the attentive staff to point you in the right direction. They know every skein. Another tip: Karen happily answers to "Karen," but regular customers know that her name is actually pronounced "car-in."
- The Details: Three Kittens Yarn Shoppe, 805 Sibley Memorial Highway, St. Paul, MN 55118. Phone: (651) 457-4969. Take I-35E to the Highway 13 exit and head east to Diamond Jim’s Mall. Website: www.threekittens.com. Open Sunday 12:30-5, Monday 12:30-8, Tuesday and Wednesday 10-6, Thursday 10-8, Friday and Saturday 10-5. Free parking. Cash, checks, Visa, Mastercard, Discover accepted.
The Yarn Garage, Rosemount
- The Place: Imagine a circa-1911 building in a quiet country town where hundreds of skeins overflow antique trunks, dressers and armoires. Where the scent of roses wafts in from the flower shop next door. Where neon-colored scarves drape the shoulders of vintage dressmaker’s mannequins and you can strike a Scarlett O’Hara pose in front of an antique cheval mirror. Now imagine that this little slice of knitting heaven is owned by a designer who has worked in Italy, Montreal, Miami and Hong Kong for companies like Versace, Bill Blass and Perry Ellis - and created custom knits for stars like Jennifer Aniston, Lucy Liu and "O.C." girl Mischa Barton. Shabby chic meets Hollywood energy at The Yarn Garage - and it’s not hundreds of miles away in New York or L.A. Designer Steven Berg and his sister, business partner Monika Oeltjen, opened the 900-square-foot shop in May 2004 in downtown Rosemount.
- The Yarns: Eclectic and experimentation are the keywords at the Yarn Garage. You’ll find high-end European yarns (such as Plissard and Skacel), classic American brands (such as Berroco and Plymouth), vintage skeins from the 1970s and 80s, and more needles than you can shake a stick at. What you won’t find: displays of patterns, pattern books and pattern magazines. A graduate of New York’s Parsons School of Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology, Steven doesn’t believe in following patterns, favoring a freestyle approach. Choose a sweater or accessory you want to make from one of the samples in their shop, or bring in a picture from your favorite fashion magazine, and he’ll help you figure out how to create it in the yarns of your choice. If you’re looking to unleash your inner design diva, you might just find her at The Yarn Garage.
- The Classes: Instead of learning how to follow a pattern line-by-line, Yarn Garage students soak up Steven’s in-depth knowledge of how knit fabrics are constructed, how stitches work together, how to choose yarns, and how to turn an idea into a finished project. Fun and laughter rule here, as you can tell from the sassy class titles: "Knitting Diva Day," - Everything but the Kitchen Sink Poncho, - "Stitch and Bitch Friday,""The O.C. Poncho," and "Adult Knits Night," where students learn to create naughty lingerie. Join the shop’s e-mail list for class updates.
- The Inside Info: This soothing space has quickly become a gathering spot for Twin Cities yarnistas of all ages. Steven and Monika invite MKG members to stop by anytime to stitch, chat and relax at no charge.
- The Details: The Yarn Garage, 2980 145th Street West, Rosemount, MN 55068. Phone: 651-423-2590. Website: www.yarngarage.com. E-mail: email@example.com Open Tuesday 10-6, Wednesday 10-8, Thursday 10-6, Friday 10-8, Saturday 11-4. Closed Sundays and Mondays. Located at the corner of South Robert Trail and 145th Street, next to Rosemount Floral. Free parking. Cash and checks only; no credit cards.
Zandy’s Yarns Etc., Burnsville
- The Place: On a bustling corner in Burnsville, snuggled between a tailor’s shop and an insurance agency, you’ll find a yarn shop that’s a little like the bar on "Cheers" - a place where everybody knows your name and you feel welcomed each time you visit. Zandy Engelhart has built a devoted following over 17 years, customers say, because her shop offers a unique blend of warmth, encouragement and camaraderie. The 1,500-square-foot store - half devoted to knitting, half to needlepoint and cross-stitch - is bright and sunny, from the wide front windows to the Vera Bradley tote bags on display to the friendly classes. It’s also one of the most organized shops you’ll ever visit. White-wire crates keep all the yarns neatly in place, each crate tagged with the yarn name, yardage, gauge and price.
- The Yarns: Zandy’s specializes in novelty and scarf yarns, along with sock yarns, baby yarns, and chunky quick-knit yarns. Traditionalists will love their Cotton Classic, Reynolds Lopi and Dale of Norway selections. Other featured brands include Artful Yarns, Brown Sheep, Colinette, Crystal Palace, Ironstone, Koigu, Lane Borgosesia, Schoeller & Stahl and Trendsetter. You’ll also find your favorite Addi Turbo, Brittany and Clover needles, and patterns from Ann Norling, Fiber Trends, Mountain Colors, Patons, Plymouth, and up-and-coming local designers such as MKG’s own Margie Kieper.
- The Classes: Classes cover all the latest trends - ponchos, purses, scarves, felting with novelty yarns, and gorgeous multi-yarn cardigans and wraps. If you’re stuck in mid-project, sign up for one of Zandy’s weekly $5 help sessions to get back on track. They also offer free learn-to-knit scarf and hat classes for beginners. Call or stop by to join the mailing list. Classes at Zandy’s tend to book up weeks in advance, so if your heart is set on a specific class, register as soon as you receive your flyer. Note: all yarn used in classes at Zandy’s must be purchased at Zandy’s.
- The Inside Info: Zandy’s popular Knitting Getaway, held at a local inn every fall, lets you chat, nibble and knit away an entire weekend.
- The Details: Zandy’s Yarns Etc., 13710 Nicollet Ave., Burnsville, MN 55337. Phone: 952-890-3087. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Open Monday, Thursday, Friday 10-5:30, Tuesday and Wednesday 10-8, Saturday 10-5. Closed Sundays. (Hours may vary, so call ahead if you’re traveling from afar.) Enter the strip mall from Nicollet, just north of McAndrews. Free parking. Cash, checks, Visa, Mastercard, Discover accepted.
Freelance writer and MKG member Shelly Thacker Meinhardt writes for regional and national magazines.If you know of a newsworthy knitting person, place or project, contact her at email@example.com.