MKG Cable Gram - Volume 21, Number 1
We continue our statewide tour with a visit to the yarn shops of St. Paul.
The Place: Named for the north wind, this new shop at the corner of Thomas and Hamline in St. Paul’s Midway area is delightfully open and airy. The 1930s building once served as the neighborhood drug store and still boasts many original features -- including soaring tin ceilings and wide windows that provide plenty of light. You won’t have to strain to see your stitches here, even on a cloudy spring day. Add ceiling fans, hardwood floors and hundreds of skeins of yarn, and you’ve got an oasis of calm where knitters can escape from urban bustle. Owner Abby Lamberton, formerly an Asian history teacher at Gustavus Adolphus College, opened her shop in May 2004 and has already expanded to 1500 square feet. The purr of a cappuccino machine can be heard through an open door that leads to Dadders Coffee Company, and Abby encourages customers to grab a cup before settling in to knit. An antique table near the front window has room for eight, so you can unwind with your latest project and a hot latte while you watch the city whirl by.
The Yarns: For a new shop, Borealis stocks an impressive array of brands. You’ll find Berrocco, Brown Sheep, Cherry Tree Hill, Colinette, Debbie Bliss, Elsebeth Lavold, Himalaya, Katia, Lamb’s Pride, Marks & Katens, Mission Falls, Plymouth, Tahki, and many more. Wood, wire and glass shelving keeps it all organized, and the yarns are neatly labeled by name and price. Abby also offers unique skeins from local hand-spinners and smaller firms such as Twisted Sister, a California company that creates hand-dyed yarns. Displays of buttons, pattern books, and needles from companies like Brittany, Clover and Skacel round out the selection, along with stylish knitting bags from Elizabeth Austen.
The Classes: A back room with a window overlooking Hamline offers sunny space for classes. Offerings vary with the seasons and cover everything from beginning knitting to felted bags. Visit the shop for the latest list. You’re also invited to join the neighborhood regulars for open knitting on Tuesday nights and charity knitting on Sunday afternoons.
The Inside Info: Borealis offers a customer-rewards punch card: After you spend $200 in the shop, you’ll get $20 off your next purchase. And be sure to check out the clearance yarns on sale in the back room.The Details: Borealis Yarns, 1340 Thomas Ave., St. Paul, MN 55104. Phone: 651-646-2488. Website: www.borealisyarns.com. Open Monday-Thursday 10-8, Friday 10-6, Saturday 10-5, Sunday 12-5. Free parking in the lot behind the store (enter from Hamline) or on Thomas Street. Cash, checks, Visa, Mastercard, Discover accepted.
The Place: A Twin Cities landmark for three decades, The Yarnery is located in a 1920s house at Victoria Crossing, just a skein’s throw from the governor’s mansion. But don’t be intimidated by the posh Grand Avenue address. The Yarnery is a haven of warmth and charm: An old-fashioned shop bell jingles when you open the front door, and inside you’ll find creaky floors, walls painted a soft blush pink, and superb customer service. Co-managers Theresa Gaffey and Lynn Van der Haar head up a staff of 20, and there are always at least four employees -- usually five or six -- on hand to help you. Some have been with the Yarnery for more than 20 years, including nationally-known designers who have contributed patterns to best-selling knitting books and been featured in magazines like Threads and Vogue Knitting. They travel across the country to teach, but we lucky Twin Cities knitters can learn from them right here.
The Yarns: Natural fibers are a specialty at the Yarnery, so you’ll find an extensive selection of traditional wools and cottons from names like Dale of Norway, Debbie Bliss, Elsebeth Lavold, Jamieson, Jo Sharp, Lamb’s Pride and Rowan. They also stock novelty yarns, sock yarns and a pleasing palette of Koigu’s PPPM. You can stock up on Addi, bamboo and Brittany needles; nifty notions; and knitting bags crafted from gorgeous Asian-themed silks by a company called Silk Road North Woods.
The Classes: The Yarnery’s staff of designers offer innovative classes that will tempt even the most seasoned knitters. This spring, you can choose from more than 30 topics, from Multidirectional Scarves to Mini Socks. Felting fans won’t want to miss St. Paul designer Marie Mayhew’s enchanting classes. Her felted pumpkins and snowmen are a big hit in the fall, and she’s teaching felted chicks, flowers, and emellishments for spring. Visit the shop for a current class list. Free clinics are offered three days a week.
The Inside Info: Sign up for a class and you’ll get 10% off all your supplies, plus a discount card good for 10% off your next purchase. And ladies (and gentlemen), start your charge cards: At the Yarnery’s Annual Spring Inventory Sale, April 14-30, you'll get 20% off everything in the store. Yes, that means everything -- yarns, needles, patterns, books, baskets, buttons, and up to 50% off discontinued yarns. If you have a dollar or two left after your spree, sample the other pleasures of Victoria Crossing. Grab lunch at Café Latte or a munchie at Bread & Chocolate before hitting the Bead Monkey, Red Ballooon children’s bookshop, and Cooks of Crocus Hill for gourmet cooking supplies.
The Details: The Yarnery, 840 Grand Ave., St. Paul, MN 55105. Phone: 651-222-5793. New website: www.yarnery.com. Open Monday-Thursday 10-8, Friday and Saturday 10-6, Sunday noon-5. Cash, checks, Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express accepted. Parking can be a challenge in the shopping mecca that is Victoria Crossing, but you might nab one of the 15 free spaces behind the Yarnery, a spot in the free lot behind the northwest mall (enter off Victoria), or free street parking on Grand. The parking garage on the southwest corner charges 75 cents per half hour.
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