On the Road: Yarn Shops in the Baltimore Region
by Amie Gavin Glasgow
Originally published April 27, 2006—Please note that Knitter's Review no longer reviews yarn stores and this article is here for archival purposes only. Any store details may no longer be accurate. Thanks!
A Good Yarn
If you ever need a moment alone with some yarn, away from the hustle and bustle of your daily life, A Good Yarn is the place to go. Buried in Fell's Point, Baltimore, this lilliputian store is not a place for a large group of people, but it is well worth a trip alone.
The tiny shop has enthusiastic and helpful employees and a classroom in the back—in fact, I'm told they think of themselves sometimes more as a teaching environment than a shop. Recognizing their (did I mention?) small space and therefore stocking limitations, the shop is willing to order any amount of yarn—no minimums—to help you finish a project, and can cheerfully chat about your current purchases and projects while doing it.
While the physical space is not easily accessible to those with disabilities, the team of employees makes all accommodations they can. During one visit, a woman came with a walker, and the employees quickly set her up with a comfortable place to sit while they brought her everything she wanted to see. They did so with broad smiles and complete sincere patience. With customer service like this, A Good Yarn could be where Baltimore earns its proudest nickname, "Charm City."
All About Yarn
Located in Columbia, All About Yarn was started by two working mothers with a vision for the future, a passion for yarn, and a dream of leaving a legacy for their daughters. After meeting at Special Olympics events, where they were both cheering on their daughters, owners Cindy and Karen began working toward a future in which they could retire and play with yarn all day, while their daughters handle the day-to-day business of the store.
They're well on their way. The long space is organized by brand within categories—all sock yarn is together, then broken down into brand in a reasonable manner. This makes it quite easy to see all the Noro, Dale, or Manos, to name just a few of the names they stock substantially, in one sweeping glance.
A large bookshelf holds nearly any book you can imagine, plus a huge selection of needles—the commonly practical and the beautifully decorative ones as well.
A favorite feature for customers is the frequent shopper program. Without asking customers to hang on to (and risk losing) cards of their own, purchase records are kept in the All About Yarn computer system. You earn a $25 store credit with every $250 purchased.
If you've got a free afternoon and you're in the mood for a pleasant stroll down a street so packed with ambience you've got to see it to believe it, head down to Historic Main Street in Ellicott City. Lined with antique galleries, quaint shops, and charming restaurants, Main Street has a decidedly bohemian flavor.
The Celtic Knot calls the second floor of a renovated old row house, built into the side of a hill, home. Featuring a cozy classroom tucked unobtrusively out of the way from disruptive foot traffic, the store also sells knitting themed T-shirts, sheep-themed cards, and several other celtic themed notions in addition to yarn, needles, patterns, and bags.
More than good things for a knitter to buy, the shop offers several good things for a knitter to do—from knitting for Katrina victims or joining the shop team in The Race for the Cure walkathon each year to weekly knitting nights in which guests are invited to bring food or wine and join in for a relaxing night out. Celtic Knot's staff includes a long-haired dachshund named (what else?) Purl who is always willing to help you choose a yarn—as long as it's close to the floor!
Cloverhill Yarn Shop
In the heart of "Music City," Maryland—aka Catonsville—is a fiber artist's hidden treasure. The only shop on today's list that also sells spinning supplies (specifically Ashford and Schacht wheels and accessories), Cloverhiill is tucked away in a strip mall that also hosts The Stitching Post and The Seminole Sampler, making it a trifecta of needle arts suppliers.
With a classroom in the back of the store, Cloverhill has hosted several big names in the knitting world (most recently Lucy Neatby and the women from Wool in the Woods), with trunk shows from Manos and One Skein planned for the future.
Very often upon entering the bright and cheery shop, you'll find one of the hospitable and impassioned employees seated at a table with a customer, coaching them through a tricky technique or sorting through the large collection of patterns to help find the perfect one. Be sure to stop in frequently to see Cloverhill's "Yarn of the Month"—it comes with a 10% discount that whole month, and it's sure to be one of your favorite lines.
Heading North of Baltimore to Bel-Air, Maryland, we have Ewenique Yarns. The pretty, sunny shop is tucked into a small strip mall, so if you're not careful you might miss it. You won't want to do that, though.
In addition to being well stocked in Rowan and Brown Sheep yarns, as well as many other favorites, the shop is decorated with dozens of toy sheep that were given by loyal customers to express their appreciation. The staff earns this appreciation, giving all first-time customers a gift of a retractable tape measure decorated with their logo, as well as an emery board to smooth any yarn-snagging nails.
On one visit, I witnessed a man coming in with a shopping list from his wife. The sales associate helped find several yarns that fit the list requirements, and patiently explained their return policy should anything be not quite right. Later, in my own purchase, I discovered that one of the buttons I'd chosen was scratched. Without hesitation it was given to me at a marked discount. It seems Ewenique Yarns features unique service as well.
Walking into Woolworks feels like walking into your grandfather's study. The warm, dark shop is lined with built-in wood shelving and furniture. Despite its small size, Woolworks has an open feel. The main room is attractive and homey, with all the yarns stored in the walls except for one floor unit in the center. A smaller room in the back holds patterns, notions, and more yarn.
Yarns are organized by color on the general scheme, with a wall of natural sheep colors on one side and a wash of rainbow colors on the other surrounding walls. Unfortunately, yarns within the colors can get a bit shuffled as customers search for the specific ones they want, and you should be wary of picking up similar colored yarns that are actually completely different.
While you'll easily find stitch markers, yarn snips, and row counters in a back corner, needles are hidden in an old armoire (an attractive, if uninviting, storage choice).
Woolstock Knit Shop
Have you taken a class with Leslye Solomon at a Stitches event? Perhaps seen one of her instructional knitting videos, or read her articles in Knit 'n Style magazine? Now's your chance to visit her yarn shop.
Easily the largest of the shops on our list today, Leslye has spent the past seven years grooming Woolstock into something special. The shop has changed location, but only just slightly, as it's now in a larger space in the same strip mall.
Like Woolworks, the shop is arranged mostly by color, but the stock is kept so full that there's very little jumbling and confusion of brands. There are dozens of things you may not find elsewhere, from an expensively lush mohair/silk blend to new glow-in-the-dark yarn. Two walls are stocked with racks and racks of patterns, books, magazines, and knitting bags.
While there is a fairly large clearance section, many of the yarns are higher-end luxury yarns, respective of Leslye's normal clientelle. And it's clear that this clientele appreciates the work Leslye and her staff do, as there are always regulars sitting around knitting, chattering, and laughing like old friends.
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