By Jessica Allen
Long winter nights mean plenty of time to return to that long-abandoned quilt or to get started on that scarf. Our five favorite knitting stores in New York City offer classes, needles, and yarn galore.
Knitty City wants to be more than just a go-to for yarn. Oh, it’s definitely that, with tons of brands, including Joseph Galler Prime Alpaca and the very vibrant Dream in Color, available. This Upper West Side store also wants to be a neighborhood hangout, a place for the crafty and non-crafty alike to get together and have fun. Upcoming events range from Men’s Night, for men who want to knit and crochet, to Care to Knit, which lets knitters donate their projects to local hospices, nursing homes, and others in need, to “meets and greets” with young designers.
La Casita Yarn Shop
“La Casita” means “little house” in Spanish, and while your home probably doesn’t have buckets and baskets of silk, cashmere, and wool, there is something homey happening here. Perhaps it’s the friendly staff, who’ll patiently answer your questions about purling and ribbing, or perhaps it’s the great smells wafting over from the in-house cafe. After browsing or taking a class like Continental Knitting or Beginning Crochet, settle in for a hot sake, iced coffee, or glass of wine, among other beverages, along with a savory snack like an empanada or quiche.
Lion Brand Yarn Studio
As America’s oldest hand-knitting yarn brand, Lion Brand knows its way around weft and warp. Since 1878, this family-owned and -run store has supplied knitters near and far. At the large studio near Union Square, you can browse 4,000 free patterns, touch and try at the sampling wall, or sign up for a workshop, such as Sweater School, Needle Felting Basics, or Intro to Lace. The store also holds two free drop-in clinics each week: Crochet Clinic, on Tuesdays from 5:30 to 6:30, and Knitting Clinic, on Wednesdays, from 5:30 to 6:30.
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Before we get into why you should go to Smiley’s, we should mention when you can go: Fridays and Saturdays. This Queens shop is closed the rest of the week, although its website is always available (beware the flashing colors). Now, back to why you should go: the prices and selection simply can’t be beat, and this attention to selection and cost has remained constant since the store opened in 1935. The customer service is pretty good too, with a sales staff willing to go in the back and hunt around for your must-have skein among the 100,000 or so balls on offer.
If it’s high-end yarn you’re after, then it’s String you’ll want to visit. After all, String’s motto is “If ‘obsession’ puts it mildly . . . welcome home.” At this store on the Upper East Side, you’ll find a highly curated selection of the world’s best yarn, lovingly selected by owner Linda Morse, who dreamed of opening a knitting store for more than 20 years before finally doing it. You’ll also find unique patterns created by the in-house designer. Need some tutelage? In addition to group classes, you can sign up for private lessons for one-on-one help with that tricky stitch or turn.