If it were up to me, everyone living in Albuquerque would receive an enormous reward—maybe a freezer full of gelato or a trip to Alaska or a million dollars—for enduring the summer heat. Since I’m not in charge of positively reinforcing residents for tolerating hell, I just have to make do with what I have. Which, in this case, is the Yarn Store.
The quaint shop is located in Nob Hill just North of Central, and the murals make it an unmistakable destination. Hands woven out of colorful yarn that are holding knitting needles cover the entire back wall while an equally colorful collection of shapes spreads across the smaller side wall. I didn’t particularly need any craft supplies when I walked by the other day, but the paint jobs and prospect of air conditioning are enough to lure anyone inside.
A gust of air swept over me as I walked through the small front door. To my right were a couple of women working on projects and laughing together at a wooden table. I smiled and ventured further inside, admiring color-coordinated arrangements of all kinds of yarn. Cotton blends, plant blends and local fibers, to name a few. Skeins of yarn sat happily in cubbies, sorted with similar colors. One wall had crochet hooks and knitting needles; another room was dedicated solely to needlepoint work where an adorable collection of buttons sat beneath rows of string in every imaginable hue. My old lady tendencies took over, and I couldn’t help but get really excited about sitting down with a ball of yarn and starting to plan which colors would make good hats, and who in my friend circle might like another knitted Christmas gift this year ...
Walking through the store is like being transported to a different time, or at least a different season. It’s a dip into autumn whenever your heart desires, and for me, that’s pretty much always. I was drawn to the rusty orange and olive green tones and suddenly felt like it was a crisp fall day instead of what it actually was: the middle of June.
Throughout the store are pockets of project areas, where cushions and chairs welcome anyone to grab a seat and get to work. And it’s no problem if you’re not sure where to start; a bookshelf overflowing with how-to guides and Knitting for Dummies is strategically placed next to a few work spaces, inviting you to flip through and find whatever inspiration you’re looking for.
As I moseyed through the back of the store, touching soft wool overflowing from wicker baskets and admiring difficult-looking patterns, something moved on top of the shelf in the corner of my eye. Startled, I turned around to find a cat lounging behind a knitting magazine. The sleepy Yarn Store resident blinked a couple times, yawned and let me scratch his belly before resuming his catnap. Another reason to visit this place, clearly. If you haven’t been and even vaguely like crafting, go. Go for inspiration, go for a smile, go to expand your knowledge of alpaca wool, and definitely go to escape into a room full of cozy reminders that sweater weather will come again.
Fiber Chicks is hidden in a courtyard in Old Town between a coffee shop and an art gallery. It’s easy to miss. But once you’re inside, miles of yarn become a blank slate for knitting, crocheting and felting. Fibers from all over the world and a mix of crafters and tourists exploring Old Town are brought together by the common thread of fiber arts, with owner Lesley Miller serving as hostess and tour guide.
My knitting hero, I’ll call her “Our Lady of Crafting,” once advised me, “make a hat or a scarf for a boyfriend—never a sweater.” I think her guidance had something to do with commitment. I listened and, last Christmas, made and gave away a hat to a special somebody. By February, the hat was lost. Thing is, I know where it was lost. It was lost at Maria’s in Santa Fe. I know because the hat was with us when we walked in and gone 20 minutes after we left. But it was eventually found, for sale, at Buffalo Exchange. The hat misplacer and I just happened to be shopping that day when I found it (and a $9 price tag). I think they only sold it back to us at a discount to get the crazy lady (me) out of the store. Being crafty is fun, so get your do-it-yourself on or support someone who already has!