Yarn stores I have known and loved

Last week I exchanged a couple of emails with Scott, whose wife manages Mouline Yarns in Montreal. He mentioned that it would be neat to read more blog posts about favourite Local Yarn Shops, and I’ve been thinking about that off and on for the last week. And since I’ve somehow managed to let almost another week go by without posting, I figured it was time to blog some of those thoughts, such as they are in my post-dissertation-atrophied brain.


I’ve been a knitter for almost four years now – not long in the grand scheme of things, but plenty long enough to build an obsession – but my love of yarn shops has probably only grown over the last 2-3 years. When I was a new knitter, I went down to the Lewiscrafts and Michaels shops and figured that was where the yarn came from. I gradually became more aware of the smaller shops, and sucked up the courage to go investigate – contrary to how it may appear otherwise, deep down I’m an incredibly shy person, and for Shy Folks it can be intimidating to enter a new LYS with an established clientele.

Happily, I’ve overcome much of this shyness, but it did take a while. I like visiting Lettuce Knit nowadays, but I don’t mind admitting that the first time I went to a knitting night there, I sat there with knots in my stomach the entire time. (I dunno, man. Shyness, it is irrational and stupid.) I regret that I only discovered knitting nights a year before I moved out of Toronto, but luckily I’m in Toronto often enough to make yarn shop visits as needed. (“Need” may of course be defined fairly loosely.) I still like Lettuce Knit and often go to fondle the sock yarn selection and purchase a skein or three, but I think the Purple Purl is becoming my first favourite LYS in Toronto (below).


Jennifer and Miko are wonderful and have created an equally wonderful space. I like their yarn selection and also their cafe setup. The space is big enough to hold a lot of seating but not to the point of feeling crowded or to give you the fishbowl feeling. Sitting there with a tea and a marshmallow square and my knitting is now on my top list of activities for knitting time in Toronto.

I do also visit Romni Wools on a regular basis, less for the atmosphere than for the yarn itself. It’s a big, big shop, and is one of the few places around where you can pretty much depend on getting a sweater quantity of whatever yarn you please. They’ve got Canadian stuff, International stuff, walls of books and needles, and there are certain sections of the store where you can turn a corner and be completely surrounded by yarn and forget that the outside world exists. That’s a pretty singular feeling, my friends.

Romni’s size can be intimidating, and can sometimes feel less personal than smaller shops, but I’ll keep on visiting it for two big reasons. First, they offer a standing student discount, and may possibly be the only yarn shop I’ve seen to do so. (When you’re a stressed out grad student in need of yarn therapy, every 10% off helps, I’m here to say.) Second, when you’re at Romni, you can do this:

June2 004b

Some times I think if you haven’t hugged a wall of sock yarn (or a wall of any yarn for that matter), you really haven’t lived.

Over the last couple of years I’ve gotten more and more into the whole ‘knitting tourism’ idea, of seeking out yarn shops in cities I’m visiting. It gets me out to different parts of cities that I might not have seen otherwise, and I often encounter new yarns I wouldn’t have found at home. At some point, everyone has an excuse to travel somewhere – different cities, provinces, countries, etc. I figure if people can do this for restaurants or pubs or fishing or art galleries, then knitting is sure as heck a bonafide side benefit for travel, even if it’s not the main purpose.

Stash Yarns UK was probably the first LYS I visited in this way (picture up at the top), when I was in London almost two years ago for a conference. When my father travels, he spends his first day of de-jet-lagging going to museums. I spent it drinking caffiene and looking for yarn. Michelle, one of the Stash Yarns owners, was so friendly and helpful and completely understanding of my jet-lagged state. She invited me to sit with a drink for a while if I wanted to just take a pause, and I did. The space was small but felt open and uncluttered, and they had a variety of yarns in different weights and fibres. We chatted off and on and I left wishing I’d had more time to go back again.

I think I’ll stop my ramblings blogging there for today, and pick up with more LYS tales tomorrow. I hope your Monday isn’t too Monday-ish today. May your knitting be close by!


  1. Ohh I thought I recognised that first piccie!! Stash was one of my LYS’s when I lived in the UK. I miss that LYS. šŸ˜¦ Although, there is a new one opened up here so I have to find time to visit it definitely! šŸ™‚

  2. a work friend of mine in TOR told me she was going for a run down Queen’s St East and saw this cute little yarn shop that made her think of me. I immediately screeched “OMG, you were by The Purple Purl!!!” just the mention of that place gives me the warm fuzzies.

  3. This is great! Looking forward to hearing more :^)

    Dude, if EVER I make it back to Toronto… sniff sniff… apparently I have not lived ;^D

  4. I feel less silly that I never went for the knit night at Lettuce Knit last year, knowing that it took you a while to get up the courage to go. I tend to be very shy, too, and sometimes anonymity is what I want. I like to be able to hide in a store, but I also like to be able to get the help I need when I want it. I think that’s why I ended up spending so much time at Romni Wool while I lived in Toronto. It’s easy to hide in a store that big! And I can’t think of a time that I didn’t get the attention I needed. I missed out on The Purple Purl–it opened after I moved back to the States. I’ll make sure I check it out if I ever get back to Toronto!

  5. One of the first things I love to do when I’m in a different city is open the yellow pages to find local yarn stores. Actually, I search the internet before I get there, but I always look in the phone book too in case there’s something I might have missed. Next week I’ll be in Boise, Idaho for a couple of days. I’m hoping to have time to visit a couple of stores. Looking forward to hearing more about your favorites!

  6. I am going to take a trip to London yarn stores one day!

  7. wiscjennyann · ·

    What a nice post! It really got me thinking about the yarn stores close to my own heart… thinking so much, in fact, that what started out as a brief comment turned into a novella and, as I didn’t want to totally clog up your replies section, I moved it to my blog… heh. Anyway, thanks so much for this! It was a real inspiration!

  8. […] 3, 2008 by wiscjennyann Yesterday, Glenna wrote a very nice post reflecting on the “Yarn stores [she has] known and loved.” I started to leave a reply but found myself going on and on, so I thought rather than […]

  9. I thought I recognised Stash – it’s my LYS! I’m actually planning my own knitting-tourism trip to Cnada and America in October, so your post has made me even more excited. I had been debating whether I have the courage to go to a knit night on my own while I’m in Toronto.

    I’m also taking my sister to Rhinebeck. She’s not a knitter so I’m not quite sure how she’ll react!

  10. Ah, so many great yarn stores! I know what you mean about feeling shy in the LYSs, I find I’m still struggling to get over that. But it’s so nice to see you do an overview of your experiences. That photo of you hugging the sock yarn at Romni is priceless!!

  11. This is a great topic! We are so lucky in Toronto to have so many great resources. I am often am in a quandry as to which store to visit next! I must admit I haven’t worked up the nerve to do a knit night yet!

  12. I just went the other way (London to Toronto/Montreal), and the student discount at Romni was a rather pleasant surprise! Mouline was also great – but they sure are persuasive, I came away with a whole lot more silk than I was intending….

  13. A visit to Toronto would be worth it just for the yarn stores I’m sure :o)

    I really enjoy the seeking out of yarn stores when I travel – it does tend to take you off the beaten track and I love the similarities and differences from country to country

  14. Hmm, is there a shy knitters group on Ravelry? Or would we all be too afraid to join?

  15. You are so lucky to have such great yarn stores. There are a few here but nothing much is available especially handpainted yarn. I will love to visit all these stores.

  16. I felt really awkward going to knit night the first time, too. Especially because the lady who owns/runs the place is a very well-known Danish author of many knit and crochet books, and the people there acted like everyone had known each other for years.

    After I’ve gone a few times it gets better, of course. But I remember I said something about how the gauge in my first scarf had gone from holey to bullet-proof, and all the ladies laughed so hard. It completely shocked me – I’m not a funny kind of person. šŸ˜› But once you break the ice, it really gets better!

    I’ve been meaning to visit my “old” LYS soon. I bought my very first yarn and needles there, and they have a wonderful selection of good, basic yarn at great prices. Soon I won’t be able to go there anymore because I’m moving… šŸ˜¦

  17. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts about your LYS. I will be in Toronto on business in a few weeks, and I was so excited to find your helpful info. It looks like I need to save room on the return trip for some yarn!

  18. hi!
    i live in Iran and i’m a crochet artist and in would like to work with a craft and yarn shop in london . could you please help me ? i’m 21 years old and i’ve crocheted many of necklaces and ….
    thank you

  19. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. šŸ™‚ Cheers! Sandra. R.

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