Let me warn you right now, this is going to be a long post.
I just returned from a week long visit to my parent's house. I grew up in California and moved to Ohio almost three years ago after my husband took a job here with the University of Akron and we got married. I miss Akron when I'm gone (yes, it's actually true) but it has more to do with missing my dogs, my husband, and my bed than anything else.
When you think of California, you're probably picturing wild fires and earthquakes, Hollywood and the beach. I grew up in the Central Valley (Fresno specifically) which many consider farm country. However, Fresno itself is rather large with a population more than half a million and spanning about 104 square miles. It's a real city in the middle of all the agriculture. It's the fifth largest city in the state (with the third largest school district). Many people consider California to be extremely liberal but I would consider Fresno to still be rather conservative and have a nice, small town feel in a large city. I always thought I had grown up in a small town. You could always run into people you knew at the movies, at the mall, or at Target.
When I was living in Fresno, I wasn't really into knitting and crochet like I am now. If you've listened to my story on the Never Not Knitting podcast, then you know that until I moved to Akron, I had never even used anything other than acrylic yarn (yikes!). So now that I am a real "crafter", I wanted to check out some yarn stores in Fresno.
A mural in Santa Cruz
The fist yarn store I visited while in California was The Swift Stitch in Santa Cruz, California. I know I said "while in Fresno" but my family likes to travel to the central coast. A lot. My parents make frequent day trips to Monterey and Santa Cruz each month. While I was growing up, we spent a week in Santa Cruz each summer. I even got married in Monterey (which was beautiful!). So this past Sunday we headed to the coast. Anyway, The Swift Stitch has a wonderful variety of yarns and is located in a nice little shopping plaza with an outdoor restaurant, wine stores (with tastings), and other specialty stores. This LYS carries yarns such as Alchemy (which I had never even seen in real life), Spud and Chloe, Blue Sky Alpacas, Malabrigo, Manos del Uruguay, and staples like Lamb's Pride and Cascade 220. It's a small store but it is literally packed full to the brim. No, seriously. They store more yarn in the loft space. Even though it is super full, the yarn is well organized and available to touch and handle. In addition to the yarn, they carry many loose patterns, pattern books, magazines, and pattern booklets. This store also had many, many sample knits available to view and touch. Each sample was labeled with the yarn and pattern info. While there, I picked up two skeins of the Lamb's Pride Worsted in a fuchsia color that are refusing to photograph well. This yarn is destined to become my second Formal Boot Bag. It's going to by my mom's Mother's Day gift so I let her pick out the yarn and color.
I also got two skeins of Nashau Handknits Creative Focus Linen in this teal color which will become the Aran Necklace Camisole from the spring issue of Interweave Knits. My brother actually bought this yarn for me as an early birthday gift.
My second yarn stop was (in Fresno) Swatches. This is a tiny store located in a plaza called Gazebo Gardens. However, the store will be moving soon to a new, larger location in the north end of town. Despite the size, the owner of this store carries a large selection of Rowan, Malabrigo, Louisa Harding, and Araucania. Yarn is organized high and low. From this store I purchased a skein of Malabrigo worsted in Velvet Grapes which is in the process of becoming a birthday scarf for my boss.
My final stop was at Janna's (no website or Ravelry group), located near the Fashion Fair Mall. Janna's is the largest store I've been in on my trip and is wonderfully organized. Janna carries a big selection of Debbie Bliss and Sublime. Much of the Debbie Bliss as well as the Sublime is orgainized together as a brand. The other yarns carried are organized by color. These are very exciting displays. I can tell when the displays are truly effective because my mom is running around the store calling for me to come look at this, ooh and at this, oh and did you see that? She's hasn't crocheted much in the last ten years but boy, was she excited. In the back of the store, there was also a very large table, which could probably seat 12 or 14 people, that I assume is used for groups. Here, I picked up a skein of Sublime Luxurious Woolly Merino in a natural color
and a skein of Debbie Bliss Wool/Cotton in brown. These two together are destined to become Lamb by Susan B. Anderson. The selection at Janna's was so exciting that I almost went back again the next day. But I was able to control myself.
I also visited a third Fresno yarn store that I didn't buy anything at and won't talk about because I didn't really care for it. So there.
Overall it was a really great trip. I always enjoy being with my family. My mom and I are very close so it was nice to do our "regular" activities together (manicures and shopping). I'm always sad to leave California and yes, I do leave a piece of my heart there.