I often travel through Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota on business. When I do, I try to visit one or two of the local yarn shops. Over the past several months, I managed to visit almost all of the fourteen (yes, 14!) yarn shops in the “Twin Cities.” I’ve decided to split this post into two parts (and later I’ll update with the ones I still need to visit). Last week I wrote about the shops in the northern part of the city and suburbs; this week I’ll tell you about the shops that follow a line from west to east through the center of the cities.
Great Yarn Shop Criteria
As I stated last week, with all the visits I’ve made recently, I’ve started to come up with my own criteria about what makes a great yarn shop. This is what I look for:
- A well-organized selection of yarn
- Friendly, engaging staff (but not too pushy)
- Samples, samples, samples
- Character or cuteness
Each shop may not possess all of these qualities, but having several of them will warrant a return visit.
I arrived at Lakeside Yarn, in Excelsior, Minnesota, near closing time – I had five minutes to shop. The staff person was great and welcomed me in, no matter the time. (I rewarded her with a purchase, making her time worthwhile).
The shop was full of character, with a lovely fireplace surrounded by couches that invited knitters. The yarn was organized by weight which made it easy to find yarn for a particular project. Each bin held one or two skeins of each available color of the brand assigned to that bin. Additional skeins were hidden away in storage areas.
I was immediately drawn to a shawl designed by the shop’s owner – then I discovered there were several other of her designs in the store. I purchased yarn for one of the shawls – the staff person eagerly searched through the storage areas for enough skeins of the correct color.
Linden Yarn and Textiles
Linden Yarn and Textiles is located in Saint Louis Park, Minnesota. It was easy to find using the GPS on my phone. The shop carried yarn from Spincycle, Swans Island, Malabrigo, Shibui, and more.
I was immediately drawn to a selection of samples – mostly shawls – that were hanging near each other. As I started to look through them, one of them stood out. When I asked about it, the staff person told me it was made using a Shibui silk blend and a pure silk yarn held together. Several of the other samples also used two yarns held together. As I thought about it, I realized how much more profitable this could be for the shop owners. They would be able to sell two skeins of fine lace yarn instead of a single skein of yarn in a fingering or DK weight. There are advantages to the consumer, too, though. Knitters can choose yarns made of different fibers to achieve the fiber content that would be best for their project. It was interesting to think about.
I decided not to purchase yarn here, but took notes on the patterns so I can think about them later. The staff person that was working at the time was very helpful in answering my questions. There was a small group of women gathered for an informal knitting group as was the case in many of the shops I visited. I would love to have a shop like this closer to where I live.
Heading east, the next shop I would come to was StevenBe, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The shop, owned by designer Steven Berg, is the largest yarn shop in the Twin Cities area.
Located in an old building with very high ceilings, the shop has character even before meeting the owner. The walls all around the large main room were lined with cubby holes full of yarn. Throughout the middle of the room were display racks of patterns, more yarn, and samples.
I had heard of StevenBe’s Ponchini pattern before, but was interested to see that he had published a book that included several Ponchini variations. As I looked at it, the designer himself came from a small side room – possibly his office – and started to talk to me. He asked if his staff had shown me the various ways to wear the Ponchini, and when I replied that they had not, he proceeded to show me himself.
When I said that I would be purchasing the book, Steven Berg asked if I would like him to sign it for me. I did. As he autographed the book, he told me, “When you have glitter with breakfast, your whole days sparkles.”
The Yarnery is located in an old house in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Although the staff greeted me when I walked in, they didn’t pay much attention to me after that.
The shop had some character, with yarn scattered through several rooms, but because I visited during a large city-wide gathering called Yarnover where the Yarnery had a display, their stock was limited. There was a large rack of Shibui yarn like the one I had seen in other stores, but I overheard the staff talking about another large rack that had been taken to the event.
I’m curious as to what I missed. In addition to the Shibui yarn, The Yarnery carried Berroco, Koigu, Rowan, Cascade and more. There were a few samples (maybe some were at the event) but I would have been more inspired if there were others around the store. Overall, I was a bit disappointed, but I’d like to give them another chance when their stock is not at an event.
Knitting from the Heart
The final stop on this path, is Knitting from the Heart, located in Woodbury, Minnesota. Although the store is located in a shopping center, I saw plenty of character when I walked in. Cute displays, sample projects, and friendly staff made me want to return.
The shop carries yarn by Malabrigo, Cascade, and Dream in Color – including an exclusive colorway dyed just for Knitting from the Heart. The staff offered to wind my yarn as I waited, as they did for each customer, although I did not take them up on their offer.
This was a fun shop. It was busy when I was there, but I could see why. I’d shop often if I lived closer.
Making your Visit
Although the distance covered was similar to what I had covered when I shopped in the northern part of the city, travel time through the center would be longer. I found more traffic and a less direct route between shops. It is still possible to cover this list of shops in a day or a long afternoon.
I hope you enjoyed this trip through the Twin Cities in Minnesota and that you will find it helpful for your next visit. Happy shopping!