The Boston Yarn Trail

It was day two of my trip to Boston and I was determined to find a few more American made and dyed wools as souvenirs.

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My first stop was over to Dorchester to visit Stitch House Dorchester, about which I’d heard many good things.

Stitch House is about a 10 minute walk from the JFK/U Mass stop on the Red Line so is easy to get to. They even have a yarn-bombed tree just outside the door so you can’t possibly miss it.

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However, I was a bit devastated, after all the trekking through the heat, to find it was closed for a holiday for the week. Moral of the story, check carefully online before going anywhere. Dorchester is nice for a stroll around though, assuming the weather is less than 32℃.

It was then back on the Red Line to head west to Cambridge, home to several yarn stores. I nearly missed stop number one, Mind’s Eye Yarns, as it does look very much like a house. I was slightly concerned I was breaking and entering opening the front and interior doors to the shop but what was inside soon put me at ease.

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Mind’s Eye Yarns is three rooms stuffed to the ceiling with skeins of all colours and sizes. They have a small stock of weaving and spinning accessories as well as some top for sale if you’re after fibre but the focus of the store is enough yarn for ten lifetimes.

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There’s a good selection of hand dyed yarns such as the Wonderland Yarns, which come in some interesting variegated mixes and a great collection of Malabrigo silk yarns too. I did pick up some Jaggerspun, which was a gorgeous laceweight 50/50 silk/wool blend spun in Maine. I think this is the first time I’ve ever opted for a white or natural yarn but that’s because I’ve got dyeing plans. It’ll definitely have to be something special though, the skein feels like it deserves it.

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Mind’s Eye Yarns also carry the Plymouth Yarn range of bags, which come in a range of sizes and colours and are far too gorgeous to leave behind. If you want to carry your project around in style, this is definitely the way to do it and the shoulder bags come with loads of inbuilt zips and compartments for all the necessary accessories. Mind’s Eye Yarns is a lovely store and well-worth a visit. You might want to check out A Sign of the Dove, just across the road, while you’re there as well. It’s a local artisans’ cooperative with everything from sumptuous textiles to ceramics.

My final plan for the day was to visit Gather Here, also conveniently located in Cambridge. This is a spacious store, which runs very regular classes and does have amazing air conditioning too, which was very welcome after a long walk.

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Gather Here has a wide range of quilting and dressmaking fabrics, as well as assorted accessories and patterns. There are some really cute wooden needle gauges and yarn sizers and some simple embroidery kits with a variety of modern design. The store has a nice, modern feel to it and the staff are all incredibly friendly too.

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They have a good stock of knitting yarns, including a large selection of the dreaded Manos Del Uruguay in a selection of weights. I do think Manos yarns are absolutely beautiful but their laceweight baby alpaca blend is one of the worst things I’ve ever had the displeasure of knitting with.

Since I’ve been spinning, I’ve nearly completely stopped buying yarn. I make the odd exception for something truly different or exceptional (though that is what led me to buying the aforementioned skein of Manos Del Uruguay…. be warned.) Gather Here does stock some handspun art yarns but it was the Skeinny Dipping yarns, made by a local Massachusetts dyer, that really caught my eye. The colours are incredible and almost look luminescent.

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Sadly, the skeins were all fingering weight and superwash merino. I generally prefer lace knitting and do have some reservations about merino, so was struggling to see what project I could possibly envision using them for. I’ve never knitted socks and am not sure I quite see the point in doing so, though sock knitters are very welcome to try and convert me, and I find fingering weight often feels a bit heavy in a shawl.

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However, two days later, I still had the purple and green skeins on my mind, so back it was to Gather Here, who thankfully still had some in stock. They do have a swift and ball winder in store, so you can just purchase your skeins and wind them up which is infinitely quicker than trying to make a ball by hand. Knitting from yarn cakes never feels quite as fun as a ball but avoids many travel-related impracticalities like the tendency of balls to run away on moving public transport.

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Although I think merino and alpaca can feel very soft, I’m not a fan of how furry they become to stitch with and their tendency to snag on themselves, slowing down the whole knitting process because you have to essentially unfelt some sections as you go. This yarn is thankfully nicely spun and has a nice, smooth feel to it but it is proving a little hairy already as you can see. I’ll have to see how it knits up.

Having said I’m not too interested in socks, I do really enjoy knitting mittens, so the purple skein is hopefully going to give me my cable fix with the Coast to Coast pattern and the green one is destined for the Nimue pattern. Watch this space for how the two new works in progress are going…

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