Where to Shop for Yarn in New York City: Manhattan
December 1, 2015
It’s the time of year when New York fills up with visitors, who come to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, the skating rinks at Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park, and the windows at Barney’s, Bergdorf, Saks, and Lord & Taylor. Fifth Avenue turns into a mosh pit. Last year I was clipped at the knees and nearly taken out by a fully loaded American Girl Place shopping bag. It’s a festive time.
It’s also the season when I see an increase in emails from out-of-town knitters seeking recommendations on yarn stores to visit. I figure it will save me some typing if I set them out here, and can just share the link the next time somebody asks.
Disclaimer: This is a very personal list of the stores where I actually shop. I have not been to every yarn store in Manhattan, let alone the other four boroughs of New York City. The list is in alphabetical order. The shops are not ranked–it would be like ranking relatives (wait; I do rank relatives) (kidding). I welcome readers to add their favorite shops in the comments, so visitors can find out about good shops that I don’t know as well.
Downtown Yarns, on Avenue A (East Village). If this shop were closer to me, I’d be in there every day. Behind the screen door is a haven of calm, with a highly-edited selection of quality yarns, from workhorses like Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride to small production local yarns. The owner, Rita Bobry, has an artist’s eye–the window display changes frequently and always has heart and soul and sophisticated whimsy. The sample garments are unique to the shop and never fail to get me excited about making something that I didn’t go in the shop intending to make.
Habu Textiles, on Madison Avenue (Murray Hill). Habu is not a staple yarn for me, but it’s fascinating, beautiful stuff. Take the elevator to the showroom on the 5th floor. It’s quiet and special. So many unusual yarns from unusual fibers, all imported from Japan. There are also finished garments and textiles for sale.
Knitty City, on West 79th Street (Upper West Side), is the most local-to-me of my local yarn stores. Unbelievably, 2015 marks the 10th anniversary of this beloved neighborhood institution. I stop in at least once a week, for this and that (yarn and yarn) or just to see what’s going on (yarn). The place is jammed to the gills with good yarn; it spills off the shelves, into bins and baskets on the floor. There is always a group at the table in the back, either taking a class or just sittin’ and knittin’. The staff is friendly, and the owner, Pearl Chin, is nearly always on hand. One of the shop’s strongest suits is events, which are frequent, relaxed and fun. I also love that Pearl is constantly adding new yarns to the mix of favorites. This is where I buy Istex Lopi yarn from Iceland.
Lion Brand Yarn Studio, on West 15th Street (Chelsea). The flagship of Lion Brand yarns always has an over-the-top window. Inside, it’s a spacious showroom for the Lion Brand range of yarns. I go for the Fishermen’s Wool and the Kitchen Cotton.
Loopy Mango, on Grand Street (Soho). This shop is not an all-purpose yarn store, but it’s special and fun. The signature yarn is the house label of huge-gauge wool, suitable for rugs and blankets, but also for trendy hats, scarves and sweaters. It’s amazing stuff, requiring giant needles. The shop also has an eclectic selection of vintage, gift and home decor items.
Purl Soho, on Broome Street (Soho). There is an audible intake of breath as first-time pilgrims open the door; the spacious shop is the Purl Soho website come to life. Everything is beautifully styled and organized, with a modern sensibility. The yarn selection–wide and deep, but concentrated at the luxury end of the spectrum– gets extra energy from all the other crafts on offer at Purl Soho: quilting, sewing, weaving, embroidery and needlepoint. This is the place to go to for knitting inspiration with a side of cross-crafting temptation. Purl also carries exquisite tools from Sajou and Fringe Association, along with kits, bags, gifts and a beautifully curated book and magazine selection. When I need a present for a knitter, I go to Purl.
Hope this is helpful to visitors. Have fun, and watch out for American Girl Place shopping bags. Those little girls are ruthless.
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