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. This list is in alphabetical order. The shops are not ranked—it would be like ranking relatives. (Wait—I do rank relatives.) (Kidding.)
Downtown Yarns, 45 Avenue A between East 3rd and East 4th Streets (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.
Knitty City, 208 West 79th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway (Upper West Side), is the most local-to-me of my local yarn stores. Unbelievably, in 2015, this beloved neighborhood institution marked its 10th anniversary. 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 34 West 15th Street between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas (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.
Purl Soho, 459 Broome Street between Mercer Street and Greene Street (Soho). There is an audible intake of breath as first-time pilgrims open the door. 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 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.