Friday night we were reminded by the evening staff to get up in time to make Bruce's famous breakfast. Of course, we were all dragging butt. I'd stayed up reading the first couple of chapters of Friday Night Knitting Club and visions of fiber were dancing in all of our heads. There was lots of yummy, carb-filled goodness but for some reason all I can remember is the baked peach french toast and "smack yo-momma" blueberry muffins (they weren't named that but that's how good they were).
With a map of Asheville in hand, a list of our stops and comfy shoes on our feet, we braved the cold in search of fiber. First stop of the day, the Grove Arcade and Asheville NC Homecrafts (The Arcade in and of itself is a work of art. It was built by the same person who built the Grove Park Inn. This place has all sorts of great shops, food and fun. Add this to your must see list.).
The Grove Arcade
Asheville Homecrafts is a refreshingly unique store. Half is committed to finished handcrafted items - mostly fiber related - such as handspun/hand knit hats and scarves, dolls, baskets, quilts and clothing. The other half is chock full of yarn, a significant percentage of which is locally produced. An entire wall dangled with locally spun yarns of all fibers. Its such a rare treat to find a store so committed to prominently promoting regional talent. S was so smitten with the handspun that we revisited the store on Sunday. There were also some staples such as Brown Sheep, Debbie Bliss and Noro and hard to find yarns such as Tilli Tomas. There was only one person on duty so the personalized service was spotty but good when available. This shop ranks a strong 4 out of 5!
TE, CM and SF at Asheville Homecrafts
There are three, yes THREE, fiber related shops in downtown Asheville. We barely have three within a 50 mile radius in the Roanoke Valley so imagine our giddiness when we realized that we could walk to most of the shops on our list. I believe we might have skipped to our next stop (mostly because it was so damn cold) - Earthguild.
Earthguild is located on Haywood Street in the Woolworth Walk across the street from Chocolate Fetish. In just the past few months, I've had severe allergic reactions to chocolate that's been processed on the same equipment with tree nuts so I was warned by the staff not to indulge. But others in our group said something about the chocolate being orgasmic. Sucks having allergies. Back to Earthguild. The store is huge. It truly covers a wide swath hobby and craft supplies from leather tooling to weaving to spinning to dyeing and everything in between. I ended up buying a pound and a half of medium grade "wool" (they had no idea what breed it was) with the intention of spinning some yarn as a gift for S. However, she wasn't "feelin" the fiber and honestly had a hard time envisioning what it might look like spun up so I gave up on trying to sell her on it and decided to use it to experiment with dyes when I got home. As far as yarns, they too had a large selection of Brown Sheep (too much Brown Sheep in one town if you ask me), Christopher Sheep Farm yarns and the Louet Gems line (I bought some white to dye with especially since I LURV Koigu) but nothing really stood out. There weren't many spinning or needle felting supplies in stock so I wasn't able to shop for most of the things on my list - boo hoo :( Now I have to issue a small disclaimer: I set my sights very high for this shop because I came to load up on fiber not yarn. Plus, I've had over two years to stock up on basic spinning stuff. I need much more specialized fibers and gadgets. I believe that the store doesn't have enough depth in a particular craft to truly meet the broader needs of the crafter but has more than enough to allow people to dabble very nicely. The customer service was at both ends of the spectrum and depended heavily on the staff tending to you. This shop gets a 3 out of 5.Wanna see the funniest part of our Earthguild trip? An old (like 1990s) Vogue knitting book. We were so distracted by the models that we couldn't focus on the patterns.
Stop laughing. I'm related to Eddie Munster and can't help it if I have thick eyebrows
It's like she wants us to see that she shaved her pits
Huh? What? Can't hear you because of these giant starfish on my ears.
What were we thinking in the 80's? Okay enough kidding around. Feeling a bit let down, we headed to Chocolate Fetish first (good to drown your sorrows in chocolate) and then to Purls Yarn Emporium (Someone in Asheville please get these people a decent website. It does NOT do the store justice). When we walked through the door, a light shown down. For me, I was in heaven. The yarns are arranged by color that makes for a striking presentation.
Look at all of that red, orange and yellow!
Now I know some of you hate your yarn arranged this way but we were working on color palette projects so this set up was perfect. For whatever reason, we could focus better and a S & C actually camped out on the floor by the "greens" at one point to put together an array of yarns for a throw. There was an entire table full of cashmere, silk and blends of both (I just wanted to roll on it) from Art Yarns and Fiesta. Another entire table with some uber cool handspun yarns by local artist Urban GypZ.
CM and TE in full color palette project mode @ Purls
Great buttons, a case full of antique knitting supplies and good selection of books. Their choice of staff for the store that day left a lot to be desired. The guy on duty seemed to be bored out of his mind and somewhat annoyed that we were there. Interesting considering how much money was spent by our group alone not to mention the other customers. Go figure. This store was the first to get 5 stars even with the lukewarm reception. I didn't buy a thing mostly because I had a hard time breathing once some of the yarn winding started. For some odd reason, I've recently become allergic to baby alpaca. Its so bad that I can't breathe and after about 20 minutes at Purls, I had to leave the store to get some fresh air. Bummer.
Ladden with heavy bags, we headed started back to the car but got sidetracked by growling stomachs and decided to stop and eat lunch. S quickly spied Early Girl Eatery and we popped in, not knowing that this was one of the best places in Asheville to eat lunch.
Most everything on their menu is organic or healthy or vegan which was what we needed after the Southern style breakfast we'd consumed. We got back to the car just in time to find a ticket on the window. We'd forgotten to feed the meter! Fear not, good karma intervened and it was only a warning. No tickie today! However that's where the luck ended. We were about to find the dud of the day.
This post is already getting too long so against my better judgement, I'm gonna post the rest tomorrow.