A tradition passed down from generation to generation, knitting is both practical and playful, and the end result is definitely welcome. During the chilly winters, those scarves, mittens, socks and sweaters can help Connecticut residents brave the harsh conditions. As much a skill as a bonding experience among generations, knitting is about more than just the end result. Here are five notable places to go in the Nutmeg State to buy the yarn and in some cases learn the skills of this ancient, noble and loving art.
13 River Road
Washington Depot, CT 06794
Where would knitters be without sheep? The Village Sheep shop in Washington Depot pays homage to the woolly beast by offering an abundance of yarn in many colors, as well as little trinkets, toys, books and other do-dads that honor the sweet-faced monarch of the pretty green pasture. That is not to say that silk, alpaca, cotton, cashmere and linen are ignored here. For despite the name above the door, The Village Sheep is even more about the fibers that knitters need than about the animal that started the industry. Although open only on selected hours and by appointment, this amazing, lovely and cozy little shop is bright and beautiful, and a welcoming haven for knitters of all types and ages, no matter what fiber they prefer to work in.
733 E. Main St.
Torrington, CT 06790
Like many yarn and knitting shops, Hither and Yarn in Torrington is more than just a place to buy patterns and supplies – it is also at times a classroom, a veritable college of crochet and temple of technique. For a mere $20 plus materials, anyone can attend a two-hour class or get a private lesson. The helpful staff will even work with you to create the all-inclusive “knitting bag” that holds not just the yarn and darning needles, but all of the other little bits and pieces a good knitter needs, such as stitch holders, point protectors, small tags and the all-important gauge ruler.
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Riverdale Farms, Building 16
124 Simsbury Road
Avon, CT 06001
“Yarnover Bucks” are not exactly woolen currency, but this frequent knitters’ reward program is just one example of the customer-friendly attitude of this little store in Avon. After all, where else can you learn to knit and eat pizza at the same time? (Thursday nights are knitting and pizza nights, where you get $40 worth of yarn and needles for $20 and get a slice or two of pizza.) Whether you want to learn the basics at your own pace or hone such special skills as “knitting in the round” (to make a circular hat) or to make a “habu scarf on the bias” (which involves using stainless steel and Fine Merino wool), Yarnover in Avon is a place for knitters of all levels. Basic one-hour classes are $15, and you can attend as needed to learn to cast on, knit, purl, increase, decrease and bind off. If you don’t know what any of that means, then this is a good place to start.
1666 Litchfield Turnpike
Woodbridge, CT 06525
A knitting shop that not only offers discounts and free shipping for students but also encourages its patrons to donate knitted items for Hurricane Sandy relief projects, The Yarn Barn in Woodbridge not only wears its heart on its sleeve – it shows you how to knit one. This favorite New Haven haunt (it is quite literally one step over the line from New Haven) boasts of having “the most space, the biggest selection and the best quality yarns in Connecticut!” One look at its website, let alone the store, will confirm that The Yarn Barn is not weaving this tale out of whole cloth or imaginary wool it has gathered. The Yarn Barn also offers classes and individual tutoring, as well as birthday parties for young knitters. For those who are working away and having problems with their knitting, The Yarn Barn even offers mending and finishing services.
276 Greenwood Ave.
Bethel, CT 06801
Eva Donnelly has been running this charming little store in Bethel for a decade, and from the decorations around the door to the décor inside has made this a warm and welcoming wool wonderland. That the name of the store is spelled out in big children’s blocks in the window is yet another hint that her store is kid-friendly, for Ms. Donnelly knows that for there to be old knitters, there must first be young knitters. With her ample selection of knitting, needlepoint and crocheting supplies (and her long hours, six days a week), Eva Donnelly is able to meet all of your knitting needs, whenever you need them. Oh, and she holds classes, too.