Nineteen yarn shops in our area organized the second annual shop hop, covering the area between Burlingame (about 50 miles north of where I live, on the peninsula south of San Francisco) to Carmel (on the coast about 70 miles south of where I live). Each shop would open during the shop hop hours, which might be longer than usual, and offer one or two one-skein projects, with 10% off on the yarn and free pattern with purchase.
I am generally a poor supporter of my local shops, for a variety of reasons, but basically I'm a cheapskate. A purchase at full price makes my hands shake and I can't sign the credit card slip. The spoiled brat that I am, I would not part with my money for something, even for yarn, until someone else wants it. If the yarn is always on the store shelf waiting for me, well, I'll gladly pass it on. Because I worked in a yarn shop before, I know the shop keepers are supposed to give everyone comes into the store individual attention. But I'm more of a Walmart shopper type, 1:1 attention often makes me uneasy. I hate to be rude to someone trying to do her job. Once a year I indulge myself for a weekend at Stitches, my knitting brains and my yarn stash becomes entirely saturated with the prettiest colors from Ellen and the most luxurious cashmeres and silks. The rest of the year I veg out in front of the computer waiting for the next big online sale.
Of the 19 stores I've been to most of them except for the northernmost two, and the new shops in Santa Clara, but as my regular visits are brief and sporadic, this event gives me a good opportunity to string them together and get a better idea what the local yarn shop scene is like. I logged in over 300 miles on my little green engine in three days, including more than enough detours so I will not be criticizing my husband's short cuts for a long time. I enjoyed the hops immensely for the most part. The damage to the credit card is minimal, and the emotional return is immeasurable.
Best One-Skein Project: Lulu's Marinella Lace Capelet, designed by Hollis of Full Thread Ahead in Los Altos. Most other shops go for easy project that would please most, but this capelet is interesting and eye catching. The yarn is the most expensive of all, but well worth it.
Shops I Will Certainly Return to: Yarndogs, Green Planet, The Knitting Room, Purlescence, Full Thread Ahead, Creative Hands, Yarn Paper Scissors, Swift Stitch, Monarch Knitting (that's 9 out of 19 if you are counting)
Most Enjoyable Visit: catching up with Ed and Mary Ann at The Knitting Room. I worked for them during my stay at home years and it's safe to say without them there would not be my knitting today. Mary Ann even did my job reference when I finally landed a full time job at BEA. They know fiber arts, they know high tech, they know parenting, they know food, what else can I ask for.
Most Enjoyable Drive: along West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz, talking to Cris and showing her the Boardwalk; and later down highway 1, between Capitola and Monterey peninsula.
Most Bizarre Detour: accidentally entered an army base in Pacific Grove on the way to Monarch Knitting and got my drivers license confiscated for a minute or two.