My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


Of Needles and Yarn Shops

I forgot to mention that I purchased a Pony Rosewood circular needle (US size 7) when I was at Stix-n-Stitches last Saturday.


My Needle Enabler had previously purchased a Colonial Rosewood circular and we were able to compare the two needles — they are identical (as someone had mentioned in my comments last week). And the Pony needle is quite a bit cheaper.


Yarn Shop Strategy

The other day, Ellen posted this comment:
Your account of your visits to all these fabulous yarn shops made me wonder if you have any thoughts on the best way to organize such a shop. I have seen shops organized by type of yarn, brand of yarn, color of yarn (that was a beautiful store!) and with no apparent organzational plan at all. I would love to know what you think about this. Maybe there could be a book on the theory and practice of knitting retail!

Good question! And one that started me to thinking.

I was in six establishments that sold yarn last weekend. Can I remember how the yarn was arranged? Nope.

When I enter a new yarn shop, I am immediately overcome. Sensory overload! Sensory overload!

What do you all think? What’s the best way to display yarn for sale?

While arranging it according to color would be lovely, it’s not terribly practical, I think. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a shop that does this.

I think a lot of places arrange by brand of yarn, don’t they?

My preference? Arrange by type and/or weight. Put all the sock yarn together, all the laceweights together, etc.

Progress? Ha!

The weekend finally caught up with me. I was fine Monday. I was fine yesterday — until about 7pm, when I crashed and burned. And this morning on the train I could barely keep the old eyes open to knit. So there’s not a whole lot of progress.

Here is the handspun Flower Basket Shawl.


And here is the sock-in-progress. I’m just starting the heel.


Lucy is just plain tuckered out too!



  1. Cathy W says:

    Obviously you need to come back to NYC and get that limo!!

  2. We have one shop in Dallas that’s arranged by color. It’s not terribly practical, they’re not terribly nice, and 90% of that is novelty yarn, so I guess that puts that right out. It’s beautiful, but it doesn’t help me shop.

    I agree with the yarn by weights, with the exception of stuff like Noro. I like my Noro all together. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. chrissie day says:

    wow Wendy what a fab site, have just started writing on my blog as many have asked me to.I live in the uk and my first book on knitting and crocheting with wire and yarn is due out august.the 2nd knit it felt it is out xmas this are so lucky to live where you do and be surrounded by people knitting and going to book readings etc in the yarn store–just somehow does not happen over here very much .love your book love your site would love to link up and if you fancy a trip to the uk drop me an email

  4. Wow, great pictures today!

    I did see one store that was arranged by color…it was interesting and beautiful, but difficult if you went in the store with a specific project with a specific brand and color in mind.

    I also agree that separating based on weight is ideal. At least for me it is ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. For me the yarn in a shop has to be arranged by weight. That’s the only thing that makes sense. I never go into a shop thinking, I think I want to make something red – I have a project in mind and then I choose the color.

  6. I think the best way is by type and/or weight, so you can compare the laceweights, or the sock yarns.

  7. I got to order your book today. I can’t wait till it gets here.

  8. Wendy…we do have a yarn shop here in NJ that is organized by color. I’ve never been there but friends have said it is simply lovely to behold! I actually like the yarn sorted by type and weight as well. It is just one less step in the decision making process that makes my like easier and those spur of the moment purchases possible.

  9. blogless enabler says:

    arrange by color – too bad we didn’t hit PURL – that’s the way it’s arranged … and THEN the sensory overload becomes the sensory overLORD!!! but, between you and me, I like the By Weight method, meself –
    BE (my new initials! ;-D)

  10. The LYS where I work is arranged somewhat by brand, somewhat by fiber type (cotton is together … mostly …so is mohair) and finally somewhat by project type: baby yarn is all together (again mostly) and so are sock and lace. But overall, it seems to have more to do with how many bins are needed for the new yarn or how new the yarn is (newer in front). It’s confusing and constitutes a lot of walking back and forth on my part when you want a worsted weight but you aren’t sure if it should be cotton or wool or a blend…. I think it stays this way because it would be a monumental task to move it all into reorganized digs and we’d really rather knit or talk about knitting… [smile].

  11. There is a Chicago shop I go to sometimes that is arranged by color. Sometimes I really do want to make something a certain color and I really love it being arranged like that then. The problem is that it is hard to catagorize hand painted yarn, and if you are looking for a specific yarn it can be difficult to find if you don’t know where it is already. I think arranging by yarn weight is very practical, but I kind of like how yarn is sometimes arranged by fiber content too.

  12. Okay, have we played this game before? I spot Ozzie the Kane County Cougars mascot! I live in Geneva where they play!

  13. Personally, I like shops that are arranged by yarn weight and by manufacturer within the weight grouping. Makes it very easy to find exactly what you’re looking for ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’ve stopped going to the shop in town that arranges yarn by color. Just too annoying to have to dig through several bins searching for more than one matching skein.

  14. I like things arranged first by yarn weight, then by fiber content; i.e. all the DK cotton is together, followed by DK wool, etc. By brand within that would be good, too. Novelty yarns should be carefully isolated to prevent infection…

  15. I perfer by weight, then by fiber in each weight. Yep – way to anal, but that would be by preference.

  16. Well, of course, Lucy’s tuckered out; it’s really hard being exceptionally beautiful and sweet day after day. She needs a vacation!

    I’ve never been in a shop that arranges by color — I have a hard enough time at my little LYS to see everything and go into entire overload and just plain give up when I go to WEBS!

  17. The yarn shop I used to work at was arranged by color AND weight. The colors went around the walls of the shop, and the weight went from bulky at the top to lace at the bottom. (That was just for workhorse wools – cottons, novelty and sock yarn had they own area.) I think that arranging it by color is good for the new knitter who doesn’t really care what brand of yarn she uses – the most important thing is to like what you’re knitting with, because it’s going to take awhile. ๐Ÿ™‚ As a more experienced knitter, I like having the brands separated.

  18. Glad I’m not the only one who crashed while the sun was still out yesterday! That shawl is lovely, can’t wait to see it grow.

    I agree with arranging yarn by weight – color arrangement is a litle too complicated when you’re looking for a yarn to seduce you.

  19. We have a yarn store called Fringe that arranges it’s stock by color. It’s visually stunning but not practical if you want yarn. Oh they don’t sell much wool they think it’s too coarse. Their saving grace to me is loads of addi turbo’s.

  20. In Carmel (lovely place to visit) one store is organized by color and it is divine……good to know about the rosewood choices……isn’t it funny about “crashing”…..kinda like being a kid who stays up too late!

  21. catspaw says:

    I weigh in with those who like shops arranged by yarn weights, particularly if I’m looking for a specific project. Thank I like them subdivided by colors – pastels, brights, earth tones. I think novelty yarns are the real challenge – there are just so many.

    Looks to me like Lucy’s been in that catnip.

  22. catspaw says:

    Sorry, the next to last sentence should be “then I like them…”. Need wine.

  23. I work at a LYS arranged by color, which works great IF you have a knowledgable and friendly staff. Our shop is pretty small (in a farmer’s market type setting) and so we help EVERY customer find what they’re looking for. Most people want to look around, until they settle on a yarn and then need our help finding the yarn in the color they want. It works out well for us, but in a large store it’d be impossible and the whole thing would be frustrating to a knitter if the staff didn’t know where every last skein was!

  24. I’d probably say by weight, then by type/fiber content. At least, that’s what makes intuitive sense to me….

  25. We have one store near my office that sorts by color and I find it confusing to shop there with everything mixed together. Also, they don’t post prices, you have to ask and they look it up in a binder. It’s on the high rent shopping street, so the message that comes across is, “if you have to ask….” I don’t like going up to the counter with an armload of potential project, not knowing how much it will be until it’s rung up, so I don’t shop there.

    I usually shop with an idea in mind of fiber content and weight. Once I find the yarn that I like, I want to see how much of each color there is, so I can tell if there’s enough for an “X”, or do I need to think about combining yarns, etc.

    I also like the shops that have calculator(s) stuck to the wall around the shop, so you can do the math of substitute skeins/price point of projects, even if you forgot your own.

  26. By Hand in Sonora, California arranges their yarn by color and then weight. It is lovely to behold. There is a small picture of their shop on their website:

    I am also a quilter so I respond to the color palette display method. It can be very helpful for people who knit with more than one strand of yarn, blending colors that way.

    BTW, the shop is very friendly and the prices are lower than in coastal california for high quality yarns. They also represent several hand-dyers in the Sierra Foothills area. I spend only 1 afternoon there a year (sadly 7 hours from my home), but the visit is eagerly anticipated.

  27. I’ve been in exactly one store that arranged by color well enough to be practical. A lovely shop in WV was arranged by color in vertical stripes on the walls, from Bulky at the top to lace at the bottom. Horizontally around the store, the yarn was arranged by brand, ie: with bulky Debbie Bliss in the same spot for each color and weight.

    It might have been less lovely to experience if the owner had been nasty, but she was fabulous and helpful even though I admitted to her that I was in the area on business and just needed a yarn store fix.

  28. There is a little yarn store that I patronize that arranges yarn by color, although all of the sock yarn and the Encore is in a different section. It seems to work for this shop because it is very, very small. It carries a surprisingly nice selection, however. But I would not recommend this for a larger store. It is pretty to look at!

  29. There’s a shop in Morristown that stocks by color, too. I’ve been in there twice and hated it both times. Trying to find the same yarn in more than one color for multi-colored projects was almost impossible. Blech. They weren’t friendly, either. I’d love a store that sorted by size, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one . . . usually they seem to be sorted either by brand or by no method I’ve been able to discern (grin).

    Pony Rosewoods, huh?

  30. I prefer yarns to be arranged by yarn weight, then fiber type and THEN colour. Just cause that’s how *I* plan my projects. Novelties kept separate in their own little corner.

  31. WOW! That handspun is beautiful! I can’t wait to see the finished Flower Basket.

    I love the way that sock yarn is striping.

  32. i got a pony rosewood straight and it broke the second day I had it.

  33. In the Kansas City area, we have several yarn shops, but only one is arranged by color. It’s lovely and the staff members are very helpful. Most of the other stores are arranged by yarn weight/type, then brand, then color.

  34. One of my favorites here in Arizona is arranged 1st by color and then by type. It’s a beautiful yarn store! The owner loves koigu yarn, so there’s lots of that.

  35. Cathy D. says:

    I love how Lucy prefers the same nightstand with the lamp.

  36. One of our local yarn shops has always been sorted by color. It’s a huge pain to find a particular yarn there, especially if you’re not sure of which color you want. I don’t go to that shop very often.

    I much prefer to have yarn organized by fiber content, then into specialties, like the sock yarn together. I also like to have all the Noro together and all the basics like Lamb’s Pride and Cascade 220 together. That’s the way my favorite yarn shop in town does it.

  37. I shopped today in a store that seemed to have shuffled all the skeins of a particular yarn into their cubbies. When I finally decided I was interested in a certain yarn, I had to sort through the whole bin to see if there was enough of the color I wanted. There wasn’t. This seemed to be an intentional arrangement, but maybe not. Most of their yarns were like that.

    I vote – by weight, then fiber — but keep the dyelots together ๐Ÿ˜‰

  38. Seems like stores that organize our color don’t honk our horns for the most part. I’d say that for the novice knitter, organizing by color is ok. For those of us who bring the obsession to Olympic-sport levels, we need a more practical approach.

    I have fantasies about going to a place like WEBS. I think it’s like Disneyworld. You need a few days to see everything and take in the whole experience. ๐Ÿ™‚


  39. anne marie in philly says:

    my favorite shops organize by yarn weights/types, fiber, manufacturer, color (in this order).

    if I am looking for sportweight merino wool (for example), I know I can head to a certain section and find several brands/colors grouped together. I can then determine if the shop has enough yardage for my project; if not displayed, the YS staff will check their stock for a particular dye lot number.

    ah, life is good….

    see you in philly in 2 weeks!

  40. I absolutely agree with the majority vote- organise by weights, then by the fibre content. The few yarn shops I have been in here in the UK are quite disorganised I think and however beautiful it can put you off what you went for in the first place!
    Though those spontaneous purchases aren’t always a bad thing!

  41. Glad you posted about the ponys. and like them!! In fact, I have 2 projects going. One on the colonials, and one on the ponys. The ponys, to me are a tad bit pointier which I like.And another thing,the ponys have a tiny screw attat chment holding them in.The colonials are glued, which I did have one come undone, which the shop immediatly sent me another one out(circulars).

  42. Great Balls of Yarn in West Palm Beach organizes most of their yarns by color and it was a feast for the eyes when I first entered the shop. I also thought how easily one could organize a “not-a-Colinette” poncho there. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  43. Miranda says:

    The Wool Connection in Avon, CT arranges their yarns by color, with the exception of sock yarns and a few select other yarns. It’s beautiful, but takes a little getting used to… the staff are very knowledgeable and helpful, though, which I think is a key point in this method of merchandising. The flower basket shawl is beautiful — I bought some of the same roving from Tintagel last year at MDS&W, but have not spun it yet. It’s nice to see it knitted up.

  44. I don’t care how they arrange the rest of the yarns, if they put the sock yarns together.

    Speaking of sock yarns, what yarn is that most recent sock pic? And what colorway? Looks like STR?


  45. I prefer by type of yarn. That way I can compare and contrast what is available instead of looking like a bizarre wooly mammoth, carrying skeins to and fro around a store. But then again, I do end up looking like that when I am impulse buying.

  46. I’ve been to a yarn shop in Bend, OR that is organized partially by color. It is beautiful but really hard to find your yarn. I don’t want to have to dump a whole bin on the floor to see if there are 5 skeins of the same yarn.

  47. Valerie says:

    There is a store in Baltimore that arranges by color, and it’s very difficult to find what you need. It also doesn’t help that the staff ignores you when you walk in – if they don’t know you, you can forget about getting friendly assistance. There are several other yarn stores in the area, and although they require more time in my car to reach them, it’s well worth the trip. Two of them arrange by color, but that’s within yarn weight, and both of them have very helpful, friendly staff people.

  48. I too prefer a yarn store that is organized by type/weight of yarn. It makes it easier to narrow down the search, provided of course you go there with a particular need (want) in mind. You can bypass all the boucle and bulky yarns if you are really looking for sock yarn.

  49. We have a shop that arranges by color. She is a crocheter and just barely learned to knit. Her forte is scarves and ponchos. Who knows if she’ll evolve into a real shop. It is hard to find yarn to knit a sweater or anything that takes more than 2 skeins.
    You must be running around like crazy with the book tour. Hope it is going super well for you!

  50. Looks like I’m going with the majority vote here – I prefer weight/fiber/color – when I need sock yarn I don’t want to dig through the bulky weight stuff.

  51. I really appreciate the way my LYS has things arranged, by yarn categories, Washable Yarn, Acrylics, Cottons, Wools, Novelty, etc. Then in those groups she’ll have subsets of brand name, color, etc. That way when your looking for a Superwash Wool, or Sock Yarn, you only have to really look in one place to see all she has.

  52. Hi! I’m a lurker. I’ve been reading your blog for about 2 months now. I thought I would leave you a comment to say thanks for keeping us updated on all your cool projects. I especially like all the colorful socks. Also, I wanted to say tanks for inspiring me to start a blog. It is not as specific as your awesome blog, but I love adding new entries almost every day.
    Thanks again!

  53. Okay, I’m going to weigh in on the LYS organization question, but I must warn you: I’m a librarian, so I’m all about hyper-organization. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I love the idea of having sub-categories within weight categories. I think if you’re going to a store to find yarn for a project, you already know what weight yarn you need (to make gauge, right?), so the first level should naturally be weight. Next would be color, then brand, I think. I don’t always shop by brand, although I appreciate that people want to get “the” yarn a pattern uses, so brands are helpful.

    What I really don’t like is when baby yarns are separated because I rarely want to use pastels for my baby projects, and I for some reason resent being told that those are the colors I’m supposed to use, and I also think there are other uses for the “baby” yarns. I am an opinionated cuss today, aren’t I?

    I’ll be in Richmond in less than 2 weeks to see you in person, Wendy–I can’t wait!

  54. I vote by weight, for helpfulness, and then by color for the sake of being pretty and inspiring. When I walk into a fabric store and everything is organized in its appropriate category (felts together, home dec. together, quilter’s calico together…) and then lined up in a gorgeous palette withing tat category, it gets me thinking and planning and excited. I care little about brand and I suppose, if I’m in search of an exact brand, I can ask someone who works in the store for help.

  55. A yarn shop organized by color? hmmm.

    I had a professor in college that organized her office library by color. It worked for her.


  56. Arcadia Knitting in Chicago is organized by color. It’s incredibly soothing.

  57. Actually, my LYS organizes the front of the shop by color – the part of the shop that looks like a Muppet convention. The back half is arranged roughly by weight/intended use: worsted/sweater yarns first, a corner for sock yarns, a corner for fingering/baby yarns, and a shelf for the small amount of lace/silk yarns that they carry. But the front half, where all of the eyelash and sparkly scarf yarns reside, is done by color.

  58. I am a library sciences student and in my Organization of Information class we had to do a classification of our kitchen, or something else. I selected a yarn shop! This means, I had to organize the yarn shop in hierarchical fashion. It was a difficult task, but fun.

  59. I have several LYSs (lucky me, huh?), and while one is arranged by weight, and one has apparently no organization at all – maybe its color, but there seems to be no trend – the best one is arranged by fiber; animal yarns and roving in one room, all other yarns in another and then further organized by weight. That is by far the easiest to navigate if you have a specific project in mind.

  60. I was in my first colour arranged yarnshop today. It had great yarn, but I could not find anything that I wanted (my MIL said that she would buy me a project) because invariably I could not match colour, yarn, and quantity in the jumble. Forutnately they had some things off on their own (sock yarn was buried in a corner that I had to crawl on the floor and look under some chairs to find and some handpaints were in their own section) or I would not have gotten sweater makings and yarn for a new pair of socks as trying to find things was bewildering and decreasing my desire to procure even at someone elses expense.

    I prefer stores to be organized by weight then content then colour. (IE a room of worsted weight wool on one wall, cotton across the room, blends on the wall between with each wall arranged by colour. Ok, maybe not one wall each.)