Also, since the closing of a previous store in Radford that had a great yarn selection in the basement, I've been yearning after my semi-local yarn jaunts. Another local store in Radford that can provide me with yarn? YES, PLEASE.
It took me a few weeks but last Wednesday I drove over to the Radford and tried to find the place. During my college years I got a bit conditioned to turning left after passing the bridge over the New River, and this place was to the right. This meant that I drove up and down between Sal's Italian Restaurant and the bridge trying to spot a sign, a quilted flag, anything. Eventually I broke down and pulled out my GPS and used some of its precious battery life to find Sew Biz.
The store itself is just slightly off the main road, installed in a fantastic yellow building that looks old. I don't want to call it as Victorian because I'm not architecture-saavy, but it sure looks it. The yellow is new but pretty.
There's a lovely window display chock-full of fabrics and thread and buttons and sewing machine stuff. It's dandy and I liked how heavy the door was.
Once I got inside I was greeted by two older ladies who, instantly, struck me as competent. They weren't bright and bubbly and cheerful, but they weren't necessarily frosty either. The two ladies looked me up and down and, over their half-moon bifocals (not making it up), asked me what they could help me with. Slightly overwhelmed by the tons of fabrics and buttons and sewing machine foot attachments, I said "Yeah, I heard you had some yarn here?"
"Oh yes," one of them got up from her esoteric quilting work. "Now what kind of knitting do you do?"
In the back of my head I thanked my stars I wasn't mainly a crocheter because I'd be a little offended by this assumption (I feel bad that hookers never get the benefit of the doubt... or respect afforded knitters- but I'm also very glad I didn't have to go through the social awkwardness of explaining that I don't knit to a stranger trying to help me, even if assumptively). I told her I liked socks and lace because it's the truth. I forgot, like the genius I am, that she was actually trying to save time by asking me reference questions. Which I should KNOW ABOUT BECAUSE I'M A FREAKIN' LIBRARIAN. No-frills competence, see?
She proceeds to lead me through, what I can only describe as, a rabbit warren stuffed with every imaginable sewing implement and bolt upon bolt of fabric. The building is older, and while inhabitable, was built in an age before central heating and air, composed of rooms that are designed to be small, economical, and, well, warren-like. Because this store is also fantastic, it tries to offer all the options that a Joann's or Schoolhouse Fabrics (in Floyd) offer, but in less space. Some places aren't very well lit, but the ceiling is high, and I personally found the environment adventuresome and cozy. Although, I imagine it probably wouldn't make a claustrophobe happy, I found it swell.
We eventually land in a poorly lit antechamber- a sort of short hallway between the main hallway and what may have been a large sunroom back when women wore corsets, it now serves as a quilting classroom. Packed into this dim semi-hallway is the yarn selection. Certainly, it's lit by lamps so you can absolutely see what you're doing, but I had to take a could of skeins over into the classroom to get a real reading on their color under natural light.
The lady who guided me here shows me the yarn and points me to the sock yarn (almost entirely Noro Kureyon) and leaves me to browse.
The second most striking thing about the yarn selection at Sew Biz is that it is the most competent (again) selection of basic LYS-type yarns that you could hope for. If I could pick out a small hallway's worth of yarns to carry, my selection would have been almost identical to what Sew Biz carries. Brands included: Cascade (including Heritage Sock, Pacific, and Ecological Bulky) Ella Rae, Noro, Cestari Farms (yay local Virginia yarns!), and Sublime, among many others.
I was really here on a mission to get luxury yarn for a gift for my sister. SHHH! I'll tell you after Christmas. But suffice to say, I was drawn to the lightly-colored (dare I say, peacefully? SOPORIFICALLY-COLORED) Sublime bamboo and pearls DK. Entirely consistent of vicose rendered from bamboo and pearls, it was a yarn that I recall Cate of Wyrd Sister's carrying for a while. It's dangerously soft and I had to employ a lot of self-control to keep from crawling into the display and rubbing my face over all of it like a cat tripping on a kilo of nip.
I did control myself, and finally picked out a skein of white. Only to turn it over and see that the price was $10 even! That's a great price for a LYS! Sure, I could get it off WEBS for $8, but 2 bucks isn't a bad markup. And $10 for a handmade gift is a deal!
Gleeful, I continue to browse, only to be drawn to these huge pillows of Cascade Ecological Wool Bulky. Which are marked as $15 for almost 500 yards of Bulky yarn. BULKY! It generally retails for $20! This seals it in my mind that for buying in person, Sew Biz might be my new ticket. It's a bit closer than The Woolly Jumper in Floyd, and the prices are the best I've seen in a brick and mortar in a while. So, the prices are the first, best, most striking thing about Sew Biz.
I pick out two huge fawn bundles of the Ecological and proceed to carry my stock, which is extremely un-socklike, back up to the front registers. Then the cherry on top happens. I also ask to see their button selection and the other woman shows me: an old library card catalog! SQUEE! All the drawers that would say Aa-Al, are full of BUTTONS! Thus, I pick out 3 gorgeous shell buttons. And also some T-pins for blocking stuff.
And I go away HAPPY. What a great place! I spent some more time perusing their upstairs fabrics and wandering through the tunnels and dreaming of the day when I will become fully Little House on the Prairie and start quilting.
Thus, I would highly recommend Sew Biz, even for knitters. It doesn't have a huge selection, but it has a nice- essential selection, and since their bread and butter is fabrics and quilting stuff, they can price their yarn lower than usual. Which means bargains. It puts lots of yarns into my price range while also allowing me to patron a somewhat local store! Yay!
Here's a link to Sew Biz's website: www.sewbiz.com
Check them out!
P.S. I've finished my gift for Amanda, and am going to be casting on for a sweater for myself with the Ecological tonight. I'll be making an Ariosa Wrap Cardi by Cecily Glowik MacDonald. Yesssssss.