Well, I survived my return to San Francisco. It was lovely weather (for me; I am a freak and like it when it is) all rainy and windy and chilly. All the adorable San Franciscans were all bundled up in their scarves and hats and boots and coats against the 55 degree weather, and I spent a lot of time wandering around the streets near the convention center, poking my head into shops and cafes whenever I wasn’t, you know, at the actual conference.
I won’t bore you with anything about the conference itself, because it was all about software and systems and smart phones and blah blah bleargh. Instead I will regale you with tales of the amazing yarn shop I went to one afternoon. It blew. Me. Away. This yarn shop.
In fact, the term “yarn shop” doesn’t really do it justice.
Back up a bit: I had dinner one night I was in town with Tina, my best friend from high school who knows all my most shameful secrets (read: who I had crushes on from age 14 through 18). She told me to meet her at City Lights, the world famous (and infamous) San Francisco book store, and said we could proceed on to some awesome little Indian restaurant from there.
Naturally, the book store is in the midst of a long stretch of strip clubs and sex shops, which was a nice touch. If I hadn’t been afraid of airport security making a scene when I departed the city, I might have lingered to do a little shopping, but Tina was at City Lights when I got there so I refrained.
Tina has lived in SF for years now, so of course I asked her where I should go while I was in town. Knowing my predilection for yarn shops and general craftiness, she told me I had to go to ArtFibers. As it turns out, it was only a few blocks away from my hotel room, so it wasn’t a hard sell.
But she was unusually insistent, even for a pushy broad like her. I think she reminded me three times during dinner, twice during the cab ride back to the hotel, and once via Facebook message in the middle of the night that I needed to go.
So I went.
I expected your usual Local Yarn Shop — an elegant assortment of some of your more famous high-end yarns, a good representation of various local spinners and dyers, and some pokey patterns for scarves and hats.
Instead, I found this:
Rows and rows of knitted swatches in the most beautiful colors and fibers…
Some in very fancy stitching, some very simple — whatever would show off the yarn to best advantage.
Each cluster of swatches has its own card, describing the yarn used, the materials in the yarn, cost per yard, etc.
Yeah, that’s right — cost per yard. Every thing is on cones in drawers underneath the swatchy countertops, and you can ask for any length you want. They’ll spin you up your very own cone right there while you wait.
You can also sit down at the cute little tables overlooking the street (from three floors up — the place is sort of shockingly well-hidden) and knit up swatches of your own. Roxanne, the owner, calls it a yarn-tasting cafe. How adorable is that?
I got myself the makings for a lovely drop-stitch scarf out of a wispy silk/mohair blend called Tsuki. I sort of fell in love with the sample they had on display.
I chatted with Roxanne for a while, talking about what a great little outfit she’s got going there, tucked away on the 3rd floor of an unassuming building in downtown San Francisco. She’s been doing it for 17 years, and I was astonished to hear that she started the business way back then in Brewster — the town next over from mine, back on Cape Cod!
Small world. I wish I had taken a better picture of Roxanne — all I have is that shot of her on the phone up there, in the first photo of the shop. Such a nice lady — and such a lovely name! Roxanne Seabright. Honestly.
So yes, all the yarn is spun and dyed by ArtFibers, mostly in the local San Francisco area. I took a picture of their cute little welcome sign, so you could read all about them yourself. Of course, you should really check out ArtFiber’s lovely website and online catalog, if only for the beautifully photographed yarn porn.
Roxanne could not be a nicer lady, and ArtFibers could not possibly be a nicer shop. She even had chocolates and baked goods, which you could sit and munch on while playing with super delicious yarn, gazing out the window at fashionable young San Franciscans dodging raindrops. Not really sure what else you could ask for.
So that’s pretty much what I did in San Francisco. Oh, and I also might have written about 15,000 words of steamy romance novel while tucked away in my hotel room, occasionally reaching out to fondle some really nice yarn.