Seriously, if I wrote poetry, I'd write it about my local yarn store at this very moment.

Local yarn stores (or LYSs) are an important supply for any knitter (or crocheter) to have in their bag. If you Google "yarn" plus whatever your location is,  JoAnn's or Michael's comes up, but normally not an actual store that just sells yarn. The differene between JoAnn's/Michael's and a LYS is massive.

At JoAnn's/Michael's, you encounter a huge selection of mass-produced yarn in an array of colors. The staff may or may not (more than likely the latter) have knowledge of yarn and/or knitting/crocheting. The experience is anything but personal. I'm not against JoAnn's/Michael's- please don't get me wrong, they have their place- but I wouldn't shop there every time I have a project.

At a local yarn store, you encounter a smaller selection of yarn that is in part mass-produced and in part produced by small businesses or individuals. You will also enounter a wider variety of tools and are more likely to find a style that is perfect for you, be it wood, metal, or acrylc/resin. But the part that makes it really special is the staff. You are highly unlikely to have someone working at a LYS that doesn't knit or crochet at all. That is the common thread- a love of fibers. The people working at your LYS have ohh'ed and ahh'ed over the hand-dyed cashmere that was dyed by a woman in Oregon- the very same one that you find yourself fondling as you walk through. They've also admired the colors in the shipment of Noro that they got last week. They poured over choices, trying to decide if they would mostly carry Ella Rae or Cascade as their major supplier. They're the ones willing to show you how exactly to KFB (knit front and back) when you just can't understand it. They recommend patterns, yarns, notions, and tools and they do it all while letting you accost their stash.

My local yarn store is Eleganza Yarns. The husband and wife team who own it also own Shalimar Yarn (which I am also a big fan of). Most recently, I have been working on a shrug for myself out of some lovely merino wool that I bought from a dyer that I adore, Scarlet of Huckleberry Knits. The colorway is called moonlight. (Yarn Bowl by June of Rising Sun Earthworks, stitch markers by Nature Baby Knits)

Anyway, I'm nearly finished with the shrug. Just a sleeve and a half to go and I'll be good to go. The shrug is turning out beautiful, but I decided that it just needed a little something. I pulled out these beautiful star buttons I had and decided the shrug would look amazing with those buttons and a bit of pale yellow yarn embroidery to go with them. When I started digging through my stash, though, I realized (1) that I'm not a big fan of yellow and (2) that I didn't own any solid yellow yarn, pale or otherwise. I was about to give up my search and decide that the sweater would be fine on it's own when I remembered my local yarn store. Let's just say that they closed at 6pm (it was 6:30 at this point) and they stayed open for me to get there and get my yarn…and order a longer cable for my Denise interchangables…and buy a couple of skeins of Shalimar superwash…and the newest issue of Knitsimple. But, seriously, for what was a $7 transaction, they stayed there…just for me. Would JoAnn's or Michael's do that for you? I didn't think so.

Should you never shop at Michael's or JoAnn's? Absolutely not. Like I said, they have their place. They offer things that other stores don't carry or cannot carry. But when it comes to a project, a truly special project, why go with what everyone else can get, something ordinary, instead of getting something truely unique, something special?  It may cost a little more, but with that kind of service, it is usually well worth it.

In short, support your local businesses- especially the yarn stores. Check out the 350 project and do something good for yourself and your community.