|On the Road:
by Alissa Sorenson
When I first learned to knit about five years ago, I got invaluable help from online video-based knitting classes. While in the San Diego area this week, I stopped at Common Threads, the shop responsible for the online knitting club, to offer my gratitude.
As an ex-San Diegan who once dated a surfer, I donít know what I like better: coconut-scented surfboard wax or the smell of lanolin. Knitters, like surfers, are a breed unto themselves.
Knitters will be relieved to find the lingo is the same at the surf shop as it is at your local yarn shop. Knitting, like surfing, is universal.
A Family Team
Common Threads is a mother- and daughter-owned shop in downtown Encinitas, California. The quaint storefront is nestled in the beach community right on Coast Highway 101.
Parking was street only, which is always a challenge in a beach town. After a few passes, I found a spot only a block away.
As I walked toward the shop, I noticed a row of chairs out front. I could imagine how, on a quieter day, knitters might line up outside and chat with the locals.
466 S. Coast Highway 101
Encinitas, CA 92024
Tue, Thu-Sat 10am-5pm; Wed 10am-7pm; Sun noon-5pm
The Story Inside|
Donít let the small storefront fool you. Common Threads is a full-service knit shop with several rooms stocked full of yarn, a classroom, a dye workshop, and even a knitting machine in the back.
I walked into the front room and was overjoyed to see a luscious display of novelty yarns from floor to ceiling, stashed in cubbies by color groupings. A couple of knitters were stitching at the table, and Nancy Nelson, the mother part of the duo, was helping a new knitter with her work.
As I continued through the shop, I next noticed the classroom to the right. There were several gorgeous garments hanging on the wall, and I was interested in a heathered, fringed poncho that looked so soft I had to touch it.
I turned around and was introduced to Caryl Nelson, the daughter. I asked about the yarn, and without hesitation, she brought over a ball of Rowan Plaid for my perusal. We chatted a bit, and I was pleased to find her friendly and engaging.
More rooms of yarn followed, each organized by type. There was baby yarn, wool yarn for felting, and designer yarns. There was a wall of needles, an equally impressive shelving unit full of books, and two carousel displays with accessories.
Beautiful hanks of natural wool yarn sported a Common Threads label. I asked if they had their own yarn line and was told, no, these were mill ends they use for hand-dye workshop participants. Since the yarns came with no label, they had to put something on them for informational purposes.
I was only disappointed I couldnít stick around long enough to take one of those classes!
I knew I was in knitters' paradise when I ran across an entire selection of the new wooden Lantern Moon needles. I also found a display of Rebecca magazines, including the newest issue in English. This publication has been difficult for me to find, and I was excited to be able to pick one up in person.
What do Southern California crafters knit to wear? Cotton bikinis? Wool wetsuits? Raffia surfboard covers? It was a question I had to ask after seeing a lacy, knitted, cotton halter displayed in the window.
Readers may be surprised to learn wool is seasonal almost year-round in coastal Southern California. The Pacific sea air makes evenings and mornings cool and damp. Caryl explained that she'd worn a wool poncho on display in the shop to a recent football game in the evening.
Gracious and Comfortable
I was impressed with the comfortable, cozy environment of the shop and the busy but friendly atmosphere. The owners were obviously knowledgeable and gracious.
The yarn was displayed in a way that encouraged fondling, as every yarn lover will do. The space was well organized, using an open loft to store extra yarn and special orders.
Even the shop kitty, Cocoa Latte, was a sweet, fuzzy treat to behold.
Be sure to make this shop one of your San Diego area destinations. Downtown Encinitas offers plenty of shopping and dining, so plan to make a day of it. And with the beach only a few blocks away, why not a weekend?
If youíre not in the area, you can always visit Nancy and Caryl online, at www.knittingclub.com.
Coconut-scented wool wash anyone?
About the Author
When she's not on the road, Alissa Sorenson knits, writes, designs, mothers, and teaches from her home in Columbus, Ohio.
Read more yarn shop reviews