|On the Road:|
Yarn Shops in the Hudson River Valley
by Claire Houlihan
|The Hudson River Valley is one of the loveliest corners of this country. Its dramatic hills and vast waterway are inspiring, and fortunately for us, the area is also ripe with yarn stores.|
Its close proximity to New York City makes this area prime for exploration, even if you only have a day to spare. I asked area resident Claire Houlihan—an acknowledged yarn shop junkie—to share some of her favorite haunts with us.
|Cornwall Yarn Shop|
16 Quaker Avenue, Cornwall, NY 845-534-7695
This fairly new shop is located in the historic town of Cornwall. Although it is a small space, the owner, Gail, makes the most of her surroundings with yarn stocked from floor to ceiling. The large inventory of Cascade 220 makes this a felter's paradise, but the shop also stocks Crystal Palace, Lornas Laces, kits, patterns, needles, books, and all the essentials designed to increase your yarn stash.
|A welcome addition to the lower Hudson Valley, Cornwall Yarn Shop lures many customers from nearby West Point. Bring your camera with you if you decide to take the scenic drive across Old Storm King Highway to the Military Academy for sightseeing and lunch at the Hotel Thayer. With its hairpin turns, this roadway contains some of the most breathtaking views of the Hudson.
Following Route 9W North from Cornwall to Route 17K, merge onto the New York State Thruway North, and get off at Exit 19 (Route 28W/Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge). Follow the signs to Woodstock.
Woodstock is one of those special towns that can support two yarn stores, a quilting store, and a bead shop, as well as other boutiques that sell paintings, pottery, jewelry, and other handmade items.
Visit Heaven, at 17 Tinker Street, for the best cup of coffee in the Valley, plus homemade desserts, and interesting salads and sandwiches. It's a nice place to chat with the locals and ogle the occasional rocker.
Although the '69 Rock Festival was billed as Woodstock, it was actually held in the neighboring town of Bethel. However, the spirit of the Sixties still seems to live on in the village.
Rock City Yarn
4 Rock City Road, Woodstock NY 845-679-9600
Rock City Yarn, located closest to the town square, used to organize its yarns by color. But the new edition is arranged more by gauge, much to the delight of yours truly.
The enthusiastic young owner, Rachel Green, greeted me the last time I was there, and inspired me to try a Noro Kujaku scarf with a Berocco Plush lining in the bright blue colorway. Looks great with my teenage daughter's jeans jacket.
105 Tinker Street, Woodstock, NY 845-679-0400, woodstockwoolcompany.com
Woodstock Wool, on the other side of town, is a larger (3,000 square feet!) and more established shop. There are several couches where you can sit and knit to your heart's content. The owners, Paul Leone and James Conrad, have developed a warm knitters' community.
On Mondays at 6 p.m., patrons gather for a potluck/knitting fellowship evening. Tuesday night is "soup night, where you can sit, knit, and enjoy some wonderful soup in the roomy kitchen at the rear of the shop. James, an author, also hosts a book group.
Heidi Quick is the dyer who creates the shop's signature hand-dyed yarn on the premises, including "Cotton Candy," a 100% Inca cotton worsted confection; "Ego," a chunkier weight for those big needle projects; and "Bunny," an angora/wool sport-weight yarn. A free one-skein pattern is printed on every label.
Original patterns are offered as well. I especially love the Rapunzel Hat (think cable braids) and the quick Bear Paw Mittens.
|Traveling across the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge, we cross the Hudson and take Route 9 North toward the town of Hudson.|
59 Spring Road, Hudson, NY 518-828-4554, countrywool.com
Just off a country road, you will see a charming handpainted sign directing you to Claudia Krisniski's shop, situated in a small building on the grounds of her home. Claudia raises angora rabbits, and as a result this fiber is well represented here.
In addition to selling yarn, needles, and patterns, you can purchase drop spindles, fiber for spinning and felting, and spinning wheels. I love her original patterns for hats and sweaters.
A variety of clinics and workshops are offered for spinners and knitters alike. You can rent a spinning wheel for the spinning classes, by the hour or by the month.
Go south on Route 9 and bear left on Route 199 though the town of Red Hook to reach Sheep's Clothing in Milan.
2 Rock City Road, Milan, NY 845-758-3710, morehousefarm.com
Owned by the husband/wife team of Margrit Lohrer and Albrecht Pichler, this shop is a mile away from their farm, Morehouse Farm. The farm itself is open on the first Sunday of every month for a 2 p.m. tour, April through December. The shop, which was beautifully designed by architect Albrecht, is one of the most thoughtful yarn stores you will ever encounter.
The only yarn carried here is their fine selection of signature Morehouse Merino yarns, ranging from laceweight to sturdy chunky weight suitable for heavy boot socks.
They also sell books, their own patterns, needles, handknit clothing, woven scarves, kits, pottery, sheepskin booties, fleeces, and other items relating to merino sheep. You can also purchase dinner to take home, as they offer lamb chops, lamb chili, and the like.
While you sit in the back garden listening to the brook, sipping a cup of complimentary herbal tea, you will definitely be thinking, "I wish I lived here!"
|Rhinebeck Local Color|
Going south on Route 9 takes you to the town of Rhinebeck, home of The Beekman Arms, a restaurant touted as "the oldest inn in America." It can at least be billed as "the best Sunday brunch spot in America," in my view.
For a more casual meal, I recommend Schemmy's. This local homespun luncheon spot used to be Schermerhorn's Pharmacy, and it still has an apothecary decor.
|Traveling south along Route 9 will take you past the FDR Home in Hyde Park, The Vanderbilt Mansion, as well as The Culinary Institute of America. If you make reservations well in advance, you can have a sumptuous meal at The Culinary Institute, prepared and served by the students themselves.|
For those looking for a more direct route, the Taconic State Parkway is another option.
35 Chestnut Street, Cold Spring, NY 845-265-6566
Knittingsmith is located in the charming Hudson River town of Cold Spring. You could spend half the day browsing up and down Main Street, with its appealing array of antique shops, boutiques, and restaurants.
Knittingsmith is on Route 9D, just south of Main Street. The owner, Penelope Smith, has "a nice way with her" as my grandmother used to say. She opened this vibrant shop after a career designing custom-made wedding apparel, and her eye for color and display reflects that.
Colinette, Noro, Karabella, Gedifra, and Hanne Falkenberg are some of the larger companies she deals with, as well as smaller vendors like Christine McKay of Tochay's Farm, and Dovetail Farms in Cooperstown, NY. She has a wonderful selection of buttons too, underscoring Penelope's attention to detail.
|Penelope is currently conducting a beginner's knitting class for female inmates at the Fishkill Correctional Institute.|
Going north a block on 9D takes us to Main Street (Route 301), which we'll take to the Taconic Parkway North to the Route 52 Exit. Within a mile we'll spot Yarn Central.
2593 Route 52, Hopewell Junction, NY 845-223-8355
Of all the shops profiled here, Yarn Central has the most impressive list of classes for all skill levels. Double knitting, entrelac, lace, sock, color theory, patchwork techniques, twisted stitch patterns, and several others are on the agenda for this season.
A native of Finland, the owner, Marjaana, has been knitting since she was a schoolgirl. If her name sounds familiar to you, it may be because she is the namesake of the popular Schaefer yarn "Marjaana."
For several years she was a sales representative for the company in the NY/NJ area, and many of the Schaefer yarns are named for their representatives. As you might expect, there is a fine selection of Schaefer here.
The staff is exceptionally friendly, and there is a wide range of yarn available.
A Good Yarn
355 Grand Street, Newburgh, NY 845-913-6547 agoodyarn.net
A Good Yarn makes its home in the third floor of a gracious 100-year-old Queen Anne Victorian home, owned by Linda Johnson, former owner of Woolgathering in New York City. The large space is handsomely decorated in the Victorian manner, with antique armoires, prints, overstuffed couches, and wonderful objects d'art.
Great Adirondack, Noro, and Debbie Bliss are among the manufacturers you'll find here, along with vintage buttons, patterns, needles, and other knitting-related items, including every issue of Vogue.
This residence is a destination for those seeking a knitter's retreat. Linda plans to turn four bedrooms, each with its own fireplace, into a bed and breakfast for knitters looking to enjoy a country escape.
Her specialty in New York was measuring customers for garments and writing patterns to size. Workshops and classes are available, and knitters are always welcome to come, sit, and knit in these inspiring surroundings.
19 Main Street, Irvington, NY 914-591-4113, flyingfingers.com
This shop, owned by Elise and Kevin Lundeen, is located in the picturesque town of Irvington, just south of the Tappan Zee Bridge. A likeable pair, Elise and Kevin are the parents of seven children, many of them adopted.
Elise has a lot of pep, always thinking of new marketing ideas to expand the awareness of her shop. The folks who built the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile also constructed a yarn van for Flying Fingers, adorned with huge skeins of yarn and a pair of needles instead of a hotdog.
The van is used to transport customers from various locations in New York City to the store. You'll still say "hot dog!" when you see their mouth-watering selection of Manos, Great Adirondack, Colinette, Soysilk, and the like. This shop apparently sells more Colinette than any other in the NY/NJ area.
Appealing knitted samples are on display, and the store offers many classes.
After shopping, literature buffs may want to visit Sunnyside, the home of Washington Irving, author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and other stories.
Our final destination is in Rockland County, on the other side of the Tappan Zee Bridge.
49 E. Central Avenue, Pearl River, NY 845-735-4534
The Stitchery has been in operation for over 30 years, and it's no mystery why. Adam and Judy Leber are the owners of this well-known institution. They have a great eye for color, and they can write a great pattern.
Working with Adam is like having your own personal designer. When you're looking for something unique and beautiful, Adam is your go-to guy.
Colinette, Schaefer, Brown Sheep, Tahki, and Noro are just a few of the manufacturers represented here. The Stitchery also carries needlepoint kits and supplies.
About the Author
Claire Houlihan grew up in the Hudson Valley town of Central Valley, NY. She credits her friend and next-door neighbor growing up, June Menkens, for her interest in all things fiber-related. An avid knitter, she lives with her family in a yarn-filled home in northern New Jersey.