On the Road: Noe Knit

3957 24th St. (between Noe and Sanchez)
San Francisco, CA
tel. 415-970-9750
noeknit.com

Note: We sadly note that this store is no longer in business as of June 2009. The below review remains up for archival purposes and also to honor a great store.

A good yarn store needs to have depth and breadth of inventory, but it also needs to have the less tangible things like customer service, an inviting atmosphere, and a sense of community. In a city where yarn stores abound, Noe Knit achieves the perfect balance of the tangible and intangible.

the outside of Noe Knit

Shop hours
Mon-Thur 11am-8pm; Fri-Sun 11am-6pm

Getting there
Take the J Church MUNI train to 24th Street.

Where Is It?
Noe (pronounced "know-ee") Knit is located in San Francisco's Noe Valley, which is nestled between the Mission District, the Castro, and Diamond Heights. This was my neighborhood before I left San Francisco nine years ago.

Noe Valley centers around the 24th Street shopping district, where baby strollers and dogs tend to outnumber people on the weekends. You'll find everything you could possibly want or need there—the fancy intermingled with the old-fashioned, from $400 handmade shoes to $15 galvanized steel garbage cans. The only thing it lacked when I lived there was a yarn store, but this has since changed. Right in the middle of everything is Noe Knit.

inside Noe Knit
Inside the Shop
Glance through the open door (it's actually a split Dutch door) and you'll see a deep tall space inside. On the left and right, walls of yarn lead your eye into the back area where tall sunny windows illuminate a large wooden table awaiting classes and impromptu knit-ins. Behind the shelves, walls have been painted a calming shade of green.

The polished concrete floor and high ceilings are decidedly urban, yet the yarns and sample garments and comfortable chairs keep it cozy. Lamps suspended from the ceiling give the space a warm and abundant light.

The yarns are stored on natural wood-colored shelves and are organized by gauge, then by manufacturer, by type, and finally by color. Everything is in perfect order, but not untouchably so. Debbie Bliss, Jo Sharp, Anny Blatt, Dale of Norway, and others are on the shelves.

They try to have on the shelves at least two skeins of each yarn, in each color. The rest is safely tucked away in back—a refreshing change from the usual "put it all out there and let them rummage" approach.

a vintage boulangerie stand hold hand-dyed yarns
The more "special" yarns, such as Manos del Uruguay and Colinette, have their own separate sections along the middle, and you'll also find surprise groups of Blue Heron, Art Yarns, Claudia Hand Painted Yarns, Be Sweet, and even a few Vivian Hoxbro kits tucked throughout.



the very tip of the tower of cashmere
I couldn't resist what I'll call the tower of cashmere. Owner Susan Herrick (shown in the doorway with her Colinette at the bottom of this page) had taken all the cashmere yarns in her shop and showcased them on an old wooden multiple-tier display unit. I fell in love with one particular color of yarn but saw only one skein there. Bereft, I asked if they possibly had any more. Susan slipped into a back room and returned, smiling, with a fresh box of that color. That was it—I knew I had to spread the word about this special store.

In terms of needles and accessories, you'll find pretty much everything you need, but not to the point of excess or gluttony where you have to choose from three or four different versions of the same thing.

Gadgets and gizmos are at a minimum, but colorful shapely bags from Lantern Moon are artfully poised throughout.

inside Noe Knit
Despite the fact that this shop opened a little more than two years ago, Noe Knit is already developing the comfortable patina of a neighborhood haunt.

Even among non-knitters, the store is appreciated for its inventive window displays—once they preserved colorful ice cream cones in shellac and suspended them from strings through which balls of matching yarn had been strung; another time, their cafe-themed display included a French press coffee pot filled with small balls of brown yarn, and cappuccino cups with swirls of white fiber on the top for frothy milk.

Noe Knit owner Susan Herrick
Noe Knit is a welcome addition to the already robust San Francisco Bay Area yarn store scene. Susan and her staff are genuinely helpful, inclusive, and professional. I only wish she had opened Noe Knit when I lived there, because I know it would've become my LYS.

For out-of-town visitors, it's a great stop because you get a real LYS/neighborhood feel, the inventory is interesting, it's extremely easy to reach (just take the J Church train from downtown), and the neighborhood will give any non-knitters in your group ample distraction while you go inside to play with yarn.

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