Learn how-to block knitted garments in #ShopShowcase with Argyle Yarn Shop in New York.
How did you get started?
Argyle Yarn Shop is owned by husband-and-wife team Esther and David Betten, and opened in 2011. Having never owned a business before, this step was a real leap of faith for us! One of the appealing things about opening a yarn store is you get the chance to make people cheerful for a living. Like listening to live music, visiting a yarn shop is the reward after the trials of the work week that makes it all worth it. There’s a real shared sense of community, and people of all ages and skill levels can share their growth and experience with folks who can really appreciate their efforts.
Where are you located?
Argyle Yarn Shop is located in New York City, in the lovely neighborhood of Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn. Tree-lined and brick-paved, and with flag-topped iron lamps, our street feels a lot like (as we say) “Main Street, USA.” It’s surprising how many neighborhoods in Brooklyn feel like you’re living in a small town, how many mom & pop shops there are, and how often you bump into someone you know.
Which products do you specialise in?
Our specialty is supplies for knitting and crochet. We’ve got a large range of yarns for every budget, including wool, alpaca, silk blends, and synthetics, plus wool roving for felting, spinning, and weaving. Recently we have also introduced a selection of embroidery supplies, such as cotton floss.
We’re one of the very few stores in New York that also sells inexpensive acrylic yarns, in addition to natural fibers. We try to be very respectful of one’s budget, and don’t think folks should have to head off to a big box chain store at the edge of town to find something they can afford.
Do you have a particular favorite product that you sell?
Argyle is the exclusive NYC flagship store for the wonderful yarns of Quince & Co. Quince produces ethically-sourced, American made yarn, dyed in a historic textile mill just up in Maine. Crafters have been drawn to their soft, muted, sophisticated color palette. Its “misty forest” or “desert-at-sunset” shades are always a favorite.
Malabrigo and Madelinetosh are both exquisite, jewel-toned, hand dyed yarns.
Juniper Moon has luscious alpaca and silk blends like “Moonshine.”
And Galler Yarns’ “Heather Prime Alpaca” has an incredibly soft and touchable halo.
What's on the stereo?
Well, a knitting store’s supposed to uplifting and calming at once.
With that in mind, we play a lot of low key, atmospheric music like the XX, Bon Iver, Iron & Wine, and the National; toe-tappers from Arcade Fire, Borns, and Ratatat; female alt-country by Neko Case, Alison Harris, and Eilen Jewell; and the high-energy melancholy of Lord Huron, Milo Green, and Wye Oak.
You want to find a sweet spot where it’s music that you really like to listen to all day, but it won’t alienate guests who might have nothing in common except that they like to knit!
Where else should we visit in your area?
Argyle’s just steps away from Brooklyn’s biggest green space: Prospect Park. This gorgeous environment has a lake, an open-air roller rink, and endless fields to unwind in. Just next door to the park is the delightful Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which has a cherry esplanade, a bonsai museum, and desert and tropical greenhouse pavilions.
Other cool, small shops right on our own street include Terrace Books, an indie used book store, and Black Bear, a vintage clothing/handmade gifts store. For food, there’s the Pie Shop, serving up New Zealand-style meat pies; the P’tit Paris, a charming, affordable French restaurant; and the Double Windsor, if you need a great place for a burger and a beer.
Do you host any workshops, classes or special events?
We’ve had a great experience with our knitting classes. Our most popular class, “Next Step Beginner,” is a semi-private lesson capped at four students, who have a grasp of the basics of knitting and purling and want to broaden their skills. What makes it fun is each student can choose which skill they’d like to learn that day, whether it’s color work, cables, striping, lace patterns– anything intimidating they’d love to have an expert walk them through. Students also bring in any project for troubleshooting and guidance.
In the past we’ve offered classes on crochet, weaving, and needle felting, and we’d love to schedule more of those in the future, as well as embroidery.
We’ve hosted special events in the past called “yarn tastings.” A yarn tasting is a party that showcases one yarn company. We set out on plates a few balls of each of their different lines of yarn, and guests pull out a few yards and get to experiment by knitting or crocheting with them. They also provide some great prizes to raffle off, and we at Argyle provide food and cocktails. The best thing is, all of it is free for our guests!
Sometimes a guest speaker even joins us to help folks discover a new favorite, and answer questions about where the yarns we use come from and how they’re made.
Most recently we were delighted to be joined by two guest speakers: Susan Gibbs came up from Virginia to share with us about her exciting yarn company Juniper Moon Farm. And, the founder of the celebrated Malabrigo Yarn, Antonio Gonzalez-Arnao joined us from Uruguay to describe how his yarns are painstakingly dyed by hand. We can’t wait to host more of these events!
Is there anything else you'd like us to know?
If you are new to knitting or crochet, please don’t be too shy to ask the staff at your local yarn shop for help! We know that if you’re a beginner it can be really intimidating when there’s so many new tools and terminologies to learn, but yarn stores are there to try to help make the process exciting, not overwhelming. We believe that buying yarn should be relaxing, fun, a treat to yourself and something you’ve really been looking forward to.
Do you have a favorite craft, art or supply shop in your town that we should feature? Send us a message!