Friday, June 22, 2007

Littleton, MA: The World in Stitches

The World in Stitches describes itself as "The largest counted thread, needlepoint and knitting shop in Massachusetts". Truth be told, I haven't yet run into another store that carried as much needlepoint and counted thread merchandise, so it may well be true in that regard. But still, I think the phrase is a bit misleading unless you parse it carefully. They have a lovely knitting selection, it's true -- but hardly one of the largest.

With that out of the way, let me tell you about the shop. It's a bit hard to find, and with no active website to provide directions, I drove by several times before I found it. It's in a big yellow building that houses a variety of offices and shops. The World in Stitches is on the second floor, and just finding the entrance proved a challenge (it's around the back, in the middle corner). Once you go up the stairs (I admit that I failed to look for an elevator; my apologies), the store is clearly marked.

The layout is, like so many yarn stores, unique. The entire store is a warren of individual rooms -- this could have easily been a doctor's office in a previous life. The front room is given over to a display of needlework (excuse my ignorance -- I think it's needlepoint, but I really have no idea). I think the owner described it as a 'trunk show,' but I didn't inquire further. I was after the yarn.

Walking further into the store, there is a doorway, through which is the counter/cash register on the left. Mentally, I thought of it as the area where you'd hand over your co-pay after your physical exam. It was here that I was met by a very friendly woman, who I believe was the owner. She greeted me with a big smile and asked if I was looking for anything in particular. When I told her it was my first time in the store, she gave me the shop tour.

In one room is the classroom, with a large conference-style table. The next room is the sale room -- she flicked on the lights, and told me that this was one room I had to know about. That room also featured some toys, so I'm guessing that children are welcomed. The sale room had an assortment of odd-balls, some of which were very very nice, and also some superbulky variegated yarn, and a full bag or two of some very nice alpaca.

The owner explained the organization of the yarn, which is mainly together in a large room off to the right. It's divided pretty much by weight, and only a few of each yarn are on display; they will fetch additional yarn from the store-room. It was fairly well-organized, with price sheets near each fixture, though I did notice some balls and skeins priced individually as well. Prices seemed to be in range with other stores. Because there were single balls of multiple colors mixed into each bin, nothing seemed to jump out at me. Often I am first attracted to a splash of color, then texture, and then I fondle the yarn. Without that draw of the color, I wasn't as "touchy" with the yarn as I usually am.

Lines carried include Encore, Cascade, Classic Elite and Rowan. They carry Lobster Pot yarns, which are dyed here in Massachusetts, and a lovely line from Idaho called Steadfast Yarns, which the owner said was Brown Sheep yarn that was individually hand-dyed. The store also carries a wide range of Manos. Sock yarns include Regia, and a line of yarns from Universal Yarn Co. called Wisdom Yarns that reminded me of Opal, but softer. They also had quite a bit of Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn.

I spotted a small fixture of needles and notions -- Addi Turbos were really the only needles I remember seeing, though I'm certain there was a selection of straight needles somewhere. The shop has an extensive selection of patterns, well organized into binders. When I commented on the quantity, the owner told me that she'd been in business over 30 years, so they had amassed quite a number of patterns. So if you're looking for an older, hard-to-find pattern, they might just have it here. Numerous samples are strewn about the store, often unmarked as to pattern or yarn, though the owner is knowledgable and will give you the details if you ask.

Overall, I'd say that as a local yarn store, this shop is okay, but I wouldn't travel far out of my way to go there. Still, if you do, you should definitely check out the Steadfast Yarns ... it was very, very nice, and I almost bought some for myself.

The specifics: the store seems to have a website that is under construction, so I'll post the details here. As always, call first before you go to verify that the hours have not changed.

256 Great Road, #16
P.O. Box 1285
Littleton, MA 01460
phone: (978) 486-8330

Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday nights, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Closed on Sundays