Unexpected yarn shop: Warehouse Woolery, Chelan, Washington

posted in: Knitting, Sheep, Travel, Wool | 1

You never know where you'll find a great yarn shop.

I was recently visiting family in Washington and a bunch of us spent some time together near Lake Chelan in the eastern part of the state. What I discovered there was the Warehouse Woolery. By address and identity "in" Chelan, the shop is actually located a few miles outside the town, toward Chelan Falls, in an old apple warehouse closer to the Columbia River than the lake. I drove by the signs several times as the family went about its activities, and on one of our outings I managed a snapshot from the passenger's side of the car.

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Another thing I managed to snap (although it was hard) was the charming collection of goat sculptures at the intersection of highways 97 and 97A, between the main part of Chelan and the Warehouse Woolery.

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There's no place to slow down or reasonably pull over and get a good shot of the collection. I did manage one photo while I was a passenger, and another while at a stop sign on a day when there was no traffic in any direction.

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It looks like the sculptures were designed by Jerry McKellar, although they are not stylistically like his other work. I love the way the flat planes of the metal pieces have been combined to produce such a sense of movement. They are far nicer in reality than I am able to hint at with these drive-by images. I think there are five goats in all, although I'm not sure because I only captured four with the camera.

Only on my way out of town at the end of the visit was I able to visit the Warehouse Woolery, which ended up being warmly welcoming in a bleak stretch of industrial landscape.

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The Warehouse has a lovely and diverse selection of yarns. One of the means I use to evaluate a shop is its selection of knitting needles, and this spot passed my most stringent tests. They didn't have a lot of different needles, but were well stocked with some of my favorites (Addi lace; instead of getting the longer double-points I needed for the project-in-progress, which they also had, I got two 24-inch Addi lace needles in the appropriate size—far more versatile in the long run).

The pile of books by the sit-and-knit chairs and couches told me immediately that the buyers of stock for this store are imaginative in their selection of titles to carry:

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That's Annie Modesitt's independently published Cheaper than Therapy anthology on top. I did not rearrange the books. The relatively small number of titles on the bookshelves showed similarly nuanced selection criteria.

Of course, the yarn that interested me most showed up in the back room. Did not have any identifying information. Was not priced. I picked up one skein of the creamy heavier weight and one of the moorit (light brown) fingering weight, walked to the front counter, and asked, "What can you tell me about this yarn?" The answer, correct but not quite what I had in mind, was, "It's wool." 

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(It was in skeins, not balls. These are the two units I brought home: the fingering weight.)

The ensuing discussion, following my "Tell me more . . . " and a suggestion that I really did want a lot of detail, was MUCH more interesting than the initial response.

As it turns out, the wool had been very well spun by a small-scale mill (no longer operating) from the fleece of a sheep named Roo, who was part of a flock that one of the shop's owners used to have (before the shop began to compete for her shepherding time). Roo's father was a Merino/Rambouillet cross (and moorit-colored) while Roo's mother was a full Rambouillet, making Roo 100% fine-wool, consisting of 25% Merino/75% Rambouillet. Delightful fleece, made into a "this is your reliable, soft and yet durable, security blanket" yarn. I rationalized that some day I'll be able to take time to knit something that is not exclusively breed-specific as a demo for teaching (either a swatch or an actual item) . . . or that Merino/Rambouillet is close enough to breed-specific to count. Whatever. I couldn't leave these skeins there. I wanted to take the entire quantity of both types of yarn, because it wanted to come home with me, but my current accounts of both bank and energy argued against that option.

Two is good.

It is, indeed, a very nice yarn shop in an unexpected location. If you visit, be sure to look thoroughly at the high-quality yarns in the front room, but also check out the corners in the back room. And ask questions. You'll end up in an interesting discussion, and just possibly with some unique yarn that comes with a story.

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One Response

  1. ColorJoy

    “It’s wool.” I can just see your face. Pardon me while I roll around on the floor laughing!

    Glad you got a better story in the end.

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