If you don't live in New York City, you really need to come for a visit. Seriously. I'm not talking about a visit so that you can go to Times Square, get in the way of workers like myself, and eat bad,overpriced renditions of bar food. No- you need to come here so you can shop for yarn like a complete and utter fool.
Why do I tell you this? It's simple. If you have sent even 5 minutes watching Martha Stewart and then look up the stores where her minions get her goods, most of them are in New York. The city is still a garment center, and it caters to many of the top designers. What does that mean for you, my little ducklings? It means you get to clean up at a discount.
Let's take Habu. It's in an unassuming building in the wholesale district. By suburban yarn shop standards, the neighborhood looks scary. But it isn't. Really. Trust me on this one. You can get off the bus at Port Authority and walk a few blocks to Habu, witch is off the ground floor, and since you are off the street you are in civilization again. You go down the hall, ring the bell, and some nice Japanese women will help you with stuff you've never seen before. The place is crazy- the place looks like an incredibly cool teahouse filled with textiles and yarn. The place offers weaving lessons, too, as that's their main market. They see to a lot of knitters, but on the day that I went, when I told them I was a crocheter, they were thrilled. They want to see more of us.
Anything you might ever want to crochet, they probably have it. Steel wire, linen tape, bamboo- it's there. I was in the mood for spring colors when I went, so I bought lots of lavender stuff. I could just as easily gone dark- Habu stocks lots of browns and blacks. They have yarn that looks like seaweed, and ribbon, and everything. This is beyond novelty yarn- this is art. Plus, they have constant sales, where you can buy little bags of yarn balls for $15-$20, so you can try out what the have and use the rest for edging, or plying with your own yarn.
I have to warn you- this place is not cheap. I dropped $60 or so in there without blinking an eye- but I intend to go back, especially now that I spin. But when you get back to your local crochet or spinning guild, you will be cackling your ass off and everyone will hate you. So there.
Of course, if you really want them to hate you, you need to walk a couple of blocks over from Habu and go to School Products. Ignore the name, sweetie- this place is not for kids. Why is it calls 'School Products'? I don't know- because 'Spend Your Last Dime Products' doesn't sound as good. Cashmere in cones? Check. Some yarn that Donna Karan ended up not using? Sure. Some no muss-no fuss Lamb's Pride? Uh-huh. Plus hooks and needles and ball winders. You are not going to get designer-quality cashmere thread in quantity any cheaper in New York. Even the Italian acrylic looks tasty. If you have any money left from shopping at Habu, you can come in here and give School Products some. Just remember that since they buy a lot of their yarn from designers and facotries, the stock changes seasonally, and sometimes they won't have what you like. Forget coming here with a set laundry list. Just go with the flow. If you have any money left after all this shopping, you can head downtown on the N/R and eat dim sum in Chinatown- I recommend Mandarin Court. Have some baked roast pork buns and picture yourself lording it over your friends when you get back home rubbing your hands together as you point out the yarn used in the Chanel jackets this year.