It took us two days to drive over the slow roads from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Junction City, Kansas, to get our brakes replaced. As I wrote yesterday, we took time to smell the sorghum and also read every billboard. About an hour away from Junction City we saw this sign: “Second Friendliest Yarn Store in the Universe.”
I thought the sign was so clever that I had to go to this yarn shop. Once we parked the RV at New Horizons to get the brakes fixed, we headed out to find it.
All the way to the “Second Friendliest Yarn Store in the Universe” I thought about the brilliance of the marketing on the sign. If they said they were the friendliest yarn store, people would be thinking about their own local yarn shop being friendlier. But the claim to be the SECOND friendliest yarn store in the UNIVERSE was still outrageous enough to get attention. I mean, how many people would pay attention if they said they were the second friendliest yarn store in Kansas?
So we drove the hour to downtown Salina to check out the “Second friendliest yarn store in the universe.” We were in Salina five years ago and were able to drive directly to the address on the billboard. We found the store – only it was closed! Permanently! The awning still said Yarns but the store was empty. I guess being the second friendliest store isn’t enough to keep you in business.
After consoling myself with BBQ (more on that next week) Tom and I decided to head to the closest local yarn shop. It was on the way back to Junction City in Abilene, Kansas.
Abilene is a small town of 7,000 people with a lively downtown. It is home to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum, and Boyhood Home (not a National Park site). Abilene also has the Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad and (unlikely as it seems) the National Greyhound Hall of Fame. Although those places looked somewhat interesting, I was in need of a fiber fix, so Tom and I parked and walked through downtown.
Downtown Abilene has the usual storefronts of a small town. There were a few restaurants / cafes / diners, a bunch of antique stores, a bank, and the Dickinson County Courthouse. Tucked between two of the antique stores we found it: The Shivering Sheep.
The storefront itself is a little disappointing because it looks small and dingy. But the storefront is deceiving. Inside, The Shivering Sheep is packed with yarn, roving, and all the things that delight a spinner and knitter’s soul. Every inch of the shop was packed with beautiful, colorful yarns. Although narrow, the shop is very deep, with an upstairs for classes and a downstairs for sale items.
I love wandering around and feeling the yarns. All the gorgeous colors are a feast for the eyes. In a little back room I found a unique steel spinning wheel. Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture and can’t find it on the internet. The Bargain Basement contained some great deals on discontinued yarns and single skeins.
Of course I found the most expensive yarns in the shop and fell in love. I have an unerring sense for that. I tried to ignore them, but I kept coming back over and over to a display of “National Parks Collection” yarn. The collection was produced by “Fleece Artist” for the 150th Anniversary of the creation of Canada in 2017. The display in the shop were the remains of the collection.
Not only is the collection beautiful but the names are very evocative. I purchased several skeins of Riding Mountain, Manitoba. The colors represent roaming bison and black bears. I also bought a skein for my friend Val of Kluane Yukon because the colors were “rippling curtains of the Aurora Borealis.” The skein made me remember searching for the northern lights with Johnny and Val in Minnesota. Any skein of yarn that brings back wonderful memories like that is worth the price.
Although I didn’t find “The Second Friendliest Yarn Store in the Universe,” I did find a wonderful local yarn shop in Abilene, Kansas. One more place to which I will return the next time we pass through.