Very crafty 

She’s not only creative, but actually has the talent to turn her ideas into really cool things, whether that’s a knit cowl, crocheted clutch or bracelet made of vintage buttons.

I’m decidedly less talented, but it doesn’t mean I don’t like trying (and failing). With my friend in mind, I headed to The Gourmet Yarn Co. (2915 W. Britton; 286-3737), her go-to place for a wide range of skeins for knitting and crocheting.

In a huge range of colors and thickness are skeins perfect for making anything from winter hats to amigurumi, the Japanese term for tiny, crocheted animals. I once attempted a miniature owl (or, more appropriately, “owl”) using the store’s Malabrigo yarn.

My favorite yarn, however, has to be the gorgeous Plymouth Yarn made from baby alpaca hair. Side story: Last year when I went to Taos with friends, I insisted on a huge (huge!) detour to visit Victory Ranch, an alpaca farm. I was there just to make moony eyes at my new friends and maybe try to give one a nice pat, but the large ranch also had a great store filled with alpaca yarn, accompanied by a picture of just which animal gave its hair.

Anyway, Gourmet Yarn is more than just, you know, yarn. When I visited, ladies sitting on the arranged couches in the back chatted away as they knitted. The store also holds monthly classes for crafters (next ones include “Entrelac Hats” for intermediates on Saturday and “Next Step Scarf” for advanced beginners on Jan. 22), as well as a monthly, second Saturday knit-in and even a men’s knitting night. For more information, visit

Gourmet Yarn is more than just, you know, yarn.

Gourmet Yarn carries all the various accoutrements to knitting and crocheting, along with a large selection of books, including titles like “Norwegian Knits” and even something ominously called “Vampire Knits.” (Seriously.)

In Casady Square, Paper Crown (9303 N. Penn; 848-2389) is a lovely little shop full of everything you need for scrapbooking and paper artistry. Honestly, I’ve never been too into scrapbooking, but I adore paper art, it just seems so Victorian and pretty.

Paper Crown has rows and rows of fabulous patterned papers arranged loosely by theme, but paper art is so much more than that. Check out the textured paper flowers, rack of luxe ribbons and the jeweled letters and designs (like an ice cream cone or a bird) by Prima Marketing. Also look for the metal baubles by Jim Holtz Ideology and the traditional, wood-backed stamps by 100 Proof Press.

Paper Crown also holds classes and kids’ birthday parties in its large, sunny back room, where kids and adults can learn to make their own paper arts. (And the display of past projects lined up at the back is certainly enticing.)

Next up is a class on Victorianesque paper fan dolls (very “American Girl” Samantha) on Jan. 27 and the monthly kids’ camp on Jan. 30. Call for pricing and reservations.

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