Special Guest Post: by Lisa Solomon

by Lisa Solomon


Since I talked about fabric yesterday I thought it would be fun to talk about yarn today.

Article Pract is a BEAUTIFUL yarn store that is practically within walking distance of my house. It's on a very cute block of Telegraph Avenue in Oakland known as the Temescal district. There are a couple of really fantastic restaurants [Donna Thomas, Piezzaiolo, Genoa Deli across the street, Bake Sale Betty on the corner], as well as a few other small local shops that are fun to visit. Full disclosure ­ Christina ­ who owns the store is a dear friend and a studio mate of mine ­ but I swear even if she wasn't I would love this store.

Christina has a wonderful eye. She always finds the softest, tweediest, most complex, unique, interesting yarns [including my all time to die for line: habu]. I often go to find yarns to wrap
packages with ­ or for other projects other than knitting/crocheting. She also always stocks the basics ­ cottons and wools of all
density and sizes in a wide array of colors. Plus there's always something yummy in the sale section. AND she carries the tools that you need, a nice selection of vintage buttons, a wide array of pattern books and a GREAT selection of bags. These are bags that yes, of course, you can use to stash your knitting, but they are also just cool bags. There are also classes and workshops offered at Article Pract... I'm not sure you could ask for anything more.

Christina was kind enough to answer some questions about her store:


why did you start Article Pract? And what¹s in the name?

I started Article Pract after my old LYS (local yarn store) Straw Into Gold closed. The world hadn't quite come down with the
knitting bug and there weren't many shops near me that really "spoke" to me ... I had to drive over a bridge to shop and that seemed silly. I had been knitting for years, but many of my friends were just starting. We were "younger" than the knitting
demographic at the time and none of us had found a knitting supply shop that reflected the colors and textures we were wanting to use in our knitting. At the time my friend owned a shop (Porch Light Antiques) and when I was at her place I would walk by this empty storefront a couple of doors down... and the idea for a shop planted itself. Originally I wanted to create a space that not only sold supplies, but had a craft space as part of it as well as a mini-gallery of practical art local folks had made. I also wanted to create a space for newer knitters/crafters to feel welcome and inspired to learn in their own way. Knitting supplies quickly took over as many customers who came in and saw the practical art wanted to make things themselves instead of buying them already made, and knitting/crochet classes and workshops became a big part of the shop. The name "Article Pract" is a play on words for practical art, based on the original concept of the space.


what do you do/have that other yarn stores don't?

My taste. Every store has it's own personality, whether that be based on the clientele, the owner/buyer's taste in arn/supplies, or a little bit of both. I learned early on to trust my taste and my judgment. If I love something, the people who shop at my store seem to love it, too. Buying from the heart keeps me inspired in my designing and merchandising and that is reflected when you walk in the door. I also love to changethe shop around, add new products, re-merchandise, add new classes and
workshops and programs. It keeps my job and environment endlessly interesting. And the bonus is that there's always something new or different for customers when they come in the shop. Everyone loves to keep it fresh!

what is your absolute favorite drop dead gotta use yarn of the moment?
Wow, that's actually a hard question for me right now (usually I'd have an answer right off the bat). I've been spinning a lot
recently, so my first instinct is not even a yarn, but a fiber! I am in love with A Verb for Keeping Warm fibers for spinning, particularly camel and silk. All of their fibers are hand dyed with natural dyes and are outrageously beautiful. Plus they're local! After fiber, I'll break it up into two categories for yarn: luxury and everyday. Of course owning a yarn shop allows me to knit with some amazing luxury yarns, but we all have budgets and I like to balance out my fancy schmancy yarns with less expensive but quality yarns so that my projects are amazing, last a long time, and don't break the bank. Fave fancy yarn: Tanglewood Fiber Creations (pretty much anything they do, but particularly the cashmere. Oh my!) Fave "everyday" yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport - amazing yardage, superwash, long lasting, and SOFT! And keep in mind this is all "of the moment". Tomorrow I'll probably have a whole different list of favorites...so fickle!


any thoughts/tips on owning and running your own business?
Do your research before starting. Interview not only small business owners in your field, but in other fields as well. Grow only as fast as you can afford to (if you don't know this already, taxes years one and two can kill a new business. Save save save.) Always have a one-year and five-year plan/list. Stay goal oriented and keep things changing and fresh (helps against burn out, keeps you motivated). Give back to your customers/community/the world as much as you can. But my biggest "tip" is
Trust Yourself. It certainly has worked for me.

what inspires you?
color. texture. movement.

dancing ­ pro or con?
super duper pro.

hug or handshake?
both. hugs all the time and handshakes cause they can be hilarious.

what did you have for dinner last night?
I made purple cauliflower and sweet potato soup. With some tasty walnut whole wheat bread from La Farine. Mmmm.

anything else we should know about you and your store???
Each and every day I am inspired by and grateful for the AMAZING bevy of friends (yes, friends!) I have made through the shop,
whether it be customers, designers, vendors, or neighbors. Often I think I opened the shop for purely selfish reasons (so I could be surrounded by beautiful colors, yarn, and the things people make) but I have gotten SO much more out of having a shop than I ever could have imagined. I am blown away, every day, by the creativity that walks in my door. We all see things
with such different perspectives and I am so lucky to have met and to be surrounded by such amazing and giving ideas and people.

A note on the pictures used for this post... They were taken by Aija Goto and her web site is sockpr0n.blogspot.com.

Article Pract 
5010 Telegraph Avenue
Oakland, CA 94609
510 595 PURL   

Special Guest Post by Lisa Solomon


Jan Halvarson


Leah said...

Article Pract is the best!

Patty said...

I LOVE this place! They carry an amazing selection of yarn. Just going for the eye-candy and inspiration is enough reason to stop by...and of course the always helpful gals.

jo said...

The place looks rad! http://callepompon.blogspot.com/