While my parents have bought the new house in Kokomo, Indiana, they don't live there yet. They're still getting it in order, ripping down wallpapers and replacing light fixtures installed by the previous lady of the house.
I have never met this lady, and hope I never will. I can only say that her horror vacui is all too evident even in the empty rooms she left behind. I have never seen three different patterned papers and two colors combined in one space before.
The light fixtures, for their part, are so ugly that when I saw the one in the downstairs bathroom I actually developed a rash on my eyelids.
Since we couldn't stay in the house yet, we were guests of the Schuelkes, dear old friends of my parents and the people who introduced them to Kokomo in the first place. (We like them anyway.) Charming Mrs. Schuelke, anxious to alleviate our fears that my parents were moving to a town that could have kept Diane Arbus busy for 50 years, took us on a whirlwind tour of the best the place has to offer: little cafés, historic houses, and a truly impressive stained glass factory.*
Smart woman, she also knew the way to the nearest yarn store.
So we visited Khadija Yarn Shop, 3712 La Fountain Street in Kokomo. It's a tiny little place in a strip mall, but one of the plate glass windows was entirely covered by a SALE sign and that's always promising.
Included in the posse during our visit were Mrs. Schuelke, my sister, and both my parents. This meant I didn't hang out as long as I might have, given that the levels of their interests in yarn range from slim (my mother) to none (my father). We did stay long enough that I can offer the following.
The shop has two rooms. The first, smaller room is jammed to the drop ceiling with pattern books. You think I am exaggerating, but I am not. It would take a person at least half a day, possibly more, to go through all the books. I had about two minutes. Most of what's there was like the Bernat book pictured above. According to C, it looks like it was released as a tie-in with the movie Valley of the Dolls.
Now, some will scoff, but (as dear Miss Jane Brodie would say), for those who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like. I picked up the book for two reasons. First, my sister liked one of the knit shells inside it. Second, although I have no intention of knitting the shell or anything else in the book (they all use ribbon yarn and require finishing on a sewing machine), the pictures, my darling, are to die.
Check this out:
The open-eye look in full bloom. What was the allure of perpetually looking surprised? Was it supposed that men found startled women to be especially yummy? Is she meant to be thinking, "You want me to put that where?" or what?
Not that I think the vacant, bovine stare of the Britney Spears/Olsen Twin set is an improvement. Feh.
And look at this:
The other popular fashion expression of the era, a relic from the golden Bettina/Suzy Parker/Lisa Fonssagrives era at Vogue: icy-cold sophistication.
She could probably rip the face off the mailman with one swipe of that manicured claw and still keep her pillbox on straight.
Did I mention the price? A lot of the books are were (and probably still are) on sale for 40% off the cover. This one set me back 80 cents.
In the second, much larger room, yarn lines the walls on high shelves. The center floor is reserved for something I had never encountered before: knitting machines.
I will confess that the allure of knitting machines escapes me utterly, but they seem to be mighty popular in Kokomo. There were three women (one of whom turned out to be the saleslady) working at machines. If this is your heart's delight, the store (if I remember correctly) will rent you a machine by the month and also offers classes.
The yarn selection is large but most of what I saw was mid-price to low-end. Brand names I noticed included Patons (lots of it) and Berocco. There was a pretty good selection of needles including bamboos by Clover.
No Rowan, no Lorna's Laces, nothing unusual or luxurious or locally spun. Just plain, stout yarns for (I am guessing) plain, stout knitters.** If you're fiber snob, this store is not going to do much for you; but if you need basics and you need them cheap, stop in.
Regarding customer service, I'd say it was just fine. When we arrived I led the way into the store, and got the usual response - raised eyebrows and a "Can I help you find someting?" that clearly telegraphed the metamessage "I am afraid you've mistaken us for the auto parts dealership two doors down."
However, after I explained that I was a knitter visiting my parents and checking the place out for the first time, she recovered her composure and was very friendly and solicitous. I bought my book, and she said she hoped I'd come in again on my next visit to Indiana and spend more time looking around.
With all those books to dig through, I think I'll be back.
*I didn't want to spoil the flow of positives, so I'm putting it in a footnote that we also visited two of Kokomo's other claims to fame, housed side-by-side under glass in the town park. They are a taxidermied bull with no tail and a tree stump, both freakishly large. I won't even bother to comment.
* *Not perjorative. I like plain, stout people. I'm already halfway to being one.