My love affair with Kraemer Yarns is no secret. I chose their Sterling Silk and Silver yarn for my wedding shawl, and a year later for Jac’s. What you don’t know is that it was the project that changed the standards for my yarn-based needs.
I started my shawl about a year before my wedding and that was right around the time when I was making the transition from being a “big box knitter” to an “LYS knitter.” I think the majority of us go through that transition at some point or another, and it can be sort of weird to look back on it. Like most of my knitting friends, I like to pretend that it all started one magical day when I wandered into a local yarn store and purchased a skein of cashmere along with a set of artisan needles. Then I sat down with a circle of women who laughed and drank tea while I made my first shawlett.
Of course, the real story was that my grandma gave me a skein of “100% unknown fibers,” which probably cost about $1.50, and some plastic needles. Then, she told me to sit down and be quiet because her Bridge Club was coming over. Thanks to Grandma Betty I can now both knit a sweater and hustle cards, both important zombie apocalypse skills.
Fast forward two years and Jac was crocheting her first blanket. I nearly spilled a Coke on her project bag (thus beginning a long and delightful tradition of me managing to spill a beverage on just about everything we have ever made). She shrieked and threw her notebook at me because:
That yarn is $3.75 a skein!
Like most knitters, as my skill improved, I wanted to use better materials. Soon the coveted $3.75 per skein yarn became $6 per skein yarn, but it was all bought from the same big box store.
Then, everything changed
when the fire nation attacked when I met lace in my early twenties and became interested in designing. Suddenly, there was nothing at JoAnns, or Michaels, or AC Moore that could quench my thirst for lace, but my wallet hadn’t quite caught up with my fiber needs. The point of telling you all this is so you’ll understand just how wonderful a skein of yarn had to be for me to spend over $100 for a single project. That was equivalent to a week of groceries and utilities. That was a quarter of my months rent. And when I met Kraemer Yarn, none of that mattered anymore.
My wedding shawl was the first real luxury project I ever knitted. It took almost a year to complete and by the end of it, I was hooked. I finally got it. Why spend a year making something that’s always going to look cheap? I’ve gone back to Kaemer Yarns over and over again, because I know I’m going to be happy with what I get every single time. They aren’t expensive compared to many other luxury yarns, but the yarn holds up. I’m also lucky enough to live super close to the Kraemer yarn mill and store front located in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.
Seriously, how cute is the inside of this store?
Kraemer doesn’t offer yarn mill tours to the public anymore, but they were kind enough to let Jac and I in anyway to see how yarn is commercially manufactured. The lovely Eleanor took us through the mill, the store, and even the work room where they invent new yarns and colors! This time next week we will publish a follow-up feature on the mill itself. I tried to write the review of Kraemer’s yarn and our experience at the mill as one article, but it just couldn’t be done. Honestly, I didn’t know that so much goes into making it, and I don’t want to short change you. While we were there, I met the wizard of yarn, Kraemer President David Schmidt, and got a step by step tutorial on what happens between the sheep and the LYS shelves.
Jac and I spent some time in their storefront, where the staff was busily working away making swag bags for an event. The ladies who work in the shop often do knitting for hire and their latest project is a car cozy. You know, like you do. Not only that, this is their second car cozy, since the first one was such a big success. Not only are they some of the friendliest LYS staff I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with, they are also some of the most professional.
Kraemer Yarn takes quality seriously. I was shown a bin of yarn on heavy discount. Every skein in it was $3.00 (teenage me squeed with joy), but the skeins looked just like the ones at regular price. Eleanor explained that each one had a flaw and they didn’t feel comfortable selling them at market price. In this case, “flaw” meant the color or texture was slightly uneven in one spot, the yardage was off somewhat, or that the skein had a knot in it. It was almost funny since those are issues I assumed were par for the course, even with much more expensive brands. Kraemer, however, will only put out a skein that is exactly right, and I have nothing but respect for that.
And then I bought several skeins because seriously guys, they were only $3.00!
Of course, I could go on all day about how great the yarn is, but you don’t have to take my word for it. How about the US Olympic Team though? Pretty hard to ignore them.
Yep. Kraemer Yarns spun the wool that was used by Ralph Lauren to make the 2014 Olympic Sweaters! They have one proudly displayed in their shop and it is breathtaking. I touched it. I can now add “rubbed Olympic Sweater on my face” to my resume.
If you are in the Nazareth, PA area and want to check out all the amazing stuff Kraemer has to offer, they are open Monday-Friday from 9-5 and Saturdays 9-4. You can also check them out on Ravelry, Facebook, and Twitter. Their yarn is available in many local yarn shops and in their online store. Come back this time next week for an in depth look “behind the curtain” of how your yarn is made.
We’re off to see the Wizard.