Noe Valley Voice March 2005

Store Trek

Store Trek is a regular feature of the Voice, profiling new stores and businesses in Noe Valley. This month we unravel the tale of Noe Knit, a yarn boutique on 24th Street.

Noe Knit

3957 24th Street between Sanchez and Noe streets


"I want people to feel successful here," says Noe Knit owner Susan Herrick, whose knitting store opened on 24th Street the day after Valentine's Day. "They can achieve completion and have a beautiful thing they've made with their hands."

The yarn shop, which is in the former Colorcrane location (across the street from Bell Market), has been a labor of many hands since Herrick picked the spot back in August of 2004. Soon after she took over the lease, she encountered several knots in her plan to renovate the storefront.

"It needed some work on the floors, new walls, a new ceiling, and a new bathroom," Herrick says. "And we were working on that...." But then it rained. And rained. Herrick recalls checking on the space a day or two before Halloween. "It was inches and inches of water on the floor, and a waterfall still coming down from the ceiling."

The plumbing took a lot longer to fix than expected, and the floor she had just put in had to be replaced. "I now have a Ph.D. in concrete!" she laughs.

With the floor, ceiling, and plumbing all in place, Herrick went back to setting up her store, which is 1,300 square feet--a good size for a yarn store, Herrick says.

She's also pleased with the location. "I spent six months 'shop-shopping' for my store. I wanted to open in a village, and Noe Valley is an absolutely perfect combination of village and city."

The interior walls are a warm yellow-green, pendant lamps hang neatly throughout, and spotlights shine on the rows of birchwood shelves stocked full of yarn. Old-world touches, like a baguette stand found in a flea market and an antique armoire, add a comfy touch.

Herrick, who moved to San Francisco in 1998, has been knitting since her mother taught the craft to her second-grade Brownie troop in Los Angeles. Her resume is a many-colored yarn of its own: she has a degree in psychology and political science, once taught FAA regulations to flight attendants, was a corporate trainer for McKinsey & Company business consultants, and for a while was a standup comedian.

"Working for the airline was a rich source of material for standup," she says.

Herrick is no slouch in the yarn department either. She has knitted and crocheted everything from baby booties to ponchos, and some of her creations are on display at the store. She says her shop will stock the yarns that knitters want--Rowan, Debbie Bliss, Crystal Palace, Lopi, and Anny Blatt, to name a few of the natural-fiber brands. Acrylics, she says, will show up only in her novelty yarns.

Prices per skein or ball of yarn range from $3.40 to $28. And each has been individually priced, "to avoid surprises when you reach the counter."

Noe Knit also carries a large supply of knitting needles and notions, such as stitch markers, row counters, and crotchet hooks. Herrick adds that she offers both plastic and rosewood needles, which run $6 to $25 per pair, depending on the size.

One of her main goals, Herrick says, is to encourage knitters of every age, skill, and background to take up the art. Classes will be held routinely at the back of the store, at a large table flooded with natural light and lined with shelves of knitting books. The beginner class will teach all the basics--casting on, gauging, reading patterns, and problem-solving--and will produce a knitted bag to take home. Other classes will cover more demanding projects such as knitting a sweater. The store will also hold one-day workshops in edging, finishing, and cabling. "And legwarmers!" Herrick says.

Herrick hopes to provide both daytime and evening classes, to accommodate students' schedules. Times and costs will be announced soon, she says.

Anyone in the knitting-know might wonder if Herrick is starting a bit of a turf war with the knitting group "Chicks with Sticks," which has been meeting at Bliss Bar on Monday nights for about a year. On the contrary, says Herrick, who is a charter member.

"Kathy Barobs and Gabby Pope are warmly embracing the store, and everyone in the group has a place to stock up before heading to Bliss on Monday nights!"

A North Beach resident, Herrick is eager to meet all of Noe Valley's knitters and knitters-to-be. "There's enough yarn here for a project for everyone, enough space to sit and knit, and we can form our own knitting community here."

Noe Knit's hours are 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday; and 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday through Sunday.