Owner Bobbi Ravicz announced to her faithful customers on January 2 that the Yarn Barn’s lease has expired, and the Olmos Park landmark would be up for sale. After 37 years of devotion to her yarn and customers, Ravicz, 69, announced on her website that “It is now time for me to kick back and pursue my own myriad of interests, not the least of which are my personal needlework projects.” She assured wary customers that the Yarn Barn’s doors would stay open until
The Barn, always proud of its reputation as “the largest selection of needlework in the Southwest,” is known for its wide selection of supplies for every form of the craft, from knitting to needlepoint, cross-stitch to hand-weaving, plus patterns and books. The storefront draws customers from a 200-mile-plus radius. “We have regular Houston and Dallas groups that come in when the shop opens, shop around the store, start their projects, and head on out,” Ravicz says. “Groups tend to make sure to leave the store with enough time in the day to get back home and get dinner on the stove.”
Yarn Barn’s staff has more than 170 years of collective needlework expertise. “Knitting, it is the tranquilizer you do instead of take,” adds Ravicz. This philosophy sets the mood for the entire building, from workers to shoppers. The tranquil atmosphere is enhanced by vibrant colors and textural bliss. Customers are greeted with a simple “May I help you?” Most people respond “I’m just looking,” but the regulars are already sitting down at the knitting table, exchanging of the week’s news, and, often enough, asking for help on current projects.
The Yarn Barn’s great charm is that you really can lose yourself in the company and craft. If you choose to take the advice given by the experts — fine, but you are free to do what you want, be that ignoring the pattern, or the advice. You can always go back and ask again.
To an outsider, the Barn might look like just a yarn store, but to its customers it is a refuge from the daily hustle and bustle. The variety of customers might rival the variety of yarn. Stereotypes won’t do you any good in this store; all comers may share an interest in needlework, but their backgrounds, motivation, and takes on life contrast drastically.
Though repeat customers are quickly inducted into the Yarn Barn Family, Ravicz pays close attention to those women who have put down knitting for several years only to pick it back up when they become a new grandmother. “I take them very seriously. They only want great quality, and that is perfectly fine,” Ravicz says. “They now have a great motivation to put those needles back to work”.
If you’ve put down your needles, or even if you’ve never picked up a pair, the ladies at the Yarn Barn don’t mind showing you the basics. Professional knitter, new knitter, or just curious, you owe it to yourself to stop by and take in a piece of San Antonio history. And you might take to knitting like a natural.
“It’s a hobby, yes, but you have to keep it in practice. Squeeze it into your day; let it become part of you,” says Ravicz.
“When you knit an item for someone, they won’t remember what type of suit you wore, or what type of car you drove,” Ravicz concludes. “They are going to remember the item that you made. Though you might not be there alongside them, your work will be. It is something to be remembered by. And everyone wants to be remembered.” •
The Yarn Barn
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