Road Trip: The Tales of a Midwestern Eco-Friendly Grocery Store, Exotic Vegan Yarn, and Kindred Spirits

Earlier this week, my mother-in-law, Kim, invited me to a yarn sale of materials leftover from the closing of Heritage Hut – a local yarn store that had closed two years ago. The place had been open for 45 years and had, apparently, carried quite an amazing assortment of high-quality yarns far more luxurious anything else you could buy here in Wichita, KS.

yarn

Photo courtesy of the Wichita Eagle

I had only been to the store once, unfortunately. While it was open, I still didn’t know the difference between Red Heart acrylic and quality fibers.

But when Kim invited me, I figured that I could at least find an inexpensive Tunisian crochet hook- given that this was leftover stock and the cost would be reduced even more than when the store had originally closed. I go to great lengths to avoid Hobby Lobby. What I didn’t know, is that I would soon discover two beautiful vegan yarns as well! 🙂

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The yarn sale:

Even though I didn’t plan on purchasing any yarn, I was curious to view the materials and excited to hang out with Kim. We bond over Jane Austen movies, scones, and our very expensive tastes in yarn 🙂

At 9 a.m., I was picked up by Kim in her blue Corolla. We were both armed with fortifications for the likely long morning of yarn hunting. She, with a tall mug of Earl Grey tea, and I with warm carrot bread and chocolate soymilk.

We arrived at the old brick school building and crossed the frozen tundra (the front lawn) and hurried inside. After traversing a long hallway, we finally spotted the room that held the yarn sale. We arrived inside and, almost immediately, I was inexplicably drawn to a pile of yarn on the center table….it was then that I saw what I never expected to see at this sale….

VEGAN YARNS!

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Soybean and corn! The tiered stand on the table held an ample pile of each. Three colors of the corn and three colors of soybean. I thought I was in heaven.

Not only had I never touched anything so gloriously soft, but I was extremely fascinated by how these yarns could be produced. Blog post on that coming soon.

I would’ve bought all of it, had I use for it. But, I settled on 4 meek skeins- one of corn in dusty blue, one soybean in black, and two soybean in the color vanilla. It was a fantastic deal: $4 for 100 yards. Which, in terms of the normal cost of soybean yarn ( which I found on Google afterwards) is a steal. I don’t bat an eye at an expensive yarn, but I was pretty excited to find this stuff in person and get to touch it before I bought it. This was the first time that I got to buy some high-quality eco-friendly yarn without having to wait for it to arrive in the mail!

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Pictured above are some of Kim’s spoils of war.

As some of you may know, I identify as a minimalist- I try to purchase and consume the things that I can fully enjoy and utilize. Kim, on the other hand, is what I would classify as a maximalist: someone who purchases the maximum amount of things that she appreciates but may never have time to utilize in the span of her lifetime xD

And while my signature yarn fiber types include hemp and linen, Kim’s are merino wool and rayon- needless to say, hers are easier to find at most yarn sales. It was nice that we were each able to find some of our preferred yarns at this sale.

We had a lot of fun exploring the sale- fingering many types of yarn we hadn’t previously known existed, including:

-Eucalyptus yarn (unfortunately, blended with wool or I might’ve considered buying it)

-Llama silk (not vegan, but velvety & soft)

-Milk yarn (not ethical in the least, but interesting)

-And, of course, corn and soybean yarns

After thoroughly pillaging the yarn sale, we decided a road trip to Newton, KS and a warm lunch was in order.


And More Yarn….

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(Me, Left. Rachael, Right) Photo Courtesy of Kim

Next, we were off to Newton, KS, for some thrifting, more yarn shopping, and lunch. We headed to Creation Station with a plan to sit at the large project table and craft up more of an appetite. Kim was weaving, and I was working on a pair of hemp socks for my husband- though you will see from the pictures that I set my corn and soybean yarns on the table in front of me to admire them ❤ 😀

We had a lovely time working on our projects while chatting with Rachael, the co-owner of Creation Station craft store. I also explored the stock and was pleased to see that they carry several types of hemp yarn! 😀 Which is quite a sustainability win for a yarn store in the Kansas.

High-points of the our conversations included:

  • Rachael complaining about the demand for petrochemical fibers like acrylic and having to sell them for business reasons. I was floored- I’ve never known anyone else near Wichita to be so environmentally aware! 😀 She went on to preach about how to prevent micro-plastics going into our water.
  • Discussion of ethical wool farms
  • Kim and I planning some pattern making

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Then Lunch at Prairie Harvest

Prairie Harvest is a small grocery store attached to the yarn shop. It is basically Whole Foods- but one-tenth the size and 10x more impressive. Not only that, but they serve freshly cooked lunch and breakfast for around $5 most days of the week. Ceramic bowls, plates, and actual silverware : no plastic utensils in sight!

I had the pleasure of eating the most GLORIOUS vegetable Alfredo that I’ve ever tasted. Granted, I would’ve probably liked it better if it was cashew cheese instead of dairy cheese, but a vegetarian option is not something to be taken for granted when you live in a beef state.

After a delicious meal, I began exploring their amazing selection of vegan and or/low-impact foods. Impressively, including:

  • Bulk spices (more than Whole Foods offers)
  • A bulk kombucha bar
  • Bulk fair-trade coffee beans
  • Bulk beans and rices
  • Bulk pfeffernuse, made in house
  • Vegan staples like nutritional yeast, TVP, nut cheeses
  • A variety of whole grains for sprouting

I’ve decided to make bi-monthly trips up there instead of shopping at Whole Foods. I’ll still need to get my soymilk and soy burgers at Aldi, but I’m excited to support a local grocery store that is trying to be sustainable.


Epilogue

Soy yarn is now my most treasured of yarns- it is possibly the softest yarn I have ever felt. I’m particularly intrigued with the discovery that it is made from soybean waste from tofu manufacturing. I plan to make a pair of socks for myself with it soon.

Kim went back on the last day of the sale and bought another pile of yarn.

2 comments

  1. Former Kansan (albeit Northeastern KS) eager to read about sustainable, zero-waste efforts back home. Thanks for posting, will definitely follow!

    Like

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