If Barney’s had a knitting department, it would look like Bella Lana—chic, refined, with the chi chi goods adding the only pops of color and character. White shelving nestles up to white walls that give way to white wooden floors. Floor-to-ceiling windows make the space naturally bright, and even more light is added by the 159 paper lanterns from Ikea that dangle like the crystals of a chandelier from the fourteen-foot-high ceiling. The light, bright, white, and clean aesthetic is unusually chic for a craft store, but the owners—like the patrons—are not you typical knitters.
Karin Blomstrand, a former executive from Silicon Valley, and Cornelia Griffin, a former architect from San Francisco, are two friends whose Old St. Anthony–area yarn emporium will make even the least-creatively inclined person want to pick up the skeins and needles. Bella Lana (21 SE 4th St., Mpls., 612-331-3330), which means “beautiful wool” in Italian, offers more than twenty brands of high-quality yarn, including brushed wools, chunky sweater yarns, blends containing silks and microfiber, and soft fluffy baby yarns. The yarns, of which no more than a few types and colors of each are on display at a time, are fluffed and merchandised along with a variety of very modern pattern books, knitting and crocheting needles, and chic crafter’s totes.
The yarns range in price and level of exclusivity, yet there are styles for every level of expertise. Tilli Tomas, which is hand spun in India and woven with sequins, is perfect for making a sweeping scarf; Twinkle offers superchunky skeins great for making a chunky knit; Jil Eaton’s baby-soft yarns will spin up the perfect pair of powder pink or light blue booties. And if the words cast on, bind off, knit, and purl are not in your vocabulary, sign up for one of the classes. Each session is capped at six people, so you’re sure to get plenty of one-on-one attention.