Craft Shops with Yarn: Honolulu

Posted on by MK Carroll

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Craft stores in the Honolulu and central O’ahu area:
I’m focusing specifically on yarn, since this is a yarn freak blog, so I’ve only mentioned the basics for the rest of the craft supplies available.  I include a fair amount of info about the general area in terms of food and other shops when I can.   I prefer going to yarn shops (see my short list of Honolulu yarn shops), where I know I can find a wide range of good quality yarns and someone will be able to help me if I have questions.  The prices at the craft stores are, I find, not much cheaper (if at all – broken down by yardage, some of the “cheap” yarns are more expensive).  On the other hand, craft stores are more likely to be open 7 days a week, and two of the craft stores listed below have locations in central O’ahu.  As far as I know, there are no yarn shops in central O’ahu.  If you have a favorite shop that I’ve missed, please leave info in the comments or email me with the details.
Note for visitors: central O’ahu is a 20 – 45 minute drive from Honolulu, depending on traffic, and is very accessible by bus (TheBus, (808) 848-5555).  If you are planning to visit the Arizona Memorial, Battleship Missouri Memorial, or the big Aloha Stadium swap meet, you’ll be in central O’ahu.

All information is current as of July 2005; please call the shops for hours and other information (like making sure they are still in the same physical location).
[updated Nov 2005: Keohinani's info on the Mapunapuna Ben Franklin, links to Mapquest maps for all locations added]

Finding yarn at the craft store here has what you’d expect from other craft stores in the US – mostly acrylic yarns from brands like Red Heart and Lion Brand, and cotton Peaches & Cream and crochet thread, some novelty yarns from the same brands, aluminum and plastic knitting needles and crochet hooks, a few notions.  You are not likely to find an employee that can answer questions about knitting or crocheting.  What may initially give you some yarn dissonance is that you’ll also find Crystal Palace and the like, and in a separate display dominated by novelty yarns of the eyelash, plush, and fake fur varieties.  This display will likely have ribbon yarns as well as spools of ribbon.  These are regarded as supplies for making yarn and ribbon lei (crocheted or sewn), hence the separate display and a color range that includes the expected brights and pastels with quite a few greens, grays, and other earthy tones. I’ve only seen one pattern for a knitted lei, which was basically to take a strand of eyelash and a strand of a novelty yarn and knit a stockinette strip to the desired length – a skinny novelty scarf, if you will, and to my aesthetic, unattractive.  I much prefer the crocheted or sewn lei done with a combination of novelty and ribbon that have a strong resemblance to the lei that require a lot of hard-to-find flora and skilled labor and then special care so that they will last for more than a day or two, but not much longer.  Some of the more elaborate lei will use only part of a flower, or hundreds of little berries, or thousands of tiny flower buds, or leaves that you can only find way deep in the forest, or a combination of all those plus other stuff.   It’s a serious craft requiring both skill and artistry; very couture with added perishability factor (there are seed/nut, shell, and feather lei; you can find some at the Made in Hawaii festivals (Island Craft Connection has a calendar of events, please check there for info).  Personally, I prefer to go to Le Flowers on South King Street (nearest cross street: University Avenue, storefront is next to Kinko’s), where they do lovely lei at prices that should be higher.  That building also houses a small fabric shop (Kuni Island Fabrics, nice selection of tropical prints, cottons, quilting supplies, basic notions), and has one of the worst parking lots ever.  I’d rather pay for parking in the Puck’s Alley lot and walk over than negotiate that lot. [mapquest: intersection of S. King and University]

Craft Supply of Honolulu has more than one location; I usually go to the one on King Street.  There is a small parking lot that you turn into from King St.; it’s a one lane entrance/exit and it’s off the left turn lane to McCully AND there’s often a car parked right by the walk or catch the bus if you don’t need that kind of stress.  [CLOSED as of July 2009 and replaced by Craft Supply's Ribbon and Yarn Store]. The yarn selection is upstairs and divided into the expected two sections.  One is the standard display, lots of Red Heart, some crochet threads, Lion Brand, Bernat, and Patons.  They’ve recently expanded the selection to include sock yarns (Patons Kroy) and there’s a little more variation than there was a few years ago.  [March 2008: apparently those didn't sell well, and so the selection has returned to being mostly Red Heart, etc.]The other selection is in another aisle; the eyelash/fun fur/novelty selection.  There’s a rack of books for crocheted and ribbon lei by the cash register in the floral section.  Knitting needles and crochet hooks from Boye and Susan Bates, aluminum and plastic; mostly straights, some circulars and aluminum dpns in larger sizes.  The usual basic notions – plastic ring stitch markers, plastic tapestry needles, etc.

Overall, Craft Supply of Honolulu has the standard range of crafting supplies that you’d expect – artificial flowers, blank containers to embellish, scrapbooking supplies, polymer clay, beads, jewelry findings, etc., but very little for sewing.  The Pearl City location is larger and that mall has a more easily negotiated parking lot.   Both locations are served by TheBus, (808) 848-5555.

[Honolulu] Craft Supply of Honolulu: 1960 South King Street, (808) 942-5044 [mapquest]CLOSED as of July 2009
Next door to Jack-In-The-Box, general area has some other restaurants
[Pearl City] Craft Supply of Honolulu: Pearl Highlands Shopping Center, (808) 456-3533. [mapquest]
Upstairs from Sam’s Club.  Mall has a food court, movie theaters, and assorted shops.

Ben Franklin Crafts:  Along with the standard Red Heart and a little Lion Brand, there’s a rack of Bernat Handcrafters Cotton.  The Kaimuki and Pearl City locations have a big display of the lei yarns, including a lot of ribbon yarns, and a rack of books for yarn/ribbon lei by the register.  Ben Franklin has been upgrading the knitting and crocheting section, as the store buyer has been asking Akamai Knitter for recommendations – hence the lovely display of Clover Takumi bamboo needles (straights and circulars) and crochet hooks, alongside the Susan Bates and Silvalume.  The Kaimuki branch had big Clover Takumi hardwood straights (US #17 and #19). They do have Susan Bates dpns in smaller gauges, but only a few at this writing.  The usual notions, plastic stitch markers, safety-pin style stitch holders, etc.  I saw three lonely looking kits on a rack near the needles, all Lion Brand, one "learn to knit", one crochet scarf kit, and one knit scarf kit.
[UPDATE: January 2008 THEY HAVE CASCADE! AND BROWN SHEEP! Cascade 109, Cascade Fixation, and Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted. Woo-hoo!]

The book section in Pearl City has expanded considerably and has quite a range, including some Candi Jensen books (Candy Tots, Knit Hats, Knit Scarves), Zoe Mellor’s Nursery Knits, Last Minute Knitted Gifts, the Vogue Portable Compendium, Knit One, Felt Too, Ann Budd’s Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns, and 1000 Great Knitting Motifs by Louise Roberts.  The Kaimuki location has a different selection of books, including Stitch N' Bitch Nation, The Knit Stitch, The Purl Stitch, and Knitting for Dummies.
[March 2008: the pattern and book selection has changed - more focused on felting]

Small fabric and sewing notions section, general crafting supplies.  They have a layout that I find confusing and disorienting.

Keohinani commented in Sept 05:
there's also a ben franklin in mapunapuna in that area between 99 ranch market and bob's big boy. the selection of yarn and knitting implements are the same as any other ben franklin, however i did notice recently that they carry feltable worsted merino by bernat...i believe it's called Lana. their book section has many of those thin books for knitting and crochet, though they do carry some knitting books like weekend knitting and loop-d-loop. they also have a separate beade shoppe right next door--a definite plus if you want to find things to make stitch markers!

[Honolulu/Kaimuki] Ben Franklin Crafts: 2919 Kapiolani Blvd, (808) 735-4211, Market City Shopping Center. [mapquest]
This shopping center has a distinct front and back – the front has a large Foodland grocery store, Blockbuster video, and assorted eateries.  The back is where Ben Franklin Crafts is located, near the corner of Kapiolani Blvd. and Kaimuki, across from the Kaimuki high school.  On a few bus lines (TheBus, (808) 848-5555)
[Mapunapuna] Ben Franklin Crafts: 2810 Pa'a Street, (808) 833-3800 [mapquest]
Between 99 Ranch Market (dollar store) and Bob's Big Boy (diner)
[Kailua] Ben Franklin Crafts: 1020 Keolu Drive, (808) 261-4621 [mapquest]
Kailua is a very pleasant town, a nice day trip for visitors looking to escape some of the hustle and bustle of Waikiki.  Kailua Beach Park is lovely for sunning and swimming and there is an abundance of locally owned cafes and restaurants.  Parking in Kailua Square is metered, as is most of the street parking.  Well served by TheBus, (808) 848-5555
[Pearl City] Ben Franklin Crafts: 850 Kamehameha Hwy, (808) 455-1909. [mapquest]
Located in a mall; lower level.  Lower level includes Longs drugstore and Chuck E. Cheese, upper level has McDonalds, Daiei (Japanese/Asian groceries, housewares, appliances), Foodland grocery store.

Wal-Mart isn’t a craft store per se and is on my list of places I prefer to avoid, mostly because I don’t like big crowded spaces in which people with large heavy shopping carts will knock you over to get to a display of plastic mugs.  However, the Honolulu location is close to Waikiki and is easy to find, right up the street from the Ala Moana Shopping Center (2 –3 blocks walking distance) and has ample parking – for some reason, people will go around and around the crowded street level parking, hoping for a space, while the second level of parking will have vast open areas of parking, with conveniently located staircases and elevators. Served by many of the same bus lines that serve Ala Moana Center.  There are two other locations in central and north O’ahu; I have not been to them and don’t know if they have a craft department.

The yarn section is located between children’s toys and bedding, and does not separate the selection between “regular” and “lei” – I didn’t see any lei making books here either.  Yarns are standard Red Heart, Lion Brand, Caron, Peaches & Creme, Patons, etc.  There is a very basic notions selection and Boye knitting needles/crochet hooks.  Standout: they have gigantic gauge plastic knitting needles from Red Heart.  I didn’t see any books, but it would have been easy for me to miss – it took me at least 15 minutes to find the department, and by that time all I wanted to do was leave.

The immediate area around the Honolulu Wal-Mart boasts quite a few restaurants and cafes – this area borders on the growing Koreatown and has a Southeast Asian presence, as well as having US chains like Starbucks and Jamba Juice.   Ala Moana shopping center has a food court, two Starbucks, Honolulu Coffee Company coffeeshop, Gloria Jean’s coffeeshop, Panya cafe (I go for the pastries, they also serve alcohol), St Germain bakery (French-style Japanese bakery, sandwiches to go), Genki Sushi, and more shops than I can list.  The Mariposa restaurant in Neiman Marcus has outdoor seating with a lovely view and is a great place to get lunch and cocktails for those of us who like to get a little tipsy and then try on makeup.

[Honolulu] Wal-Mart 700 Keeaumoku St (808) 955-8441 [mapquest]
[Waipahu] Wal-Mart 94-595 Kupuohi (808) 688-0066 [mapquest]
[Mililani] Wal-Mart 95-550 Lanikuhana Ave (808) 623-6744 [mapquest]