A recent visit to Artfibers, on Sutter Street in San Francisco, revealed a smorgasbord of yarn, accompanied by multiple swatches that displayed some of each yarn's possibilities.
I was warmly invited to "taste" whatever I wanted. Because this year is all about lace, I had pattern in hand (Moon River Scarf--see Ravelry for free pattern download) and some idea of which yarn to try (prior web-based research: Artfibers catalog). I thoroughly enjoyed sitting at a picnic table to make my swatch. The store/studio is on the 3rd floor with floor-to-ceiling windows at each end. It was a beautiful day and being there was such a welcome respite for the brain, which was taxed to its limit preparing and meeting to review grants. About an hour into swatch-making revelry, my preconceived notion of making Moon River with "Brie" was replaced with an unexpected appreciation for how "Carezza" was better suited for the purpose. The owner, Roxanne, seemed pleased to accept my offer of the mind-changing swatch for her collection.
You can see how the shop is set up, with the yarn in bins below the display of swatches. It's an awesome concept that is a must-see if you are lucky enough to find yourself in San Fran.
After a day on the plane to return to the dirty snow-ridden Northeast, I have over a foot of Moon River to my credit. Oogyknitter and I have established another knit-along with this pattern. It is a very easy one!