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About Us


Crystal Palace Yarns is a family-owned, San Francisco Bay Area-based wholesaler of yarns, bamboo needles and other needlecraft supplies. We design our own boutique yarns carefully with the artist and craftsperson in mind, with a strong emphasis on fiber and color. Crystal Palace Bamboo Needles & Hooks from Japan are the highest-quality bamboo knitting needles and crochet hooks on the market today. We offer a large selection of free patterns online, focusing on beginner and intermediate projects. We also showcase a large number of independently-designed patterns. Crystal Palace sells to yarn shops in the US and internationally.

Straw into Gold staff. circa 1975

Straw on Ashby & San Pablo in Berkeley

Susan develops yarn with manufacturer


Susan Druding and Sambra Neet opened Straw into Gold in 1971 in the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland, CA. It was a 500 square-foot independent retail supplier of spinning and dyeing supplies for artists and craftspeople. After a few years, Sambra decided to relocate to Oregon, and Susan was left to run the business herself. A marine-biologist turned textile graduate major of UC Berkeley, Susan brought her energy, curiosity and extensive knowledge of textile art to the shop. There were no yarns at all in the original shop; it carried spinning fibers, natural dyes and acid dyes for wool. Susan educated many customers to build a customer base, teaching more than 1500 people to spin and dye during that time. Over the years, Straw had always been known for its wonderful fiber-and yarn-oriented staff who did much to make Straw Into Gold a nationally (and internationally) known supplier of yarns, books, fibers, and Ashford Spinning Wheels. They always enjoyed helping customers and students find out about all the aspects of the textile arts.  Straw into Gold moved its location several times before ending up in its most famous location at the corner of Ashby and San Pablo Avenues in Berkeley CA, a 25,000 square-foot converted furniture store, where it remained for 20 years.


In the mid-1970’s, Andy MacEwan partnered with Susan to help run the business. They began the wholesale distribution of Ashford Spinning Wheels and other fiber supplies.  Susan and Andy began to add their own hand-knitting and weaving yarns and knitting needles to their wholesale line. They changed the name of the wholesale division from Textile Artist Supply to Crystal Palace Yarns in 1980, a tribute to the 1851 Crystal Palace Exposition in London, England which helped to introduce the Industrial Revolution and modern textile manufacturing. 


In 2001, the company closed the retail shop to concentrate on the wholesale business full time.  It relocated to a large warehouse in Richmond, CA, where it is today.


Product Development

Color development for yarns is one of Susan's favorite parts of yarn creation. Depending on the yarn fiber content and method of spinning, various dye techniques can be used. If the yarn contains two different dyeing fibers (such as bamboo and wool) it can be "double dyed" with interesting effects. Yarns can be dyed as yarn or in the fiber before being spun. The "Mochi" yarns and a few others are dyed in the fiber first and then spun into yarns with long, slow stripes. Plied yarns can be altered in effect by choosing different colors, different methods of dying or different fibers for each ply.


Sometimes Susan is asked if she carefully follows “color trends” when designing colors for a future season. "Just a little," she says, "but there are colors that always are popular, even if the fashion world doesn't mention them. My late mother was a ‘purple lover’ and half of her clothes were purple. We always have purples in our range."


Sometimes Susan thinks of a "color story" and develops from that. Aria takes on an operatic them: Mimi, Delilah, Carmen, etc. Some colors are inspired by food like Berry Smoothie, Butternut, Pesto and Curry, while some take on names of local places, like Bodega Bay, Half Moon Bay, Napa Valley and Yosemite.  CPY customers say they love the descriptive names, which reflect the character of the color itself. Susan's keen sense of color always yields a delectable palette. The extensive range of color that CPY offers gives customers a wide variety of choice, which they seem to really appreciate.


The Story Behind our Logo

The wholesale division on Straw into Gold was first called Textile Artist Supply.  Then in 1980, it was changed to Crystal Palace Yarns, a tribute to the 1851 Crystal Palace Exposition in London, England, which helped to introduce the Industrial Revolution and modern textile manufacturing. 


The logo design was done by a graphic artist, B. Modern, for us in about 1980. It is a representation of the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.  It opened in 1878 and is not only the oldest building in Golden Gate Park, but the oldest public greenhouse in California. A glass and wood construction of Victorian design it is similar in appearance to Kew Gardens in London and reminiscent of the Crystal Palace Exposition.




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© 2003-17 Crystal Palace Yarns - Straw into Gold, Inc. (since 1971)
160 23rd Street, Richmond, CA 94804


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