Road Journals Blog—A clutch of stores at the intersection of northwest Oakland and southwest Berkeley in Northern California have embraced the do-it-yourself aesthetic, either by providing raw materials and know-how for tackling crafty projects or else finished goods that come with a one-of-a-kind look, no assembly required. Area code is 510 unless otherwise noted.
A Verb for Keeping Warm
A lush rainbow of yarn, some of it dyed naturally on site, fills a knitting and sewing shop. It also offers a large number of classes teaching skills such as the basics of quilting and how to spin yarn. 6328 San Pablo Ave., Oakland, 595-8372, averbforkeepingwarm.com.
The first of its kind in the country, this community workshop—aka hackerspace—was formed to give mothers a place with built-in childcare where they could learn and teach skills ranging from furniture-making to baking. A membership-based organization, it also accepts drop-ins. 3288 Adeline St., Berkeley, firstname.lastname@example.org, mothership.hackermoms.org.
Thanks to the variety they keep in stock and their wrench-pulling refurbishment skills, the owners of this used-bike shop take all the pain out of buying a classic steel-frame bicycle: No more sorting through overpriced frames on Craigslist to find the perfect fit only to spend hours (or dollars) fixing it up. 5651 San Pablo Ave., Oakland, 693-8758, facebook.com/Cosmiccycles101.
The Pallet Space
An antique store with a youthful style inflected with street art sells all manner of things. You might score hand-size bronze-painted humanoids sculpted from discarded crab shells or custom furniture—such as a polished bench build out of a massive elm slab—or a vintage Chevy axle. 6510 San Pablo Ave., Oakland, 502-1940, facebook.com/ThePalletSpace.
The wood-shingle exterior, the honeycomb mural on the wall, the colored-glass vases hanging in the window—everything in this terrarium shop conspires to pull you into a world of fascinating air plants and beautiful small objects. 1757 Alcatraz Ave., Berkeley, (646) 417-1762,
Photography by Mimi Giboin (indigo dyed fabric); Olivia Wright (plants)
This blog post was first published in November 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.