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Saturday, January 28, 2006

New York Wrap-Up

If only work could always be this much fun! It was a fantastic trip: great company, good food, a handful of new (to me, at least) knitting discoveries, AND a worthwhile business trip. (Throw in an 18-year college reunion and that's a jam-packed five-days!)

I arrived in NYC on Thursday afternoon and my friend, S.A., flew up from Alabama a few hours later. Our first trip: a fat cable scarf class at Suss. (I'd been to Suss's store in Beverly Hills a few years back, have her books, and, oddly enough, our husbands were in the same program in grad school.) The NY store is lovely, by far the largest knitting store I've been to in Manhattan. The two staffers there could not have been nicer. I was "outed" pretty quickly--I know how to cable and I was just taking the class to hang out with NY knitters. Good wine, tasty artichoke spread, and some really nice, interesting regulars made it a fantastic evening. And S.A. can now cable! The store was SO nice that it made me want to move back to NYC just to be able to hang out there! (I don't have a knitting haunt here in Chicago, but that may be changing...) Thanks to Robert from the class for recommending Lovely Day, an itty-bitty restaurant on Mott (I think), just a couple of blocks away. It was the perfect place to end the day.

Next stop was Habu Textiles. Habu is really a wholesale showroom that also offers some of their wares for retail sale. Interesting. We purchased yardage of what is essentially I-cord into which they had stuffed balls of roving to make a skinny, scarf-like accessory. I need to stuff mine and will post pics if I ever get my act together in that regard. In one of the doorways, they had hundreds of little felted balls strung on monofilament like a curtain or screen--very cool. I see a weekend project in my future!

Next up, The Yarn Company on the Upper West Side. I could not believe how many people came into this shop during the 90 minutes we were there! They have a very nice selection of yarns and at least four employees who constantly offered assistance. I chatted a little bit with Jordana (she of "The Yarn Girls' Guide" fame and one of the owners) while S.A. "knit on demand" to get a gauge swatch using Point 5 on 17s. (As she says, she is a bossy girl and bossy girls don't like to be bossed around, but she did it anyway.) She finished her swatch, got a pattern written out, and finished the hat before she got back to Alabama. I understand she hasn't taken it off since she returned.

We hit The Point and Purl in one trip since they are a five-minute walk from each other. We liked the way that The Point displayed their yarns in an artful way given the limited space but it was really crowded and warm (lots of knitters in tank tops) and the situation was further complicated by a 3-year old who was treating the yarn as if it were a toy and was being less than properly supervised in our bossy-girl opinion. We had to go. I'd definitely stop by again at a time when it might be less crowded. (They have a cafe in the shop--knitting and cappuccino, yum!)

Purl was another itty-bitty (a theme in NY) shop buzzing with activity. Loved the old mosaic tile floor and the nice selection of yarns. They also carried fabulous hand-made glass scarf pins from Mud. (I bought some buttons and a scarf pin from the Mud people at Stitches Midwest in August--love their stuff.)

I was amazed at how busy and vibrant each of these stores was. It's made me really hungry to find a shop to hang out in here at home that is equally hip and energetic. (Okay, this is the Midwest so equally hip might not happen, but I should be able to get close!) I have a few possibilities and will be posting about them soon...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Knitting Tourism?

Greetings. As I launch this blog, I prepare to head to NYC for a conference. Between my work obligations, my friend, S.A., and I intend to dart madly about Manhattan and perhaps at least one outlying borough in a quest to find interesting yarn/shops/knitters/patterns/characters. We're going to take a class at Suss Designs which we are really looking forward to. (Since we live many states apart, we have only had the opportunity to knit together a few times; this should be fun.)

I used to live in Midtown back when Hell's Kitchen was still hellish and way before there was a Starbuck's at 47th and 9th. Times Square was still seamy when I lived there and, frankly, I miss that. But, I don't mind waxing nostalgic for the good old days with a latte in hand, so call me a sellout if you must. Ah, but when I lived in New York I was not yet a knitter. (I could knit--not purl, just knit--which I had learned as a kid on rainbow-colored Red Heart acrylic.) Being able to knit is not the same thing as being a knitter.

As it always is when I prepare to head out of town on business, the work that needs to get done before I go tends to expand exponentially. And, so, it is unlikely I will post again before my return. I promise to take very good notes...