Monday, June 21, 2010

Annual Weekend in New York

Crafty Daughter and I just got back from our annual girls-only trip to New York. Sure, we did some typical touristy things, like visiting the Metropolitan Museum and the American Museum of Natural History. But mostly, to us, New York represents a giant craft supplies/handmade crafts shop.

First stop was Kinokuniya, a fantastic Japanese bookstore next to Bryant Park. Crafty Daughter and I both bought books there -- hers a patchwork book, and mine two crochet books. The crochet patterns are charted out, so there's no need to understand Japanese in order to follow them.

The book on top contains instructions for some really unusual crochet jewelry, that I can't wait to try out.

I also picked up some miscellaneous items from the stationery department.

After Kinikuniya, we headed to another bookshop -- Books of Wonder -- one of my daughter's favorite places in New York. And then the focus shifted to yarn.

We made it to three yarn shops on Friday, including two I'd never been to before. First stop was the Lion Brand Studio, which carries all of the Lion Brand yarns, with computers for printing out patterns and a sampling wall from which you can cut yarn for swatching to try it out. Their new LB collection includes this wool-covered stainless steel yarn (really thread), which is similar to a Habu product, except that LB's has a bit of sparkle to it.

Next, we headed to the relocated and much larger Purl shop in SoHo. Their new space is such a treat -- still a little tight because it's rather narrow, but much more spacious than the old locations (which had separate shops for yarn and for fabrics). I was somehow able to resist the lure of yarn, but my daughter picked up this pretty fabric bundle.

Final yarn shop for the day was Knitty City, on the Upper West Side. This was was a bit chaotic and crowded, but they did have some gorgeous Madelinetosh yarns, which was why I was there in the first place. I bought a couple of skeins recently at Webs, and was immediately hooked on their lovely colors. These three new skeins are destined to become small shawls. (Sadly, this photo isn't capturing the richness of the colors.)

Phew ... that was just Friday! On Saturday, our main activity was a visit to the Brooklyn Flea Market.

This is a wonderful collection of typical flea market booths, handcrafts (mostly jewelry and screen-printed t-shirts), and fantastic foods. It was hard to choose, but for lunch, I had a fresh, warm lobster roll and a waffle cookie with meringue and caramel filling. I got this wonderful ceramic tumbler from alyssaettinger design to hold my double pointed needles. Don't you just love it? She uses old sweaters to make her ceramic molds.

Last year, I was a little surprised to see a booth selling nothing but pickles, but I thought well, in New York, there's room for every little niche product, right?

But this year, there were two pickle booths! Are New Yorkers inordinately fond of pickles?

On Sunday, we spent the day in museums -- first the Silk Road exhibit at AMNH, and then "American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity" at the Met. (Crafty Daughter is very interested in fashion design, and the Met has had a number of fashion exhibits in the past few years that we've enjoyed.) After that, our aching feet could barely hold us up any more, so we headed to Penn Station for the trip home. Now that I'm rested up, I'm ready for another trip!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A trio of triangular shawls

Never one to be deterred by the fact that I already had several projects in progress, I recently came acrodd the Daybreak shawl pattern, and decided that if I could find some Malabrigo Sock yarn at the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival, I would make one. Then, of course, I made it a priority to track down some Malabrigo. I instantly fell in love with the Indiecita colorway, but struggled with what to use for the contrasting stripes. The yarn I picked initially just didn't work -- there wasn't enough contrast to make distinct stripes -- so I went off in search of an alternative. I found the perfect color, Violeta Africana, at Fibre Space. And here's my (first) Daybreak shawl.

My next project was a design that I'd seen worn by the designer at Md S&W, the Nancy & Judy shawl. For that one, I selected a deep blue yarn by Tess. This was not the smoothest project ever. First, the yarn rubbed off blue dye onto my hands the whole time I was working, although the vinegar rinse I gave it at the end seems to have solved the problem. Then, I struggled to execute the left twist stitch that has to be done hundreds (thousands?) of times in this pattern. But in the end, I got this gorgeous blue shawl.

While I was still working on Nancy & Judy, I listened one day to a Stash & Burn podcast (episode 84) devoted largely to a discussion of knitting shawls with sock yarn. That led me to look up Ishbel, which became my next project. I pulled out some Socks that Rock Lightweight in the Lovers Leap colorway that I had already decided should become a shawl or scarf rather than socks. As I was working, I kept thinking that the color was too vivid, but once I put it around my neck, I fell immediately in love with it.

So now I'm hooked on fingering weight shawls -- at Webs recently, I picked up four more skeins of sock yarn just for that purpose, 2 Malabrigo and 2 Madelinetosh. The Malabrigos include a dark blue that will stripe beautifully with the yarn I decided not to use in my first Daybreak, and a spectacular turquoise called Persia. The tosh sock was my first of that brand -- and they are perhaps the most gorgeous green and brown yarns ever. I haven't decided yet whether to stripe them together, or make two separate shawls. Either way, the finished product will undoubtedly be lovely.

I'm going to New York next weekend via train, so now I just need to decide which new shawl to work on en route.