Friday, March 31, 2006


There's something a little intimidating about the Stash. There's so much promise, yet so little time to actually do anything. I'm not going to muse too much on it; I know some of this was accumulated before I knew what I liked, and my stashing is--I hope--more thoughtful now. I think the annual inventory is a good thing, though. There are yarns I have definite plans for, some I can't bear to part with because they have so much potential, and the "what was I thinking??" yarns that will probably go up for trade or to charity. At any rate, begin the Flash!

We begin our tour in the living room, the prime knitting space. The wheel lives here, as does two baskets of yarn and works in progress.

This basket contains a number of projects (I nearly said "problems," which is also apt) that, for whatever reason, I haven't finished. Really, there are only 3-4 projects in here, and they're all small. This basket also has two colors of Paton's Kroy sock yarn, as well as a number of partial balls of green wool I thought to use on my Fuzzy Feet.

This photo shows the contents of the second basket (not all of it fits). The darker off-white yarn is Cestari, used for the Aran afghan in progress. The red yarn is Southwest Trading Co. Karaoke, for the Lady Eleanor Entrelac in progress. The variegated yarn is the Socks That Rock I'm using for the baby socks from my last post. The lighter off-white is Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk, to make the gloves from Handknit Holidays. I ran into some issues with the thumb, so the project is stalled. The black sock is Paton's Kroy for my husband. Finally, the green and white is Brooks Farm Harmony, a shawl in progress.

Now we move to the primary yarn storage area, the guest room. This is the guest bed/yarn storage.

Drawer 1: Mostly wools
From left to right, top to bottom
Cherry Tree Hill wool boucle
Cherry Tree Hill Twister
2 skeins Classic Elite Lush
4 skeins Debbie Bliss Maya (the blue variegated yarn)
14 skeins random fingering-weight wool
Row 2:
2 skeins turquoise Cherry Tree Hill possum
2 skeins Cherry Tree Hill wool
1 skein Cascade 220
2 skeins natural colored (buff) alpaca
4 partial skeins Morehouse Merino in pinks (barely visible)
Lion Brand Alpaka (gray)
1 skein Lamb's Pride Naturespun (pink)
Row 3:
Morehouse Merino shawl kit--yarn is a slightly variegated red
Variegated Morehouse Merino lace
1 skein Cherry Tree Hill Supersock
1 hank Claudia Handpaints
3 skeins Paton's Classic Merino (black)
1 skein Paton's Classic Merino (peacock blue)
6 skeins Bartlett Yarns
Row 4:
3 skeins Shepherd Colour 4 Me (pink and cream)
1 partial skein Lamb's Pride Bulky
2 skeins Malabrigo in Paris Night
2 skeins Rio de la Plata (gray)
3 skeins Rowan Kid Classic (1 burgundy, 2 green)
1 skein GGH (red)
2 more skeins Paton's Classic Merino (burgundy and peacock blue)
Half-frogged bulky yarn from

Drawer 2: laceweight & cottons (again, left to right, top to bottom)
7 skeins Brilla sparkly off-white
10 skeins red Rowan All-Seasons Cotton
10 skeins yellowy-cream Rowan All-Seasons Cotton
Row 2:
1000 yds natural-colored mohair from Mohair in Motion at Rhinebeck
1 skein Feza Laser
2 skeins Classic Elite Marl La
2 skeins RYC Cashsoft (light green)
2 skeins KnitPicks Shine (gray)
1 skein Rowan Calmer (chocolate brown)
2 skeins Jaggerspun Zephyr (midnight blue)
3 skeins KnitPicks Wool of the Andes (green)
2 skeins Fortissima sock yarn (sparkly cream and green)
Row 3:
2 skeins lavender Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino
2 skeins red Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino
several skeins of Tahki Cotton Classic
3 of 4 skeins KnitPicks Shadow
5 skeins Dale Baby Ull
Row 4:
Brooks Farm Primero (blue-black)
4 skeins fingering weight cotton (Cascade? Can't remember at this second.)
3 skeins Mission Falls 1824 cotton
2 skeins KnitPicks Alpaca Cloud (gray)

Drawer 2, continued: Fiber and handspun (left to right, top to bottom)
1 pound mohair/wool top (I am officially afraid to spin this)
2 skeins 3-ply merino from
1 skein 2-ply Peruvian wool
1 skein 2-ply Corriedale, dyed with Wilton
1 skein 2-ply random top
2 skeins 2-ply random wool top
My first handspun
*The handspun progress goes right to left.
3 balls of roving Karen gave me (Shetland, Camel, and another wool)
4 balls of Corriedale, dyed with icing colors
2 gorgeous little bags of baby alpaca I bought at Brooklyn General

Drawer 3: Acrylics and random (left to right, top to bottom)
Lots of Cotton Ease (red, pink, yellow, blue)
Row 2:
4 skeins Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece
10 or so skeins of Jamieson's DK
1 skein Lion Brand Chenille (why?)
1 skein Bernat Disco (proof that even though it's free, it's no bargain)
Row 3:
Mohair-y yarn from ebay. Started White Lies Designs Angelina in it, but it stalled.
2 skeins KnitPicks Color Your Own laceweight that needs to be over-dyed
1 skein Lion Brand Homespun
Wool Ease Sport (6 skeins gray, 3 skeins blue, 3 skeins black)
Row 4:
1 skein Noro Silk Garden left over from Klaralund
1 skein Paton's Canadiana
2 skeins Wool Ease

Whew! I'm exhausted! Is now the time to confess that I bought 2 skeins of Cherry Tree Hill Supersock? And I may have an update after Karen and I go buy some

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Halfway Finished

I've been working on socks lately--on the subway, at jury duty today (from which I was thankfully dismissed), at Karen's house, and even at home. I also made a baby sock, using Ann Budd's Ruffle Ribs pattern available from Interweave Knits here. I used some of the beautiful Socks That Rock, in the Sedona colorway, that I bought at Rhinebeck. I forget how nice this yarn is until I pick it up again. It will be one of my few yarn purchases at Maryland Sheep & Wool.

Finished Jaywalker (and, yes, I cast on for the second one right away)

Finished baby sock

I also plied the merino from I spun three bobbins and made a 3-ply yarn. I'm fairly pleased with this yarn, but my spinning certainly needs a lot of work. It is around fingering/sport weight, although I have not measured the wraps per inch.

A close up

Finally, I dyed a bit of Corriedale roving using icing coloring, similar to Wilton. I'm very pleased with the blue/purple, but I'm not sure about the green. I may overdye the resulting yarn.

So there! You have some photos and can be happy until I finish something more worthwhile--in May or June. You can always go look at Monkee's lace if you get bored.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Yarn Shop Reviews
(wherein I blather about New York City yarn stores)

As an attempt to keep this blog from further irrelevance, and in light of the fact that I am mired in large knitting project land with no finished object photos for the near future, I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on yarn stores in NYC. There are also many, many other stores that I have not visited. And, of course, you may have a completely different experience at a store that I did. Some people love stores that I hate, and hate stores I love. That's the way it goes.

(Organized roughly from south to north)

Seaport Yarn
I like this store a lot. I generally go here when I need something specific, because they carry fairly complete lines of many yarns, and they carry a number of yarns that aren't stocked elsewhere in the city. I also come here if I need to just fondle yarns for a half hour. It's a small space for their vast stock, and I sometimes find that annoying--especially when I was looking for a ball of Noro in a particular color. They also do not take credit cards, except for purchases of more than $200. Customer service is there when you need it, but isn't overwhelming. The first time you visit, they generally give you a tour of the shop. It's in an old office suite, scattered among a number of offices, and a tour is helpful. They host knitting nights on Wednesdays, and the store is open until 8.

Downtown Yarns
This is one of the two shops in the city I won't patronize. To be fair, they have a nice selection of yarns and seem helpful, and I have heard glowing reviews from many people. However, I had a bad experience regarding a pattern there, and I won't give them my business.

I've been to Purl twice. Purl is very much in the vein of SoHo itself, I think: luxurious yarns displayed well in an inviting atmosphere. Celebrities reportedly visit, too. They have an amazing array of Manos del Uruguay and custom Lorna's Laces colors, both of which are worth the trip. I've had less than stellar customer service, but I do fine without it. This store seems to be at the top of every visitor's list, and I understand why, but it probably isn't in my top 5.

This is an interesting store, with a large, inviting space--a rarity in NYC yarn stores. Much of the inventory is devoted to Suss Cousins' own line of yarns, which are generally nice and priced fairly. Some of her more novelty-type yarns are particularly nice for what they are. They carry some Brown Sheep and Lorna's Laces, from what I recall. The store also offers handknit items, including a custom sweater service. In my opinion, the biggest draw is the store's inexpensive classes (approximately $40-$60) with free wine. I can't vouch for the quality, but there aren't many places in NYC where one can attend two learn-to-knit classes (2 hours each) for $60. It's not a regular stop for me, but it's a pleasant place to visit.

The Point
The Point is probably my favorite yarn store in Manhattan. It's conveniently located near my subway line, and it offers tables and a cafe for knitting. The store is always well-staffed, and its stock is fairly well thought-out for its clientele. The biggest drawback is that it's often very crowded, especially in the evenings. It's sometimes so crowded that it's difficult to get to the yarn. Of course, it's also open until 8 or later every weeknight, which makes it very convenient.

Knit New York
I've been to this store once, and I won't go back. I've heard mixed reviews of this store, and much of it seems to depend on who is working and/or managing the store. I was looking for a specific yarn, and they were listed as a stockist on the manufacturer's website. Instead of calling (as I should have), I decided to drop by and check out the store. When I asked about the yarn, the clerk and manager both treated me poorly. I didn't get a good feeling from the store/cafe, either, but it is spacious and open, with plenty of seating. If it were closer, I might go to knit and have a coffee, but I wouldn't buy yarn there.

School Products
This is almost the quintessential New York City yarn store to me. It's in the Garment District and offers more cones of yarn than skeins. There's also a good selection of yarn for dyeing. They stock the full line of Karabella, I think. I would go there more often if the prices were better; the coned yarns are not great values.

The Yarn Connection
I have been to this store only twice, both times for their Super Bowl sale. It's a small store with a good variety of yarns, including Jamieson's and Dale. The store seems to cater to an older knitter, and it's been around forever. The sales staff is knowledgeable and helpful, even in the onslaught that is their Super Bowl sale. It has a more "bread and butter" than boutique feel, which I like.

Stitches East
Okay, I lied when I said there were only two stores I wouldn't visit again. This is the third, unless I'm in dire need of needles or a magazine on my lunch break, and it can't wait until I can get downtown to The Point. It's the only yarn store in Midtown. The yarns aren't priced, and the selection is very strange, with moderately priced acrylics, expensive fibers, and not a lot of middle ground. The one time I visited, I stayed about 20 minutes with no acknowledgement by any of the three clerks. Don't go there unless you must.

The Yarn Co.
This store has, I think, more mixed reviews than any other store in NYC. I've been once and found that both could be true. You could have a wonderful experience there or a terrible one, depending on a number of factors. I went in search of a specific yarn (Blue Sky Cotton), which they apparently only stock in the summer. I was out of luck in November. The clerk who helped me was friendly, courteous, and helpful, even though the store was crowded. But it definitely felt that there was an "in" crowd among their regular customers. I could see someone walking in and getting horrible service as a result. It's not a convenient store for me, so I don't anticipate going back too soon. I would also say that if you do not enjoy their books, you might not enjoy their store. Maybe I resent them because their books are full of bulky, shapeless sweaters?

(Organized roughly north to south, although my Brooklyn geography is bad.)

The Yarn Tree
I love this store, if only because it carries a wide variety of spinning supplies and was the first place I spun on a wheel. The owner is extremely helpful, and she stocks by far the widest variety of spinning fibers in the city. She also stocks Kromski and Schacht wheels. There is a large selection of Koigu, and she has some unique handspun offerings, too. The focus seems to be almost solely on natural fibers, with several organic fibers thrown in. I would go here more often if it were (a) not in Williamsburg and (b) closer to the subway. The store is open until 10 pm on weekdays, which is a definite bonus.

This is a great "bread and butter" store. They carry a very wide variety of yarns, including acrylics. Their basics are particularly good, I think, in both cotton and wool. However, they sometimes have issues with stocking enough of popular colors, and prices are high on some yarns (particularly the acrylics). The needle selection is unparalleled in the city, I think. It may just be that they are displayed well on a side wall. They also have a nice stock of books. I've had mixed customer service experiences, but I generally only go here when I know what I want or need. Or if I'm going to Target (six blocks away) and just want to browse for a bit.

Brooklyn General
Brooklyn General is my new favorite yarn store. It will become even more so if/when they carry more spinning supplies. It combines a great selection of yarns, fabrics, and notions with a wonderful atmosphere. The store would be a wonderful place to sit and knit, and I hope it's an option they will have if they move to a larger space (which is, I'm told, in the works). If I owned a yarn store, I would want it to look like this.

Stitch Therapy
I've gone back and forth on this shop. It's closest to my apartment, so I really want to like it. I've liked it the last two times I've been there. Their selection is a little eclectic, and not necessarily in a good way. I also hate the fact that their needles are not out on display. But the staff is very nice, and it's close. It's not a store I would go out of my way for, but it is nice to have relatively nearby.

The store I most need to visit is Habu, and it will happen soon.
Has it really been that long since I blogged?

It's been a strange couple of weeks. I've been knitting and spinning, but I haven't finished much. I finally finished some extremely boring socks for my husband last night and started the Jaywalkers for myself, in Claudia Handpaints (the Turquoise Jeans colorway). It's really lovely yarn, and I like the pattern so far. I hope this gets me over the sock-knitting hump. I love handknit socks, but I'm not sure how I feel about knitting them. Some of my dislike stems from the fact that the socks I have knit have been taupe, charcoal, and black. These are bold, handpainted, and gorgeous. The yarn is a bit "energized" (read, overspun and twisty), which is good in the finished product but not so good for knitting.

I also knit Shedir, to be used as a chemo cap. I started it originally for a very dear family friend who was diagnosed with cancer in mid-February. Unfortunately, she passed away unexpectedly about 3 weeks after her diagnosis. She was one of my mother's best friends, kindergarten teacher for me, my sister, and various other friends and family members, and married to my 8th grade teacher. My family, her family and my uncle's family all vacationed together when we were younger. It's been difficult, especially for my mom. I think she's contemplating her on mortality, which is both good and bad. We're finally starting to talk about normal things again, not her illness or the funeral or how the family is doing.

The good news is that the chemo cap has gone to another wonderful woman in my hometown. She had her first chemo treatment last Thursday. It's been therapeutic, in a way. I'm glad I was able to do something that felt tangible.

Anyway, I should have yarn photos fairly soon, since I'm nearly finished with the third bobbin of merino. It may be a while before any knitted items are posted, but I will try to offer my astounding words of wisdom on some topic or another.