There's a New Look Around Here

Chez Subway Knitter has a new look for 2008. And this is my first post using the MT 4.0 interface (Interface, right? That's what it's called, no? Please somebody tell me if it isn't.). Big thanks to Steph for doing all of the designing, working out all of the bugs, and fixing a huge fundamental problem with Pair's initial setup of my MT account. It would have taken me two years to figure out all of this stuff by myself. I think that Steph's available for hire, if you too need a blog overhaul.

In the spirit of the new year, it's time for me to come clean with all of you. I didn't knit very much over my two-week break because (and I'm being completely honest with you here) I hated the project I was working on. Hated. Despised. Loathed. It wasn't the project's fault. The yarn could not be blamed either, so I'm not going to bother posting a photo of what I was knitting. Let's just say that it was a project that would not have suited the recipient in any way, and this fact wasn't helping my waning excitement in a project that was going nowhere fast.

Late on Tuesday I had a wee epiphany. I needed to finish what I was working on by the end of the week, yet I hadn't picked up the needles in days. It was time for a drastic change. So, on Wednesday evening I postponed Laundry Night for about an hour to visit Seaport Yarns in search of something new.

SeaportYarnsI0111.jpg

Seaport Yarns. The weirdest yarn "store" that I've visited to date. Why "store"? Well, it's not really a store. There's another business being run out of the same space at the same time. Indeed, when I was shopping, the occupant of the office I was in briefly put aside her business deal ["Look at the EXPOSURE I'm getting you! Do you know how many people are going to be in town for Super Tuesday? Thousands and thousands! This is the type of media time that you want."] to sigh in my direction "Do you need any help?" Of course, the answer she was expecting was "no". I said no.

SeaportYarnsII.jpg

Combine that with the space's visual qualities, and you don't get a place where you want to spend a lot of time browsing (and thus, buying). It's not comfortable at all. The office is so chaotic and disorganized that I wanted to beat a path back out almost as soon as I walked in the door. Imagine the pre-renovated warehouse at WEBS moved into a 1990s Manhattan office interior with all the merchandise spilled onto folding tables and stuffed into half-broken display cabinets. That, my friends, is Seaport Yarns, only without the bargain prices of the WEBS warehouse.

The lighting was terrible! It was so poor, in fact, that I had to wonder if there was some kind of electrical problem affecting the ceiling lights. Nightime is not the best time for color accuracy anyway, but with dim florescent fixtures it's impossible.

Besides the office-worker-cum-store-clerk, there was one woman working the whole space. And she, I must say, was a lone bright spot (figuratively, of course) in this scene. Personable and knowledgeable, she seemed to know where stuff was, but she was much too busy to provide anything beyond the basic level of aid. At least two full-time people are needed to properly staff the store. I can imagine that the multi-room layout lends itself to easy shoplifting.

Anyway, I finally found what I needed and got out of there. I left with some GGH Goa which suited my needs perfectly. I was a bit surprised that GGH sells to this place. I have heard that it can be difficult for stores to become GGH stockists (to use the British term) and I wonder if other, better, NYC stores are losing out.

PinkandWhiteGGH0111.jpg

[I can give only a hint at what I'm knitting.]

In spite of the shortcomings I was impressed with the depth of the inventory at Seaport Yarns. Of course, you couldn't find anything without a map, but in a brief survey of the various rooms I noted that many of the typical go-to brands (Rowan, Noro, Koigu, Malabrigo, etc.) were available, and I didn't see a huge heap (I mean that literally here) of novelty yarns. This store could be great, and it's filling a need in a part of the city where there are no other woolly outlets. In the right space, with the right kind of business (something design oriented, perhaps) and with the right kind of employees, this could be a funky example of a creative shared use that results from an overheated real-estate market. I'm sure that there are a lot of Wall Street types who knit. Unfortunately Seaport Yarns is in an environment that's ill-suited for retail. The owner needs to hire a professional organizer, find an electrician, invest in some proper display furniture, and find another staff person.

It would be lovely to have a yarn store close to work, but I can't imagine that I would return here. Maybe some long-time New Yorkers know if my experience is typical, or is a result of an upcoming relocation. I heard that the store is closing at the end of the month and will reopen in a yet-to-be-determined spot. Let's hope that the owner can find a proper retail space to give the store a chance to flourish.

 

You know, that is how my office would look if I let it. :-)

Could it be someone be wishing to diminish their stash? I'm thinking if I took everything out I might be able to have a store that size?
Hope you find a place you like that is close! It is so much easier when you can go in any time!

I understand that Seaport will be moving to a new location and theat the owner is trying to enlist help from us knitters to help her move. Seeing those pictures of it's current state, I know know why I've never been there before. Maybe the new location will be better.

Nice new look! And your new header is very "woosh."

I've never been to Seaport yarns. (What can I say, I'm only about 35 miles from NYC but go into the city as seldom as I possibly can.) But what I've heard about it, well, it doesn't sound that appealing to me, anyway.

Wow Colleen, you site looks fantastic--love it! You should ask Miss Team Katy about her experiences at Seaport;)

The site looks awesome. Kudos to the Gleek.

I know it is chaotic, and it also is sometimes help deprived, but if you go with the mindset that you are NOT going to see lines of pretty skeins of yarn all lined up so it looks like there are more varieties than there are, it is great!. There is EVERYTHING here. The fact that they also do mailorder means that they get a huge variety of yarns and that someone knows where to find them. I hope they move to better quarters, because if find things there...find being the operative word.. than anywhere else.

Well I've never really be busting to go there - but now I want to go just to experience the bizarreness of it all. However, I know I will just be disappointed with the rudeness there too, so I will squint at the photos from afar :)

Love the new blog look , Go Steph!

Like the new look! It sounds like an interesting place. Sometimes we just have to admit that what we're working on is wrong and move on.

Yup, that sounds pretty typical--though it looks from your photos like things may have deteriorated even further since I was last there well over a year ago. Was it also blazingly hot? Cause that's fun, too.
You're a brave, brave girl. ;)

Yes, that's what Seaport is like pretty much all of the time. You can't even move without tipping a pile of wool. I always find it too overwhelming to even choose a yarn, with all the piles and colors. I also hope their new place is very different.

actually, pair's install was fine in the end. it was a script that i put on your site that was messing things up. seems that there are other people that have had the same type of problem too on MT's forums :) anyway, glad it's up and you're blogging again.

i have never been to seaport yarns because i hear it's like that ALL THE TIME. i'm doubtful that any kind of move to another location would make it any better.

Wow! Seaport Yarn's other store is in Portland, ME, which is a 20 minute drive for me. I haven't made it there yet, but have been wanting to. I'm definately going to take a trip next week and see if their Maine store is anything like their NY store. I'm quite curious.

I live about 60 miles from Seaport Portland and shop online with them and in the actual store about once a month. Fab store, in a strange location, but great selection and super nice staff. Sad to hear the city folks are not so cool

Oh I LOVE going to Seaport Yarns exactly for the reasons you just outlined. It is always an entertaining adventure. Once I had a 30 minute conversation with the woman who owns it about where on earth she could find 15 smokers on short notice for a focus group. Awesome. I can see how it would be a bit disconcerting, and it is definitely not like shopping at some of the lovely stores the city has to offer BUT I love the surrealness of it all. It has all of that bizarre eclectic, "I can't believe this place actually exists" vibe that I totally love about living in New York (and that I think is rapidly disappearing to make way for more boutique-y like places). As a special bonus I love that the building is really a dorm for Pace and you would never know it was there. I worked around the corner for a year and was shocked to learn there was a yarn store nearby.

I go to Seaport when I don't want to have to go to 10 different stores and I don't want to pay the prices that some stores charge (Seaport isn't discount cheap but it can be a little cheaper than other places) and when I feel like a dose of surreality!

Oh wait, I forgot the best part! I love that they don't take credit cards, just cash and CHECKS! I don't know the last time I found somewhere in the city that seriously took checks. It can be a pain but it is a great way to control yarn purchasing. Even better, when I did write a check there I said to the saleslady, "wow, I can't remember the last time I actually wrote a check in a store." And she responded, "Really? I only write checks, I don't even use a credit card or debit card. I think checks are so much more convenient." Where does she really go that she writes checks all the time? Bizarre.

That yarn store reminds me of a bagel place I used to go to on the way to work. I would walk by the open back door (it was Alphabet city) and these Russian guys would be baking bagels when I peeked. Turns out you could buy them out front (office space looking) and they were 25 cents, still hot and delicious. Looks like the yarn shop has a similar type vibe - bizarre.

It looks like the odd shop provided some little kiddo a very cute little something...

Ahh...Seaport yarns. Sounds like we had similar experiences. I been once or twice and both times were strange. I haven't been back since this past summer which was a bad idea. It is always hot in that place, but especially bad in the summer with no A/C. If I hadn't needed to use up a gift card ASAP I would have promptly left since fondling wool in 90 degree weather with what must have been 80% humidity is bad. I did score some nice sock yarn though.

Try The Yarn Company on Broadway by 82nd I think. Its upstairs. Nice shop!

Seaport looks a bit more like a yard sale than a yarn store! It would be interesting just to see it all though.

Love the new blog look! Gleek did a great job with it.

I totally agree with you on Seaport. I went there once several years ago and felt so uncomfortable and self-conscious that I've never been back. I just felt like I had wandered into a back room I wasn't allowed in. I really do hope their new space is different.

Wow - Steph really fixed you up nice over here :) I'm not a big fan of Seaport myself. I don't have the patience to dig through bin after basket after shelf or to wait for the one sales person to help me find something. It certainly is a bizarre place...

I like the redesign! I've only been to Seaport once, too. It's just overwhelming (and not in a good way). Welcome back!

Wow what a bizarre place! Thanks for your entertaining review!

Nothing I love more than a good yard sale or fishing through a collection of things to find the unusual, but if I'm paying full--or near full--price, I want the goods displayed in a nice, sensible way. Otherwise, I feel like the yarn and the customer isn't being respected.

I can't help but think that the two businesses are combined in some way to either get a cheaper rent or to protect that zip code in the area so that another store can't open up. That said, however, it could be a hoot to spend some time in there and listen to the sales pitch on the phone while perusing some lovely Noro or Koigu.

I love the new look!

wow, I really love the new look. It's organized so nicely!

Seaport Yarn is my favorite store. It is not pretty but it is so New York. Actually, I don't care about it being pretty - I can always count on them to have what I want or to help me find a substitution. They have a large selection of yarn, needles, and books. The people there have always been extremely nice and helpful to me. Now when I go to other stores I am usually disappointed because of their lack of selection.

I agree with Sarah. I love Seaport for the same exact reasons that you dislike them! I love the many rooms, I love having to go through each basket or pile (there could be a treasure in there!), and I love their prices, cheaper than anywhere in the city. I love the fact that they carry a bazillion brands and will make a phone call if you mention some kind of yarn that they don't carry (which is rare, since they carry so many yarns!).
The one thing that I don't like is the super chatty owner. She's so nice and sweet, but sometimes I don't want to talk for 30 min, you know?
Also, I've only been on the weekends, and they always have 2 people working, and obviously, their other business is closed, so I never overheard a business conversation!

That's one weird store! What is the other business being run?

 

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