Recently in Yarn Shopping Category

This page is a archive of recent entries in the Yarn Shopping category.

Works in Progress is the previous category.

Never Again!

In yesterday's post I blithely dropped that I needed to stop by Seaport Yarns to replace some DPNs which went into hiding.

Let me say here that I will never, ever set foot inside that store again. Never. Ever. Again.

A couple of years ago I wrote a review about Seaport in its prior location, on Nassau Street. The new store is still in Lower Manhattan, but on Broadway. It's still in an upper-floor location, the store is still a mess, and the same office-cum-yarnstore environment remains. I tolerated the store when I needed something quick because it is mere steps from my office. But last night the owner's bitchy 'tude finally tipped me over the edge. I'm sorry that I came in right at 6pm as you were closing (although the man on the phone did tell me that the store would be open to 8.) Furthermore, maybe you should answer the phone with "Seaport Yarns, Broadway" or "Seaport Yarns, Portland" if you don't want people confused as to which store they called. Maybe I should have looked more carefully, but

The entire five-minute interaction left a bad taste in my mouth. So bad, in fact, that more than 12 hours later, I'm writing about it. There was some discussion on Twitter last night. Apparently I'm far from the only one who has had this type of experience with the store.

There are many, many more yarn shops that deserve my money more than Seaport Yarns. I can't believe that the economy (combined with the horrible environment, poor service, and iffy location) hasn't yet sunk the place. I think that one of my new year's resolutions will be to shop only at stores that make me happy.

Seaport Yarns ain't one of them.

Oh the Internet

Several years ago (okay, more like 10 years ago) I lived in Providence, Rhode Island. Has it really been that long? Yes, I suppose it has. Right after college I moved into an apartment on the East Side (not to be confused with East Providence. No. No. No.) that I shared with a friend. I lived there for a year, and at the time I wasn't a knitter.

Ah Providence! It was my first taste of urban living, and I certainly must have liked the experience. Since then my life has been a progression of increasingly larger cities: Boston and now New York. Although if you had told me 10 years ago that one day I would find myself living in Brooklyn I probably would not have believed you. Providence was just fine for me then.

So, why am I telling you this? I was just looking at Dani's new site for Sunshine Yarns. [Caution: you will want to buy everything.] I clicked on her link to the retailers that sell her yarns, one of which, Fresh Purls, is on Hope Street on Providence's East Side, only about four or five blocks from my old apartment on Sargent Ave.

Of course I couldn't tell you what was in that shop when I lived there, but I know for certain that the space wasn't a yarn store. It looks like a great shop. I'll have to check it out the next time that I'm back in the old 'hood.

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.

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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.

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[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.

I'm an Innocent Victim Here!

So there I was, having a day. A day off. I was sipping a mocha (like you do), avoiding creepy guys (like you do), and sauntering down Madison in a jaunty way (like you do).

Then it hit me: I was in Shireen's 'hood. Would she be up for a little jaunty saunter? There was only one way to find out. I texted her (like you do).

I'M ON YOUR STREET. ARE YOU HOME? (Yes, I'm a total texting neophyte. I spell out everything and use punctuation.)

The reply came quickly: NO. AT WORK. :-( GO TO STRING!

String? String?! Oh, String! But where is String?

Shireen read my mind: 82ND BETWEEN LEX AND PARK.

What else could I do? I walked a few blocks north and found the store.

String1016.jpg

This is the type of store that could exist only on the UES! Cashmere, cashmere, alpaca, and cashmere as far as the eye could see. Definitely the place that you go when you want something special.

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The inventory is definitely weighted toward luxury fibers. I think of Loop in Philly or Seed Stitch up in Salem as places with a thoughtfully selected inventory that's a lot broader than what you will find at String. I couldn't imagine staying for hours and playing with yarns, as I have done at both Loop and Seed Stitch. String just isn't that type of place, and that's okay. It's a store, not a community center, and I fully support shopkeepers who want their customers to shop, buy (hopefully), and then shove off. For my everyday yarn shopping in NYC, I have The Point (home of the Spiders). I'm finding its inventory harder and harder to ignore. Indeed, as I type I can hear some smoky blue Malabrigo calling my name. "Colleen. Colleeeeen." Oh wait. That's not the yarn, it's Sven.

I digress! String. Yup, it's a fabulous store. I received helpful service, in a non-rushed, friendly atmosphere. My advice (if you're ever in NYC) is to go. Speaking for myself (someone who is employed by a non-profit), I probably would not buy a sweater's load of yarn from String. But do I live on the UES? No. Will I ever live on the UES? Not unless there's a whole load of money in my knitting bag (just checked: there isn't). I guess what I'm saying is that String knows its demographic.

That's not to say that I left empty handed.

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Some of you might be asking "Isn't she on a book/yarn embargo until she moves?" Let's just blame this on Shireen, shall we? This is some Curlz by Prism Yarn (located, ironically, in St. Petersburg, Florida--not Russia). It's a wool/nylon blend (98/2), so a little luxe, but not over the top. The colorway is Smoke, and it'll go perfectly with a new chocolatey-brown coat that I picked up (on sale) in Two Rivers, Wisconsin when I visited in June.

As the weather cools, I find myself drawn to chunky accessories. I think that this yarn will be perfect knit up as a chunky scarf. I just need to find a bold stitch pattern to use with this bouclé. Since all of my knitting books are (you guessed it) in storage (we are, however, in the final stretch of this everything-in-storage business). In lieu of my knitting library, it's time to hit Ravelry for some inspiration and ideas.

Up, Up(state), and Away

I encountered some serious difficulties with the promised wireless internet while away from the big city. At two of the three places I stayed I couldn't connect (despite having all the necessary information). While I knew that I could have found the owners to help me, I decided to be internet free. Not connecting meant that I didn't need to encounter a friendly, sweet, but entirely too chatty inn owner when I was ready to call it a day. Get it?

For most of last week it was me, a PT Cruiser (A rental, and it wasn't my choice. But you wait 45 minutes in line at the Syracuse Airport--Alamo Car Rental, please hire an assistant for poor Paul--and then see if you want to get back in the same line) and NPR.

I was Upstate. Way, way Upstate. And I don't mean Westchester. So far Upstate that I actually pulled in the CBC for a time (hey, that CBC 2, not bad stuff). I drove through lots of teeny towns and past many a corn field and all the time I'm thinking one thing.

Where do these people buy yarn?

On a two-hour stopover in Canton (home of fellow former Knitsmith Emily) I had my answer.

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Now this was all that I could see of the shop, as it was closed. And as I thought that peering into the window might bring by the local police ("All units, we have a 18-11 in progress on Main Street.") I stayed on the sidewalk.

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(and just in case you, like me, had no idea what linsey woolsey is, read this.)

Tomorrow: actually knitting progress (my own!)


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