Crafty City: New York City, Upper West Side and Downtown wpid-Photo-13-Sep-2013-1859.jpg Full view

Crafty City: New York City, Upper West Side and Downtown

Last weekend, I flew to New York for a family wedding. Because I have the coolest husband in the world, I was there for five days; plenty of time to have a day to myself in Manhattan, whilst not feeling I was neglecting my (enormous) family.

I spent my free day going to yarn and fabric shops, of course.

Actually, I hit the ground running on the evening I arrived. I stayed with an aunt, who is a crocheter, on the Upper West Side. We tore ourselves away from her latest project when we realised that her local yarn shop, Knitty City, was open late that night.

Knitty City is a small shop, chock full of all the necessities (perhaps a bit too full!), and with a tiny table in back for sitting and knitting. I didn't trust my travel-tired mind to pick any yarn, even though they were having a sale on Berroco yarns, so just picked up some new yarn needles (mine having mysteriously disappeared) and some plane-friendly wood circulars for the trip back. (They've already started to splinter–give me cheap metal needles any day!)

One of my favourite things about yarn shops is the textile art on the walls, and Knitty City didn't disappoint.

The next day I went for a run, checked in with the family in the morning, and headed out for Soho, to Purl, home shop of my favourite aspirational needlecrafts blog. Aspirational not because their patterns are so very difficult, but because their products are, um. Not. Cheap.

The best part of visiting Purl Soho was seeing the samples from their blog in person. I'm not one to get star-struck, but I felt a little awed seeing these. (I made of version of this chevron blanket!)

It was incredibly helpful, too, because I'd been planning to knit this top, and hadn't realised from the pictures online just how short it is (not being the sort of person who wastes time measuring things like my torso).

I spoke to one of the assistants, who was helpful and incredibly knowledgeable. I said I wanted to knit that shirt, originally made in cashmere, but I have a two-year-old…

I didn't need to say any more. She showed me some washable yarn options, rattled off their yardage so fast it made me blink, printed off the pattern, figured out how much yarn I'd need considering my size and that I wanted to add a few inches to the length, and recommended a few lunch places to try.

Purl was great, small and jam-packed but spacious and light feeling. And please note the table of swatches in the foreground. So helpful!

I wasn't planning to buy anything, but I left with this Madeline Tosh merino light. Whoops.

After a late lunch, I headed uptown to Chelsea to visit City Quilter. City Quilter is fairly big–two shop fronts. They have an exhibition space, workshop room, and lots and lots of fabric, mostly arranged along the colour spectrum.

There was an exhibition due to start the day I was heading back to London, but I managed to get a sneaky shot behind the curtain.

Aside from the quilting cottons in rainbow order, there were a few specialty sections (children's, gothy retro, felt, and flannel, among others). I found this lovely, super soft flannel, which I think will become a jacket for my daughter. There was just over a yard left on the bolt, and somehow I can never resist that.

I'd intended to go to one or two more places, but subway delays happened and family obligations took over. I didn't really mind, though. Manhattan is best in small doses, I think, and there's certainly no way to take in all its yarn and fabric shops in a day or two, let alone those in the other boroughs. I'll leave those for another trip, or five. As it was, this trip was the perfect balance of alone time and family time, running on the river and eating lots of bagels, shopping and knitting.

The best moment of my trip was when I was knitting on the subway. A woman struck up a conversation with me, only slightly less unusual in NYC than it is here. We got onto the topic of friendship, and she told me a story of a friend who needed to borrow some money. When LaShawnda (my new friend) went over with the cash, her friend opened the door just a crack. LaShawnda said to her, “Honey, if you open the door, you'll get more help.”

Just a gentle reminder that our door is at 131 Wood St., and it is always ready to be opened.


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