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Adam suggested I do an inspiration day every week, and I groaned. I was like, noooo. It’s hard to find good images of stuff that hasn’t been blogged everywhere else, and I can’t just link to The Satorialist in every post, you know? Anyway, here’s an image from Chanel’s Pre-Fall 2009 collection this year. Yes, she looks like a deranged clown, but the design on the sweater is great–I think it would be a cute motif on a hat, or yes, dare I say it, a dog sweater. And I don’t even own a dog. Or maybe a felted handbag.

Oh, and sad news for those of you who don’t follow the media death march as I do–Craft magazine is going online only.

Posted in Inspiration, Printed Matter, Uncategorized at February 12th, 2009.

hat

I’m supposed to be writing a book review, but I’m procrastinating a bit…by blogging! And knitting, of course. I didn’t finish this hat in time for my grandmother’s b-day, though I did give her the never-worn¬† Ella shawl instead, which she seemed to like a lot. I’m going to give this to her once I’m done, which should be soon. This ear flap is a little funky, but I’m hoping it will right itself out with blocking.¬† I still have another ear flap and i-cord to knit. It’s actually pretty cute on the head–perhaps I’ll have a modeled shot later this week.

Okay, back to work.

Posted in Hats, Uncategorized at February 11th, 2009.

My sister recently made a joke about the recession leading to a zombie apocalypse, which I figured was just some college kid joke, but then I was reading this Ravelry thread (“Will Your Stash Outlast the Recession?“) and I noticed that other people seem to associate the recession with a zombie apocalypse. I’m not sure what zombies have to do with what New York Magazine is calling The Greatest Depression, but there you go. Anyway, whether the zombies do or do not arrive, I am stashing up while we are still zombie-free, in order to have yarn to last me through the recession.

Stash Enhancement

Aren’t these colors beautiful? I picked them out at Purl, three skeins of Canopy from The Fibre Company, but they were a gift from Adam. I recently discovered Zeitgeist Yarns, the beautiful blog of Kate Gagnon, one of the women behind Kelbourne Woolens, which distributes yarn for The Fibre Company. I want to make all of her patterns, and I grabbed a skein of white Noro on sale at the Point, (also a gift from Adam, who was combining birthday shopping with pity buying for me, I think) for her striped silk kerchief pattern.

Stash

I have a bit more stash too, which I will unveil as time goes by. Don’t try to come take it! ūüôā

New York Magazine has an interesting article this week about the state of retail in the city, and how everyone is cutting back. They came to a lot of the same conclusions I did about yarn stores last week–lower profit margins and higher volume is the new formula for profit (ie sales), better customer service, and even after all that, inevitable closings of favorite stores. (I am kind of lured by the idea of going to Italy though, where a small town will be having a non-stop film festival with Mondo Kim’s videos. How Cinema Paradiso is that?) Yarn is even more of a luxury item than many of these other goods, but it is, relatively speaking, inexpensive, so people might hold on and keep buying yarn even as the economy keeps sliding. I’m not sure what will happen, especially on the wholesale side–will entire yarn lines disappear? If you have noticed any closings or changes at your LYS, leave me a comment, I would love to hear what’s happening in your part of the country.

Posted in the Business, Uncategorized, Yarn at February 10th, 2009.

I don’t really have anything to add to the many Updike obits that have been printed in the past few weeks (I already shared my one interaction with Updike in this post), though my parents, knowing of my long-time Updike fandom, did mention it to me this weekend, when they were visiting. My father, several years ago, when I was complaining about how I missed seeing Updike, was like, “Oh, don’t worry, he’ll be back in New York–those kinds of readings happen all the time.” As a matter of fact, I did get to see him speak (as mentioned in that post), but I’m glad I went, because now he’s gone. (What I said to Updike: “I have always loved your work.” What he said to me: “Have you?” That was it. I was rather embarrassed and took my autographed book and hustled off.)

Moral of the story: If you can afford something, go see it now, because you never know when it will disappear.

Oh! I do remember, in high school, for a class in American literature, we had to write a paper on an American novelist of our choice, and I wrote mine on Updike (of course), and when my teacher handed back our essays, he said, “I have never liked Updike, but your paper made a compelling case for him.” (Or something like that, excuse the horn tooting, but it probably was a good essay, because I do/did really love Updike.) And then my friend, (who had written hers on Zelda Fitzgerald, as befits a young feminist), snickered and was like, “Bleh, Updike,” and my teacher was like, “Yes, I know! Who likes Updike?”

Oh, and I remember a high school friend once saying that he never knew any women who liked Updike, but I always have–somehow, I always associate reading Updike with sad summer days, and the language has stayed with me all these years. I have two favorite Updike lines–one is not in this giant Updike compendium I have here, but the other is: “So I am taken by surprise at a turning when at the meaningful hour of ten you come with a kiss of toothpaste to me moist and girlish and quick; an unexpected gift is not worth giving.”

No knitting content today. Maybe tomorrow!

Posted in personal, Uncategorized at February 9th, 2009.

I totally meant to blog this story a while ago, but forgot all about it. Kathy Kiely, a political reporter for USA Today, followed the Obama campaign last year, and knit a scarf during all of the campaign stops. She also kept a little photo journal of the traveling scarf and wrote a nice article about it a couple of weeks ago.

Link: “Knitting Together Stories and Scarves on the Campaign Trail.”

Posted in travelingproject, Uncategorized at February 6th, 2009.

yarn cap1

I’m trying to knit a quick hat for my grandmother (if you’re reading this and know my grandmother, shhh, it’s a surprise), and looking at it today, with the ball of yarn stuffed into it, I realized that it looked awfully like a knitted breast. Ha! Well, I am hoping it’s going to turn into an actual hat soon.

P.S. If you’re curious about what Brooklyn Tweed looks like, The New York Observer did a nice little article about him, the state of knitting in New York,¬†and Ravelry, in ¬†this week’s issue.

Posted in Hats, Uncategorized at February 5th, 2009.

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Yarntopia, from across the street. I am taking up digital photography, so you have to excuse the learning curve on these photos. Adam, who is the better photographer, normally shoots the pictures for New York Minknit, but I am trying to learn, so bear with my efforts.

I had lunch with a friend yesterday, and swung by¬†my old¬†¬†neighborhood, Morningside Heights. I stopped by the local yarn store up there, Yarntopia, which opened a couple of years ago. I’ve stopped by this store a couple of times the first year it opened, and I went back today. It’s a one-woman operation, and it has a solid range of yarns (Malabrigo in all weights, including sock, large selection of Noro, tweed yarns), all available in fairly broad range of colors.¬†Ivete¬†pointed out on Yelp¬†that the prices here are a bit higher than the suggested¬†manufacturer retail price, which is actually something I’ve noticed across the board in New York yarn stores.¬†Almost all of them–including the ones I frequent–charge more than the prices you’ll find listed on the¬†internet. I assume it’s sort of unspoken collusion (not anything nefarious, unlike the Sotheby’s and Christie’s scandal of a few years ago) among the stores–if Purl can charge $14 for Koigu, then so can Knitty City, etc., and probably a result of the higher rents and costs of¬†doing business¬†in New York City. Even Knit-a-Way, the somewhat odd Brooklyn yarn store, sells their Addi Turbo needles for more than Purl, and definitely more than internet vendors. It is a problem though, and for customers who are watching their budgets more carefully now, stores that continue to charge these higher prices may find themselves having stiffer competition from the web. Many of us who are willing to pay a premium to support local stores, as well as to see and feel the yarn in person, may consider ordering from the internet instead when the difference in prices begins to significantly affect our shrinking disposable income budgets.

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Duane Reade. Awesome or evil? You decide. Isn’t the snow on the trees pretty?

It’s a tough decision. I know that part of why I love New York is its collection of small, non-chain stores, and¬†though¬†this kind of ¬†Stuff-White-People-Like-rant is a cliche, it’s also true. The loss of great independent bookstores (read: record stores, grocery stores, or whatever you love) across the city and country¬†strips a community of its personality, even if many of these stores are/were run by crochety and/or snobby weirdos. (The Strand, I am looking at you.)¬†But, at the same time, if these stores cannot compete with chains or the internet, I am not sure that our society should require¬†that we support these stores out of a loyalty to a notion of the common good. (<–This is my closet Republican talking.¬†Two of my friends, a¬†Republican couple, gave me a book yesterday entitled Why Higher Taxes Are Wrong, or something, saying that it would push me over the edge to the “right side.” I was like, um, I do have closet Republican leanings, but as someone who voted for Obama twice, in the primaries and the general election; who grew up in San Francisco; and whose father worked her whole life for a civil rights organization, I doubt I am going to join the dark supply-side. But you never know.) Asking people to shop at your store because of a fealty to an ideal is a quick way to go out of business.

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A sculpture at twilight (no, not the vampire Twilight, just regular twilight) in the garden at St. John the Divine. Also on my to-do list: learn photo post-processing.

I believe that these stores must find efficent ways to compete in order to survive. First, some may have to fail, (just like Lehman Brothers, or as one of¬†the above mentioned¬†Republican friends bitterly said yesterday, “the only bank allowed to fail.” He is, unsurprisingly, a former Lehman banker). New York just can’t support this many yarn stores, and though some, like The Yarn Connection, were perfectly great stores, there is not enough demand for all to survive. Secondly, the remaining stores must offer product that is unavailable elsewhere. Purl is a good example–their selection of Koigu is vast and constantly changing, and they have a number of colorways from Lorna’s Laces and Blue Sky Alpaca that are custom-made for them and¬†not available¬†anywhere else. Third, they must be willing to sell over the internet, WITH A WELL-DESIGNED INTERFACE. I cannot tell you how many online yarn stores have crappy websites that make me want to stab myself. ¬†The future is here. Fourth, they need to promote either cheaper projects (one-skein projects) or lower prices to match the internet, and try to sell more. Volume, must, unfortunately, make up for¬†diminishing profit margins.¬†Finally, a number of these stores have to improve their customer service. I don’t want to pick on Yarntopia, but the customer service there has been, all three times I’ve browsed there, a bit brusque. If high-end restaurants are lowering prices and sucking up more than ever to customers,¬†all of retail has no choice but to do the same. Of course, it’s easy for me to talk as a consumer, rather than a yarn store owner, but I think my analysis is correct, and the stores that don’t change will go out of business.

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Okay, truly a crappy photo. But the height inside is really cool.

On a more cheerful note, unemployment has given me the chance to appreciate the poetry in everyday New York. Sometimes I forget, but New York is a really beautiful city. I went into St. John the Divine yesterday, and I forgot how magnificent it is inside. Plus they have a new insane sound system, so the organ is more like a cinematic surround sound roar of faith. Just walking around and seeing the trees all dusted with snow was so beautiful.

Yarntopia:

Address: 974 Amsterdam Ave
SW corner of 108th St
(between 107th St & 108th St)
New York, NY 10025
Phone: (212) 316-9276

Posted in the Business, Uncategorized, Yarn Stores at February 4th, 2009.

WIP: Garter Yoke Sweater

I’ve tried to stick to only knitting on my blog here, but with this new¬†post-a-day resolution, I may¬†have to introduce other non-knitting topics,¬†due to dearth of¬†knitting info. Anyway, today, I saw the best hat–I cursed myself for not bringing my camera.¬† It was¬†a pointy knit hat, in red, but the entire thing was covered in a loopy stitch–so fun and cute. It was worn by this awesome little old lady chatting with her friends–it was like woolen version of those funky bathing caps you see at the pool.

I belong to a posh gym*–though I am giving up my membership in favor of a cheaper option when my current membership runs out–and I manage to only take the uncool, frumpy classes. The best is this AWESOME aqua-aerobics class, where the teacher has this great mix–it builds up slowly, and then the most strenuous (and I’m not kidding, aqua-aerobics gives you a workout, despite its lame reputation) exercises are set to Journey (“Don’t Stop Believing,” natch) and then the cool-down exercises are set to that Feist counting song. It sounds lame, but you can tell he put some thought into putting together the mix, unlike the other aqua aerobics teachers who teach the whole class to this generic club music the whole time, and there’s no arc. Yes, I am arguing that the best gym classes have an arc. (Knitting related link: I have long thought that I should adopt the blog Exercise Before Knitting‘s name as a life philosophy.) I went to the gym today, and it was pretty empty, which is another nice¬†benefit of a flexible work schedule.

* Doogie Howser has been spotted working out at my gym. Though I am not sure that that is so impressive.

I haven’t been working on my socks because I’ve been churning out this sweater, Garter Yoke Cardigan, from the latest Knit.1 issue¬†instead. I’m normally an accessory knitter, but I’ve been feeling the call of the sweaters this year. It’s going well, and I’m using some Debbie Bliss tweed that I bought on close-out from The Yarn Connection. It’s good subway knitting actually, because it’s pretty straightforward, and also good for knitting on while yelling at my computer, which is the slowest computer known to man. I think I knit an entire inch today before it allowed me to pay a bill online. Sigh. Technology. Sometimes, it sucks.

Posted in Sweaters, Uncategorized at February 3rd, 2009.

Washing Knits
Two pairs of my hand-knit socks get ready for a spin at the laundromat.

Well, it’s February, but it’s also Chinese New Year, which means for those of us (*cough* me *cough*) who are a little slow with New Year’s resolutions on the Western calendar, it’s a chance to start over. My birthday (which I am not going to disclose, because I fear sharing such information on the internet) is somewhere in these winter months as well, so that gives me another “new year” to look forward to.

I have lots of new things planned for this year, partially spurred on by some seemingly bad news: I was laid off. But actually, I’m rather happy about it because I think it gives me some time to think about the future and to develop my own projects. I’ve worked in publishing* since I was in college, briefly in books, and then in magazines, working for a decade now, and the landscape has changed. The pressure to generate profit in a dying industry is awful–I joke that we’re like monks illuminating manuscripts after the invention of printing press, insisting to our customers that our gold-ornamented capitals have a value that no Gutenberg-come-lately can match.

With my newly freed up schedule (I’ve held on to some freelance clients, including a small column at my old job, but these commitments are relatively few) I have lots of plans: (1.) Some just general life experiences (I’m lured by becoming a television extra–someone must want to hire me to walk around in the back of an episode of Law and Order, no?); (2.)¬† a desire to return to truly “old” media (I was a history major, and I have lots of random things I want to research, study, and write about); (3.) knitting and blogging (I’m going to try and blog every day–we’ll see how that goes, maybe every weekday will be more likely); (4.) learning more about “new” media (I’m sick of trying to deal with the internet from a user’s perspective–I’m going to try and sign up for some computer programming classes); and (5.)¬† yes, improving this website and my own professional site (I know that if you’ve been signing up with your own website to comment here on newyorkminknit.com, the links aren’t working, which is because this theme is not compatible with the latest version of Word Press–see number 4 for why this drives me crazy).

* All copy-editing errors on this blog are mine. I know, I know, sometimes I am not the best speller or grammarian, though in my defense, I was never a copy editor, I only date one. Every time I think about lie vs. lay I end up humming “Lay lady lay” and wondering why Bob Dylan starred in a Victoria’s Secret commercial. I get stuck thinking about this despite the fearsome warning from my high school English teacher that a person who didn’t know when to use lie and when to use lay would never get a job. (A curse that might be true for me, if not for Bob Dylan.)

Posted in personal, Uncategorized at February 2nd, 2009.