Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hand-made holiday

a fuzzy needle-felted sheep will grace knitter Caroline B's tree

and two bunny friends will soon go to their forever homes.

We send our very best wishes for a serene holiday season, and a new year of knitting and friendship.

May your days be merry and bright!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Philadelphia story

Back in the day we used to jump rope in the schoolyard and sing

I won't go to Macy's any more, more, more.
There's a big fat policeman at the door, door, door.
He grabbed me by the collar,
And made me pay a dollar,
So I won't go to Macy's any more, more, more.

This ear-worm of a ditty came to mind yesterday, when my friend HC dragged me into Macy's in Philadelphia, where we were spending a girls-night-out weekend.  She claimed to be in search of holiday bargains, and they were indeed to be had, if you could stand the idea of pawing through racks of man-handled, trampling-down-the-vintage garments, most of which were loudly proclaimed to be discounted forty- or fifty-percent. What was worse, I wondered?--the tatty state of the clothes, or the bored-to-death salespeople stuck gloomily behind counters, and seriously uninterested in sprucing up their bailiwicks? And if Macy's was so deeply-discounting its inventory and still no one was buying--the store appeared bereft of patrons--what did this say about the economy? Or is it pointless to generalize from such anecdotal evidence?

After trying on a dress that was too large and therefore not of interest, HC wanted to visit the glove department.

Gentle readers, check out the merchandise strewn about hither and yon. All the while I was thinking, Why would anyone want to spend hard-earned cash on stuff that they have to pick up off the store's floor? Moreover, if you were a knitter (as HC is), why wouldn't you want to knit yourself a pair of beauteous gloves or mittens--or support a hard-working crafty-person of the Etsy sort--rather than settle for this kind of disrespected, made in China or similar slave-labor manufacturing country, stuff?

Soon, fortunately, we were headed towards the exit. There was no big fat policeman demanding a dollar, though I would gladly have paid it to be released from holiday-shopping hell even more expeditiously.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I suddenly noticed this, parked by the escape route:

Yes, this singular display purports to be a Christmas tree made of multicolored yarn balls. I guess it's supposed to relate, somehow, to the strangely partial mannequin wearing the wool-like cap and scarf combo, but I'm not sure. (Believe me, that striped get-up was not hand-knitted.) Nonetheless, there seems to be an attempt, on the part of the store, to somehow conflate balls o' yarn with the holiday spirit.


Personally, I find the juxtaposition of Christmas-themed sock (knitted by yours truly of Marathon Yarn's North Pole for HC, who models it) about to descend, Godzilla-like, upon the marshmallow lawn of the gingerbread house in the lobby of the Sofitel where we stayed, to be so much more entertaining.

Anyway, except for that infamous half-hour of department-store hell, I once again enjoyed my time in the City of Brotherly Love.

Espied on Walnut Street

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Vermont Diary: Knit or Dye in Brattleboro

If my life companion hadn't been so famished, I would have spent more time at Knit or Dye, a lovely LYS in the heart of Brattleboro's Main St shopping district.

(Apologies for the oblique angle here, but even as I photographed, I was being dragged off to lunch at Amy's Bakery by Hungry Man.) As it so happened, we'd spent the previous day and night in Putney--

Downtown Putney
--where I did research for an upcoming article, and the folks at Green Mountain Spinnery directed me to Knit or Dye, an affable business colleague as well as purveyor of some of their yarns.

Though my visit was short, I was pleased to meet owner Rachel Stecker and her gorgeous son, Wesley.

You'll notice, at the top of the photo, a partial view of a red sock with a ruffled cuff. I found this so captivating that I bought the pattern from Rachel, one of her exclusive designs. (Some of Rachel's designs are available on the Knit or Dye website) Maybe I'll start the new year by knitting it, if I can only climb out from underneath some of my numerous WIPs.

Apart from Rachel's patterns, the shop offers a strong selection of local and/or hand-dyed yarns, including fiber products from The Spun Monkey. Starry Mountain Alpaca, and Frabjous Fibers (in addition to yarns from Green Mountain Spinnery). This is what distinguishes it, IMHO, from a run-of-the-mill (as it were) kind of LYS.

So, I was dragged away reluctantly, but am planning to return before too long, I hope, I hope.