Sunday, February 24, 2008

To Market, To Market, To Boost Up My Stash...

...home again, home again, what a mad dash!

I'm back, did you miss me? I missed you. Couldn't stand the post-Christmas weather any longer, it had been a trying winter with some sad events; and the residual cough which inevitably follows upon the flu just wouldn't leave. So DH took me away to somewhere you could rely on blue skies and sandy pathways leading to warm seas.

Sanibel Island on the west coast of Florida, is one of my favourite places. Small, unspoiled and utterly charming, it has a laid-back atmosphere like the Caribbean - which isn't that far away really - but without the steel drum bands, fortunately. I like my beaches silent with just the sound of the wavelets crisping on the shore (unlike Irish beaches with their Force 8 gales - remind me to tell you the legend of Cliona's Wave sometime).

As some of you may know, the beaches of Sanibel are famed for their shells - the tides in the Gulf of Mexico bring in the most beautiful ones and keen shellers go out at dawn to search for the perfect specimen. There is even a recognised angle of the human body known as the Sanibel Stoop, brought about by shell hunting.

It was lovely and just what was needed. Wandered along boardwalks, cycled for coffee breaks, sat out on the verandah of our hut at the adorable little Kona Kai where the raccoons come questing for titbits at night, and thoroughly enjoyed the supremely upmarket window shopping in the discreetly camouflaged big-name outlets (Sanibel wouldn't be this charming and unspoiled without a lot of resources put into keeping it that way). Meanwhile DH took so many pictures at the Ding Darling nature reserve that his laptop rebelled and he had to make use of a back-up thingy just to hold the images.

And then, since we had to fly back via New York anyway, we broke the journey there and stayed two nights at another of my favourite hotels - the quirky old Herald Square on West 31st. This used to be the offices of Life Magazine and the corridors and rooms are decorated with prints from issues dating back a century or more. It's a real bargain by New York standards if you want somewhere to stay in the Big Apple, and it's far more fun than some of the huge anonymous plate-glass and steel monstrosities uptown.

Isn't Ravelry wonderful? Thanks to that network, I sallied down to Soho, to that delumptious cafe with the delightful name of Once Upon A Tart, and there met with -

Hila! Hila of HPNYKnits. And of course it was like we'd always known each other, because we had so many friends in common through Ravelry, and so many projects to talk about - see that lovely jacket she's wearing? And that hat? (We'd both come prepared for the icy February winds, but De Big Apple decided to have a summer day instead and threw out 60 degrees of sunshine, which made for some layer-shedding.)

Just look at what Hila brought me.

Two skeins of Sock Hop yarn (she knew I wouldn't be able to find it in NYC because it's only available on eBay) and - get this - she specially chose the American Pie colourway, to remind me of my trip. Isn't that perfect? This yarn is going to see active service very soon, in Sock Madness - I think it's well able for it.
But that wasn't all she gave me.

She gave me New York itself. In a knitted wall hanging. See the trees of Central Park, and the skyscrapers, and the blue sky above? This was one of those moments when you suddenly see the possibilities of yarn creations and get quite overwhelmed with excitement. This is going to hang on the wall right here by my desk from now on.

After lunch we went right next door to the legendary Purl where every yarn was utter luxury. I don't think anything under 50% cashmere, alpaca or silk would have a hope of even getting beyond the step.

Here's Hila having a trauma outside because, although there was a reasonable alternative, the yarn she had set her heart upon for a pleated scarf cost a minor mortgage (no, I won't tell you her decision. What do you think? Me, I virtuously left without a single luxury - only to bolt back in again five seconds later. A girl can only withstand Jade Kingdom cashmere for so long...)

Hila, the loveliest of times together. Soon again I hope.
Had also hoped to meet with Kitsa, another Ravelry friend, but our schedules didn't quite tally in the end. Never mind - we'll see each other in that amazing Japanese bookshop next time Kitsa.

Loved New York this time round, not least because I got to see some of the older areas where the narrow streets are still cobbled, and little Italian restaurants crowd cheek-by-jowl with fascinating tiny shops. And of course hours were spent in those to-die-for button/bead/trimming shops on 6th, in the Garment District. Who would have thought the world could have such unique artefacts in it? Shaded velvet ribbons. Seventy-two types of wood buttons (which wood do you prefer, madam?) And the beads - no, I can't think about those right now. Actually realised that a certain section of the Celtic Memory brain (the 'ooh that's a nice new idea' section) would have to be closed down for the duration of the trip. Too much stimulus. Isn't that a wonderful thing? Really too much stimulus. (This is a family blog, so I won't post stills from the camcorder shots of the Chippendales dancing across Time Square, elegantly clad in silver G-strings with matching bow ties. And I haven't worked out how to do that yet anyway - no good with technology.)

Yes there was yarn. Oh yes there was yarn. Now I can't fit everything into this posting so I'll just show you some loot and then leave finished projects (one good thing about long flights), yarn shops and a few other excitements for the next one.

Here's my own minor-mortgage purchase: Jade Kingdom cashmere in my adored-absolute-favourite poppy red. Good yardage - but what on earth to make with something so heavenly? A lace scarf in a divine pattern perhaps. Advice?

Some thick and sumptuous Karabella silk. Could only afford five balls so this is going to have to make the most incredible lacy top for glamorous parties, I think. Advice on this one too, please.

Blue Heron Beaded Metallic Wool, a skein each in two different colourways. Reasonably thick gauge and good yardage so should be able to get a small crop vest out of it, striping the yarns.

Just one ball of the new Noro sock yarn, to try. Angeluna, I'll heed your advice on this. I think I'll skein it up and wash it, see what thickness it really is, before trying anything. Actually it would make a wonderful scarf of shawl in those amazing Noro colours, never mind the socks. Noro needs to be shown off in full view. But then again, think of Noro kneesocks...

The joy of actually being in the US meant that yarns could be posted to my hotel! Took full advantage of that, which meant that on arrival, instead of falling exhausted into bed, Celtic Memory was eagerly tearing open the packages containing -

This - Knit Picks Andean Silk (alpaca/silk/merino blend) in two shades. I got enough of the darker one for a sweater with two balls of the lighter shade to add little trims if wanted.

- and this. Laines Du Nord Royal Cashmere. Again enough for a sweater and I know exactly the one - that top-down, ultra-simple raglan that I've been coveting for ages. (JanKnits of Ravelry, I can't thank you enough for giving me the heads-up that this one was on serious sale!)

Enough, enough. I gotta go do the laundry, pick some daffodils (yes, they're out), find somewhere to store the new stash, listen with attention to every detail of the dogs' tales of what they did at boot camp, dye some new colourways for Sock Madness, and generally catch up. Will post again soon, I promise, with all the details on yarn shops visited, famous designers met, secrets acquired on this trip.

But here's a taster to keep you on your toes.

Do you know who this is?

And who we have here?
Talk to you soon.


Angeluna said...

Oooh, a trip report. Stunning Ding Darling photo! Lots of goodies. Shall I guess Berta Karapetyan and Seaport Yarns' Andrea? Or is one of them Laura Bryant of Prism??? Or am I completely off?

BTW, I've read totally conflicting reports on Noro's sock yarn. Mine will still be a little scarf, probably one of Anne Hansons new ones, Gale or Gust.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back--you have been missed. Such a relief to read that you were on the razzle, not laid low by another bug...

Anonymous said...

Know exactly what you mean about NYC over-stimulus factor. I really can only do 72 hours there and have never dared to make the "yarn circuit." You are truly brave to tempt yourself like that in the garment district.

For me, it's the shoe shops. There are too many for my poor brain to take in. Smoke comes out of my ears. My husband thinks this is very funny.

HPNY KNITS said...

lovely to "see" you again! it was a great honour and fun to meet you, and hope to see you in NYC again soon!! its one marvellous playground for creative types...

Anonymous said...

What a lovely trip you had! As for what to do with the Jade Kingdom--I made myself a pair of mitts with some in a luscious shade of raspberry. It's such a luxury--after having every inch of that yarn pass through my fingers in the knitting, they continue to keep my hands warm with the finished object. Photos on my blog at (By the way, I did fix the long ne, so they're now a matching pair!)

Anonymous said...

Oops, the URL of the Jade Cashmere mitts was cut off. It should be

I hope that works now!

pacalaga said...

Jo, what a wonderful trip! Such yummy things.

Anonymous said...

A quiet beach full of shells, sun, and soft breezes. Perfect. :-)

Following Charity's leading yesterday took me to Sullivan Street Bolero:
That sweet little piece would look smashing knit with the Karabella.

catmum said...

It sounds a lovely trip! Here's a suggestion for the Noro sock yarn: I ended up making Jaywalker socks. Actually one sock each in two colorways (I couldn't decide). I added extra ease around the heel flap and gusset area, since this pattern is notorious in that area. I'm going to do Annetrelac for the second set...yes,they will be barely sibling socks, but I love the yarn colors too much anyway. And yes, it does soften after washing. But I don't think I'd want a scarf or shawl in it? There are photos on my blog, or on ravelry: catmum

Cindy/Snid said...

I am out of touch! Distracted! Clueless! I had NO idea there was Noro sock yarn!!! Geez.

Anonymous said...

What a great trip! I will say I missed your blog while you were away.

And so much yarn...ah, I miss yarn shopping. Haven't been in so long. I'm apparently not counting the sock yarn I bought in France yesterday...but yours is so much more fun. Thank you!

Barbara-Kay said...

Yes, we missed you! And to think you were right here on the Gulf Coast all along!

Thanks for the report, installment one. Please do tell all.

Anonymous said...

Glad you're back safe and sound, Jo. Well, 'sound' is a tad much since it looks like you went just a bit mad in the yarn shops, eh? Ha-ha. I would have, too so...

Good for you!

Peg-woolinmysoup said...

That is top quality stash enhancing, Jo. I wondered if you were ill, but glad to hear you were sunning the body and recharging the soul. Love the photos, but haven't a clue who the gals could be!

LaurieM said...

You don't do anything by halves, do you? That's a heck of a stash enhancement.

I love, love, love! the knitted New York. It's an awesome piece of art. I'm so impressed.

Anonymous said...

Please do tell the tale of Cliona's Wave! I love reading your tale-tellings, be they real-life or legend.

It looks like you came back form the states with some excellent yarns -- whatever will you knit first?!

Rosie said...

What a wonderful break you've had. I'd love to see mroe pics from the nature reserve.

Noro knee socks would be amazing and DO, please, tell us about Cliona's wave.

Anonymous said...

My last visit to Sanibel was twenty years ago and I am so happy to hear that it is still the wonderful and beautiful place it was then.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a lovely trip!
One ball of sock yarn can make the most lovely little mitts. That way you get to wear them and see them at the same time! I designed a pattern for some simple bit-of-lace ones that are great in striping yarn. Are you interested?

Ruth said...

Next time you come to NYC, let me know, and I'll come into the city and meet you too.

Sanibel. sigh.

Sarah said...

Wow - sounds like the best trip ever - your photos are fab

cindyl said...

okay. You've rested. Now can we have the legend of Cliona's wave, PLEASE?