More Yarn Will Do The Trick

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

New York, New York - Part 2

I'd made an assignation with a friend from the UK, just by chance we were in New York at the same time. MOMA was the venue and Felix and I set out that morning with a few jobs to do before meeting Jenny.  One of them was getting his iPad screen fixed as it was completely smashed in one corner. I wish I'd taken a pic now as it didn't take a huge leap of the imagination to see it hanging in a gallery, new genre - iPad grunge.
We'd heard that for only a little more than getting the screen mended, Apple would replace it like-for-like and as electronics are always cheaper in the US, it seemed like a great idea.  So we set off in search of The Cube, the iconic Apple store at the top of Fifth Avenue.
The Cube
Though I don't like to admit it, I'm a bit of a geek on the quiet and I couldn't resist getting a cool new cover for my own iPad and only just resisted buying the ever-so-reasonable-compared- to-UK-prices Time Machine, only as I didn't fancy carrying it home.
Grand Central Station
A quick detour en route found us at Grand Central Station, We just had to see the fabulous concourse of arguably the most famous station in the world (although York, old York that is, has a pretty fabulous station too). Grand Central lived up to it's reputation, everything seems dwarfed by its grand and gorgeous presence, making passengers look like LS Lowry's matchstick people.
York Station
It was touch and go, but eventually I was able to extract both of us from electronic heaven, with Felix happily bearing his brand new iPad. We just had time before meeting Jenny for a brisk stroll through Central Park, then dived into Barneys for a quick spot of lunch. Another thrill.  Obviously Felix and I are ingenues when it comes to technology as to say we were thrilled by our touch screen menus would not be overstating our delight.
Lunch at Barneys 
The touch screen menus
We met Jenny in the foyer at MOMA, then made straight for the sixth floor, aiming to make our way back down through the galleries from the top. Best laid plans... in the event we didn't get past the fifth floor, I think Felix's comment sums it up Everywhere you look, there's a masterpiece!  SO much to look at, MOMA has almost every popular piece of art you can think of - Matisse, Picasso, Klimt, Van Goch, Klee, Miro, Kandinski, Monet, Manet, the list is endless.  Some favourites...
Glittering Klimt
Matisse's dancers, I love the whole series of paintings

Add caption
Van Goch
Starry night
After three hours we were just in time before closing to get a mug of Moroccan mint tea in the cafe before heading off to eat in Vynl, a quirky eatery on 9th Avenue at 51st. The most interesting part about this experience for me was the loos.  Four different unisex loos, each named after different music icons like Dolly (Parton) and Elvis, with their music playing inside and one wall covered in a glittering glass mosaic portrait.  Have to say I didn't go in the other two but was told they were equally splendid.
On our way home we noticed someone had put out a flag for Felix :)
Tonight would be our last night in our B&B on West 23rd before our move to the Marriott Marquis on Times Square, venue of VK Live. So up bright and breezy next day for a hearty breakfast, before packing our bags. The Marriott and the Inn on the 23rd could not be more different, chalk and cheese in fact.  Where our eccentric B&B was cosy and cluttered, our new space was like a spaceship (as my editor pointed out over lunch next day). Sleek and chic rooms with views to die for over Times Square and Manhattan, with a central well filled with glass sci-fi lifts to whizz you to one of the 45 floors (could be more, I didn't count). Difficult to choose which I prefer, it's horses for courses and the Marriott was a fabulous venue for VK Live.
Marriott lift pod
Room with a view
Our time to free-range in New York flashed past, we certainly packed it in.  A few more snaps ...
One for the grandchildren - life-sized Minnie
Felix was keen to go skating at the Rockefeller Centre...  next time maybe?
More matchstick peeps on the ice
Stopped off in the Lego shop while we were at the Rockefeller Centre - amazing constructions to inspire little ones...
Lego version of the Rockefeller skaters

On our final day whizzing round the shops, we got this fab view of Union Square. Anyone tell me where you can get Osh Kosh dungarees for baby boys these days? Seems like there's lots of frilly pinnys for girls, but the standard dungarees seem to have been fazed out.
Union Square
Browsing in Anthropologie,  I came across these fantastic hand-painted metal letters. Heavy, so I put them back, but could kick myself now for not bringing them home.
No reservations though when I set eyes on a shawl-collared Missoni patterned jacket which was in the sale reduced from $198 - $67 - you can always find space for a sweater! Arlo is finding the bag it came in great for the odd nap...
...and I loved Anthropologie's wall of books
Book art
Back in the UK, the NY scarf is coming along nicely as I got lots of knitting time in on two five hour train journeys last weekend.
Hope you've enjoyed my bus-stop tour. What are your fave places in New York?

Monday, 28 January 2013

New York, New York! Part 1

Felix was my travelling companion in the Big Apple and we got on fine, both being the rather annoying sort of people who wait till the very last minute before boarding the plane. We are perfectly happy to bring up the rear, no queuing, no stress. We set off a few days early so there'd be plenty of time to do the tourist stuff and have a chance to have a leisurely mooch around the city - turned out to be a good plan as Felix had never been before and it's at least ten years since I last visited.

We arrived at our Chelsea B&B in a yellow cab from Central Station after getting the bus from JFK and immediately felt at home as there was a spinning wheel on the wall! Slightly weird we thought, but welcoming! There were also a lot of quirky objets d'art. A wooden garden rake and carpet beater also adorned the bare brick walls, one of the easy chairs sported a colourful crocheted blanket of granny squares, the bathroom was hand-stencilled and the task lighting over the sink could have come out of a fairy grotto.
The shampoo, soap, conditioners and body lotion were tidily stowed away in a small raffia basket adorned with flowers on top of the loo cistern.
When we entered the room I was a little taken aback by there being only one Queen-sized bed. I quickly mentioned to our host that we had asked for twin beds and he said reassuringly that he would get someone to pull down the Murphy bed. This was duly done and the bed was lowered out of a cupboard between the bathroom and the wall, et voilĂ ... later Felix reported that it felt like sleeping in a caravan and it did look a teeny bit makeshift. At this point we realised that this was definitely not your standard boring B&B.

Not what you'd expect in the city of cool, but none the less interesting. The decor kept us in stitches while we unpacked and settled in - in fact at times we were practically rolling on the floor!  If anyone can tell us what a vintage Sleep Sound machine is I'd be very grateful. It's shaped like a sort of upturned cupcake but neither of us had any idea what it was for, presumably though it produces sounds to get insomniac guests to sleep? Please don't misinterpret my account as a series of complaints, nothing could be further from the truth. We grew to love it. Our hosts were very friendly, welcoming and helpful and by the time we left we felt the decor was a bonus. 

On our first day we were hellbent on staying up with definitely no sleep before bedtime which of course was five hours later for us.  So, having researched places to eat and listen to live music on a great little phone app called Time Out NewYork, we set off for a Greek meal in the East Village. Pylos was everything it claimed to be, authentic and scrummy food, just what we needed after the flight, where we'd ordered veggie food and were then told on board the cabin crew hadn't been notified... arrrrrghhhh, American Airlines please try harder next time. Thinking about it, it was like ordering food before you go to a restaurant, paying for it in advance, then being told when you get there that they don't serve veggie food.  Same thing on the way back too.

After Pylos, we crossed the road  to the Sidewalk CafĂ© where there was live music all evening, sort of acoustic open mike with each act doing about three songs. This was completely chokka and as we had to stand we decided we couldn't hack it for longer than twenty minutes before retiring to the bar outside, but what we did hear was excellent. Sleep was sweet when it eventually came, we both went out like a light.
Up early next morning to find the coup de grace when we opened the blinds  -  a life-size owl on the ledge outside the window. We had missed breakfast so we quickly got ourselves together and set off to get the boat down at Battery Park bound for the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Governors Island. Freezing cold on the water, but we were well wrapped up in our woollies and braved the weather to be on deck getting the photos.
A kind fellow passenger was responsible for the 
Statue of Liberty emerging out of Felix's head!!
Under Brooklyn Bridge
On afterwards for lunch at the Winter Garden, a fabulous space overlooking the water, restored now after much of it was destroyed by the  9/11 attack on the Twin Towers.
In front of the Winter Garden
Lighting installation
People enjoying lunch inside the Winter Garden
Warmed and restored we decided to visit the 9/11 Memorial. Suffice it say that nothing can prepare you for the strength of feeling that hits you when you come face to face with the gaping holes of the two memorials, each engraved with the names of all the people who died there. Just too tragic for words.

Wandering back through the busy streets we came across several utility vehicles which just seemed to be begging to be photographed.
Friendly school bus driver
Eddie's Pizza Truck
Souvlaki truck
Also looked up and saw this poster...  Just in case you can't see the writing it says I'd rather go naked than wear fur
My sentiments entirely!
And finally, had to get the pic when I saw this restaurant. Gigi is what my grandchildren call  me  and I'm glad to see the Gigi brand has now crossed the pond!

Would you believe this is only our first couple of days in NY?  More anon when I've sorted through a few more photos...

Thursday, 24 January 2013

VK live!♥♥♥

Now I've had a couple of days to get my breath, I can't wait to tell you about Vogue Knitting Live in the Big Apple. It's many years since I last visited New York, so to say I was very excited would be the understatement of the year. Staged in the heart of Manhattan in Times Square, the event lived up to its promise of being both exhilarating and inspiring, just like its location. 
Times Square
Felix and I had a beautiful room on the sixteenth floor of the venue, the Marriott Marquis, overlooking the New York skyline to the south. After we'd settled in, there was plenty of time to chill before the teachers' induction in the evening. Felix came to the party afterwards  and enjoyed his own induction into the knit glitterati. For me it was great to see some familiar faces and catch up with them over a glass of wine.
Room with a view!
But the fun started for real the next morning with my first class - In the Swirl or Medallion Knitting. Thankfully the numbers were not overwhelming and I had a relaxed group of experienced knitters, all quick on the uptake and keen to learn.  My friend, Janice, was in the class and she took a few snaps of my samples.
Swirl knitting
I had the afternoon off, so there was just time to head off with Felix to the Cube - the iconic Apple store at the top of 5th Avenue. Here he got his I-pad with a cracked screen replaced by a brand new one - and for only a little more than replacing the screen, so he was more than happy. Time zipped by and in no time we were back for my next class - twenty-five knitters for Short Row Chic. As the class was at capacity, Jan had kindly agreed to help me out and we all had a rocking time getting to grips with Japanese short rows.
Short row samples
I was teaching in all sessions over the following two days so sadly not a lot of time to visit the market, but there were so many talented designers showing their wares, and exciting things to look at that I ran round in my lunch hour snapping fave pieces to show you.

VK Spring issue...
Pieces from VK Spring collection

Great work from Rhonda Fargnoli's students...

Wacky hats from this talented lady...

All life? is here - edgy, macabre knits...
This knitter designed and knitted his sweater.
He also told me what the Finnish writing means,
but sad to say I've forgotten - any suggestions?
Interesting fibre and construction

And finally the knit feast from Mary McGurn's Colorful Stitches...

On Sunday lunchtime, whilst doing a Sweet Shawlettes booksigning in the Knitty City booth, I noticed Madeline Tosh's gorgeous hand-dyed yarns hanging behind me.  I've drooled over this yarn for years on our tours, when I saw various knitters from the US using them. Not one to let the grass grow under my feet,  I quickly decided on a colourway for the beautifully luminous free pattern scarf that hung by the yarn and went off to my next class looking forward to collecting my swag later.  I couldn't wait to start the scarf - an ingenious design, which I'm knitting in my own colours (a lot of fun choosing how to mix and match these) and a little narrower than the original.
Madeline Tosh hand-dyed merino
Often it was hard to walk around the hotel and get to where I was going, as every time I set out I'd meet people I hadn't seen for ages and we'd start to chew the fat. I'm not complaining though, it was fabulous just to touch base with so many lovely peeps. Some were virtual friends I'd never actually met in the flesh -  and there's nothing like being able to give someone a real big hug.

So, I had an amazing time at VK Live, which was well organised and to my eyes seemed to run like clockwork. Back home now knitting with my beautiful VK Live yarn, I'm determined it won't be another ten years before my next visit!