I flew back to Indiana last night, and boy, are my arms tired!

I had a busy weekend–had a Chinese foot massage, got kicked out of a psychic parlor because my “energy” was spoiling my friend’s reading, went thrift shopping, snuck my friend’s 18-year-old brother into a lesbian bar in DUMBO, visited MOMA and saw the Seurat exhibit, helped cat-sit a ridiculously flat-faced Persian cat named Sasha, had delicious brunch with some friends at an Israeli restaurant named Miriam in Cobble Hill, caught the first snowfall of the year in New York (so insanely cold! I need a new coat) so the only other yarn shopping I managed to sneak in was at Purl, right before meeting my cousin for shopping and hot cider.

I love love love Purl Soho’s online store and the Purl Bee, so it came as a bit of a surprise when I was thoroughly underwhelmed with the actual, in-person shopping experience. The stores were cute, nay, beautiful, but in the way that makes them nice to photograph for a Martha Stewart Living photo spread rather than nice to shop in as an experienced knitter. The spaces were incredibly tiny and cramped (I almost stepped on a tiny Chihuahua someone had brought in with her) and the yarns were shoved into the shelves so that you could only see the very end of the skein.

Admittedly, this makes the store very beautiful, but it’s also really annoying. If you see a skein you like, you have to pull it out to look at the label and price, and then shove it back in, and I felt like I was mangling the yarn every time I did that. I would also sometimes want to know if I was looking at the same yarn or a different one and would have to continually pull out and push back new skeins, because it wasn’t always obvious which ones were the same or where the boundaries between yarns fell.

The selection was gorgeous–so many colors of the Fibre Company Terra!–but pretty limited, with the pricing set the way you’d expect it to be for a bijou boutique in Soho (Kelp Knits called this “the Purl tax”) and between all these factors, I ended up feeling like I’d rather just go shopping online, especially considering Purl’s 40% off yarns are only available on their website.

It was nice to see the gorgeous shop projects in person. I’ve made the Child’s Rainbow Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts about 5 times, and I wanted to make it yet again after seeing their version in Alchemy Migration.

Because I’m not a particularly experienced or knowledgeable seamstress, on the other hand, I decided to buy some fabric at Purl Patchwork for aprons and bags.

1/2 yard of Kokka Trefle, a heavyish cotton-linen blend printed with chickens:

1 yard of Anna Griffin Blythe printed with a botanical pattern:

and some Amy Butler fat quarters in acid yellow and teal.

In case my own sewing doesn’t work out so well, I also invested in an absolutely adorable patchwork tote bag made by Along the Grain, being sold at a temporary holiday crafts store called La Superette, set up for this year in a storefront near Times Square. It has a zippered pocket inside, and little round appliques all over the front like bubbles. Floating in some of the bubbles are chickens and bunnies. How could I resist, especially when it’s such a cheerful color? (Mine looks exactly like the one I linked on Etsy)

So back to yarn shopping: School Products was wonderful. Thanks to everyone who recommended it! It was kind of the opposite shopping experience from Purl: hidden on an upper floor of a dark and decrepit-looking office building, it was totally empty when I went in, and had huge spaces with clearly labeled yarn spread out on tables and loosely stacked in bins and baskets.

There was So. Much. Cashmere. Brushed and smooth, chunky and laceweight, tweedy and handpainted, and so many droolworthy blends on top of the “plain” cashmere. It was kind of hard to shop for yarn here for a different reason, though: not all of the “special” skeins are labeled with yarn weight, yardage, skein weight, or recommended needle size, and many of them are sold by the ounce. In combination, all this makes it hard to compare prices in your head to see if you’re getting a good deal or not. You have to take any skein you’re interested in to the register to have it weighed and priced out for you.

I bought two skeins of Karabella Camissimo because they have a screaming deal on this yarn right now–normally $16-17, it’s selling for $6. It doesn’t look like it will be especially fun to knit, and it doesn’t look especially expensive–a chunky boucle, it has the look of something hairy and terrible from Michael’s. However, it is 50% merino and 32% baby camel and accordingly wonderfully soft and luxurious. (The rest is polyamide.)

The color I got was rather camelly, the brown/cream color labeled 18109 in the picture below:

I think I’m going to make a super-simple mistake-rib scarf with this. The yarn is so fuzzy, there’s no point in doing anything too special with the stitch pattern.

I also got two skeins of a chunky pale gray cashmere/merino two-ply and a skein of a redwood-colored, multi-stranded yak/merino worsted weight blend that, from the look of their shop sample, blooms into a fluffy, absolutely gorgeous fabric. I think the colors I got were 18 and 4, respectively.

I have one thing to say about MOMA. It was great to visit, but be advised that you cannot check in a suitcase at the bag check. The first time I tried to go, on my way from checking out from my hotel to my friend’s apartment, I was thwarted by the bag check people and had to content myself with buying some 3D sketchpads and lusting after the Reveal watch in the museum store–fun, but not quite the same experience as getting to see great art.

One of the sketchpads was a gift for the friend I stayed with–I also ended up showing him the Boku Hyphening wristwarmers and promising them at some future date. So I’ll have to add some wristwarmer thumbs to my knitting queue, and meanwhile my essential Christmas knitting has not progressed at all in the last week. A little less than three weeks left to go now…

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