Stitch & Bitch Café (147 W 35th Street, New York, NY 10001, Suite 807, (212) 268-4321 http://www.sewfastseweasy.com/) is located on the 8th floor of a fashion district building. I had a hard time finding it at first, because I was looking for an actual café on street level. I stood in the building staring incredulously at my piece of paper until a very friendly woman exited the elevator and used her blackberry to help me research where I needed to go. It turns out that Stitch & Bitch Café does not mean coffee and cake, but a virtual café, which is how the store started.
Greg, a partner at Sew Fast Sew Easy, which runs Stitch & Bitch Café, explained to me that the Café at the end of the name was a leftover from the time when the store was in a different location and everyone hung out and worked on either sewing or knitting projects. It was also the name of an online guest book. There was a conflict with knitting author Debbie Stroller over the use of the name, which has since been resolved. At some point, the company moved into its new office, massively increased its sewing space, and—over time—reduced its knitting and crochet space to one long shelf in the entrance room.
Although it is a small corner of yarn, the quality is very good (Punta Del Este wool, Aspen wool, Classic Elite cotton/bamboo, and Twinkle Handknits virgin wool). The selection shrinks in the summer and grows in the fall, so I saw it in the “small season”. (They also sell knitting, crocheting, and sewing needles, sewing machines, string, felt, and many other useful things for both sewing and knitting.)
Although it is not primarily a yarns store, Stitch and Bitch Cafe has a lot to offer its knitting customers. Greg showed me the sewing machines, gushing about the classes, and the principle that any $500 designer skirt can cost $50 if you make it yourself. The store has slightly altered some patterns of well known designers to make them accessible to regular sewers. This principle is very helpful for knitters as well. When I design, I often go through fashion magazines and imagine how some of the dresses would look knitted. I frequently look through my closet and measure clothes I have that I love in order to replicate them with yarn.
Sew Fast Sew Easy has published three books: All You Need To Know When You Start To Sew, Sew On, and Rip It. Rip It explains how to take existing pieces of clothing and turn them into new ones that are more trendy. There is a beautiful wrap around dress in the book Sew On which can easily be used as a pattern for knitters. Instead of cutting the fabric to the right proportions, you just have to do a little math to knit the fabric in its final shape. I love the possibilities. Greg's enthusiasm was contagious. We talked excitedly about zipper shops and accessory stores in the area. He told me that one of his students made it all the way to the fashion show of Project Runway…
I walked out, wondering if I had enough time to squeeze a sewing class into my hectic schedule. Unfortunately, the answer at this time is NO. My knitting time is the only luxury I can afford right now. My main projects are 2 and 4 years old. Anna is moving up to kindergarten in two days. I can’t believe she has already completed her first year in a regular school! My goal this week is not to cry when she walks down the aisle… :-)