Monday, August 31, 2009

TOP Trimmings

One other store that want to discuss before I head over to the Brooklyn knitting stores (actually, there are going to be three more), is TOP Trimmings (228 West 39th Street, New York, NY 10018, 212 302-2999

The store is a gold mine for knitting accessories. I found bins and bins of fantastic things:

practical things, like bra inserts (great for tank tops and sexy dresses)


pretty little buttons,

and more buttons,

little beads,

big beads,

delicate flowers,

big flowers,

and the leather flowers Valeria used at Knitting 321 ( see the 321 post).

I found leather strips,

boas (I just threw those in for fun),

feathers (which are sewn together at the bottom creating a row),

and lots more...

I love to integrate feathers into collars on coats (they can work on sweaters, too). Feathers instantly dress up a piece, especially when they contrast in color with the knitting. I integrate feather collars into my pieces by knitting a very wide and flat rectangle in stockinnette stitch. I knit for about 2 inches, then purl one uneven row, then continue to knit stockinette stitch again for another 2 inches. The purled row creates an easy place to fold the collar. I fold the collar around the feathers and sew the folded ends of the rectangle together. This kind of collar looks very beautiful when it is attached to a coat. The feathers stand up and shine in the light. You can also add snap buttons to the collar, so that it is detachable (in case you want your coat to have a casual look as well).

TOP Trimmings is very easy to navigate, and the items they sell are quite beautiful and of very good quality. Thus, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Anna!

This week is running away from me! Anna celebrated her 5th Birthday on Monday (and Tuesday), and now it's back to school and uniforms, and pencils, backpacks, paper, tissues, wipes, hand sanitizer...

I will be back next week, when things have calmed down.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Archer Global Zipper & Trim

We are back in New York. Goodbye cousins, we miss you!

I am still severely jetlagged. Andor and Anna are getting up at 6 a.m. every morning, and we are all a bit disoriented--but happy to be home. I was very proud of my kids for sitting still the entire time in the plane. We did not get the bulkhead, but the man in front of us didn't even know he had kids behind him, that's how quiet they were! :-)

Since I have my computer back, I now have access to the photos I took before I left for Germany.

I visited one of the coolest stores I have seen so far: Archer Global Zipper and Trim, on 39th street (244 West 39th Street, between 7th and 8th ave, New York, NY, 10018, 2nd floor, 212 354 6111, I took the elevator up to the second floor and stepped into a large warehouse-looking space with lots and lots of shelves, all filled with--you guessed it--zippers!

Rory, the owner, was talking on the phone with a friend when I walked in. He is one of those great loud-mouthed New Yorkers who say exactly what they think. After he was done we talked about, well... zippers. I loved being in a place that sells only one thing, but in so many variations. I had no idea there was such a variety. Rory told me he has coil zippers, brass zippers, molded vislan, nylon, jaquard zippers, and invisible zippers (and that's not even all of them). You can order in bulk from him, but you can also buy one zipper. He will create whatever you are looking for. His shelves are full of boxes that anyone can rummage through. Rory says it's easier that way. He'd rather walk after people and clean up than have to walk along with every customer. You can spend hours browsing, looking at colors, textures, weight...

When I knit, I use zippers for jackets and coats, but sometimes also just for decoration. Besides having zippers made out of all kinds of materials, Rory also carries various decorative metal pieces for closing the zippers.

The most important thing when choosing a zipper for a knitted piece of clothing is to take a fine, flexible one, especially if you end up wearing it on your skin. Harder, sturdier zippers can pull the garment, or make it hang strangely (because they are heavy). I mostly recommend zippers for heavier yarn. In lighter yarn, a zipper can make the knitting seem stiff. The easiest zipper to integrate is probably the "invisible zipper", a very fine zipper that dissappears inside fabric and is nearly undetectable from the outside. With some coats, especially a floor length knitted coat, zippers can have a stabilizing effect. They will keep the wool in shape. In that case I would recomend a sturdier kind.

It was really nice to be in a store that has very outspoken staff. Everyone was joking and teasing each other. I could not stop laughing. The staff is very experienced and will help you with anything you need (unless they are working on large orders--then they might ask you to come back on a different day). In a separate part of the store, Rory also sells belt buckles, steamers, sewing utensils and many other things. To find out all of the items, you really have to go to the store--it's pretty eclectic.

Rory told me he started on Lower Broadway, working for one of those old garment stores that I wrote about a few weeks ago (see P&S Fabrics). He used to work thirteen hour days when he first started out, in a company that produced sportswear. "They worked me to the bone," he said, "but it was great training. I learned everything I know in that store." After the garment center moved away from Broadway, Rory continued to work in the industry. His last job was in a zipper store that no longer exists. When it closed, he started his own business on 39th street.

Thanks again to Greg from Stitch and Bitch Cafe. This was another one of his recommendations. :-)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Berlin, Week 3

...Once again, we have done many things...

We stayed in an old, restored castle at the East Sea with 3 adults and 6 kids (ages 9, 6, 5, 4, 2, and 3 weeks). It was a wondrous chaos of adjusting to another new environment (not so easy for Anna), beach days (very fun for everyone), and fantastic seafood ("lecker"!). After 3 days I wondered by what factor conflicts multiply when 3 adults try to take care of 6 children under 10 in 2 confined spaces (cars). I have not found an answer to this question. Andor regressed to biting, which he'd completely stopped. There were a number of heated "yes!" "no!" exchanges between the cousins, and two major meltdowns (different kids).

But we also flew kites.

We had a birthday party with candles, cake and gifts for our cousin Adele.

As the good knitting aunt that I am, I gave yarn and knitting needles. I found a very nice merino yarn at the knitting shop in Berlin (see below). I picked merino because it is very durable, doesn't pill but it has some elasticity and is less rough on the skin than regular wool. When I started to knit (however many years ago), my mother got me acrylic for my first project. I did not like the texture--nor the feel of it in my hands. I didn't get excited about knitting until I found a yarn that I loved and a pattern for a sweater I really wanted to wear. I try to remember that whenever I get something for a beginner: don't get "the cheap, practical thing", get the exciting thing!
I taught Adele to knit in the car (she was very good at it).

After 3 nights and 4 days, we came back to Berlin as 3 very exhausted adults with the first traces of severe grumpiness... In other words: a true family vacation ;-)

Before we left I visited a wonderful yarn shop named Loops. It is located on a tree lined street named Woertherstrasse, which looks like this:

I entered the street on my sister's bicycle (Andor in the kid's seat because he creates too much chaos to be left at home alone with his cousins).
Loops carries a number of different yarns. The most well known to me were Colinette, and the recently added Malabrigo. The owner was not there when I visited the store, and I had Andor with me, so my conversation time was limited. I am going to send her an e-mail to find out more details about her yarns and I will add them later. What I was looking for was yarn from a company called: Seehawer & Siebert

I love this yarn because it is very thick, but also very light. A thin thread of wool is twisted around a very softly spun thread of the same wool. It keeps the yarn light, the wool durable and the texture very interesting. Unfortunately, the company is discontinuing the yarn. The only color they are still carrying is light brown. When the owner of Loops called me on the phone with the bad news I nearly cried. I wanted bright orange...

But there is no time for sorrow (too much to do). Now that we are back in Berlin, we have to start packing and resting up for our 13 hour trip back... This time I'll try to travel in bulkhead so Andor doesn't kick the man in front of him again for eight hours straight ;-)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Berlin, Week 2

I am still hoping to get some time to write about--or visit--some Berlin knitting stores.  

So far we have:

petted some deer and ridden motorcycles (for kids)...

...gone horseback riding on a pony farm...

...ridden bicycles in the park and enjoyed trampoline jumping with our cousin Eddi (the one who is flying)...

The closest I have come to yarn, is looking at Llamas and Alpacas at the petting zoo :-)
The only knitting related activity I have had time for is writing down the pattern for my leaf shawl/vest/sweater while driving in the car (my sister is at the wheel).
Compared to New York, I am both shocked and relieved how inexpensively we can amuse ourselves here (deer petting is free, 5 minutes of motorcycle riding is 50 cents!).  And while Andor has exhibited some truly wild 2-year-old behavior (like throwing things off of a 4th floor balcony or pulling the cat's tail more times than I'd like to count), all in all we couldn't wish for a better summer :-)