Monday, July 27, 2009

In Germany

The kids and I got safely to Germany--or rather safely AFTER Andor jumped on the conveyor belt and nearly fell into the black abyss with all the bags that were going to the airplanes. Thanks to a very quick babysitter (who helped bring us to the airport) he is still happily alive... Whew!

I uploaded pictures for 3 store posts before I left, but I forgot to mail myself the titles of the pictures (silly me). Of course I don't remember them now, so I have to wait til my husband has time to send them to me.

Running after the kids all day, and three simultaneous jetlags, is leaving me very tired, so I don't know how frequently I'll be able to post while we are here. Today we were in a great sand-paved park and Anna came "home" knowing how to ride a bicycle without help or training wheels! Hurray.

Very proud mama signing off...


Monday, July 20, 2009

Leather Impact

This week I went to Leather Impact (256 W 38th St, New York, NY 10018, Cross Streets: Between 8th Ave and 7th Ave, (212) 302-2332 ), a very high-end leather store right in the middle of the fashion district. Why leather? Because Leather Impact has the most beautiful leather bands...

I use leather bands to tie knitted coats together, like this one:

I made this coat a few years ago, and my search for the perfect leather band brought me to this store. In order to close the coat, the leather had to be tied every time it was worn, so I was very particular about quality. Leather impact has an entire wall of spools filled with the most gorgeous colored leather straps imaginable. The quality is great, and the leather lasts for years without wearing out.

Aside from hides of various kinds and straps of all lengths, Leather Impact used to sell collars. I bought a vintage Eskimo jacket a few years back--our pugs (which have since happily moved upstate to a large garden) chewed the beautiful, luscious collar off after I left my coat unattended for a day. My husband was shocked. "That brand new coat, what are you going to do with it now?" It did look pathetic. "No problem," I said. I jumped in the train and rode up to Leather Impact, where I found rows of the same kinds of collars. Triumphant, I returned in the afternoon. I brought my coat to a tailor and had him sew it in for 10 bucks. A 20 dollar investment made my coat look better than it had when I first bought it. Although I did not see any collars when I went in this time, I did find this:

My mind immediately started thinking about what kind of knitted piece might be able to carry of the gold fringe...

One thing that I feel compelled to say here, although I don't want to get into an extended argument, is that I don't believe in animal cruelty. I know leather is a complicated subject, and I know there are some terrible things being done to animals, BUT, I do eat meat, and since I support that industry, even if I try to buy only "happy meat," I feel it would be hypocritical to criticize leather. I'd much rather see the skin that is left over from cows used for clothes than thrown out to rot in a landfill.

I have recently read that a lot of wool sheep are treated abominably as well. It will not stop me from knitting, but I will try to buy wool from animals that have been treated well. I believe in supporting small farms that try to make a difference (i.e., small mills and dyers), just like I try to support fair trade coffee plantations and organic farms.

To read about cruelty to wool sheep, you can go here:

Leather Impact was founded in 1999 by a man named Francois. His mission was to find very high quality leather of many kinds. Francois died in 2002, leaving the business in the hands of his son, Dimitri, who now runs it together with his partner, Marina. The store works with about 10 tanneries, seeking out the best items in each location. Custom dyes are available upon request. Some of the leather is printed or painted. For knitters especially, the lamb skin begs to be cut into strips and used as luscious collars:

The nice thing about this store is that they sell to large companies, but also take the small folk seriously. You can by one leather band, or one yard of leather, or you can by 12 hides, or 120. The staff is very friendly and patient. Personally, the smell of leather makes me a little intoxicated, kind of like the smell of really good coffee... I left in a bit of a haze and wobbled along on my bicycle for a couple of blocks before I found my bearings.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Happy 3,000 Visitors!

3,000 visitors. How exciting!

Thank you all so much for staying with my blog, helping me out when I need it, and reading every week!

(picture by bakerella)

I really appreciate it!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Daytona Trimming

I had so much fun exploring my new playground between 35th and 39th Streets and 7th and 8th Aves. ! Greg, from Stitch and Bitch, was nice enough to give me the names of a few stores, so I looked them up. The first one I visited was Daytona Trimming (251 west 39th St. NY, NY 10018, Telephone(212)354-1716, Fax(212)391-0716 e-mail,

I had never seen so many ribbons in my life!

Yet more ribbons!

and yet even more ribbons!

What can I say, I got intoxicated (or perhaps beribboned)!

Just in case you were wondering: here's what ribbons are used for (from Wikipedia): A ribbon or riband is a thin band of flexible material, typically cloth but also plastic or sometimes metal, used primarily for binding and tying. Cloth ribbons, which most commonly include silk, are often used in connection with dress, but also applied for innumerable useful ornamental and symbolic purposes; cultures around the world use this device in their hair, around the body, or even as ornamentation on animals, buildings, and other areas. Ribbon is also sometimes used as a package sealer, on par with twine. A typewriter uses a cloth or plastic ribbon to hold the ink.

They also sell lots of buttons...

Daytona has been in business since 1946. Now that is longevity, especially in New York! It is one of the oldest and most established fashion buisnesses in the fashion district, and carries ribbons, jacquards, fringe, bead trims, sequin trims, lace cords, rhinestone trims, feather boas, sewing needles, sewing thread, knitting needles of many kinds, wool & sew on... I was so blinded by all the ribbons that I somehow completely overlooked the yarn (silly me), but there are some very nice pictures of it on the daytona website...

There is also a whole section of sewing patterns, which I always find practical for knitting as well.

When I was there, the store was very busy with lots of different kinds of people, some fashion students, some very focused pattern searchers, a few giddy kids in a "candy store"-- I felt right at home. On the way down I had thought for a second how crazy it is that I use my time away from my kids riding my bike to fashion land, but walking around and seeing all the exciting things around me (trimming stores, button stores, zipper stores...), I thought that if I were away from them at all, this is where I would want to be!

Thanks Greg, for the tip.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Vardhman Inc. (formerly known as Unique Knitcraft)

I had gone to Vardhman (269 West 39th Street, between 7th and 8th Ave, New York, NY 10018, 212-840-6950, a few weeks back, but initially decided not to write about it. I was still reviewing pure yarn stores, and I had expected to find a "unique knitting store", because I was looking for a store called "Unique Knitcraft" (the previous name of the store before it moved--it changed its name when it stopped being a retailer for knitted sweaters and became a supply store, but it is still listed that way on a few Ravelry lists).

When I walked in, I found the yarn to be a marginal part of the store, upstairs--away from the main space. I have to admit I was a little dissapointed. I dropped the review, and mentioned it in a Ravelry thread. One woman took offense. She said the store had a rather wide selection of yarns, and she thought it deserved its space.

I let that sink in. Maybe I was being a bit dismissive to ignore the store purely because it carried other things besides yarn. Knitters get their yarns in all kinds of places, and Vardhman is a place where you can get a many different kinds of yarn for very little.

When I looked for the pictures I had taken, I realized that my camera had jammed. I hadn't downloaded them, and fixing the camera would cost more than the darn thing was worth, so I went back this week (new camera in hand) and took new pictures. Being in the store for a second time made me realize how wrong I had been to discard it in the first place.

There is one wall of neon acrylics, but the store also carries alpaca and silk by various discount and non-discount brands. The obligatory Red Heart and Lion Brand are mixed in with Universal, Rosetti, Patons, Lily, Skaacel, Ironstone, and yarn from a German company called Schoeller+Stahl, which makes a very nice cotton. I found Fibra Natura baby merino, Eden Silk, Alpine, and a very nice cotton yarn with sequins, which I grabbed to take home. A couple of baskets of machine knitting spools showed that the store caters to more than hand crafters. The "needle wall" was also quite impressive. Plastic, metal, and bamboo needles of all kinds mingled together. One staff member pointed out that they carry every single color of DMC needlepoint ribbons.

Downstairs, Vardhmans carries all the "accessories" one can imagine: walls of buttons, trimmings, zippers, scissors, rulers, boas, sequined ribbons...

If all of this sounds familiar, it is. Vardhman is a smaller version of P+S Fabrics (without the fabrics). It is a treasure trove for people on a budget, as well as for people who are shopping for finishing touches for their knitted, crocheted, or sewn creations. It's right in the middle of the fashion district, so it can be integrated into a long afternoon of treasure hunting for "fashion stuff", which is what I did. I thanked the staff for letting me take pictures (again), stepped out onto the street, and went treasure hunting in the surrounding area... (more on that next week :-)