Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Knitting Virgin

I am a knitting virgin. I have had dirty thoughts about the craft for years and years but never followed them through, not even when I got my needles wet in the puddles of a local knitting group, almost two years ago. However, especially before my latest trips to America, I geared myself up for taking on the needle challenge. Now that I have returned, I am faced with a virgin stash that I am not quite sure how to rapture, tearing the skeins apart to put them back together before my not-so-expert manipulation can bring something new to the world. Nearly all of the above I acquired here, in the worldwideweb-famous Purl. everybody who knits and/or crochets and surfs the net knows of Purl.

Everyone loves Purl, its look and feel, the people who staff it and the ones who patronise it. I can safely assert that, were it not for the lovely lady with long, long hair I would have returned home empty-handed as there is little more intimidating to the knitting virgin than rows and rows and rows of tidy skeins one cannot quite figure out what to do with. I visited twice on separate days and still managed to walk by on a few more occasions, as wonton eyes peered through the glass, wondering what it would be like to live just around the corner, passing the shop daily and meeting up with people who so clearly make Purl one of their regular pit-stops. Yet Purl is not the only yarn shop worth visiting if you're heading for New York because, shock, horror, there is actually a much bigger one that offers many times over the selection that Purl can squeeze on its cooky display. Annie and Co is up Madison Avenue, with needlepoint upstairs and yarns downstairs.

The shop is much different from Purl, differences which can be quite simply summarised with Upper East Side vs Soho. That is all there is to know and it is no mean difference if one eavesdrops on the conversations as they take place over needles and yarns. As I was squeezing skeins of alpacas with a watering mouth, the mention of cookies just behind me released me from my wool-induced trance. 'Oh no thank you', one of the knitting ladies said to the other, 'I have not had a cookie since... uh... Christmas! Oh no wait... I had one. Yes, I had one cookie since Christmas'. Ok this was February and, really, there isn't that much time in the grand scheme of things between December and February and Lent hit us mega-early this year but still... not one cookie since Christmas? Annie and Co is an adorable, very well-stocked yarn shop, with staff that is amiable and knowledgeable, but you will find that its knitting mornings are only really likely to appeal to you if you are the kind of woman that can say NO to cookies for months on end.

Purl is at 137 Sullivan Street.
Annie and Co is at 1325 Madison Avenue at 93rd.
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