So after what felt like *months* of prep and countdown, our NYC trip is now behind us. We walked miles and miles, saw loads, visited four states, and bought WAY too much stuff.
We had absolutely CRAZY weather – some days it was almost 30 degrees (centigrade), some days it was 6. You needed summer clothes *and* winter clothes. We definitely felt some of the effects of Hurricane Michael while we were there – we narrowly escaped the storms in Washington (we were literally walking into the train station to leave just as the thunder, lightening and rain started), and had some mental strong winds when we got back to New York City.
It’s the first time we’ve visited New York since moving to London (previously we lived in more rural England, in a town called Ipswich for anyone that’s familiar with our little island), so its interesting to be able to compare the two cities. A few things we noticed:
Taxis are more affordable in New York
There are WAY more restaurants/food outlets on the streets of New York than there are in London, especially pizza places! ?
People are more friendly and willing to talk to/help strangers (perhaps that’s just the reserved British nature, though) ??♀️
British trains/subways are actually better than those in NYC. Ours are more frequent, and there’s more information available on the platform as to when you’re next train is coming, and what’s going on if it’s *not* coming. Several times we waited on the platform in NY with no idea how long we had to wait for the next train. We got a NJ Transit train to Newark Airport for our flight home, and we pulled out of the station, progressed on our journey for a few minutes, then the train stopped. Nothing from the driver at all – no announcements, nothing. Then, we begin to go backwards, back towards the station. Ermmmm, what now? ? Still no information from the driver. We arrive back at the station, and most of the passengers get off – despite still not knowing what’s going on. We waited on the train, as we hadn’t actually been told to get off (and I couldn’t be bothered to haul my suitcase off the train), then after 10 mins or so – without warning – off we go again ??♀️ We get to the airport without further incident, and still no explanation so I don’t even know what the problem was in the first place. You’d NEVER get that in London, there would be uproar ?
So what did we get up to during our two weeks away? Quite a lot. It was one of those holidays where you need another holiday to recover from the one you just had. In fact, we’re already looking at remote cottages in the Peak District for a week of dog walking and knitting/reading by the fire ??
I met NYC sewists!
So you’re probably not aware, but there’s a New York Sewcial Hour meet up that takes place on the last Tuesday of every month at a pub in the garment district. It’s the perfect opportunity for sewists from the surrounding areas to meet up and have drinks, some food and of course a good ol’ chat! We were lucky enough to meet some fabulous ladies at the Houndstooth Pub (520 8th Avenue). It was great to meet some locals and get their pro tips on where to shop, and see all of their gorgeous creations (both knitted and sewn!), and talk about life as a sewist on the other side of the pond.
This is us! (Minus the husbeast, because he took the photo)
There’s a lovely sense of real-life/face-to-face community around the sewists there, which I kind of feel is missing from the London community… maybe because London is (probably) more geographically spaced out? ??♀️ we don’t really have London meet-ups very often, which is odd given how many of us there must be in the city. Maybe that’s something that needs to be started.
I met Swatch!
A visit to New York wouldn’t be any good without a trip to Mood Fabrics, obvs, but it also wouldn’t be any good to visit Mood and not see Swatch the dog ?
I thought I was going to be out of luck, because the first time I went into Mood, the dog bowls by the door were empty and the closest I got to his little doggy face was the portrait on the wall by the lifts.
But… the second time I went in, I spied some dog biscuits in the bowl… ?
And when I turned around, THERE HE WAS.
Right there, laying starfish-style on the floor in front of me. Ohmagaaaaaaad. He’s such a cutie. I was missing my dogs while I was away, so I’ll take being able to make some fuss of someone else’s doggo as a substitute.
I think Swatch could sense that I came in peace, because he actually got up for me and let me give his ear a scratch ?
A fabric shop is awesome but a FABRIC SHOP WITH A DOGGO is hitting the jackpot ?
After a suitable amount of Swatch-fuss I continued my thorough inspection of (almost) every bolt of fabric in the building – I’m not even joking, I think we were in there about two hours the second time around. I bought A LOT. That bag at the back looks empty, but I promise you it’s not!
Rooftop of Pier 17
We saw Mike Shinoda (of Linkin Park and Fort Minor fame) at the Rooftop of Pier 17. As the name implies, this was an open air concert on the rooftop of a pier, and it was bloody freezing. BUT – the views were absolutely epic. You could see all the skyscrapers around you, and the bridges all lit up. It was amazing.
I genuinely don’t think I’ll ever see another concert venue that beats this one. ?
Brooklyn Greenway Half Marathon
We ran the Brooklyn Greenway half marathon while were there. We missed the NYC marathon by a couple of weeks (it’s the first Sunday in November), so we thought we’d run this instead. Because everyone runs while they’re on holiday, right? No? Oh.
It’s one of those things that feels like a good idea when you book your place months beforehand, but when you’re getting up at 6am the day after having gone to the aforementioned concert, and it’s cold, and you’re jet lagged, all of a sudden running thirteen miles feels like the worst idea in the world.
Coupled with the fact that I knew my time would be rubbish because of my hip injury a couple of months prior – in the lead up to the race I only ran a max of 3km/2-ish miles – I really wasn’t feeling it. But when I got to the start line, and felt the buzz of the atmosphere, I felt a little better.
I completed the race in 2 hours 26 minutes – which is a shocking thirty minutes slower than my personal best – and although my hip was ok, the knee pain (on that same side) started about mile 4 and got progressively worse towards the end, by which point it was maxing out on the ouch-factor. It’s IT band issues, probably, along with tight quads, so I’ll probably have to do some work on it that leg order to be able to keep running on it. YAY.
BUT – I made it to the end of the race (albeit limping), and saw some amazing views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty along the way.
I was muchos tempted to just swipe a medal off the table at the start line and leg it home ?
But I didn’t ?
It was almost as much fun looking at the window displays and shelves of the city’s department stores as it was fabric shopping. We might have Selfridges and Harrods here in London, but Manhattan’s got Bloomingdales, Macys, Saks, Bergdorf Goodman, and of course the whole of the luxurious Fifth Avenue with its designer stores. I got a lot of inspiration (for extravagant garments I’ll probably never make) from them, and there was a ‘noir’ themed room in Saks that I spent a LOT of time in eyeing up some really fancy – and really expensive – garments, including a dress made entirely of fine chainmail which you were advised that you couldn’t wash and had to store in an airtight box. And something made of feathers, REAL feathers.
Here’s the best of the best, for your viewing pleasure:
Just keep knitting
I took the opportunity, as I usually do, to get some knitting done on the flight (because obvs I can’t take my sewing machine). I carried a little pouch with my notions – including a small pair of embroidery scissors – in my hand luggage, and had no problems getting it through security. According to the U.K. government website, scissors are allowed in hand luggage if the blades are less than 5cm from the pivot screw holding them together – but I took an old pair that I wouldn’t be sad to lose, just in case they got funny took them off me. But I needn’t have worried. All was cool.
One thing I did forget to do was wind my yarn – I just shoved the hanks in my bag and went. The Handsome Husbeast came to the rescue and held the yarn for me so I could wind it into a ball ?
(I was knitting a hat for him though, so no winding meant no hat)
A waste of bag space
I started reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara a while back, and got about a third of the way into it before I changed jobs and suddenly found myself with a shorter commute and less reading time, and it got put down for a while. I had the bright idea that I’d take the book on holiday with me, and start again from the beginning and finish it this time, but we were so busy that I actually read ZERO PAGES. I’m now deferring ’till Christmas.
Obviously, we took blog photos in this amazing city. I worked crazy hard before we left to take some things with me to photograph, and the husbeast worked crazy hard to get everything shot before we came home. We got some really amazing photos – not just in New York but also Washington and Virginia – so keep your eyes peeled on the blog!
Ah, good ol’ Brexit. The British pound has fallen in value against the dollar since we last visited NYC five years ago – last time we got about $1.8 per £1, now it’s just under $1.3. This meant that when comparing things like-for-like with back home, there wasn’t any saving, so it’s no longer cheaper to buy the same goods in the US. But, we don’t have a Mood Fabrics in England, so the fabric prices don’t matter amirite? ?
Where have all the good people gone
After the horrific experience that we had prior to leaving the country (if you missed it, long story short is that the apartment we had booked cancelled a week before arrival, and I had a massive fight with Airbnb to get them to refund me the extra that I had to pay to secure another place at such short notice) balance was kind of restored by the fact that the place we ended up with in New York was actually really nice, and the host we had in Washington was just THE BEST. They stored our bags for us after check out so we could wander round the city on our last day, and left us some bottles of water and a little notecard when we collected our bags.
It restored my faith that there are indeed still good people in the world, after the NY host that cancelled on us was such a douchebag over the whole thing.
On the road again
We took the Amtrak train from New York down to Washington, stopping at Philadelphia on the way. We spent a fair few hours in Philly, and other than me dropping some serious dollarz in a yarn shop there (and wandering the malls taking advantage of some Columbus Day discounts) I wasn’t really sure what to make of it. We walked south to a burger place for lunch, and felt like I’d stepped back in time a little bit.
Washington was pretty good, apart from the fact that it was SUPER hot, I was seriously sweaty ALL THE DAMN TIME and I got bitten to shreds by mosquitos. Little bastards bit me all over my legs. We went to see the Capitol Building and the White House, sadly we didn’t have time to do the *many* museums they have there but we did nip into the Smithsonian for a wee and ended up spending 30 mins in there while Aaron walked around nerding out over all the planes and space exhibits. While waiting for him I stumbled across an exhibit about how they sent a monkey into space (with a real-ish monkey strapped into the model and everything), and I got so upset over it so quickly that Aaron had to drag me away from it, telling me that the monkey had landed back on Earth safely, lived to tell the tale and that he was a hero to all other monkeys… but I wasn’t to Google that for confirmation. I appreciate the cotton-wool effort, but I’m not stupid enough to believe that.
Despite it being early/mid October when we visited, the people of Virginia were in FULL HALLOWEEN MODE already ?
I took a picture of a beautiful autumn wreath on someone’s front door, then I took another, and another, because there were so many beautiful ones. In the end I had to stop because it was getting out of hand. These were definitely #DoorGoals
But they didn’t stop at wreaths. Oh no. Some people had FULL ON HALLOWEEN DISPLAYS. And they were epic.
Clothes shopping as a sewist
Last time I visited NYC was five years ago – before I had ever sewn any clothes. I came back with a lot of clothes that last time, including a winter coat. Going clothes shopping again was a different experience now that I sew – I looked at things in a different way. A wool coat, which I bought last time, would now be a no-no because I could make one. The shirts that Aaron was looking at in Bloomingdales could also be made, for a lot less. We only bought things that I couldn’t make, or didn’t want to make. I came away with some casual T-shirt’s from American Eagle which were heavily reduced in their sale, and Aaron got a couple of fine knit jumpers (if a pattern calls for less than 4mm needles, I ain’t making it. Fo sho I don’t have the time to knit on toothpicks). My main clothing purchase was a pair of embroidered jeans, which aren’t my usual jeans colour (I literally don’t own a pair of blue jeans) but they really spoke to me. It’s probably the colours. Now I *really* want to buy an embroidery machine.
We didn’t come away with much in the way of clothing this time (because the suitcases were too full of fabric and yarn) but the few items we got were of a higher quality – because now I sew I have this habit where I have to inspect the seams and finishes on every garment before I decide to buy it ?
Denim wishing tree
Bloomingdales had a ‘denim wishing tree’ in their store, so of course we had to make a wish.
I’m not gonna tell you what I wished for though, because then it won’t come true! ??
Along with Swatch, we met this little cutie called Gertie in a yarn shop in Philadelphia:
And I just had to snap a pic as we walked behind this little girl – the award for the best hand knitted (probably) dog coat on the streets of NYC goes to her!
We also spent a good five minutes on our last day peering through the windows of a Doggy Day Care at all the fur kids being sociable – or not as was the case with some – with their dog friends… I literally could have stayed there forever ?
Walking the garment district
7th Avenue is Fashion Avenue. A stroll down here will take you to various fashion-related things:
The famous ‘button’ (which is getting a makeover next year)
Some random sewing machines on tables:
An even bigger sewing machine (though still not as big as that massive button):
The Fashion Walk of Fame: ‘The Fashion Walk of Fame celebrates excellence in American design by honoring designers who have had a significant and lasting impact on the way the world dresses with plaques embedded into the sidewalk of Fashion Avenue’
And of course most of the fabric shops, trimmings shops and haberdasheries are
(Not) leaving on a jet plane
Although a good time was had while we were there, the trip reminded me why I hate air travel. The whole thing is exhausting – getting to and from the airport with heavy cases (even heavier due to the masses of fabric I brought home ?), checking in, getting through security, flight delays, awful food, swollen legs.
U.K. holidays (or at least short-haul flights) are starting to look REALLY appealing.
The flight going wasn’t too bad – I got to do some knitting while watching Mary Poppins ?? I haven’t seen that film in YEARS and it’s still one of my favourites. That, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks too. Those two are proper classics, they don’t make ’em like that anymore. The flight home was awful though, the seats were much more cramped and I have no idea why we thought it would be a good idea to get the red-eye flight. It was only 6 hours but it was the longest six hours of my life. I was too tired to do any knitting, and too uncomfortable to sleep. The person that landed was a very grumpy, hangry, tired Sarah, that had a very long trip home from the airport ahead of her. Sad face.
Gluten free food
So this isn’t sewing related, but I thought (hoped) this might help out someone else in need – how to find gluten free food!
Aaron is celiac, and therefore can’t have gluten (or eggs, or indeed walnuts as we accidentally discovered a few months back), and this makes eating out a little bit more tricky because if he’s accidentally ‘glutened’ the effects can last for weeks. Our usual workaround for holidays is to rent somewhere with a kitchen and cook ourselves, but we were so busy in NYC that we didn’t have time to walk back and forth to the apartment for every meal. By accident, I stumbled across a website created purely to help people find gluten-free food – findmeglutenfree.com. You can type in what type of food you fancy and it’ll show you what’s nearby. You can even read the reviews of people that have been there as to how well they cater for people with allergies.
This website was a LIFESAVER, and it works all over the world – so if anyone in your family needs gluten free food it’s definitely worth checking it out. If by any chance you’re celiac as well, AND you’re heading to New York City, here’s my recommendations:
Bistango – really lovely upmarket (but not *too* expensive) place, they have only one pizza oven which is gluten-free so there’s no cross contamination. Every dish can be made gluten-free, and all desserts and pizzas are gluten-free in the first place. The waiters will tell you what’s gluten free and what’s not when bringing food to your table.
Pizzarte – the BEST wood fired pizzas, and even the gluten-free one tasted amazing. Food was delivered with a ‘gluten free’ flag stuck into it so you knew which was which.
Five Napkin Burger – a burger joint with gluten-free buns and a dedicated fryer so the chips are safe too. Check with the server which plate is the gluten free one when they are brought to the table though, as it’s not otherwise identified.
Schnippers – burger joint with gluten-free buns, though if you order one gluten-free and one regular burger, they don’t tell you which one is gluten-free – I had to check with the waiter.
As you’ve probably guessed, all that food did nothing for my waistline (despite running the half marathon) and now I need to go on a serious detox ???
Phew! You made it to the end. Well done you. That post turned out to be way longer than I was expecting it to be ?
The holiday was proper tiring. But the fabric, yarn, and blog shoots we got made it all worth it, along with being able to spend time in my favourite city.
I’ll be doing a round-up of all the fabric shops I visited on the blog next week – so keep your eyes peeled for that… Don’t worry, there will be a ‘fabric purchases’ post too, but on a different week otherwise you’d spend about four hours reading one post ? In the meantime, I’ll be sleeping for most of the weekend and trying to restore some type of normal rhythm because boy AM I TIRED. I’ve literally never been so grateful for that extra hour in bed due to the clocks going back ⏰
And it’s my birthday tomorrow, so… happy birthday to me ???
I hope you all have fantastic weekends!
Next week on the Wanderstitch blog… read about the fabric shopping that I did in NYC!? Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out!??