About a couple of weeks ago, life started to ramp up. Not in the end-of-the-world sense that we’ve got going on now, but in the sense that the exam I’d been studying for weeks for was approaching, and then just a couple of days after that we were due to fly out to NYC – something I’d been looking forward to since we booked it twelve months prior. After passing the exam and finally feeling like I was able to breathe and relax, I’d already decided I was going to treat myself to some serious yarn, fabric, and pizza when we arrived in the Big Apple 🍎🗽
The flight out there went without a hiccup – sure, Heathrow was a little quiet, and the car park was pretty empty, but we put that down to it being midweek and assuming that some people were perhaps deferring holidays to another time. We were only going for five nights – what could possibly go wrong in that time?!
Our flight took off as scheduled, and we arrived at JFK with no issues. Sure, the queue for passport control was a little long, but they weren’t swabbing people or anything. We arrived at our accommodation quite late in the evening, and deliberated over whether to go get breakfast supplies at that very moment before the shop closed for the night, or wait until the morning. We decided to wait until the morning. BIG mistake. we queued for almost an hour just to get those breakfast supplies – it seemed that panic buying was in full force 😳
Things were fairly normal(ish) for the first few days we were there – we went shopping, we had meals out. I went to Knitty City and stocked up on yarn – one day before it closed its doors, it turned out. I made it to Mood fabric – shops in the garment district were open as usual, it seemed. Gotham Quilts was running on opening hours of 12-2pm by the time I made it there – yep, just two hours per day. We were one of the final customers to walk out of Saks, around ten minutes before they closed their doors for the foreseeable future. Shortly after that, everything was closed, and posters appeared in every shop window.
I started checking the news religiously, listening to BoJo’s and Trump’s daily updates to see if anyone was going to close their borders. Trump had banned visitors from the EU bloc, and then included the UK in that as well (as I found out from a nice assistant in Macys). Brits would be allowed to leave the US though. Phew 😬 We had just two days left until our flight, so if they could hold out closing any more borders or grounding all the flights until after we’d left then that would be fab.
Tables in restaurants were halved, and very spaced out (as in, positioned far apart – not like on drugs 🥴) – so that the few customers that were walking through the door would be at a safe distance from each other. This would be what we now come to know as the wonderful ‘social distancing’. By our last couple of days there all restaurants were closed – they were only open for delivery orders or online pickup, as I discovered when we’d walked a few blocks to get to a chicken place and I was borderline hangry. We ended up with a cold lunch from convenience stores for a couple of days, and we spent those last two days walking the expanse of Central Park – the sun was shining, at least, and I needed something to take my mind off the growing panic that our flight home might be cancelled.
But – I’m pleased to report that our flight home did depart as planned (even if it was only at 20% capacity), and we made it home without drama. I’ve never been so happy to be home and see the doggos. Once we had unpacked and caught up on sleep, we now needed to adjust to this new way of life – our offices are closed, so we are both working from home. We’re sort of successfully receiving grocery deliveries (big shout out to Ocado – who, despite the almighty queues to access their website are actually delivering orders pretty completely with minimal substitutes) and we are both healthy. Well, relatively healthy – I’ve got a little bit of a cold, and I think the husbeast is heading the same way. But I’m taking that as ‘healthy’, given the current state of the world.
While I don’t have all the free time on my hands that some people now find themselves with – as my job can be done remotely, which I am super grateful for – I do have a little extra crafting time as I’m no longer commuting. And what better way to spend that time than with some new goodies that I picked up in NYC?!
Wanna see what I got?!
Knitty City – Yarrrrrrrrnnnn 🧶
Having recently completed my first pair of socks and decided that sock knitting is the absolute bee’s knees, I bought more sock yarn.
A lot more 👀
I directed the husbeast to the sock yarn area of the store, and asked him to pick out yarn he liked for socks. I did the same, and we basically ended up with a shed load of sock yarn 😂
Here’s the husbeast’s selection:
And here’s mine:
The brand of those top two skeins is ‘Cat Sandwich’… isn’t that just the BEST NAME?! 🤩
Last time we were in the States we bought some Malabrigo Caracol yarn – I’ve already knitted mine up into a sweater (the husbeast’s is still waiting to be used) and he’s now bought MORE 👀
This colourway caught his eye – they only had seven hanks, but I thought I might need eight. The staff member checked the system and it said they did indeed have eight in stock… but that extra hank was nowhere to be found, not even in the stockroom. It wasn’t meant to be – the seven came home with us, and I’m in the process of finding a suitable pattern. It’s gonna be a beautiful autumnal jumper.
We also walked down to Purl Soho – another knitting shop, but way down the other end of the island. It was a long – but nice – walk through Greenwich, and I totally recommend it if you’ve got the feet for it.
Purl Soho itself though was… a bit of a disappointment. I’m sure there are lots of people that it appeals to, but in contrast to Knitty City it has a very modern, almost clinical air about it – whereas KnittyCity feels like a cosy nook where you’d wear an oversized sweater with knitted socks and enjoy a cuppa. Yarn is overflowing out of shelves and baskets, but it’s awesome – you feel like there are hundreds of projects just waiting to happen, and more fabulous yarn if you delve deeper. Purl Soho doesn’t feel like this at all – it’s all very… organised and structuted. A little *too* much, for me personally.
They mostly stock their own brand of yarn, along with a couple of others like Brooklyn Tweed. The one thing that struck me about this store is that Solids Are King – you’d be hard pushed to find a variegated colorway in the store. Almost every hank was a solid colour, which was a stark comparison to the hand-dyed, creative vibe of Knitty City.
It just wasn’t for me – I left empty-handed.
NYC’s Garment District
I’m not sure whether it was the stress of the current world situation or what, but I was extremely uninspired with Mood. I walked every aisle of every floor, but I came out of there empty-handed. EMPTY HANDED. I already had in my mind that I wouldn’t buy as much as I did the first time I visited there a couple of years ago, but I was going to allow myself to buy the fabrics that really spoke to me. Except, none of them did. Not to me, and not to the husbeast either. And it wasn’t for lack of stock – they have a LOT of fabrics in there! I just… wasn’t blown away by anything 🤷🏻♀️
Same as Mood – I walked around, but nothing appealed. I bought a couple of pieces from here on our last visit, but nothing this time. You’re starting to see the trend here, right?
Botani – in search of a zip
From the below photo, you’d say that this place is the shop to come to if you wanted a zipper, right?!
I mean, holy shitbiscuits look at that lot 👀
And that wasn’t even all of it. I eventually spoke to the guy behind the counter and explained I was looking for a 45cm separating metal zip, and just like that he whips out a book of all the tape colours, all the teeth colours, and tells me it’ll be ready in half an hour. I was literally gobsmacked. Like, this place makes zips? To order? 🤯
Yes, they do.
I chose my colour (turquoise), my teeth (gold, no. 5), and was told to come back in 30 mins.
I feel like even though this is a totally unheard of thing to me living in London (if anyone know of places in London that actually do do this, please let me know!) it seems it’s kinda standard in the garment district. Another shop I saw had a WHOLE CABINET full of zipper pulls which I assume you could add to your zip if your heart desired 👀
I mean, mind blown.
What also blew my mind is the sheer amount of choice that Botani had in cuff and waistband ribbing – I find good cuff fabric really hard to come by online (especially in black and gold, which I’d been on the hunt for recently) and this place had shelves of the stuff. Multiple options for black and gold colourways!
I ended up with a pretty fancy – and kinda 70’s feeling – fade stripe affair for my next Amelia Bomber Jacket.
I’d seen this shop on many a sewing blog, and didn’t make it there on my last trip to NYC – likely because I couldn’t find it. And that’s probably because it’s on the ninth floor of a very random building.
But upon wandering around, I’m afraid it’s much the same story as all the other fabric stores – nothing caught my eye.
What’s wrong with me?! Am I getting fussier?
Hai Trim and Feathers
I walked into this place on a bit of a whim, to see if they had any embellishments for the afore-mentioned bomber jacket (yes, I’m going extra on this one! 🤩)
They had PLENTY of choices. Sparkle and bling blinding you every way you looked ✨
The husband, who was a magpie in a previous life, practically started shaking when we walked in the store 👀
I ended up with more supplies for the bomber jacket (those epaulettes are going to be the absolute balls) and the husbeast even picked up the (literal) gems he was looking for to go onto the jacket that he himself is going to embellish – so overall a successful visit!
In a very weird coincidence, the shopkeeper asked where we were from as he was ringing up our purchases. When I said London, he asked if we were from East London, and therefore an Eastender. I had to disappoint him and say that no, we were not part of his favourite soap opera. He then proceeded to tell us that he lived for a bit in the UK, in the very same town that I worked in before moving to London. How random is that?! It’s not even a town that’s nearby to London – it’s over an hour’s drive away. The world is SUCH a small place, guys 🌎
Gotham Quilts was another place that I didn’t make it to when we were last in NYC, and by this point in the holiday I was actually checking websites to see if shops were closed before making the trip. They were still open, albeit on reduced hours of 12:00-14:00, but that was enough time for me.
I headed there with one thing in mind – a skyline quilt with a sunset background. I’d loved this design ever since I saw it on their Instagram page – but shipping to the UK was pretty hefty as it’s a heavy kit. If I wanted it, my only option was to buy it from their store, in person.
I saw it in the shop window before I walked in, but once inside I could get a closer look at it in all its beauty. It’s BIG, guys. Really big. Now seems a good time to point out that I’ve never actually made a quilt – and it’s probably not a good idea to start with such a monstrous project, right?
So obvs, I bought it 😂
The piecing doesn’t really scare me, or put me off. Yes, it’ll be long, but I can handle that. It’s the quilting that needs to be done once the thing is put together that scares me – I want to attempt it myself, but where do I start? Can I do it on my home sewing machine? The lady in the shop did put forward the suggestion that it could be quilted by hand (😨) but obviously that’s going to take all eternity. I figure that I’ll work the plan out when the time comes. I’ve got enough to keep me going for now.
The quilt design was originally made in monochrome, but it was Gotham Quilts that put together a sunset colourway. I know I’m ever so slightly in love with colour so OF COURSE, I prefer the sunset version 🌅 I actually did a little bit of digging online and found the blog post from the lady that made the shop sample – go check it out here, if you like.
So yeah, I ended up buying a kit. The fabrics in the kits were ever so slightly different to the fabrics that were used in the one hanging on the wall – although they were the same colours. It was just the patterns that were different. In the kit I picked up, I actually preferred the patterns on those fabrics to those in the finished quilt on that wall – although, a plain orange fabric was included but there was a coordinating orange on the bolt in store which matched the pink and the purple fabrics in the kit…. I did consider buying the pattern on its own and then building my own quilt kit from the yardage, but that felt like quite a task for such a newbie, so instead, I bought the kit plus a yard of the patterned orange just to spice things up a little.
I also picked up a fat quarter of this totally awesome Cotton and Steel fabric, just because it’s so pretty 😍
And that sums up my purchases for the trip!
Even though there’s no fabric – and I was really looking forward to going fabric shopping – I’m okay with that. I’ve slowly been trying to use up the fabric I already have at home anyway (which still includes probably 80% of the stuff I bought last time I was in NYC), so it’s probably best that I don’t add to the pile. I’m super happy with the sock yarn I bought – I know I’ve only made one pair of socks, but I’m already on the second and I was properly excited to wear the pair I made for the first time (and they were comfy and warm 💪🏻). Consider me officially addicted to sock knitting.
I’m also v excited to start on my quilt – I just hope I don’t bugger it up. It’s gonna be my ‘quarantine project’, and in the years to come we can look at it and be like ‘hey, remember that time when the whole world was on lockdown and we weren’t allowed to leave the house…’ 😨
Strange times indeed.
Now that we’re both working from home, we have more free time because we’re not commuting. However, I’m finding that I’m spending a lot of time mindlessly scrolling social media and the news, and I don’t want to be. There’s too much going on, it’s relentless, and I’ve struggled to get the motivation to sew much over the last couple of months (pre-holiday because of exam studies, and post-holiday because, well, global pandemic) and instead, I’ve been focussing on my knitting. I’ve had a bit of a head cold since we got back, and although I thought about sewing up the Kielo dress I’ve been wanting to make for aaages (it’s already cut and everything), the thought of enduring the not-so-gentle jackhammer sound of the overlocker was just a little too much 😨 I might sit down one evening and cut out the pieces for my quilt – perhaps that will be a good way to ease myself back in (or maybe I should go for something super easy like a T-shirt that’s less dramatic if I mess it up… 🤷🏻♀️) I’ve also discovered that having a cold when you have a ring through the middle of your nose isn’t the most fun thing in the world 😂
I had just managed to lose enough weight to get back into my ‘skinny’ jeans before we went to NYC, and I bet with this quarantine and my lack of cycling to work, they ain’t gonna be fitting for much longer 😂 Better sew a few pairs in a more generous size, eh?!
To end on a positive vibe in these crayzeeeee times, if you’re a Lord Of The Rings fan you’ll have understood the reference in the title of this blog post. And if that is indeed the case, then you *really* need to watch this video below – I saw it on Facebook, and it literally made me spit out my morning coffee.
Sound on, and enjoy. 👂🏻
Stay safe ✌🏻💜
On the blog next week – it’s that time of year again, I’ll be reviewing all the items I’ve made so far this year to evaluate their success. To be honest, I’m pretty much living in sweatpants during these quarantine times, but y’know 🤷🏻♀️ Subscribe below to have the post drop straight into your inbox 🙌🏻