Vogue Knitting Live Marathon . . . Day Two

Purl Soho . . .

In typical fashion I awoke way too early on Saturday—at around 4:30 a.m., so I spent a groggy morning reading, knitting, and waiting until a little before 7:00 to saunter down to the Starbucks in the lobby.  At 10:00 Tonya and I attended a lecture by Nicky Epstein named for her book Knitting on Top of the World.  It was fascinating to see how this designer, after studying knitting traditions from cultures all over the world, incorporated classic techniques in innovative ways in her own designs, putting her personal stamp on traditional knitwear.  For instance, rather than using Fair Isle techniques to create the standard circular yoke, Epstein created a cardigan with a bottom band and long collar worked in a Fair Isle pattern.  Her discussion also included bits of knitting history, including the fact that in 17th century Europe knitting was a male dominated industry;  women caught engaging in this activity were often severely punished—sometimes by having their hands cut off.  The designer also talked about the Latvian tradition of a bride’s knitting mittens for all of her wedding guests—sometimes making 50 pairs or more.  Epstein also discussed Mary Taylor, a blogger who knit all of the pieces in Epstein’s book in three years.

This NYC yarn store has a beautiful collection of
luxury yarns. 

Since my traveling companion had never been to New York before, we’d planned to spend Saturday afternoon engaging in a marathon sightseeing session, but first we did a little marketplace visiting.   I was thrilled to find the booth of knit shop from a town close to my hometown in New Jersey.  I wished I had time to visit the actual shop, Wooly Monmouth in Red Bank.  (I love the shop’s clever name, as Red Bank is located in Monmouth County.)  We then watched a fashion show featuring Rowan and Lopi yarns and designs. 

This graphic sweater is a Rowan design.

After munching a hot dog from a street vendor for lunch (Tonya and I are teachers so economy is always in our minds), we took the subway downtown and visited Purl Soho’s shop.  The narrow space was very crowded, temperatures were unseasonably warm, and I was sweltering under a long wool coat and wool sweater, but those circumstances didn’t dissuade me from perusing all of the fabrics, yarns, and whimsical stuffed animal kits in the store.  Walking the quaint streets of Soho was a pleasure after navigating the masses of people and riot of video screens and noise in Times Square. 

Purl Soho is located in an area of Manhattan with lots of charming architecture.  
Purl Soho sells fabric and yarn. 

     Soon we were walking downtown, past Trinity Church to the 911 site.  The 911 memorial pools are massive in size, and the seemingly endless pit in the center of each makes the viewer reflect upon the loss of lives under the rubble, while the soaring new towers inspire hope. 

The 911 site is located so close to Trinity Church (where Alexander Hamilton is buried).  It is amazing the old church survived the attacks.  My Dutch ancestors had a grist mill and farm in the 17th century on the site of Trinity Church, and it was fascinating to imagine what this part of town looked like back then. 

I was exhausted by the evening, but we rode the Staten Island Ferry, so that Tonya could get a view of the Statue of Liberty up close.  By this point I was so bushed that, while not asleep, was unaware that the boat had even made its short return trip.  I can’t recall now whether we walked or took the subway there, but had a hearty, meaty meal of Ukrainian food at a restaurant in the East Village.  A combination platter of kielbasa, pirogue, stuffed cabbage that followed a cup of borscht was just the thing after roaming about the city all day with little sustenance.  I’d eaten at this restaurant over 25 years ago, and the food and décor are still the same—homey and simple and good. 

We then walked to a piano bar, Marie’s Crisis, in the East Village, one where patrons gather in bone crushing tightness in a tiny dark basement to sing show tunes.  Some of the clientele had amazing voices, and Tonya and I were even able to stand a couple of feet from two celebrities (stars of High School Musical and other movies) who were seated at the piano bar for most of the evening.  It was great fun to join in the singing, even though I can’t carry a tune.   The piano player’s indulgence of my request to play songs from A Chorus Line (my late father’s favorite show) evoked a bit of melancholy, but the entire crowd’s rousing rendition of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” filled the place (and me) with cheer.  We returned home around 1:00 a.m.—quite a late hour for two schoolteachers in our forties, but we were still filled with anticipation for another day in Manhattan.    


  1. What a wonderful day! Full to the brim with interest and fascination and Purl Soho looks as fabulous as both its reputation and website indicate! Your photos are superb. What a shocking revelation about women knitters in 17th C Europe - human beings can be strange creatures sometimes! E x

  2. The whole neighbourhood around Purl in Manhattan is a treat!

  3. I'm intrigued. May I please have the citations for women having their hands cut off for knitting in the 1600's? I'd like to see original sources for that assertion.


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