Tag Archives: yarn

New Kid on the Block: Wool and the Gang

By now you may know, that when it comes to downtown knitting shops, I love Purl. But on my way there the other day (as I mentioned at the end of this post), I found a new nook to love on Thompson Street: Wool and the Gang. There’s no question that Purl is precious: colorful, comfortable, and populated with kindly experts to help with projects. 

Wool and the Gang, on the other hand, feels stark, modern, and a little edgy at first impression…until one remembers that knitters, by nature, are patient people who appreciate color and craft. And if you, in turn, are someone who appreciates color and craft, then you already have something in common. I had a chat with Jade, their British shopkeeper, who you’re likely to meet again here at Closettour, and picked up a ball of Crazy Sexy Wool for a new hat.

I started it last week at a neighborhood knitting bee, where it was my turn to be the new kid on the block. The group is comprised of three other girls: Melissa, plus two more called Jenny, like me. (One Jenny makes pretty clothing by hand, the other muses about the food she eats.) They watch Twin Peaks while they knit, which would be far too creepy for me to watch alone. It’s sort of nice having a little gang.

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Make Mine Alpaca

I had a lot of support in preparing for my presentation on Wednesday, which ended up winning a grant to get CLOSETTOUR off the ground. Dan Shanoff and Jeff Jarvis helped me hone the material, but I had never done a Powerpoint presentation and was a little freaked out by the medium. I thought if I could get some visual cues on the screen, I just might be okay. So, I put Rosa here on the second slide:

She’s a Huacayo alpaca I met a few years ago on a sourcing trip in Arequipa, Peru, and her photo was tacked up beside my desk at Edun for ages. It’s hard to be anxious when you’re eye-to-eye with an alpaca, so I led the presentation with her. She and Michael Pollan served as a sort of tag team, their photos side-by-side illustrating the analog of provenance-focused food journalism, and how I might use his model to unravel a sweater back to Peru, for example, which is where I first met Rosa. There, I got to see how the yarn is hand-sorted for staple length (which effects whether your sweaters “pill”), color, and fineness, as this woman is doing here. Before seeing this, I always thought Baby Alpaca (a content listed in yarn) was shorn from, well, baby alpacas, but it actually just refers to the grade of the yarn.

I love–LOVE natural colored yarns (Is there anything prettier than a natural sweater with jeans?), and it’s incredible all the gorgeous colors alpacas can be–chestnut, like Rosa, warm grey, like this guy, who’s called Pancho, and about 50 shades of cream, ebony, mink, and charcoal in between.

Here are a few more, to give you an idea, all stacked on a shelf at the Peruvian mill.

One of the yarns we saw in processing was Blue Sky Bulky, one of my very favorites. This is the yarn I learned to knit with, on fat plastic needles my mom called “telephone poles.” It is so easy and comes in incredible colors–both natural and dyed. If you have a desire to knit, and have never tried, try doing a scarf with this yarn. If I can do it, you can do it.

Peruvian Blue Sky Bulky Yarn, 50% wool, 50% alpaca

(Alternatively, if someone you love might like to learn to knit, a great gift would be some “telephone pole” needles, a few skeins of Blue Sky Bulky for a scarf, and a copy of this book.) A few years ago I knit myself a foggy-blue hat inspired by the one pictured below, but it became the casualty of a particularly wild Christmas party, and never made it home.

Marc Jacobs Fall 2006 Ready-to-Wear
The look that launched 1,000 chunky berets

Marc Jacobs F/W 2006, from Style.com

Soon I’d like to treat myself with a trip to Purl, the knitting shop in SoHo, to see what colors of Blue Sky Bulky they have in stock, and give it another shot. The pattern for the Transformer Hat, which you can find for free on the left edge of this blog looks like it could make for a promising project, and I’m feeling a lot of affection for alpacas these days.

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