Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Jet Setting

The last three weeks have been extremely busy for us! We've spent the last few days recovering from an extended vacation, and attempting to settle back into regular lives in Pacific time. From August 30th through September 19th, we've visited DC, New York, Acadia National Park, Northampton, and Boston.

Travelling via plane, train, car, subway, boat (including a canoe), and on foot, we've gone through 10 states: Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. Granted, since we were on the Northeast Regional, we didn't really stop in half of them except at Amtrak stations, but I consider that a technicality!

Of course, one such as myself could hardly go elsewhere without visiting a couple of yarn and fabric shops. I actually had a bunch of them on my list, but too frequently forgot to take a photograph or more often, was unprepared for the weather (seriously, 35ÂșC and 90% humidity is too much for me) and ended up not going to a shop. I still managed to do considerable damage to my wallet, though.

DC: Aug 30-Sep 2
We were only in DC for few days, and we spent most of it doing super touristy things, like touring the White House, visiting the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, getting sunburned at Arlington Cemetery, exploring the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court, and biking along the National Mall. We didn't get to see as much in the Smithsonian museums as we would have liked, though there was a great exhibit at the Air and Space Museum showing photographs from the Mars rovers.

I was only able to visit one yarn shop, which I liked quite a bit. Looped Yarn is a short walk away from a subway station, and is an extremely cute, well-appointed shop with very friendly people. They had a pair of size 50 (!) ChiaoGoo straights in the window, and I really wish I had managed to get a photograph of it, but I completely forgot.

Instead, here's a photograph of the Jefferson Memorial and the Potomac, from the top of the Washington Monument.

New York: Sep 3-Sep 5
We were also only in NYC for a few days, too! We had been to New York once before, and most of the touristy things we did were filling in the gaps we had missed on our last trip, like the 9/11 Memorial, the Met, and the MoMA. We also met up with Fred at the Jazz Standard and had some BBQ while listening to some great jazz.

It just happened that we were there during the beginning of Fashion Week, so there was a little bit of hubbub when we were walking along the High Line. I watched some models get dolled up in a Giorgio Armani building, and saw some photographers lose their shit over a couple of other models outside Chelsea Market.

I didn't go into Loopy Mango, since they were closed when I went by accidentally, but that's probably a good thing. There's little reason to wear anything that bulky even in Northern California, and it's a little expensive to justify a random purchase on a whim.

Actually even though I had some fabric shops pinned on my map, I ended up not going into any of them. The yarn stores I found were pretty lacking--either in quality or quantity, and most of them had things I could get anywhere, which I thought was very surprising for New York. String Yarn had a nice shop, but it was very small and they had basically no local stuff. I had some better luck at The Yarn Company, which also didn't really have much local stuff, but a lot of store "exclusives."

I don't think these are one of their exclusives, but Stonehedge Fiber Mills makes one of my favourite wool yarns, and I had never seen "Stonehedge Crazy" before, so I got a few of those:

Their Shepherd's Wool is one of the softest wools I have ever found, and felts up like a dream. Their Crazy yarn is a sport-weight, 2-ply yarn with the same texture and hand, but plied together with random runs of colour. By switching out one colour at a time, you get this gradient blend which will be a ton of fun to knit up.

Acadia National Park: Sep 6 - 12
Acadia is the main reason we went out east in the first place; we've had plans for over a year, to rent out a cabin on Long Pond. During the summer, we thought about how tired we were, and how we had never had a long vacation, so combined with my recent graduation and the fact that part of Ben's team works in Boston, we turned it into the three-week trip it was.

Suffice to say, Acadia is beautiful.

This is me, on a tiny ledge, somewhere between 400 and 450 feet above the ground.
I was a little scared.

Also not surprising to learn that the local yarn and craft shops in Bar Harbor are a little overpriced, and there is no actual local yarn. But I still managed! We had a great week away from technology, since our cell carrier has no signal in the park. Actually, just writing this blog post is kind of hurting my eyes, since it's been three weeks since I sat in front of a laptop!

Boston: Sep 13-19
Going from bustling New York to the quiet of Acadia and then back into a city like Boston is kind of a shock to your system. We stopped in Northampton on the way, to visit our friend, Jordan, who is doing his PhD at UMass Amherst. Unfortunately, we were there on a Sunday, which meant that Webs was closed. Boo. I have been to their store once before, and it took forever for me to leave, because I wanted to buy ALL THE THINGS.

I was left to my own devices in Boston, since Ben was working with his team, and Devin had only joined us for Acadia, and left on the Monday. Five days of being by myself in a big city = shopping and fabric and yarn, oh my!

My favourite shop, by far, was Gather Here in Cambridge. They have a really nice space, with a few Berninas and a large table, for classes. A lot of fabric (mostly quilting cottons), and a pretty good selection of yarn.

Winding some yarn I picked up in Bar Harbor, aptly called "Rock Climber."

I picked up this light canvas print from Japan, and the speech bubble quilting cotton while I was there. And then after I paid, while I was winding my skein into a cake, I realized I was in the remnants area, which led to me purchasing some of this variegated grey Robert Kaufman plain weave fabric.

"I'm never leaving," I said to the girl at the front, as I strolled up to pay yet again.

Winmil Fabrics isn't the prettiest fabric store, but their selection was pretty good, and their prices were fantastic! The people were super friendly, but then, pretty much everybody we met in Boston was friendly. Honestly, Boston has some of the friendliest strangers I have ever met.

I picked up some stretch wool blend and this gorgeous cotton print. "It's real wool! We tested it this morning!" said the enthusiastic lady cutting my fabric. Followed by, "What are you going to make with this cotton?" To which I replied, "I don't know! It's gorgeous!" and made her laugh.

I happened into Mind's Eye Yarns on the first day of a Boston yarn crawl, and managed to snag 30% off a skein of Blue Heron Yarns rayon metallic, as well as a ~mystery gift~ which contained a skein of Berroco Flicker.

Here's my yarn haul from our three weeks. The top four are going to be part of a shawl, with one skein of fingering weight yarn from each place we stayed. (Although to be accurate, the green is actually from KnitWit in Portland, ME, which is also an amazing shop with super friendly people!)

While in Boston, I just happened to see a brochure for the MakerBot store on Newbury Street, and on the day before a scheduled workshop. So of course, this happened.

Believe it or not, I did other things in Boston besides buy a crap ton of textiles. I went past some of the historic buildings, like Faneuil Hall, the State House, and the Tea Party Museum. I drove to Wrentham just to go to a Vera Bradley outlet store. I walked along the entire length of Newbury Street, and I spent one very incomplete morning at the Museum of Fine Arts, and wished I could have stayed longer. I also went to sweetgreen a LOT. We discovered them in DC and were pretty stoked to go as often as possible. I also saw Colin!

Shaun, my resident Bostonian, sent me a list of things to do via email. I think I did pretty well.
  • you should eat in the north end. a canoli at the very least.
  • you should explore something historic
    • if you like ships, go see old ironsides http://www.history.navy.mil/ussconstitution/index.html
    • or climb the bunker hill monument (we didn't climb it, but we did go by, so close enough)
    • there is historic fenway park, but thats sports, so nevermind. (I meant to go, but didn't.)
  • have a martini at The Top of The Hub (we went up Prudential Tower, so... close enough?)
  • stop by the MIT media lab
  • do nature
    • if you have a car at your disposal, drive out to walden pond for an afternoon swim or meditation. you seem like someone who has probably read Thoreau. (no car for most of Boston)
    • take the T to forest hills and walk through the arnold arboretum (I... honestly didn't actually even see this until just now, and I'm sorry about that!)
  • walk through harvard yard, challenge someone to chess in harvard square
  • drop your r's, order a guinness and shoulder up with the irish pricks in south boston (uhh...)
  • a medium regular and a plain cruella from dunkies (I did it my way: 
Boston is probably my favourite city on the east coast, by far. Even though the drivers want to kill you, everybody is super friendly and nice, in an extremely American way--I'm sure that sounds weird, but I can't describe it any better than that.

Actually, I took a lot of photos of my food, which is not really typical behavior for me. But I think I'll end with that, so here you go:

Dinner in the North End, as instructed.
Canoli, also as instructed.
Crepe breakfast at Voltage in Cambridge.
Maine lobsters at Thurston's.

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