November 30, 2009

The Gift of Found Time

If you ask me, the best thing about long weekends is found time. My typical weekends are highly scheduled and packed with activities, some of which are social, but man of which fall into the category of "tasks". These are things like laundry, hanging up tried on and unworn clothes, grocery shopping, restocking the linen closet with toiletries (two weeks ago I simultaneously ran out of the TPs: toilet paper, tooth paste and tampons). Not exciting stuff, but stuff I have to take care of, lest my life fall apart. Throwing an extra day or two into the mix changes everything.

Last week, I had off 2 1/2 days for Thanksgiving, which brought my "weekend time" up to 4 1/2 days. Let's be real: I had a week off. What to do with a week off? A week in which my holiday travel involved taking the 2/3 train from Atlantic Ave to 96th Street? A lot. Thursday was lovely, truly lovely, Unfortunately none of my photos really captured the feel of the evening, nor the deliciousness of the food. I had dinner with dear friends (Megan and David) in Manhattan, their children, her father (whom I have known since I was 14) and stepmother and another delightful guest. I have dinner with this crew quite a bit, so Thanksgiving wasn't particularly unusual, but that's part of what made it so nice. No drama, no tension, just good food, better company and some vino to keep us all warm. In an unusual turn of events, I was fairly abstemious, as I've been under the weather for two weeks now, saddled with a dry yet persistent cough. Still, it was such a nice evening, and one which made me feel how truly fortunate I am.

The next day, I had one thing on the agenda: make a cake. It was a lemon cake with lemon butter cream frosting, a combination I adore for my friend Matt's birthday. He had initially thought about a coconut cake, but I thought that on the heels of heavy Thanksgiving eating, a lemon cake would feel lighter and more refreshing. While the cake was baking and cooling, I took care of a bunch of household chores, so the day had the feel of a Sunday. Only it was Friday. Still dealing with my cough, I stayed in that evening, knit and watched News Radio on Hulu. I retired early, as I knew the next day would be a big one.

And it was.

At 8 am on Saturday, I met up with Sarah, Penelope and Angela (from the Ft. Greene/Clinton Hill Knitting and Crocheting Group) at a local patisserie. The plan: road trip to Webs, a yarn superstore in Northampton, MA. Webs has amazing sales and a tremendous selection, and there's really no substitute for buying yarns in person, feeling their texture and seeing the colors, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to really do some educated shopping for large volumes of yarn, like enough for a few sweaters, in addition to doing some holiday shopping. I brought several patterns with me so that I'd have all of the information that I needed. I naively thought this would keep me organized.

Northampton is about three hours from Brooklyn, and I thought I'd use the drive time to get some knitting done, but it made me a bit queasy so I had to go slowly. Sarah, however, started in early on a pair of socks and did not stop!

Her tenacity was both demonic and impressive.

After pit stops for gas, water and cough drops, we finally arrived. Initially, the store seemed less than impressive.

What's the old adage about looks being deceiving?
(NB: I am wearing a "Property of the Seattle Super Sonics" t-shirt that I got in 7th grade at the one and only Sonics game I ever attended.)

Holy moley, is that place amazing. The front of the store is like any other yarn store, only much, much bigger, and with more staff, more books, more magazines and more yarn. Penelope was the only one of us who had been there before, and she was able to maintain her composure and stick, more or less, to her game plan. Angela, Sarah and I were like chickens with our heads cut off, bopping from here to there with our mouths agape. I was composed enough to mutter that I just had to wander for a while before getting down to business, but that was about it. Eventually I felt orientated enough to head to the warehouse. Attached to the main store, it is a giant storeroom where most of the yarn is in boxes on racks. This is where they pull for their on-line orders. It is also where the keep the CLOSEOUT yarns.

Penelope has knit many, many more sweaters than I, and with greater success, so I enlisted her help in selecting some yarn for Pas de Valse .

Things got a bit crazy back in the fingering wt. section.

As the day wound on, we all calmed down considerably and started narrowing our selections, which felt great.
This smiling lady was immeasurably helpful with that process! Not only does she work at Webs, but in talking with her, Angela realized she's also a knitwear designer, one who happened to design one of the sweaters Angela was buying yarn for. Without her assistance, I never would have located enough skeins of the Berroco Peruvia Quick that I'll be using to work up Amber, a free pattern from Rowan.
After shopping, we hit ridiculously cute and charming downtown Northampton for a late lunch at Paul and Elizabeth's (a mostly vegetarian restaurant), followed by ice cream and sorbet at Herrell's, a Northampton institution. I had chocolate pudding ice cream. Sounds silly, but it was delicious.

And I bought shoes.
They are quite foxy (or as foxy as German shoes get).

Northampton reminded me a lot of Northfield, MN, where I went to college: small and kind of crunchy but with lots of expensive artisinal things. Our final stop before heading back to Brooklyn was a Germany bakery where my travel mates picked up treats for their husbands and I tried my first sugar plum (not pictured). As with the ice cream, it was delicious.

What a fun day! And a fantastic use of day 3 1/2 of a 4 1/2 day weekend. Thank you so much to Penelope for suggesting the trip and for driving! I'm really excited start in on the yarn that I bought, including one for a gift that must be complete by the 12th. Yarn is just yarn, but somehow it also represents potential, love, inspiration and hard work all at the same time. I will make things out of the yarn that I bought. I'll match colors and textures to patterns and people, and where there was nothing there will soon be many things. And I'll have a lot of fun in the process.


Oiyi said... Best Blogger Tips

I couldn't have summed it better, Rebecca. It was an awesome day and I am glad that I got to spend it with all of you. Love all the pics!

I did not take one picture inside Webs! Must have been the yarn fumes.

littlebirdbigcity said... Best Blogger Tips

This is completely hysterical, and I am BEYOND jealous.

Kathy said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you all for making the trip up! Steve & I were away for the holiday but it sounds like our staff (esp Melissa) took good care of you. Happy Knitting!

Kathy Elkins

Penelope said... Best Blogger Tips

WHOA! You're famous! The REAL Kathy Elkins. Holy cow.

And it looks like I'm doing something unseemly to that box. I think the Elkins are going to ban me from their store....

Sayschnicklefritz said... Best Blogger Tips

Right on! It was a tremendous day.

Brooke: You were missed. I think you'll have to consider working in a trip to Webs on your next venture east.

Kathy: Thank YOU for creating such a customer friendly environment! Melissa was so great, but truly all of the staff I encountered were really kind and helpful. We're already planning a return in the spring. Cotton and bamboo, anyone?

Rima said... Best Blogger Tips

Hmmmph. Road trip. Yarn. Webs. Knitting. Friends. Dont rub it in.

melissa said... Best Blogger Tips

it was so fun to meet you! i am now totally obsessed with making amber too!

Reckless Glue said... Best Blogger Tips

o man I am so jealous of this trip!