It’s been a month since my trip to the left coast but I’ve got one last piece to share! Towards the end of the trip, I was looking for things to do in the San Jose area because I had plans to check out the Computer History Museum (which is awesome) in Mountain View with Jon. I really hadn’t planned on visiting San Jose at all so I hadn’t looked into any site to see there. But I was pleasantly surprised when I found the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles.
It’s very small, more of a gallery than museum in my opinion, but the Museum of Quilts and Textiles has so many amazing pieces. It totally inspired me. I’ve never really been excited about quilting. Don’t get me wrong, I own some gorgeous hand-made quilts and I appreciate the art. But I’ve never felt like I wanted to put one together myself. The quilts at this museum really made me think about quilting in a new way. We’re not talking about Star and Double Wedding Ring quilts here.
The exhibit started with some quilts by Ros Cross. Her most famous quilt (Pancakes, Butter, and Syrup Quilt with Bacon Rug) is part a private collection so I didn’t see it. But the other quilts were so cool. A lot of playing with lines and shapes, all very untraditional. This one was my favorite, lines of colored stitches with long threads are all that’s quilted here. It’s like a mixture of quilting and embroidery just really simply done by stitching a few rows next to one another.
There was a gallery of small quilts inspired by California. My favorites were photorealistic. I could hardly believe they were made of fabric. I had my nose practically up against them, trying to take in all of the tiny details.
“Postcard from Home” by Lin Schiffner
Many of the quilts in the main gallery were part of the Quilt National competition. I wasn’t able to photograph them but you can see some of them here. All of the quilts on display were amazing and none of them were traditional. I was blown away by the way the quilts were being put together, the details and the transformation that these artists put these materials through. And, of course, there were some amazing themes being tackled in these pieces including over-medication, green energy, and carbon footprints.
Since quilting has never really been my thing, I was surprised that I’d wanted to visit the museum (especially considering parking in San Jose almost left me in tears, but we don’t need to get into that). I’m so glad that I did, though. Quilts are pretty exciting!
Do you quilt? Have you visited the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles?
While I visited a lot of museums, my first stop when I go to a new city is the LYS. It makes me feel like I’m part of the community, like I could picture myself living there a little bit. Every store I’ve visited is different and really shows what the area is all about but at the same time it’s very familiar. There is no better home away from home for me than a LYS.
Speaking of homes away from home, I was just about ready to move in when I got to A Verb for Keeping Warm. I’d always wanted to go after seeing photos by other bloggers and it was so exciting to finally be able to make the trip. I decided to dedicate a day of my adventure to Oakland so that I’d have a good amount of time to spend at Verb. It was way more than what I’d expected!
Verb is just a lovely shop with a great selection of the higher-end delicious yarns we all love. The fabric selection is something else. There were so many bolts that caught my eye, everything from organic, natural-dyed cottons to Japanese Nani Iro prints. There were a lot of things that wanted to go home with me. Verb recently released their first sewing pattern so I had to pick up a copy of that.
Sarah gave me a little tour of the shop. Verb specializes in natural dyeing. They sell dyes (which I was VERY tempted to buy but have promised myself that I will not take up dyeing. I can’t have another hobby!) as well as their own line of natural-dyed yarns. I’m absolutely obsessed with these yarns and spent a long time petting them. Sarah explained that the fleeces come from a nearby organic cotton farm which is fertilized by sheep. The mill is also located within 90 miles of the shop and everything is dyed in house. I don’t think it can get more local than that.
I wish I could’ve taken one of the natural dyeing classes while I was in town. Luckily, Verb’s owner Kristine Vejar is busy finishing up a book about the subject. Those of us who are not lucky enough to be in the Bay Area for lessons will soon be able to learn at home!
This bold red “Transitional Fury” really stood out to me so, I had to have it.
My favorite thing about the shop is the garden. Not only is there a beautiful and sunny place to take your needles, there is a little garden of plants that can be used in natural dyeing. It really made me want to make better use of my window garden. Maybe a project for next summer? I got to meet Verb’s very own angora rabbit, Marcel. He was the sweetest! So soft and happy. He’s sheered four times a year and the angora yarn quickly sells out every season.
I’ve certainly seen my share of LYSs. This one is definitely one of my favorites. I love it when a store not only is beautiful and friendly but has a really solid identity. Verb is really dedicated to being a great resource for all crafters and you can tell just by spending a few minutes in there. I’d love to take another visit (maybe when I can afford to bring more souvenirs home) and attend one of the classes there!
Have you been to A Verb for Keeping Warm? Do you want to learn more about natural dyeing?
I’ve been getting settled since returning from my trip to the Bay Area at the beginning of the month. Jon and I spent five days in Cupertino so I took a few day trips to the cities nearby. I just went through all of my photos and I’m missing California already! The stereotypes about Silicon Valley are pretty true. I won’t say any of that is a bad thing (think lots of parking for electric vehicles and Google has their own branded bikes for employees), it’s just kind of wild that it’s all real but it makes for a lovely place. There was plenty to do in San Francisco (they call it “the city” which is confusing because I live in “the city” and by that I mean THE city) and Oakland. I loved the vibe there.
Think of this as my little cliff notes travel guide to the Bay Area.
After dining at In-N-Out (sorry, West Coast, Shake Shack will always be my favorite), we met up with one of my best friends at the Golden Gate Bridge. We saw an old fort and ate clam chowder in sourdough bowls. We got to visit the Painted Ladies and pretend we were in Full House. In San Francisco, I met up with Sonya at Tartine, chatted about east coast/west coast travel and ate a crazy delicious fruit tart.
I ended up wandering into Fabric Outlet by chance on my way to my car. I must have craft store radar in my brain! It was a great store with so much to choose from. I picked up a few yards of fabric all for under $20.
My trip to Oakland was really fun. It’s filled with such quirky places to visit. I stopped at a swap meet off the freeway that was full of bizarre treasures and Spice Girl Barbies. I wandered through the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, pawing through the old photos and sewing patterns. I spent a long time drooling over everything at A Verb for Keeping Warm (more on that later this week).
I stopped in at the Oakland Museum of California. It really was one of the best museums I’ve ever visited. There I listened to records, found some fantastic art, and learned about the history of the state.
In San Jose, I saw mummies at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum. I may have mentioned that I’m an ancient Egypt enthusiast. What a funky museum! It seemed like the pet project of an eccentric rich Egyptologist, like that wore safari hats or turbans everywhere. The collection was pretty cool and included a bunch of actual mummies. As another visitor, probably around six, put it, “Spooky!” I took this photo because the motif on this case looks very familiar.
Jon wanted to see the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. We got to see one of the Google self-driving cars in the museum and on the freeway. Very cool collection of gigantic old computers. I have no idea what anything in there did. We finished our trip with a stop at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Fransisco. I’d really wanted to see this exhibit of the Szyk Haggadah. My grandfather collected haggadot and I’ve been helping my dad add to them. This book was staggeringly gorgeous in person.
I feel like there was so much more to do. I drove A LOT. I think in one week I did more driving than I did all of last year. Crazy, right? I also parallel parked an SUV about ten times, pumped my own gas all by myself for the first time, and sang at the top of my lungs driving 75mph with the windows rolled down. I can’t wait to go back.
What’s your favorite part of the Bay Area? Have you been? What did I miss that is really a must see?
Tags: #californiaadvanture, 100 acts of sewing, a verb for keeping warm, bay area, computer history musuem, contemporary jewish msueum, cupertino, east bay depot for creative reuse, egypt, fabric outlet, full house, golden gate, in-n-out, mountain view, mummies, oakland, Oakland Museum of California, Rosirucian, san francisco, san jose, tartine, travel, trip, vacation, what to do in san francisco
At the end of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (in the film, at least, it’s been ages since I’ve read the book!), as the three heroes board the Hogwarts Express after defeating evil for the first time, winning the House Cup, and hugging Hagrid goodbye, Hermione says, “Feels strange to be going home, doesn’t it?” With a bit of schmaltz, Harry replies, “I’m not going home. Not really, anyway.” When I headed for the parking lot at Rhinebeck, after it had been announced that the fair grounds were closed, that’s exactly how I felt. Although I could only come out for one day (I’m not sure if I have the stamina for the whole shebang but I’d love to stay the weekend next year), I was really touched by the magic of the NYS Sheep and Wool Festival this time around.
I always get butterflies before arriving at shows like this. I get really overwhelmed (Sorry if we talked about meeting up but it didn’t happen! I literally ate two apple cider doughnuts for lunch I was so busy!) and shy (Sorry if we made eye contact and then I didn’t say hello. I’m awful at these things!) and I never know where to start (Sorry if you’re an alpaca! I started with the sheep). I hardly took any photos, a combination of forgetting the memory card for the camera I schlepped all the way up there and being too frantic to stop for pictures. After wandering around the sheep and goats, I went to the Ravelry meet up to try and find some familiar faces. It always amazes me the shear amount of people that show up to the festival. I found myself creeping around the edges of the crowd, sheepishly looking for my friends until the lovely Bristol Ivy saved me from complete awkwardness. I got to have a solid chat with her, Maria of Subway Knits, Dana, Ashley, Threadpanda, Redhead Knits, and even Amy Christoffers (I’m probably forgetting some wonderful ladies, too!) Later I had a meeting with Roman Hills and Vo0lenvine (we have big semi-secret plans).
I bought some yarn (that’s for another post) but this year was really about connecting with my friends. It really felt magical being surrounded by people that are all so talented and supportive of eachother. It’s not to say that my non-knitter friends aren’t those things, it’s just that after long stretches of time surrounded by muggles, it’s really invigorating to talk with people that know what you’re saying. On top of everything else, I got to meet some readers (Hello! You know who you are!) which just basically made my whole life. I feel like Saturday was just full of love!
Over the past year, I’ve been trying out a lot of new things and it really feels like it’s paid off. But I know I wouldn’t have even dared to try stepping out of my comfort zone if it weren’t for the amazing ladies that have encouraged me all along and helped me in so many ways. It’s crazy to think that last year at Rhinebeck I met Amy Christoffers for the first time and just a few days ago she was fluffing the shoulders on my first published sweater pattern.
I’ve probably babbled enough but, long story short, I’m still dreaming of sheep and yarn and hanging out with my fantastic friends. I’m already ready to get back to Rhinebeck because there’s a little piece of us there all year round, isn’t there?
What was your favorite part of Rhinebeck this year? How often do you get to hug your knitting friends?
Promise a post with my spoils soon!
Rhinebeck is swiftly approaching (can you believe it?!) so I wrote you this poem about knitter’s Christmas.
TWAS THE KNIT BEFORE RHINEBECK
Let me preface this post by saying that not all of these yarns were actually produced in Chicago. What I mean by the title of this post is that I bought these skeins while I was on my trip. I might’ve gone overboard. But I like to give my money to local yarn stores even when they’re not local to me. I want to help make sure that they stick around for my sister knitters! It’s my duty. Also, I was on vacation. And my mom always says that I can buy whatever I want when I’m on vacation. She’s smart.
On my second day in Chi-town, I visited Loopy Yarns. They have a whole room for hand dyed and hand painted yarns. That’s where I spent most of my time. I was really drawn to the Miss Babs yarns. I hadn’t seen any of it in person. All of the colorways were really gorgeous and unique. As is true for my form, I decided to get a skein of sock yarn. (As I’ve said before, I like to buy sock yarn when I’m buying stash enhancements since I can usually at least get a pair of socks out of it. There’s usually enough yardage for one pair so I don’t have to splurge on multiple skeins. I feel like I can buy a tasting, if you will, of yarns. And it actually gets used instead of just living in my stash for forever.) It’s a really soft merino yarn. Once I’d picked my favorite, about three other women came in and one after the other announced, “I heard you just got some Miss Babs! I’m here for the Miss Babs!” I knew I’d made the right choice. I think I might make Jon a pair of socks with this salmon color. I know what you’re thinking but I think pink socks look awesome on men! (Exhibits A, B, and C.)
I was just going to stop at the skein of Miss Babs but in the sale section I saw this Lorna’s Laces Helen’s Lace. I had to buy it. (Also Jon said I should treat myself. He’s smart, too.) Aside from the price and it being a beautiful skein of silk and merino, Lorna’s Laces is based in Chicago so how could I not buy a Chicago yarn so close to the source? (Side note: I would have loved to have seen their studio but I’m not sure if they do any tours/visits. If I’m ever back I’ll have to explore that. Their yarns are so pretty, I’d love to just give them a high five.) I don’t really knit lacey lace things so I was hoping the yarn might inspire me. I’m thinking about making Jared Flood’s Rock Island shawl with it because that thing is gorrrrgeous and designed around this yarn.
When I visited Nina, I was having so much fun looking at all of their yarns that I almost forgot to buy something. I know that sounds silly but their shop felt more like an art gallery than a store (I mean that in the best way!) so I didn’t want to disturb any of the yarns. I was also having a post-brunch buzz (banana bread french toast is a thing, everyone, and it tastes as ridiculous as it sounds) so I was having a tough time deciding. All of their yarns are beautiful. For some reason I was really drawn to a basket of Schoppel (Skacel) merino sock yarn. I guess I have a thing for merino sock yarn. This is just a wide self-striping yarn in shades of blue and grey, nothing too crazy.
I really liked that the tag has this big red warning that says, “Stricken kann suchtig machen!” which is German for “Knitting can be addictive!” Now you tell me!
All in all, I’m really happy with my yarn purchases. I don’t buy post cards or magnets or anything (I was looking for local honey but no luck!) so these are perfect souvenirs!
What kind of souvenirs do you like to buy when you travel? (My mom’s favorite is playing cards!)
Tags: addiction, Chicago, helen's lace, honor, jared flood, knit, lace, Loopy Yarns, Lorna's Laces, merino, miss babs, Nina, rock island, schoppel, self striping, shawl, skacel, sock yarn, socks, souvenir, stash, travel, yarn
Jon and I just got back from a quick trip to Chicago! We’ve lived in New York for about six years now which seems crazy! I don’t think I’ve properly visited another big city since moving here. It certainly felt weird to be in someone else’s city but it was exciting to explore a new place.
I’m certainly no expert when it comes to Chi-town (unlike New York) so I can’t say that we did all of the things that you “have” to do while you’re there. (We didn’t eat deep dish pizza nor did we go on the Sky Deck. Frankly, the Sky Deck sounds like the worst idea ever. And I’ve been to the top of the Eiffel Tower. At least that had a floor!) We did some touristy things like visiting the Art Institute (a la Ferris Bueller) and the Contemporary Art Museum. We ate Chicago style hot dogs (they put a whole pickle on top!) and rode the El (L?). It was cold!
I think my favorite stop was eating at Billy Goat Tavern, the inspiration for its own all-star SNL skit. Their burgers are delicious and simple. The bar probably hasn’t changed since 1972 in the best way possible. The walls are filled with old newspaper articles and trophies. It gives you a real feeling of Chicago back in the day. The staff behind the counter are very no nonsense and insist you get a double cheeseburger when you order a single. Love it.
I also got to sneak in some yarn shopping. I mean, I had to! I visited Loopy Yarns and Nina. Both were absolutely lovely stores. Chicago knitters are lucky to have them! Loopy is a classic LYS, the type that I shopped in while I was in high school. Huge selection of yarns with a variety of prices, very well organized, spacious, and friendly. I spent a lot of time taking it all in. They even have a second floor for classes and more yarn! Nina has a really different feel and I love that. (Isn’t their logo awesome?) Nina feels more like a boutique. I love the way the yarns there are laid out, everything seems well-curated yet there is still an impressive selection of yarns. The shop looks more like a high end clothing store which suits it’s trendy Wicker Park location. All in all, both stores were fantastic and, as much as I was excited to return home, I was a little bit sad that I couldn’t stay and visit them on a regular basis!
I wish I’d had time to visit other yarn stores in Chicago. If they were anything like Loopy Yarns and Nina, I’m sure they’re awesome. I brought home a few wooly souvenirs but that’s for another post.
Do you go yarn shopping when you’re visiting a new place?
ps. Speaking of Chicago, Chi-town natives OK Go just released a new song! Have you heard it yet?
What a weekend! I’m still reeling. I took Jon and Ashley upstate to shoot at Rhinebeck and we had so much fun!
We spent all day filming the festival. And we were so busy, I see now, that I didn’t even take photos! But we do have some awesome video that will be coming up soon!
Much of the day was spent doing interviews but we did get in some time to pet furry animals. It was magical to meet so many people from Ravelry and overwhelming to see so much yarn in one place. I wish I’d had more time (and better cell reception!) so that I could have met with everyone. All in all, it was an amazing time. Next year I think I’ll have to split the fun between two days!
Stay tuned because there will be some Rhinebeck videos coming up.
Were you at Rhinebeck? What did you get? Did you pet any animals!?
I just got a delivery of my new business cards! I’m so excited! I feel like a real person! They’re entirely designed by me which makes it even more fun. I can’t wait to give them away. And I’ll get my chance soon because
I’M GOING TO RHINEBECK.
That’s right, this will be my first year at Rhinebeck! And if I don’t faint from a yarn overdose as soon as I get there, I will be shooting all day (I’ll try to stop myself from shopping the whole time but, I mean, it’ll be tough.) for KYC Presents. It’s been a while since the last video, I admit, but there are cool things happening including the promised interview with Anna at Mochi Mochi!
I’m going to be setting up some awesome interviews at Rhinebeck and I want to talk to YOU! That’s right! Since it’s my first time, I want to share the festival experience with people who can’t be there and I want to talk to anybody and everybody about what they’re buying, who’s designs they’re wearing, where they’ve come from, I want to hear it all. If you see me at Rhinebeck (we’ll be the ones with the cameras), come say hey and tell us about your Rhinebeck experience.
The Campaign for Wool came to New York to promote everything great about our favorite fiber, wool! And they brought sheep!
That’s right! I got to see sheepies on the way home from work! And to honor the woolly wonders, the fountain was filled with multi colored hanks of wool. Knitty City was there stitching away and there were tons of spinners explaining the process to curious New Yorkers. It was pretty magical, as if my brain had exploded onto Bryant Park!
The Campaign was passing out fliers highlighting the benefits of wool in everything from household goods to sweaters. Wool is natural and sustainable. It’s a great insulator but is also breathable. And, of course, choosing wool helps to support the small (sometimes local!) farmers rather than oil companies that make cheap synthetic fabrics.
Not that you needed any convincing. In fact, I’m quite sure I am single-handedly keeping the wool industry afloat! Anyway, I don’t need to tell you how great a cause it is. I wish I could get a big 80s t-shirt that says CHOOSE WOOL.
Also, not to start a tangent but, the whole thing reminded me of this show. Does anybody remember Sheep in the Big City!? So many puns!
Big thanks to my mom for telling me about the event! Keep fighting the good fight! Wool to the People!