an original—or two

Posted on Posted in book reviews/events

most people would agree that a city like new york has the best of everything—with some of the most original artists in residence from all disciplines, you have to be pretty talented and pretty brave to make a go of it in such a challenging place to live and work.

you’ve gotta hand it to anyone who takes that leap of faith detour to do something that’s focused around what they love or what is calling them. especially when they have a securely established situation already in the making. what is it that makes people antsy to go off and say, open a yarn shop, when they have a perfectly nice job in their chosen field, anyway?

i don’t know the answer to that exactly, but i did have the pleasure of spending last weekend in the company of two women who did just that—first with tavy ronen (above) at the yarn company in manhattan and then with dori kershner (below) at wooly monmouth in red bank, NJ.

these two entrepreneurs share so many common goals

an intense desire to create a shop environment that is welcoming, stimulating, and at the same time, a respite for knitters of all levels. there’s bridget (left) and stephanie (right)

positive communal experiences that will invite customers to participate, make new friends, and return on a frequent basis (those are our friends donna, nancy, and cathy, BTW).

creative educational opportunities that will teach knitters to grow by engaging both local and national teachers to share their knowledge

and of course, building collections of beautiful yarns and fibers to entice and provide enjoyment.

and yet, each of these women has created a totally unique shop that reflects the taste, personality, and individuality of its owner.

dori’s shop, so near the water’s edge, sits on a quaint seaside town street. the shop is filled with light. yarn is displayed everywhere in pretty cabinets, dressers, baskets, shelving, and in copious sample pieces

dori accurately describes her shop as a reflection or extension of her home; since she spends a lot of time there, she likes it to feel as comfortable as her own house. the feeling is traditional, but fresh and has the feel of a busy beehive. i’m a little embarrassed that i don’t have more photos of wooly monmouth—the day was such a whirlwind that i totally forgot myself and my camera.

tavy took over the yarn company from its previous owners early last year, and along with her brother and daughter, has since completely revamped the space, the stock, and the approach—she is out to recapture a lively, rich, and cooperative atmosphere within.

the shop, one flight up from the street, relies more strongly on a clean minimal concept in wood and metal, to showcase her selection of artisanal products and exclusive, hand-dyed colors. physically, the shop is a reflection of the city outside its windows and a distinct contrast to the soft, rich luxury of its contents.

these three surrounding photos show off her “aisle of style“—hand dyed offerings from knitspot favorites such as briar rose fibers, spirit trail, and the woolen rabbit, among others—definitely not your usual yarn shop fare and rarely (if ever) found all in one shop.

to set oneself apart in a big city like manhattan, you must offer something no one else has. tavy works very hard to maintain relationships with dyers, teachers, designers, to be able to offer exclusive colors and patterns, as well as a steady diet of classes—if you live in the NYC area and you want to touch and see the above yarns in person, then make your way to the yarn company.

classes were wonderful in both venues—filled with participants who were anxious to absorb new skills and information. i taught the same curriculum at both shops actually, which included one of my favorites—yarn voyage, through which we explore the myriad characteristics of fiber and their impact on our knitting.

it was a fantastic weekend for meeting up with ravelry friends, clubbies, and blog readers, both new to me and dear to me. this is katherine, who traveled form north carolina to be with us last weekend. she joined our barenaked yarn club as her first and has since knit her first socks (as well as her second and third), her first lace, and is now an enthusiastic participant in our groups. here she is holding her waffle creams sock, in a non club yarn. right now she is enhancing her skills and her stash to get ready for our fall in full color club, which begins shipping in august (still spots left; come join the fun!).

marthab was in the house too and managed to leave with a few treats. we had a lovely time meeting in person; it’s one of my favorite things about teaching.

despite a riot of fun at the shop, i was ready for a break afterward and the lovely cathy, moderator of our mothership group, had just the thing planned—an afternoon of snacking and knitting in the tranquil back garden of her nearby home. karen and lynn from long island joined us for a bit, as did nancy, as did cathy’s sidekick, mack

awww, i knew you’d all like that photo—macky is quite the fella, alright.

i worked on my holda cardigan, which was only two squares deep when i got to cathy’s that day—between the afternoon at her place and the wait at the airport, i got all the way to the underarm bind off before the weekend was over. then in class the other day, i got a little further, even—nice, right? this back piece will be done before i know it and i hardly noticed it happening. now it will be on to the sleeves; the pattern is already in the works, yay.

the fabric looks so deeply textured, but it will be sleek and elegant once it’s blocked, with just a hint of sinuous movement—all the better to highlight the luscious fiber that is spirit trail holda, with lambswool, cashmere, and angora, mmm.

i had secret projects along as well, but one thing i was determined to finish up wwas the mate for my plain jahyne mitts in fiber isle kami bison. the second mitt has been waiting for a completed thumb way too long and finally i got around to finishing it.

how luscious is that?? excusing the crease, for which i can only blame my own forgetfulness, these turned out lovely and are just what i was wanting when i set out to knit them. they are gossamer, yet warm.

my new pair in ecobutterfly organic cotton lace grows slowly, but surely—i put on a few more rounds here and there over the weekend and will try to focus more on these now that the others are done. thing is, i never know when i’m going to get a lot knit on them—most days they just sit in my purse, but then some days, i have hours of wait time to spend on them. i never know.

i think this brings me to the close of my post—sunday night after class i headed for home and since then, i’ve been once again catching up. tomorrow i’ll have a good day of work, since erica will be making a guest appearance—stay tuned for her update.

thank you, thank you new york—i had a wonderful time and am so grateful to have spent it with you. i miss you already, but word has it that i’ll be back soon.


15 thoughts on “an original—or two

  1. Aw, I knew my wacky Mackie would win you over! It was such a treat to have you here, Anne, and both classes were terrific. Already looking forward to the next time…

  2. Wow, I made the Knitspot Blog! The session was informative and enjoyable. Your classes consistently deliver. I’m going to knit the Mini-Bee sample as a prequel for the Bee Fields. Don’t be a stranger to New York. Cheers.

  3. Oh, what FUN to see everyone! Hi Kat, Hi Cathy! Hi Nancy, Hi Donna, and Hi Martha!!! Looks like everyone had a great time, and of course I love seeing Cathy’s Big Mack!!!! Love that last picture. She should blow it up and frame it! Cathy and her True Love. Fun post Anne, thanks! oh – ps – nice to see the Holda make an appearance!

  4. Anne,

    I love that you got to meet up with some clubbies. The last photo of you and Mack is adorable.

  5. I feel famous…the back of me is on the Knitspot Blog! It was a wonderful class at Wooly Monmouth. Come back again and stay longer!

  6. I’m so glad to hear about the changes at the Yarn Company. It killed me that I couldn’t take your lace class but I had other commitments last weekend that I couldn’t change. It would be wonderful if you taught it again after Rhinebeck.

  7. I am suffering from serious yarn shop envy! What amazing places. I would leave much poorer (but richer for yarn!!) You are just giving me more reasons to visit NY. Lovely to see so many ckubbies, and of course, Mack steals the show. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Ooh – no time for a longer comment right now, but just had to note the coincidence: I grew up with a big bushy-haired red tabby named Mackintosh!

  9. i’m so glad you enjoyed wooly monmouth and red bank! and so bummed i couldn’t be there — if this were any other year, i’d almost certainly be in NJ visiting my family right about now, but this year my boyfriend and i are researching in austin, TX for the summer. hopefully i’ll get to take one of your classes someday, though! 🙂

  10. What a great trip, Anne. I loved seeing so many of the clubbies and KSers. And that Mackie – well he is just a rock star cat. Sounds like a lovely time all around. : )

  11. I love looking at picture of yarn shops. I need more lys’s around me I guess. I’m glad you had a lovely time and Macky looks like a character.

  12. hm, thought you weren’t a cat lover.

    it’s just a matter of meeting the right one at the right time.

  13. I’m so glad you got to meet my friend Katharine! Isn’t she just awesome? Since I’ve moved to WV, there is a distinct Katharine deficiency in my life. On the other hand, I’m so envious that she got to knit with all of you! In that gorgeous yarn shop!!!
    Hey! Idea- we have an opening for a yarn shop at The Greenbrier coming up this summer…? Any interest out there??? Seriously, we’re on the lookout for a fiber person.
    Hugs all around!

  14. I hope you come back to NJ soon! as I would love to take class, but I was away at a conference.

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