Visiting New York City can be a surreal experience. At least for North Americans, it is the setting for so many of our most beloved movies, tv shows and novels. It can feel like you are visiting a (very crowded) theme park filled with the stores Carrie shops at, the builiding where Liz Lemon works, that toy store from Big, and, of course, Holly Golightly’s most famous breakfast spot. If you’re younger than me, those cultural references may shift to Brooklyn, but either way – New York is a city that feels disconcertingly familiar, even on your first visit.
That surreal familiarity definitely extended to the only place in New York City that I was determined to shop at: Purl Soho. I’ve been to New York a number of times over the years, and I live in a big city, so the shopping in Manhattan never really calls to me. But that was before I starting following the Purl Bee. Their beautifully photographed patterns and designs continue to inspire. We have many fantastic yarn stores at home, but the Purl Bee suggested that this was going to be something really special. I spent a perfect afternoon in Soho with my girlfriends, eating at the L’Ecole (a fantastic restaurant where staff are all being trained in the art of French food), and shopping for yarn.
From the moment I stepped in, I’m pretty sure that the staff knew they were dealing with an unabashed fan girl. I picked through their selection of books, looked at the fabric and wished I could sew or quilt, saving the yarn for last. It certainly isn’t a place to hunt for bargains, but they have a gorgeous and carefully chosen selection of silks, linens and cashmeres. I have admired the sweaters and accessories on their blog for years, and then there they were hanging on a rack where you could touch them and try them on. Like so many other spots in New York, there was that strange feeling of familiarity and admiration. I’ve seen this so many times, but here it is and it’s real. Trying the sweaters on had a practical purpose too. I was able to see exactly how they fit, much more clearly than you can from measurements on a pattern. I could see that the cable back shell I’ve been working on is very short, while the silken tee shirt I bought yarn for is already the perfect length. For anyone else using their patterns from a far, despite what you may have heard about New Yorkers, the sweaters actually fit on the big side.
The service was helpful, knowledgable and friendly; they answered questions, printed patterns and wound my yarn, while we shopped across the street. I cannot wait to cast on with the yarn that I bought: Alchemy Silken Straw is Husk (for the t-shirt) and Euroflax Linen in Caribou (for their raglan).