Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Yarn Crawlin' - Down and Dirty in the Garment District

The Garment District in New York is Amazing. Because it is still really used by an Industry, and not just the industry of Retailing to Hobbyists. As such, it's messy and not all that clean and not all that clear, and in some ways, not so convenient. Anywhere else in America, the store you go to for fabric also has zippers and thread and needles and velcro and interfacing and patterns and buttons and a Bedazzler. You know, all the stuff you need. Here, you go to blocks and blocks of stores, in weird old buildings, sometimes without storefronts, hidden inside the buildings. And there's no Bedazzler, but a bedazzling array of fabric. But only, for example, satins and silks. Or weird unorganized odds and ends on long unwieldly tubes, not on handy Retailing to Hobbyists bolts. And they ain't got buttons, or needles, or zippers or zip. Just fabric. Unless maybe they do, because sometimes they do have thread or something. But don't count on it, and there's something there about gift horses and looking in the mouth - it's an awesome system, don't mess with it.

But you're looking for yarn, anyway. And it is here. In the same sort of weird, specialized, tucked away, not-too-gussied-up way.

I will say that for the sewing and fabric enthusiasts among you, the Empire Quilt Guild's big show is THIS WEEKEND at FIT - Stephanie's speaking gig is. March 24-25. You know you want to go. Click anywhere on this whole sentence for the details.

The Garment District Yarn Tour

The down-and-dirty show-me-funky give-me-amazing crowd. And anyone who can get around by themselves and gets to the big Stephanie Representing event early.

Start: Anywhere. Time is running short for my blabbering on and on. This is more of a what's-in-the-area list.

We've got The Yarn Connection. It's not really in the Garment District, but it really is worth a visit. These ladies are seriously serious, this store's been around longer than many, many of the others in the New York, and they've got lots of great stuff.
The Yarn Connection
218 Madison Avenue, by 36th Street (between 36th/37th)
2nd Floor
Mon - Fri 10-6, Thursdays open 'til 8, Saturday 10-5

Then there's the somewhat famous School Products. Also a yarn store in New York with a history a lot longer than Stitch-N-Bitch Nation. They've got a funky stock - they keep some standards in (Brown Sheep, Karabella, baby yarns), but they've also got a lot of wild stuff on cones and in irregular skeins. They're most famous for having great cashmere. And they do.
School Products
1201 Broadway (between 28th/29th Sts)
3rd Floor, Suite 301
Mon - Fri 9:30-6:30
Sat 10-3:30

Also the slowly-becoming-famous Habu Textiles. Japanese artisinal. I don't even know what to say. They sell their own yarns, I don't think they carry anything that's made for commercial yarn retail except their own stuff. More oriented towards weaving and what a lot of folks might call experimental or fiber art pieces. Wild. Amazing.
Habu Textiles
135 W 29th Street, (between 6th/7th Aves)
Suite 804
Monday - Sat 10-6

And the elusive Vardhman Inc/Unique Knit Craft. No website, though it's the one one in this area that's actually a walk-in-from-the-street and not on a second/third/eighth floor. Very few listings on "lists of New York yarn stores." But a real person answers the phone there and the greeting is "Unique Knit." I think it's probably a gold mine, if you take the time to track it down and sift through their offerings.
Vardhman Inc.
257 W 39th Street (between 7th/8th Aves)
Mon - Fri 10:30-6:30, Sat. 11-5

Happy shopping, happy knitting, and have a coffee at Antique Cafe: at FIT on 27th between 6th and 7th OR their larger and packed-full-with-amazing-fresh-flowers location at 26th just off of 6th Ave (between 6th & Broadway). One of the earlier careers of the proprietor was the manufacture and sale of amazing silk plaid boxers made in India.


Anonymous granny purple said...

Hi Amber--thanks for all your work on yarn tours. Those of us not superhuman can only admire people who got to more than 5 stores. As for Knits Incredible, my pal & I walked over there after the Imagine session--it's small, expensive, but the shattering part is that the lady is NOT a Harlot fan. We are therefore not Knits Incredible fans!

3/25/2007 5:19 PM  
Blogger Sonya said...

This really is an amazing resource. I had a toddler with me, so yarn store crawling wasn't in the cards. I did go to School Products, and yes, walked away with some cashmere. Next time I am in NY, I will have to explore some more.

3/27/2007 11:15 PM  
Anonymous Judi from Cleveland said...

Hey, Amber - just have to say thanks a million for all the info. I missed Stephanie on the 22nd, but will see her this Saturday in Cleveland! Happen to be in the city at this moment however, and, thanks to you, managed to squeeze in a yarn shop drop-in at Knit New York where the owner stole my idea of a yarn shop/cafe combo, and it really was a delightful hour -- I made two friends (one from Brooklyn!) and provided lots of advice to a happy customer purchasing some beautiful Koigu for her first sock project! Very soul-satisfying. Again, thanks.

3/28/2007 6:35 PM  
Blogger Cristina said...

The Garment District satisfied and stupefied this hobbyist the year I lived in NYC. I still have visions and nightmares of rolls of canvas big enough to make sails. Not being the yachting type, I made my own Roman shades for the dingy fifth floor walk-up studio I lived in. What was I thinking?

Thanks for your offer of assistance with the indigo. I'm hoping/thinking of several first half of June dates for dyeing, so think of something you want to get into the vat and I'll be in touch.

3/29/2007 2:06 PM  
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