Sunday, February 13, 2011

NEW YORK CITY- Part two: Soho

Knit More of the Big Apple

For this part of our adventure, head to the other side of the island, equally famous for a whole host of different reasons: Soho.  

Get off the subway at Houston Street to start your adventure with--of course--coffee at:
144 Sullivan St (between Prince St & Houston St) 
New York, NY 10012
Truly local, neighborhood-y places like this are treasures.  Although my sources called it their favorite grab-and-go coffee place, I found all kinds of sandwiches and more substantial fare here, too.  As the name implies, Local uses local ingredients.  The place has that indescribable factor, that vibe that makes you want to hang out and feel cool.  And really, how many places have a good popover like Local has? By the way, if you’re a Law and Order fan, there’s a reason why one of the two owners looks familiar: Craig Walker spent time as a member of the cast.

Duly fortified, meander on over to Broadway and head south for one of the best stretches of fabulous shopping and highly entertaining street life you’ll find anywhere.  Vendors, musicians, and just plain citizens (although Soho contains no “just plain” citizens of any kind!) make for no dull moments and you wander the sidewalks.  Make note of Dean & Deluca’s as you walk by...we’ll be stopping there later.  For now, wander several blocks to Broome Street and Head east until you reach one of NYC’s most iconic yarn stores:
Purl Soho
459 Broome Street
New York, NY  10013
Lots of knitters know this place from their exquisite blog,  There’s a distinct, hip/vintage vibe to both the blog and the place--every detail oozes “they don’t make ‘em like this anymore” right down to the rolling shelf ladder and the French Flea Market white of the fixtures.  Every detail feels perfectly crafted to give the overall feel of the store, which artfully combines knitting and crochet products with quilter supplies.  

Yes, it was busy--crowded, even--but the artful order of the place and the exceedingly helpful staff still gave me a sense of peace.  As if any project that came home with me couldn’t help but turn out perfectly.
Our Knit-A-Long from here will be a lovely pair of stirrup socks, destined to peek out in all their purple perfection from the awesome pair of black leather boots I bought for this trip.  Done up with Anzula’s “Squishy” superwash merino and patterned for short and long versions, they’re ideal for poking out of a pair of wellies, or snowboots.  I love that the pattern comes in a plastic-sleeved half sheet, just the perfect size for tucking into your knitting bag.  
Another project sure to catch your fancy is the Purl exclusive “Super Easy Baby Blanket.”  You can pick your own palate, but given the artful quality of the store, I’d opt for the kit containing seven pre-selected skeins of Alchemy Temple.  Sure, it’s all garter stitch, but it looks like so much more.

With the exclusive “Winter Hats for Everyone” pattern and your choice of Jade Sapphire Zageo six ply cashmere, you’re sure to turn heads and make friends.  The pattern offers three sizes of hats and three choices of “toppers” to mix and match.  With this and a set of size 5 needles, you’ve got everything you need to keep all the heads you love warm and cozy.
The kind folks at Purl Soho also offered up one of the coveted “P” totebags that you’ll be able to win in our comment drawing so stay tuned.

Give your eyes a change of pace and walk to Crosby and Spring Streets for an entirely different kind of design excellence:
MoMA Design Store
81 Spring St # A
New York, NY 10012-3904
(646) 613-1367
“Clever” is the word I always associate with this store.  It’s fun to drool over the catalogue, but it’s bliss to walk in and touch everything.  From spiffy versions of everyday objects to drop-dead stunning art and furniture, it’s here. Watches, scissors, coatracks, desk items, everything is in this store puts the WOW factor in everyday life.

Now make your way to Prince Street between Lafayette and Mulbury to visit:

McNally Jackson
52 Prince Street
New York, NY
I don’t know how they managed it, but this store has a clean-lined, Crate & Barrel feel but still has all those cozy nooks and crannies you look for in a a bookstore.  The stock of books is diverse, independent, and very high quality.  You don’t mind the bright lighting--I found myself enjoying the spaciousness of the place.  It has the requisite cafe, and a big, busy feeling that still manages the quiet I crave in a bookstore.  It sounds like a big juxtaposition, but somehow they work it all in a perfect harmony.
By the way, the beatiful Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral is just up Mulberry if you want to find a little more perfect harmony of the inner variety.  
Our final destination is one of the great “foodie,” spots:
Dean & Deluca
560 Broadway 
New York NY 
(212) 430-8300
Sure, they deliver, but that’d spoil all the fun of wandering the upscale aisles of this gourmet market and cafe.  Eat dinner, buy dinner supplies, or get your gourmet snack on--this is definitely the place.  Where else can you buy gold chocolate Buddha icons (at least I think they were Buddha, I didn’t ask), a $150 birthday cake, or ten pound chocolate bars?  They make a Blackout Cake (remember the cupcake from earlier?), that looked really wonderful.  I can’t remember when I’ve seen a bigger assortment of cookies or a more jaw-dropping produce section.  I’ll consider myself to have “made it” when I can do my weekly grocery shopping in an establishment like this.

There you have it--two distinct, memorable slices of New York.  No one can do this city in one visit--probably not even in three--but I hope I’ve whet your appetite for further exploration.
Next up, we pamper our feet by slipping them into PurlSoho’s stirrup socks.

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