Saturday, August 27, 2011

NEW YORK CITY, ROUND 2 Day 3 - SoHo and the West Village

Quirky wonderful...
One of my favorite things about New York is that things combine in a way they just don’t anywhere else.  Honestly, where else can you find an Asian man singing mariachi music to you on the subway (an experience from my last trip)?  Eclectic reigns, and I love it.  New York is the kind of place where a yarn store isn’t just a yarn store, it’s a “lifestyle boutique.”
And that’s how our next fiber fix describes itself:
Loopy Mango
78 Grand Street
New York, NY  10013
A new SoHo establishment, Loopy Mango opened in May 2010 as the brainstorm of jewelry designer Waejong Kim and artist Anna Pulvermakher.  The store describes itself as a “treasure hunt,” and I agree.  You feel cooler just for having walked in.  Like you ought to be impressed with yourself for being in the know about such a hip spot with so many unique finds.  It may be my suburban-mom-SUV-driving-self talking, but I love places like this not just for what I can buy, but for how they make me feel.  And yes, I asked about the name.  Evidently they wanted to name it “Mango Mango,” but a friend said they’re “too loopy.”  Well, if this is “loopy,” the world needs more loop.
The pair offer clever designs and are considering their own knitwear line.  Unique doesn’t really cover it.  And not only do they have imaginative patterns and fibers, but they manage to make you feel as if you could pull off that level of cool creativity yourself.  Many of the projects let the stunning yarns do the work for you--I saw things done here with simple garter stitch that were nothing short of stunning.  This is NOT your grandmother’s knitting, and here are a few projects to prove it:
Need a scarf in a flash?  Want to launch your youngster on their life-long fiber fix?  I can’t think of a better project that this.  Loopy Mango works Filatura di Crosa’s aptly named “Solo 1 minuto” from fiber to fashion in less time that it takes to get a pizza delivered.  Braid up the thumb-thick microfiber and you’re done.  Instant accessory--and in some eye-catching colors, too.
This one caught my eye instantly.  Pagewood Farm'sHandspun Boquet” pairs up with a set of #35 needles (the kind my son refers to as “Mom’s nunchaks") to make another fast-paced project.  The directions: “Cast on 8 stitches and stop when you’re done.”  Period.  The charming pre-afixed rosebuds make all the drama for you.  Here’s my thought:  take this to dinner as a hostess gift, and you could have the scarf knitted for your hostess right in front of her eyes and finished before you left.  This one’s our Knit ALong from Loopy Mango, and I may bring along a stopwatch.
Want something truly artsy?  Look no further than this scarf--another high-drama-but-low-skill project done with Lana Grossa’s Vintage cotton.  The trick is to “unwind” three skeins--let them show you how.  In ball form, the yarn is interesting enough, but when you unwind it, it becomes this curly, soft, delicate thing you can’t help but fondle.  Again, simple stitching is needed because the fiber adds all the style for you.
Since we’ve done so much sugar-sourcing on this trip (and much of it close by to this store), our two side adventures from Loopy Mango are dinner choices.  First, we poked our head into:
Lure Fishbar
142 Mercer St (at Prince) 
New York, NY 10012
How can you not like a restaurant that looks like a boat inside?  Well, a boat filled with people more beautiful than you, but also with food worth the intimidation factor.  As if you crashed someone’s A-list yacht party but haven’t been discovered yet.   I was entertained that a place called “Fishbar” had a reputation for great burgers.  I’m not a raw-food afficionado, but the place has a reputation for such fare as well as lots of other well-executed dishes.  Several folks recommended this happy hour here, but our timing was off.  Still, a very cool experience provided you don’t mind prices a bit on the steep side for your theatrics (and I don’t mind).
Not as close but worth the trip you’ll find:
Cafe Henri
27 Bedford Street (Near Downing)
New York, NY  10014
The west village is an entertaining neighborhood to walk around--loads of character and streets that will challenge your navigational skills.  It took a bit of doing to locate, but Cafe Henri was worth the effort.  The TARDIS-blue storefront (an in-joke for fellow Dr. Who fans) has a wonderful, neighborhoody feel to it, as if you’ve stumbled upon a local gem.  Just the kind of place DestiKNITions adores.  Excellent French bistro food--we had the crepes, of course--in a lovely casual and intimate atmosphere--what’s not to love?  On a hot day, the Chantaco Cocktail combines orange, grapefruit and cranberry juice to refreshing satisfaction, although you can get any number of very good coffees here, too.   Up on the wall you’ll see pictures of the restaurant’s namesake, an adorable white dog. Aww, no wonder I liked the place so much. Well, the yummy desert may have had something to do with it, too.
Well, there you have it.  Three great NYC experiences at three very distinct stores with a load of diverse adventures to match.  DestiKNITions perfection!  Up next, I get my Flashdance on with Noro leg warmers from Yarn Company.  I promise, no spandex will be harmed in the making of that episode....

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