Sunday, October 23, 2005

Manhattan Fall Weekend

Every once and again I have a Manhattan weekend that reminds me that I heart NY. For some odd reason, this past one seemed to turn around Nabisco.

Some (non-knitting) friends visiting from out of town wanted to see Chelsea Market, a new shopping concourse housed in the old Nabisco factory Amy's Bread jack-o-lanternon Ninth Avenue (between 15th & 16th Streets) in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. DH and I had never been, so we tagged along. The signs of the season were everywhere, including at Amy's Bread.

On the outside, the old Nabisco factory building is a solid brick construction, occupying a full city block. It has an expanse of loading docks and its own High Line connection. In the day it must have been incredible, truly the National Biscuit Company.

Inside, Chelsea Market has been done up in Goth industrial chic, with slabs of stone and exposed brick and pipes and black paint everywhere. The main vendors are purveyors of trendy produce and prepared food, and flowers. Several have glassed in work areas, so one can watch the chefs at work. But I found the place a bit depressing, perhaps because of the low ceilings and low lighting. I hope the claustrophobic design is energy-efficient at least.

However that may be, the indoor gloaming did set off a large display of the most amazing carved pumpkins, including this scarey fellow and an advertisement. Sorry about the blurry photo – it's a long exposure!

Photo of George Bush pumpkinhead scarecrow   Chelsea Market pumpkin

Calling someone a "pumpkinhead" is a term of abuse in some languages.

The market has a "waterfall," water from a private artesian spring falling from a pipe Chelsea Market 'waterfall'into an old well. The concept struck me as a bit precious, but the old brick work inside the well is very nice and the sight and sound of gushing water is undeniably appealing, especially in such a gloomy place.

Overall, I much prefer the outdoor Greenmarkets, particularly the one at Union Square. There's more vendors and they offer the very freshest and choicest flowers and produce around. That's in spite of the perils of inclement weather and seasonal variation in supply. On the other hand, the Greenmarkets lack those artful carved pumpkins – I'm glad we got to see them.

Earlier in the weekend, I went to the Handknit Holidays trunk show at Purl. Cover of Handknit HolidaysIt was very low-key. I had plenty of time to examine the samples thoroughly, which is always a treat. Then again, Purl is always a treat, even on those days when the store feels a bit like the subway at rush hour!

While I did buy the book, some designs had me stiffling giggles for their sheer weirdness. My favorites in the mirth-producing category include knitted Christmas tree ball ornaments (?), i-cord garland (?), and a knitted St. Lucia crown (?!?). I'm very partial to Lussekatter [or St. Lucia buns], but this is really too, too much. It's a wonderful, wacky world.

Fortunately, there also are many winning designs. I immediately cast on for Iris Schreier's Snowy Triangle Scarf using Stacy Charles Ritratto. I'm having so much fun working the clever triangle shaping that it's already too long to photograph flat!

Snowy Triangle Scarf in progress

Ritratto is an all-out pretty yarn, with gorgeous color variation, sheen, glitter, and a bit of bloom – the photo hardly does it justice. The metallic thread gives the knit fabric extra body, for an especially airy look and feel. Unlike many glittery mohair yarns, it's very forgiving, an easy knit.

To round out that day, I stopped at Chocolate Haven, Jacques Torres' factory and store in SoHo. Now there's a factory with a nice high ceiling! It was too warm for a restorative cuppa hot chocolate (reputedly the best in NYC), but I did stock up on boxed chocolates for my visitors, who seemed to like them somewhat.

Unbeknowst to me, they were under strict orders not to return from NYC without an adequate supply of Mallomars and were having numerous adventures trying to procure sufficient quantities of the same. For those who don't know them, Mallomars are a fabled Nabisco cookie produced and distributed only when the weather is cool (they go away to the Catskills during the summer, it says so on the box). They're a favorite of New Yorkers and apparently in demand elsewhere. We eventually found 10 boxes some after leaving Chelsea Market.

But, alas, according to the Wikipedia, Mallomars possess a fragile perfection irreparably harmed by the rigors of air travel! They can be fully enjoyed only near the source. Ah well, just one more reason to heart NY.

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