Getting Plucky in Brooklyn

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In my 12+ years in NYC, I’ve generally tried to avoid waiting in line for things. This mostly applies to food, since I’m not myself when I’m hangry. I don’t go to Shopsin’s on a Saturday and, for a while, anything with food trucks was a no-go. I knew the Plucky Knitter trunk show at the now-former, tiny Greenpoint location of Gauge + Tension (which is moving to its new location at the Brooklyn Craft Company on Feb. 7!) was going to take a while but, as most fiber-related things are, it was worth the wait, and of course the line was full of beautiful handknits to admire.

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I got there around 10:20 a.m., and probably waited an hour or so to get in, but had a lot of fun meeting and chatting with the knitters I met in line. Sarah and Hayley, along with designer Amy Miller, were the perfect hostesses, supplying us knitters waiting out in a cold, misty rain with Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and Baked By Melissa cupcakes. Michele, the mastermind behind G+T and the Plucky trunk show, knit the gorgeous cabled hat above, her new design called Treccia, with the ultra-luxurious pure Cashmere.

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Since the only Plucky yarns I’ve used are Primo Sport and Worsted, as well as Cozy, I enjoyed the opportunity to see the bases I wasn’t as familiar with, including Bello and Scholar, in one place, and how the brilliantly-named colorways, like Dive Bar and Tiny Bubbles, end up looking slightly different on each one.

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The shopping was a bit frenzied which, given how fast Plucky updates sell out, I was expecting. But there was plenty of yarn to go around, including a ton of the special colorways (olive Greenpoint, golden Williamsburg, and Brownstone, a rusty orange that was my fave) and everyone was happy to direct people to the different areas and answer questions. Knitters are awesome like that.

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There were some really fantastic samples, especially of colorwork in the bold and unexpected combinations that Sarah is known for.

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People left with their bags full of color. (Those are the special colorways above.)

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My haul: Bello in French Laundry and Brownstone, which I think I’ll turn into Amy Miller’s Bees to Honey; Scholar in Strawberry wine, which may become boot toppers, but I’m also eyeing some hats; and Primo Sport in Round Table, which is designated for a wurm for my husband. While I’ll probably still be scouring destashes for my red whale — Hayley’s Bleedin’ Armadillo Groom’s Cake, a Plucky Classics club color that I want for both the color and the name — I’m in love with everything I got.

Happy knit year

Pendulum

I’ve never really been the type to make New Year’s resolutions. If I resolve to do anything, I tend to just pick a date and do it, like deciding to start working out again (constantly sitting at a desk wasn’t doing me any favors) or reorganizing my stash (well, more like finally putting my Rhinebeck purchases away… in an entirely new box).

My knitting resolutions have been similarly immediate. On Christmas morning, I was trying to decide what to knit while I wait for new yarn for my mom’s hooded scarf. I so wanted to try out the Quince & Co. Lark that the pattern called for, but as I started knitting with it, I decided it was a little too rough for wearing around the neck. My husband, who wears his Bugga! scarf much more than his Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride one, felt the WIP and even agreed that it was a little rough (and I hate to sound stereotypical, but if your husband is encouraging you to buy more yarn…).

Anyway, I was looking at my project page, and realized I had a project that’s been hibernating since 2013. It was the Scalene that I cast on for on the way back from Australia (the yarn is from Rhinebeck 2012), and then messed up the increases for while knitting during a VKL class. Every time I pulled it out of the closet, I resolved to finish it. This time, I decided to repurpose it. So, I frogged the quarter-done shawl and cast on for Amy Miller’s Pendulum. greentrianglegirl, AKA A Playful Day, had called it a soothing knit, and she was right. The mindless garter is perfect for this more relaxed time of year, and the short rows keep it interesting. I probably won’t finish it in time for the Indie Untangled Winter KAL (which you still have the rest of today to enter. Read: PRIZES), but this is something I don’t really need to rush.

Swiss Delights Kit

I could have cast on for the Myrtille shawl as part of the Swiss Delights KAL with the Siidegarte kit, but it starts on Jan. 6, so I figured I would be good and wait. I made this my own Hanukkah splurge, and I’m so glad I did. The yarn, which arrived really quickly for an international package, is lovely and silky, and I can’t help but take it out every now and then to admire it.

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Speaking of 2015, there are also some really cool things happening knitwise early next year. First off, some really exciting news about Gauge + Tension: On Feb. 7, Michele is moving the former pop-up shop to a permanent space inside the Brooklyn Craft Company! This is a crafting space in Greenpoint with all sorts of different classes (they also have knit wallpaper they designed themselves!) and I keep meaning to go, so hopefully this will give me the kick in the butt I need.

Michele has also been organizing some really fantastic trunk shows (I really wanted to attend the Jill Draper and Queen Bee Fibers events, but I had my friends from Italy in town and then I had to work. Sigh.). If you’re Plucky obsessed, then you probably already know about the Plucky Knitter trunk show taking place at the old G+T space on Saturday, Jan. 24. Then, the next day, the store is going to be filled with yarns from Miss Babs (but, alas, no Babs herself).

If that’s not enough, on Jan. 25, Maria from the Subway Knits podcast, along with Sarah of KnitYorkCity, Kristin from Yarngasm and Marsha from One Geek to Craft Them All, are speaking at a panel on yarn crafting and blogging, organized by the Brooklyn Knit and Crochet Guild. It sounds like an amazing weekend! And that’s not even factoring in that Vogue Knitting Live is the weekend before.

I think I need to resolve to make another trip to The Container Store.

Untangling: Brooklyn pop-up yarn shop Gauge + Tension

Tanis Fiber Arts Silver Label, a Gauge + Tension retail exclusive.

Tanis Fiber Arts Silver Label, a Gauge + Tension retail exclusive.

Who among us hasn’t fantasized about owning a yarn shop and stocking it full of hand-dyed skeins from some of our favorite indie dyers? Well, designer Michele Wang, she of the beautifully textured Brooklyn Tweed and Quince and Co. knits, has decided to do it, though she’s gone about it in a very unique way. This weekend, she’s opening Gauge + Tension, a pop-up LYS in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

The pop-up concept means that the shop will be open for just three months, on weekends only, except for Oct. 18 and 19, during the New York Sheep and Wool Festival. G+T will specialize in hard-to-find-in-person yarns from a great line-up of dyers, including Tanis Fiber Arts, Western Sky Knits and Hedgehog Fibres, as well as yarns from Quince and Co. and Brooklyn Tweed. There will also be fiber and some patterns for sale.

I think this is such a great idea, and decided to do a Q&A with Michele before going to the opening day on Oct. 4, when I will definitely pop in and take tons of photos.

How did you come up with the idea for a pop-up yarn store and why did you choose this kind of model?

One day my husband forwarded me a site called Storefront and said, “Take a look.” It’s like an Air BnB for retail storefronts. Owners can list their spaces or parts of their spaces by the day or any length of time. And when I took a look at what was in my neighborhood, the space I’ll be renting out was one that jumped out at me. The price and location were perfect.

Not only are rental rates in NYC prohibitively high, but I’m still not sure if I want to be a yarn store owner. This seemed to be the perfect solution. I’ll only be renting on the weekends which keeps the rental costs down, and I can see if this type of business suits me.

G+T Michele

Is this definitely a one-time thing, or are you exploring making this regular, or permanent, at all?

I really don’t know. I’ve always dreamt about having my own store. But, I know it’s hard, all-consuming work and I’m just not sure if it’s for me. I think I’ve learned to take my path day by day. I never know what is going to appeal to me tomorrow.

Western Sky Knits, one of the many indie dyers whose yarns will be available at G+T.

Western Sky Knits, one of the many indie dyers whose yarns will be available at G+T.

Tell me about the kinds of yarns that Gauge + Tension will offer and why you chose the dyers you did.

I wanted to focus on yarns that were hard to find in the NYC area, and I wanted to split up the inventory with hand-dyers and commercially-dyed yarns. It took a long time to figure out which hand-dyers I wanted to go with. I tried to have a nice range of different color palettes and “feels” to the colors. Each dyer has a signature style and my goal was to make sure there was a nice representation of those styles.

Will you be integrating your designs at all, or is this all about the yarn?

I hope to make it all about the yarn, and would like to think the yarn speaks for itself. But people sometimes need to see an example of how the yarn will behave, feel and look once they’re done. I can’t blame them; the yarn in a skein is very different from a finished project. I did design a few hats especially for the store in hopes to promote the yarn, and those patterns will be for sale there. And I’ll also have a few samples of Brooklyn Tweed and Quince designs, which people can download from Ravelry.

Michele Wang's Galeo hat will be one of the designs on display.

Michele Wang’s Galeo hat will be one of the designs on display.

You’ll be participating in this year’s NYC Yarn Crawl. Can you share anything you have planned for the event?

Yes! I have yet to announce it on the blog, but Kristin Lehrer, owner of Voolenvine, will be with us that weekend. She’ll have her latest batch of hand-dyed yarns for sale and will be around for questions and autographs! I’m especially excited to have Kristin in-store because she’s a local. She works out of her apartment right here in Greenpoint! And, I’m especially excited to be able to support a local indie artisan.