The Purl Bee is a blog and a website that I hold very dear to my heart. Years ago when Toby and I were building our van, I started exploring the amazing world of arts & crafts blogs, and The Purl Bee was one that has helped me learn to knit and crochet – and provided continuous inspiration to me. Their free tutorials made from their delicious high grade craft supplies practically makes me drool every time I see a new post, and as a maker their blog has shaped me – I’ve made so many of their projects, from knitted mitts & cowls, to sewn and quilted blankets.
The Purl Bee has a physical shop that is always all the way over in New York and though I knew I could never travel across the globe just to visit a knitting shop….well hang on a minute, wasn’t that where I was headed?!
As you can guess, with much excitement and a silly amount of anticipation, my sister Ellie, my friend Elsa, and I made a plan to visit the holy grail of arts & crafts shops on our recent trip to New York. The shop is called Purl Soho, as it’s located in the sophisticated Soho area of New York.
Stepping inside the shop was like stepping into Santa’s grotto. Beautiful fabrics are displayed on the wall of the entrance, framed in embroidery hoops of different sizes. Next to that, an entire wall boasts skeins of yarn of every colour, thickness, texture and natural fibre imaginable.
Everywhere you turn in the shop, you are greeted with flashes of mouth-watering colours – pure wool felt in the colours of a crisp, autumn country walk. Fat squishy skeins of handspun wool with flowers and glitter spun into them, everything demanding your attention, everything begging to be touched, turned over, considered, held, loved.
As I was rifling through a bowl of Liberty’s fabric off-cuts, unable to decide – the agony of choice – one of the shop assistants came to add more pieces to the bowl, and I told him I just love them all. He turned to me and confessed, “I know – me too!”, with genuine love for these fabric scraps. He is one of us – a craft nut! I told him about our pilgrimage and he was delighted, and welcomed us warmly to the store. We received a few admiring smiles and thumbs up, signs of acceptance from these crafty New Yorkers to us intrepid and determined explorers from Europe!
As we browsed the stunning, carefully curated collection of fabrics that had the loveliest patterns and designs on them, Ellie decided then and there that she is going to become a seamstress, because she simply cannot leave (or live) without purchasing some of these fabrics. “I CANNOT LEAVE THIS SHOP…EVER!” I howled, as I discovered maps of cities that you can embroider on and make into a quilt. We all experienced a pang of longing and desire – not ready to go until every single item in this shop had been carefully inspected and the correct choices made for our purchases and future projects. “You don’t even have to leave, not for like two and a half hours – that’s when we close!” calls out one of the friendly assistants, “you can just come and hang out over here with me!”
I eventually completed my tour of the shop, content with having tried to commit the entire contents of it to memory. There seemed to be a general air of warmth, of contentment, craftsmanship and well-being in that store – a creative haven where dreams can be realised!
I decided on a huge skein of chunky forest green yarn, and a thinner kettle dyed skein, to make new winter hats with – and one of the pieces of Liberty’s fabric (possibly to make notebook covers or pouches with)
We eventually managed to tear ourselves away from the shop – taking away a small piece of it in the form of a yard of fabric, or a skein of wool, as a souvenir of this magical place.
You can visit the wonderful folks at Purl Soho at 459 Broome Street, New York; or visit them online at The Purl Bee.