Goal Accomplished!

If you follow my blog, you may recall that I started an Executive MBA program in the Summer of 2016. I am happy to report that this past February, I submitted my final assignment and graduate this May! It took me almost 20 years, but I finally accomplished a goal I’ve had for a long time. It’s never too late to refresh and sharpen your skills. If you are interested, I was interviewed for an article on why I chose to do an MBA at this stage of my career. A student currently in their first year of the program was also interviewed.

Here I am with my cohort.

As you might imagine, the MBA curriculum left little to no time for blogging or knitting. Nonetheless, I did sneak in a few skeins here and there. On a trip to Austin to see my son (who is an undergraduate there), I went in search of my fave LYS (local yarn store) which had moved to a new location. Hill Country Weavers was formerly housed in a quaint Victorian on a hip strip on South Congress. After visiting my boy, my husband drove me to their new location at 4102 Manchaca Road, Austin, Texas 78704. It’s a much larger space than what they had previously and with the same incredible selection of gorgeous yarns.

I had seen enticing photos of FOs (that’s finished objects for the uninitiated) using yarns from Hedgehog Fibers, but I had never purchased any. After walking around their new digs, I headed over to the Hedgehog Fibers section and ogled all the color combinations. Even though I would not have time to do anything with it, I purchased this lovely skein. It’s called Boombox and it’s 437 yards of fingering weight yarn made of 90% Superwash Merino Wool and 10% Nylon for a bit of stretch.

I also could not resist this Sock Mini in Banana Legs yellow. It’s 87 yards of the same soft 90% Superwash Merino / 10% Nylon and perfect for adding a splash of color.

I haven’t decided what these beauties will become but I’m looking forward to wrapping my fingers in this yarn and going at it with my needles.

All-Nighters and Second-Hand Yarn

It’s hard to grasp that I am almost halfway through my Executive MBA program. The last eight months have flown by or perhaps I didn’t notice the time passing. The days are filled with meetings that need to be attended, decisions that need to be made and people who need to be met. Nighttime is school time. At this stage of life, I am once again pulling all-nighters. And like those college days, the next day feels euphoric as if I just climbed a mountain or won a marathon. Then comes the crash on or about mid-afternoon of the third day.

There have been the moments of wondering why I chose to do this to myself. There have been stretches of dread trying to figure out if I should fail to reject the null hypothesis and whether the price of a good causes a movement along the demand curve or shifts it entirely, either to the left or to the right.

Having survived the “quants,” we are now in the midst of courses about launching and leading business ventures. I have learned a tremendous amount and despite those twinges of regret that usually come between 3 and 5 in the morning, I am so glad I am doing this. The academic learning challenges me and keeps me sharp and the case studies and classroom discussions round out my experience. Plus, I now have approximately 180 new friends from all walks of life and careers all the way from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada to Santiago, Chile and from the west to east coasts of the United States.

We recently had our second residency on the Cornell campus. Between work, school, family and the occasional nap, my time is consumed. But such is my passion for yarn that I arrived one day early in Ithaca so that I could visit the local hipster yarn spots. If you read my last Ithaca post, you may recall that the yarn shop closest to campus was closed. This time, I made it there twice in one week … in the snow.

I learned that Homespun Boutique has been an Ithaca gem for over 40 years. Every surface is covered with all types of wool, both spun and unspun, and many other fibers. Upon entering, a cardboard cutout sheep displaying lovely balls of yarn greets you.

There are baskets and bins neatly arranged on almost every square meter of floor, like these skeins of organic wool in various weights.

I found a whole shelf of earthy pure Alpaca undyed to showcase its natural hues.

My favorite was the lo-cal yarn – fewer calories, less fat, and tastes great! The Looney Tunis label is for the wool from a flock of tunis sheep located on a farm in nearby Spencer, NY.

Then there were these swoon-worthy displays and the ubiquitous wall of yarn.

Not to be outdone, the other half of the shop was filled with bolts of fabrics grouped by shades of red, yellow and green and all the other colors of the rainbow.

The shop’s only drawback was that it did not have a space for wool-gathering. If they moved a few fabric displays to a back room, they could easily fit in a table and some comfy chairs, and perhaps even an espresso machine for those chilly Ithaca winters.

Homespun Boutique is located on one end of Ithaca Commons, a 4-block pedestrian shopping area flanked by boutiques, restaurants and second-hand stores. At the opposite end of the Commons is SewGreen, a non-profit focused on upcycling fabrics and yarn. Very cool.

Because it relies on donations for its inventory, you never know what treasures you will find at SewGreen. They had cubbies full of yarn, cones of thread, knitting patterns, vintage hooks and needles, embroidery hoops and buttons.

Most of the space was devoted to fabrics. Someone had recently donated several yards of fabric with various bird designs which covered an entire display table.

SewGreen has a boutique of gently used Eileen Fisher clothing. The staff will carefully mend any flaws and the items are cleaned and steamed before being put out for sale. I love their tagline – “We Make ReUse Beautiful.”

My visits to both stores resulted in the following souvenirs: 2 skeins of Zen Serenity Silk Singles in two colorways; 1.5 yards of the red, teal, and yellow fabric; some vintage straight knitting needles; and a few fat quarters.

Now back to studying.

What’s a Journey without Yarn?

First stop … Ithaca.

I arrived in Ithaca a day before the MBA program to get acclimated. The agenda foretold of long hours ahead and I wanted to see the campus. I ventured down the hilly terrain from the campus to Ithaca Commons, a pedestrian-friendly area with restaurants and shops. My destination – Homespun Boutique.

Homespun Boutique - Ithaca, NY

I read that Homespun Boutique had been around for over 30 years. Besides yarn and fibers, it also carries fabrics. I arrived early and wandered in and out of the shops. When I returned to the yarn store, it was still rather dark inside. I peeked through the door and that’s when I noticed the “we’re closed today” handwritten note taped to the inside of the glass. Noooooooooo! : (

Homespun Boutique - Giant Needles

Dejected, I walked back up the hill with the sun at my back. At least I got my workout in. I will try again next time. You can find Homespun Boutique virtually on FaceBook and in real life at 314 E. State St., Ithaca, NY 14850, Phone: 607-277-0954.

Next stop … Kingston.

During the week in Kingston, Ontario, there was precious little time for anything but classes and studying. Assignments had to be turned around in 24-48 hours. I usually skipped dinner so that I could work or nap before the long night ahead. On the very last day, after all assignments had been submitted, I had a couple of hours before heading out to the airport. This was my only opportunity.

The hotel arranged a car to take me to my destination. The driver was part of the program staff and, as I came to learn, a knitter herself. An immediate friendship was struck as we made our way to Knit Traders of Kingston. I was there for only 15-20 minutes and made the most of it. The staff was very helpful. They pointed me to locally spun wool but it was a bit too scratchy for me so I picked up sock yarn instead.

Knit Traders - Wall of Yarn

Besides the ubiquitous wall of yarn, there were plenty of fibers and tools for spinning.

Knit Traders - Fibers

Every yarn store should have this sign!

Knit Traders - Touch the Yarn Sign

Knit Traders is located in a nondescript strip center, so you need to look for it. I don’t recall seeing a spot to sit and knit. They didn’t have some of the brands I typically look for, such as Madeline Tosh, but they were getting ready to bring in more local yarns.

Knit Traders - Logo
KnitTraders of Kingston, 725 Gardiners Rd, Kingston, ON, K7M 3Y5, Phone: 613-384-3951.

On the drive to Knit Traders, I learned that there was a truck full of yarn that traveled around Kingston. Yes, a TRUCK – FULL – of – YARN. Think food truck but with yarn on the menu. According to the Purlin’ J’s Roving Yarn website, the truck stops at several locations. You can find it by checking the “Where’s The Truck” section of the website. They even do day trips to fiber festivals! Imagine, riding in a truck full of yarn to a fiber festival.

purlin-j-072
Source

A journey without yarn is just a road trip.

Yarn in the City

I only had a couple of days in New York City and had little hopes of finding yarn, but yarn I found. I googled “yarn” and Seaport Yarn came up only a few blocks from my hotel. You really have to be looking for it. The shop is on the fourth floor of a large building. You walk in through a nondescript door at street-level and walk or take the elevator upstairs. It’s not a very inviting entry area, even a little scary. Not the kind of place that will get street traffic. Once inside though, the place was bursting with yarn. There were cubbies of yarn practically floor to ceiling.

Seaport Yarn 1

I was the only customer and was able to take my time looking through all the inventory. The proprietor, Tom, was a kind gentleman who seemed to know his yarn. He was very sweet and was watching the shop for his wife. He had spent so much time around yarn and knitters that he was quite knowledgeable about the brands and fibers. Since it was just him and me, we had a lively conversation as I walked around sampling the yarn.

Seaport Yarn 2

I have been on a sock kick of late. For years, I have avoided knitting socks. Not being a patient person, the idea of finishing a project only to have to start all over seemed exasperating. But recently, I saw a photo of a knitter’s sock drawer. It was filled with socks in many colors. I was so entranced that I had to start a pair so I spent quite a bit of time in the sock yarn cubbies. There were a number of options and I finally settled on this Aussie Sock by Oasis Yarn. It’s 400 yards of a fingering weight merino blend called “Blue Dream.”

Seaport Yarn - Oasis Aussie Sock

I selected this sock yarn by Malabrigo for my husband. The skein has 440 yards of fingering weight yarn in subtle greens and browns called Primavera. Primavera means “Spring.” In my opinion, a more appropriate name would have been Otoño or “Fall.” But it’s still a very nice yarn.

Seaport Yarn - Malabrigo Sock

As I paid for my skeins, the proprietor threw in this handy measuring tape and fun pen. I think the funky hair is meant to dust small areas, like a keyboard. While I was happy with my purchases and the great customer service, I did find the store a bit messy. There wasn’t a clear surface anywhere and no place to sit (other than an old couch). It’s not the kind of yarn store where you can take your knitting and sit for a spell but it does have a good selection.

Seaport Yarn - Giveaways

That blue dream skein is already on my needles and I’m almost done with my first sock. I’m enjoying the process more than I thought I would!

Seaport Yarn - Sock in Progress

Seaport Yarn is located in the Financial District at 181 Broadway, Fourth Floor, New York, NY 10007, tel. 212-220-5230.

More Reasons Why I ❤ NY

Here are more pictures from our trip to New York City. Besides the huge skyscrapers and art deco buildings, sculptures and other architectural details caught my eye. Here is a random sampling of some of them.

Who can resist Times Square? With its energy and buzz, it's quintessential New York and a people-watching paradise.
On the 50th Street side of Radio City Music Hall, there are three large plaques that represent the main activities inside - "Dance, Drama and Song." This one is "Drama."
At 30 Rockefeller Plaza, directly in front of the famous ice-skating rink, is "Wisdom" (1933).
Flanking "Wisdom" are "Sound and Light" (1933). These stylized panels represent new technologies of the times - radio (sound) and television (light). This one is "Light."
"Saint Francis of Assisi with Birds" (1937) sits above a building entrance on 50th Street.
At the viewing area at the "top of the rock" you can see these large metal panels up close. I halfway expected to see the bat signal floating up in the sky over "Gotham City."
This tiled panel was appropriately located at the 50th Street subway stop near the Theater District. It is part of the "Alice: The Way Out" tile work by Liliana Porter (1994).
Subway stops are labeled by colorful tile mosaics, like this one at the 116th Street-Columbia University stop.
A stone rosette adorns either side of the entrance to Low Memorial Library, a National Historic Landmark, on the Columbia University campus.

To learn more about some of the artwork, try these links: Rockefeller Center, NYC Subway Art Guide.

 NY.