July 18, 2006

A New York Minute--or Two

I received a photo of these printed sheets, which are called In a New York Minute, in an email from Garnet Hill the other day. It's traditional white-sale time and is there anything better than a brand-new pair of crisp sheets and pillowcases in July? Well, yeah, maybe a new needlework project, but new sheets are close. Normally I'm an ecru or white-sheet person. Maybe with some embroidery but no scratchy lace, thank you. (On a side note, have you ever seen or attempted the sheet-hem embroidery in the Australian Inspirations magazines? What an aptly-named magazine--I just salivate.) And I'm a high-thread-count snob too; I suppose it's just part of my appreciation of anything textile-related or anything that feels good next to the skin (and maybe it's a reaction to having slept between thick, gray, pilled flannel sheets in my Vermont grandparents' home; I can still feel those harshly utilitarian things). But I got a kick out of the NY sheets, and they made me nostalgic.

Last year I spent the better part of six months living in a variety of hotels in New York. The job I had, doing securities and financial investigations with a consulting firm, allowed me to rub shoulders with the Country-Club Crooks--the best and brightest in the growing field of Corporate Book-Cooking and Financial Finagling. I'd fly from DC every Monday morning and fly back Thursday or Friday night. The NY picture is from my office. I adored New York, and, despite a chronic case of homesickness, I enjoyed having free time in the evening (no dinner to make, no floors to vacuum, no cat vomit to swab!) for exploring and then Chinese food and needlework back in the hotel room. One problem was that the 40-watt bulb industry is busy churning out lights for hotel rooms. The very worst place was the W hotel, which provided a stingy three lamps with dim bulbs, a charcoal-gray carpet and gray walls--great for hiding dirt perhaps, but not ideal for needlework. It also helped to have a room on a high floor to avoid, even during the daylight hours, the perpetual twilight caused by the surrounding buildings.

The other problem was that while midtown Manhattan has plenty of knitting shops, there were no needlework shops, at least that I could find. So if I broke or lost a needle, or forgot something at home, I was out of luck. I spent more time knitting than doing needlework (and I couldn't find those couple of needlework WIPs to photgraph last night--pictures later). This picture is of an afghan I worked on--am still working on--from the Debbie Bliss Simple Living book, done in Cashmerino Aran, which is a dreamily soft combination of merino wool, cashmere and microfiber.

I'm not the most proficient knitter, and I really prefer counted cross stitch, but from time to time I tackle a knitting project or two or three. Knitting for me involves much more head-scratching about the directions, more frogging and tinking, more perplexing decisions, particularly involving something that actually has to fit. And yes, there's a quicker product in some ways, but I think it's less interesting. With knitting there's this big, bland landscape and then a set of hair-raising technical details that can make or break your project and ruin your chances of ever wearing something you've spent about a thousand hours on. With cross-stitch mostly, the colors change (unless you're doing a one-color sampler) or the design does, so there's generally something to look forward to. Then again, you can't pull a finished sampler on when you're chilly.

As we research hotels for our Quebec City vacation this fall, I am mindful of the lighting issue. I don't know about you, but I take my needlework with me on vacation; there are only so many hours I can be up on my feet exploring a place. We found a nice hotel we thought we might like, and then when I went onto the Tripadvisor site to check it out, one reviewer's summary killed it: "room too dark." So I'll find another hotel, and in the meantime, if anyone knows of any good needlework shops in QC, let me know!


Anonymous said...

I agree about the sheets. I love high count sheets, I too have memories of that "pilly" feeling of cheap sheets. Sue

catandturtle said...

I must say I love flannel sheets in the winter but that may be because mine have snowmen families on them. Your afghan looks great. I will learn how to knit someday but for now I have enough cross stitch and quilting projects to keep me and a small town busy way into retirement. :)