Wednesday, June 13, 2007

♪"I left no Art(fibers) in San Francisco"♫

You know the tune. Although I really did not buy up the entire stock of Artfibers, my trip to San Francisco last week was more fun than kittens! There's not a lot I can add to the great tales that Lisa (MidwifeKnits) and Marie (smariek knits) have posted, but I'll try. Lisa took and posted all the best pictures!!

Arriving mid-morning Wednesday at the Grand Hyatt at Union Square, I had no more than given my name and Lisa's to the desk clerk than there she was, popping up just in time to smooth the way to my own personal keycard. Lisa is tall, blonde, witty, tall, pretty and charming. She just sparkles with energy, and she has the most wonderful hair, just the sort that I, inheriting baby-fine, stick-straight hair, would love to have. Her photos don't convey the full-of-life effect Lisa has in person. Did I mention that Lisa is tall?? Here she is in one of the buses we took, holding on with no effort; for me, the bar is nearly at my full arms-length. Lisa kindly made no short jokes, though she had to stoop down a bit to get both our faces into some of the pictures she has of the two of us. I love her clothes and sense of style.

After I unpacked, we immediately headed out to Artfibers, just 3 blocks away. Artfibers is a small, simple shop that is jam-packed - in an orderly way - with luscious fibers of all sorts. I was stunned by all the goodies, and it took me a few minutes to get with the program. Lisa, being an 'old hand' at AF, immediately dived in and came up with a huge skein of undyed cashmere before moving on to the silks and silk blends. After much dithering and trying not to drool on the swatches, I started choosing yarns to adopt. Lisa quickly assessed my color favorites, and snared a beautiful colorway just my style, Golden Chai 100% tussah silk in subdued jewel tones. Based on the lovely colors shown in the swatch, I picked up some Alfabeto, a beautiful russet and gold silk and mohair blend. And then a cone of the most gorgeous deep blue-red Basque, a heavier silk/mohair blend. Oh, yum! These will become drop-dead lovely shawls. Someday. I also picked up single balls, just "tastes" in quantities enough for small scarves, in various fiber blends and colors - two greens, red/coral and a deep brown with gold highlights; the brown will perhaps become a vest for DH.

Kira at Artfibers suggested Metropol for lunch, practically next door, and Lisa and I arrived just before the lunch rush. Great food and a perfect small-bistro feel. DH and I visited San Francisco a long time ago, and my second-most Have-To for this trip was to return to the Buena Vista Cafe. The Buena Vista claims to be the origin of Irish coffee - at least in the US; a place in Shannon (Ireland) airport may be the very first on the planet. For those of you who haven't tasted one, Irish coffee is just that: hot coffee, sugar, a shot of Irish whiskey and a topping of freshly whipped cream. Can you say "Yum!?" The BV is located at the very end of the cable car route, where the cars are reversed - by hand - on an ingenious turntable. You can't take an Irish coffee with you, sad to say, but DH does now have a lovely deep green sweatshirt souvenir.

Lisa was booked into her seminar most of Thursday, but was free after 2:30, so we arranged a meet-up with Marie and her adorable 2-year-old daughter Marisa. We stopped by our hotel room, so that Lisa could demonstrate the KnitPicks Options needles set to Marie; Lisa entertained Marisa while Marie explored the needles and had a moment to admire her daughter interacting with someone new. Though she lives in San Francisco, Marie had never visited Artfibers, so we enabled her into fiber fairyland. She scored some wonderful yarns, about which she has written. The visit was delightful, and it was so kind of Marie to make the long drive into downtown. And she came bearing wonderful goodies for us - so unexpected! - Peet's coffee and chocolates from Scharffen Berger, plus some of her lovely facecloths, these with her Papillon design.

Our trip out to Pier 39 and 'Menopause - the Musical' was wonderful. The theatre is small but nicely appointed, with very comfortable seats. I laughed so hard and long that I nearly couldn't catch my breath. Lisa got the idea to see the show from an ad in the SF Chronicle, and it was one of the highlights of the trip. I wish the show hadn't left LA quite some time ago, since I know several friends who would love to see it.

While Lisa was in an all-day class on Friday, I puttered around the hotel, having coffee and doing a bit of KIP (knitting in public), before meeting her for lunch, which we had at the Metropol again. Lisa and her co-worker Bonnie hurried back to class and I ambled through the shops between Metropol and the hotel. Yes, I did go back to Artfibers, but only to acquire a few prezzies for yarn-loving friends. And there's a very nice pen shop, Stylo Fine Pens, along Sutter St. I've been a fountain-pen lover for many years, though these days I don't have much occasion to use a fountain pen; they don't travel well in a handbag likely to be dumped here and there, lol! But I picked up a nice purse-sized pen, the Waterford Arista - trimmed in lavender, my favorite color. Dinner at E&O Trading Company, which serves all sorts of Asian dishes, was way tasty. It was astonishing how quickly we filled up, just with a couple of appetizers and some sweet potato naan. I hadn't had naan before, and this was great, with a spicy zest to it.

Saturday morning, while Lisa attended the last of her classes, I finished packing and assembled my yarn; that had to be mailed due to a lack of room in my roll-on suitcase. I made a quick trip to a wonderful chocolate shop nearby, Teuscher Chocolates, for a few gorgeous yummy treats and gifts, and then stopped by The Whisky Shop, which carries all kinds of Scotch whisky; most of the Union Square shop is devoted to kilts and other traditional Scottish dress items, for men and for women. I wanted to check out the gift opportunities. DH is Scots by birth and I am part Scots by heritage as well: my maternal grandmother was a Campbell. DH's Modern clan tartan is quite gaudy, with yellow, red, green and black, though the Hunting tartan is a lovely and subdued pattern of foresty greens and browns. If you recall the Oscars the year Mel Gibson won for 'Braveheart', he was wearing the same Hunting tartan in a vest, since Gibson is a sept (a sub-group) of DH's clan. Besides a little something for DH, I brought home a couple of miniatures of the clerks' suggested types of single-malt scotch. BTW, the clerks were both dressed in kilts; one was very tall and sort of craggy, reminding me of both Nicol Williamson and Liam Neeson, and fully of a size to swing around one of those huge swords seen in 'Braveheart'!

Lisa has written quite thoroughly of our visits to Atelier and Imagiknits, both of them delightful yarn shops. I have to say that Imagiknits is a Must-Do any time you're in San Francisco. The scope of the yarns that Imagiknits carries, in their shelves which stretch from floor to very high ceilings, is stunning! You can see the size of the shop in the photo, where Lisa is talking with the LYSO.

My yarny friends, you may not believe this, but I came away empty-handed, in spite of many of their yarns being on sale, only because I was running out of energy and beginning to worry about making my airport shuttle. Imagiknits had several incredible yarns from The Fibre Company, a new-to-me yarn source, and if I'd had more time to consider, I'm sure I'd have adopted some of their blends. In particular, their Road to China yarn, blended with alpaca, cashmere, yak and camel, has a lovely texture and very subtle colors. There was also a brand-new Malabrigo blend, merino and silk, that has just arrived in the US, and I would have grabbed a couple of skeins had the colors worked for me at all. Most of the 5 colorways were in Lisa's colors, and she chose a gorgeous one in greens, russets and golden browns.

By the time I got to the LA airport, where my dear DH picked me up, and then drove home to Burbank, I was exhausted, and spent most of Sunday napping. My yarns arrived promptly in Monday's mail, and I've been hard-pressed to work on any of my WIPs rather than diving into swatching. The good, good news is that my sock-knitting mojo seems to have returned. I managed to get a new sock to the point of turning the heel while I was traveling, and the gauge is looking like it should be a nicely firm-knitted sock. Woo-hoo!


Mary Tess said...

Thanks for the full description. Reading it brought back many happy memories--SF is one of my favorite places to visit. I, too, went to AF when I was there last and I envy your chance to go through all the yarn without three males sighing and tapping their feet a few yards away. (Not really, but I felt the pressure just from their presence.) Irish Coffee is so good because it contains all of the four basic food groups: sugar, fat, caffeine, and alcohol. I look forward to hearing more about Imagiknits and about Marie.

Grace Yaskovic said...

I love reading about all of your adventures, for my 51st birthday my sister took me to see Menopause in the city, I loved it, I have the CD and the keychain I was so blown away by it, I felt like they were talking about me!!! Glad you are home safe and had a wonderful time!!

Madge said...

What a wonderful trip you had! And those Artfibers yarns...oh la la. To die for!

Congrats on getting your sock mojo back, too. Yay for gauge!

Madge said...

P.S. I bought Kyoto when I was there, too. The colorways on it are amazing, aren't they?

Now I want to go back!

lunadog said...

Wish I'd been there, not only for the yarn, but to help you sample the Scotch! Single malt, I presume. I hope you still have a few pennies to spend when you get up here to the Great White North next month.

Sandra said...

yarn, scotch, chocolate and Irish Coffee. Yep. that's my idea of heaven.
As a part Scot myself, I wear the Douglas Hunting Tartan as my curling kilt (my Nanny was a Douglas). It's a beautiful dark green and black, finely shot with royal blue and white. I love it.
If you really want a decadent coffee, our special blend is a splash of Baileys, a splash of Frangelico (hazelnut), hot coffee, whipped cream, and Kahlua drizzled on top. In a tall glass stemmed mug with a sugared rim. Yum! You come to Canada, and I'll make you one! (After yarn shopping ans scotch tasting for your DH...)

Lisa W. said...

That was a blast my friend! Thanks for coming down....and PIGS...chocolate pigs! you are so sweet. Thank you again. :)

Sarah-Hope said...

So fun to hear about your trip to SF! I'm here in Santa Cruz and Melissa is in Oakland, but I've never been to any of those yarn shops--I'll definitely have to make a run. (BTW, Melissa was webmaster for Peet's Coffee until about two years ago when she quit to spend more time on her art. She still works a little bit of retail for them to keep her health benefits, so I am well-versed in the deliciousness of Peet's. We occasionally are gifted with a bit of the $25 per half pound JR Reserve and even a cretin like me can tell she's drinking something special with that in the cup.)

I just finished another Easy Triangular Shawl, this one in Noro, in case you want to check it out. Pics are with my 6/11 blog entry.

If you want additional company the next time you're up this way, just let me know!

TracyKM said...

I'm sort of glad I don't live near you or San Fransisco!!! It's a big deal for me just to GET to A yarn store!

Having a Knit Fitt said...

What fun! I am so looking forward to meeting Lisa in October.

Libby said...

sounds like you had a great time@!!! How fun is that!!


Anonymous said...

What fun! I love your picture of the Artfibers yarn haul. I'd blow my whole budget if I went there.

Joan said...

CBM, thanks for all the great detail! It fills my heart to know that you all had such a great time together. Thanks for the tip on malabrigo silk/merino. Glad to see you blogging again!