Philly and NYC Adventures!

Winter break has been great so far and I’ve been doing some urban exploration. My cousin and brother and I took a day trip up to Philly with the Philadelphia Magic Gardens as the main attraction.

I’m also currently in New York before I leave for Thailand! Here’s a little peek Loopy Mango which we stumbled upon on the way to lunch the other day. I’m pretty sure I saw them on Tumblr ages ago so this was exciting to find. I couldn’t buy anything because it was way over my budget but the oversized yarn and chunky knits were super cool.

Bonus! Here’s a Meiji period Japanese woman knitting in the form of woodblock print which was in a Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit.

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I’m still in New York for a couple more days (including New Years!) so there may be more adventures to come before an adventure on the other side of the world.

Yarn Shop Review: Kitschy Stitch

It’s spring break!

My roommate and I took a mini vacay in Rehoboth Beach, DE this weekend. Despite the chill and the rain, we still had a pretty fantastic weekend.

While wandering around the cute beach town we drove past a yarn shop called Kitschy Stitch (blog). The woman who worked there was incredibly nice and helpful and I’m pretty sure I’m going to grow up to be like her. We totally bonded over our international yarn shop travels and love of knitting. :)

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IMG_3342 The shop completely fits the small town, small business vibe of Rehoboth, which is everything I love. It has a wonderful selection of yarn. So. Much. Noro. I love Noro.

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I am still working on knitting up all that yarn I bought in Hong Kong this summer so I decided to go for a drop spindle and some un-dyed roving. I’ve never spun my own yarn before and I’m hoping try it out over the rest of my spring break. I’ll be sure to keep my reader updated with the progress. I think I’m going to make a video haha.

IMG_3351Happy spring guys! It’s finally sunny and I hope it stays this way for a while.

 

Hong Kong Yarn Hunt, Part Deux

One day last week, I was having a horribly unproductive day at work so I decided to leave early and Knitting World, located somewhere between Mongkok and Yau Ma Tei Stations. Yarn always seems to help out on these kinds of sluggish days.

This shop is a little tough to find, but if you end up in a market place, you’re nearly there. Look past the fruit stands and situated on the third floor of Prosper Commercial Building is Knitting World. They don’t have as big or high quality of a selection as Filo Kilo, but definitely one of the better yarn shops I’ve visited so far. The employees at Knitting World were not very skilled in English but still welcoming. I wasn’t planning on buying anything but once I was in there and saw some of their options, I couldn’t resist. I bought one skein of cotton in the color of the sunset which I’m hoping I can salvage enough for socks which costed around HK$50.

At this point I had attempted to visit three yarn stores, had success with two, never managed to catch the other one when it was open, and bought cheap wool and needles from a market stand. I was beginning to believe that I would not be able to visit all 15 the yarn stores on my Hong Kong yarn shop list. With only three weeks left, some of them just seemed too far away and not worth the subway fares if I was’t going to stop on the way for something else.

However, this past Saturday I had what may be the most amazing day I’ve spent in Hong Kong, and I wasn’t even on Hong Kong Island. I took a solo trip up to New Territories, Hong Kong which is located in the northwest and is connected to mainland China to walk the Ping Shan Heritage Trail. You can read all about it, and in great detail, on my study abroad blog. Because I was already going so far up north, why not make a pit stop to three yarn stores on my list?

I planned on hitting up Wool Workshop, PC Knitting Co, and Mei Fung Wools Co, all located within a 15 minute walking distance from Tsuen Wan station. (For anyone who’s interested, I’ll be compiling a comprehensive list of all the stores I’ll have visited during my trip and writing directions and need-to-knows as well.)

Wool Workshop was the absolute cutest, most warm, and welcoming of all the yarn stores I’ve been to in Hong Kong. It is located in Fortune Commercial Building. The atmosphere is very cozy and colorful. When I walked in a small group of ladies were crocheting. With my other experiences in Hong Kong yarn shops, I wanted to keep to myself since I wasn’t sure that they spoke English and I didn’t want them hovering down my back, but one of the employees was very good at English and so extremely nice! She asked me where I was from and how I found the store since it is located in a very local area of Hong Kong and I explained that there was a list floating around online. She gave me a chair and let me browse their small selection of yarns and pattern books. They didn’t have many novelty yarns, mostly just plain colored wools, so I didn’t feel compelled to buy anything because I could get something similar back home or online. I soon observed that this shop is very crochet-oriented, specializing in Japanese wool and crochet books. I told the employees that I don’t really crochet and she said that I could learn how to read Japanese patterns right there at the shop. I was really fond of the offer but I told the ladies that I lived a 45 minute MTR ride away. How unfortunate! I totally would have gone back. After a little more looking and some photos I thanked them and was on my way to stop #2.

After a bit of wandering and luck I found myself in the Tsuen Fung Centre where PC Knitting Co is located. The shop is tiny, the staff doesn’t know much English, and they honestly didn’t seem very happy to see me. The also didn’t let me take pictures inside the store but I did mange to get one of the front. It was really hard to browse because the shop was so small. I couldn’t move with three other women in there knitting and chatting. It was kind of a let down after Wool Workshop.

P1060918I had so much trouble trying to find Mei Fun Wools Co which was supposed to be a 5 minute walk away and when I thought I found it, I didn’t find any yarn! Now that I go back and look at the address I realized that it’s located on the second floor of the Wah Kin House, not the first. I will never get used to all these skyscrapers! I can see the tiny staircase on Google Maps now. Darn, I should have been suspicious of the fact that I walked into a clothing boutique that didn’t sell anything knitted while believing that it was a store with wool in the name.

With that disappointment of believing that the store didn’t exist/didn’t sell yarn, I made one last stop on the MTR line to Sham Shui Po to go to the Dragon Centre to buy some souvenirs for my sister. Little did I know that the street markets that lined the way to the mall were a DIY heaven! I didn’t find yarn, but I found all kinds of beads, buttons, lace, and fabric. I didn’t buy anything, but seeing craft supplies always warms my heart. It’s apparently known as the “Bead Market.” My pictures weren’t too great so I won’t post them :/

In the Dragon Centre I went to this section called Apple Mall, which also has DIY things, of the Japanese variety. I bought myself a cross stitch kit for a Hello Kitty keychain and some candy making kits and keychains for my sister. When I was walking around I magically found Elegance Workshop, a Hong Kong yarn shop that was not mentioned by any source that I used to compile my list. This definitely made up for not finding Mei Fung Wools Co. Elegance Workshop was pretty small but had decent variety. I wasn’t able to look around long because the shopkeeper’s incredibly shy son came back and wanted to go into the store but with me blocking the way I decided just to leave and come back later, but then I forgot (whoops!) I’m guessing they have Japanese yarns since most of the items in that mall boasted Japanese origin.

Today was a failure in terms of doing what I had planned. Lesson learned: if you want to do something, do it yourself. I wasn’t planning on spending all day shopping on Granville Road, but I was able to find Yoko Labs, another yarn store. However, it was closed today since it was a public holiday. I’ll make another stop after work one day to check it out when it’s open.

So far I’ve been good about not buying yarn in every place I look. I guess I just lucked out in finding great selections in the beginning. There have been some hits and misses but I guess it’s not possible to find every yarn shop in Hong Kong. I have three weeks left and I’m hoping to see at least three more shops. Be sure to visit me on helloiminhongkong as well!

NYC Adventure!

I mentioned in my Christmas post that I took a little day trip to NYC this past Monday. It’s trips like these that makes me wish I lived in a big vibrant city sometimes!

It was the day before Christmas Eve, but we didn’t do the normal tourist stops like Times Square and the Rockefeller Center. Guided by my Manhattan-resident cousin, we explored New York City like a true New Yorker.

First was the hour long train ride on the Long Island Railroad to Penn Station.

We passed by 1D World! Confession: I’m a One Direction fan. Not a huge one but who can dislike their catchy tunes?

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After a bit of struggling (NY subways don’t like to be on time) we made our way to East Village. Our (my) goal was to visit a yarn shop. I’m not sure that my cousins and brother enjoyed it as much as I did. We all also wanted to go a little thrift shopping and to grab some of the best eats in New York according to my cousin.

This song is becoming more and more the theme to my life.

There’s a thrift shop on just about every corner of East Village so there was no trouble finding one. We stopped in the first one we saw. Great finds while thrift shopping is really based luck and I just didn’t find anything I really liked, especially now that I’m trying to build a capsule wardrobe. One of my cousins found some things so after his purchased we walked a few more blocks to Downtown Yarns.

Downtown Yarns is a tiny but cute and cozy yarn shop on Avenue A. I’m not sure what heaven looks like but I imagine it’s a little something like this.

IMG_1436 IMG_1438The employees were very knowledgeable and helpful. They also wore crazy and quirky outfits that featured things they knitted which was pretty awesome! I’ve knitted a lot and for a long time but there’s no way that I’m an expert. Walking into a store like this was a bit overwhelming, considering I didn’t have any project in mind. I decided on knitting a pair of socks for myself and the employees did a great job with helping me choose the right yarn and needle size. I haven’t started on the socks yet but I’m deciding between two patterns I found on Ravelry. I’ll keep you posted on the progress!

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Next was the food portion of our trip. According to my cousin, we had to get the best ice cream New York had to offer. I was expecting a hard serve place with about a million flavors but instead I found us walking through the door of a soft serve shop called Big Gay Ice Cream.

IMG_1439Their specialty is in adding unique and interesting flavor combinations to plain old soft serve – and it is literally the best ice cream I’ve ever had. I cannot stress this enough. If you ever get the chance, go there and if you can’t decide on what to order, just ask your server. He’ll probably suggest the Salty Pimp, their best selling cone. If that yarn store was what heaven looked and felt like, the Salty Pimp might be what heaven tastes like.

IMG_1441 IMG_1443Alright, I next was the best fry place in New York. How can you tell when a restaurant is the best at what they do? If they get bogged down by lines just for serving one type of food. Pomme Frites just serves Belgian style fries. They also offer over a dozen dipping sauce flavors. The shop is tiny, something a lot of NYC stores have in common so there’s barely any room to sit or stand. We took our order to go and had to chow on the street so I didn’t have the hands to take any pictures.

Then we went on to Buffalo Exchange. I wouldn’t call it a thrift shop, but this chain store sells fashionable second hands at a fraction of the cost of retail stores. The clothes they sell come directly from people in the community and they seem to have some higher standard than regular thrift shops because most of the clothes they sell are trendy and in style. I picked up an oxford button down, a batwing sweater, a polkadot skirt, and these awesome harem-style trousers all for $45.

Then, we took a quick walk through the Union Square Holiday Market since it was really crowded. We finished off our day by seeing The Hobbit in 3D. So I have to admit that I haven’t seen all of the Lord of the Rings movies, among other trilogies. However, I have read The Hobbit twice. I can’t say I enjoyed it both times, but I think now that I’m older I’d probably appreciate it more. The movie though was very good except for the slow start. It was very visually appealing and the soundtrack is amazing. Now I have part 2 to look forward to plus the actor who plays Bilbo, Martin Freeman plays Dr. Watson in Sherlock, which I figured out right at the end of the movie. Is it weird that I think he’s adorable despite being 41?

We took a cab, which was a bit of a crazy ride by my standards to Penn Station right on time to catch the train back to Long Island. This trip will probably be the most fun I’ll have this Winter break and it’s something I wouldn’t mind doing more often. The next time I visit family in Long Island, we’re going to have to do this again, but that might not be until another year if I end up going to Hong Kong this summer. By the way, I submitted my application to study abroad today so wish me luck!