Saturday, August 30, 2008

Urban Fauna Studio

To say I was excited about a new fiber store opening in SF would be an understatement. I love Carolina Homespun, but there's only so much fiber one store can carry, and I'd burned myself out on Carolina Homespun a while ago (which is not to say that I don't browse them at every fiber festival- I just save my money for rarer finds).

I think San Francisco has a large opening for fiber/yarn/craft stores, especially since DIY stuff is still becoming more & more popular. Spinning, though, is not a craft that "normal" people get into. Spinning is a craft that people who are already crafty get interested in. I've never met a woman (or man) who learned to spin, and that's it; they always knit or crochet (or weave) first.

Also, opening a new brick & mortar store (especially one off the beaten path) is quite ballsy in this economy. Jamie Chan must have a really awesome business plan- and she also has the sales from the well-established Mary Jane's Attic- which she owns- to help her out.

So I took two short bus rides to get to the Urban Fauna Studio (kind of a weird name, and isn't there a knitting store in Hayes Valley called Urban Design Studio?)- it's just off Irving- and I was immediately surprised at how teeny-tiny the store is. Teeny-tiny, eenie-weenie, itsy-bitsy... well. The whole store is smaller than my living room. Maybe 8' by 17' (and it has a low ceiling). Of course, the fact that there was about 20 women packed in there didn't help.

They had some nice stuff: Traveling Rhinos minibatts, some handdyed fiber & yarn (though not as much as I'd have thought), almost a whole wall of notions, and adorable apothecary jars filled with a rainbow of wool puffs.

The best thing? They rent spinning wheels for $20/week! That means you can try the Mach 1 or the Ladybug at your leisure. They'll also have classes.

Something I felt detracted from the store: it seems like Jamie is aiming for a craft store, not just a fiber store. She had needle felting stuff (which is to be expected in a fiber store, I guess, but it's not my thing, and it seemed like there was WAY more needle felting stuff than knitting or spinning stuff, not including the wheels), sock monkey kits, and luster dust for embellishing fabrics and polymer clay (which she says she's getting a shipment of soon).

I thought it'd be like a brick & mortar version of the Sweet Sheep, or even Etsy, so I was actually a little disappointed by the physical store. And I didn't enjoy being packed into the tiny space like sardines, and trying to maneuver around all the other shoppers. However, I really enjoyed the energy of the people, and I got to chat quite a bit with the women in line in front & behind me. The ladies in front seemed only aware of knitting & crochet (they were buying some handpainted and some O-Wool), and they'd dragged their bfs along. The woman behind me- Barbara (Rav link), as I later learned- had been to WWKIP Day this past June (it was awesome, btw), and was just as interested as I was in a new fiber store. We chatted about kittens (I need some, she fosters them). The line was very long, for two reasons: there were a ton of people who'd arrived "early" to be one of the 75 who got a goodie bag, and because the checkout process was not what you would call speedy.
I bought a minibatt, a 1/2 oz of a lovely teal-blue Angelina, and a braid of merino-tencel in red-orange-purple.
Minibatt pic is blurry so you can see the colors better (it's minty green with felted nubs in shades of pink).

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Can I just say?

I don't think Stephanie Pearl-McPhee would like me. I am slovenly, I can't run a household, I'm arrogant, I'm pedantic, we're from completely different social backgrounds, and I have very little life experience, compared to her. If we were ever near eachother for a length of time, I don't think we'd become friends. She'd be nice to me, because she's nice to everyone, but we'd never become close, I think.

I say this because I admire her so much that I fantasize about being in a knitting group with her. I've seen her twice live (at SOAR 2006, where she was guest speaker, and at Maker Faire this past year, where I made sure we got there early enough to get a good seat), and I've always really enjoyed knitting and laughing with her. I'm not one to get my books signed, so I've never seen her from more than 50 feet away. (That's not true- I kinneared her at SOAR 2006 at the opening ceremony, when she sat in the row in front of me... and she hadn't yet coined the term "kinnear.")

However, I'm determined to do so next time, just so I can be face-to-face with someone who is making a living with knitting (and not even by owning a yarn store, either). The thought of being in front of her- and I know she's a normal person, and probably dislikes being the object of knitterly fantasy- makes me daydream of what token I can offer- handmade fimo stitch markers? Homemade marshmallows (covered in chocolate, just for her)? Handspun? My firstborn? I'm sure she'd be fine with me just saying "thanks" for signing my books, but I'm equally sure that I'd gush in a creepy way. At Maker Faire, during the knit-in, where there were so many people who just wanted to be close to her that it was standing-room-only and she had to have a microphone, she asked to use my knitting as a demonstration (I was the only one with long straights), and I said to the group, "Oh my god, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee touched my knitting." I only realized afterward that while I was joking (my sqealing fangirl impression), it sounded pretty weird.

Another dream of mine (one of those "If I won the lotto tomorrow" ones) is to invite S P-M to San Francisco on my dime (like, for Stitches West, or the Golden Gate Fiber Institute). I imagine the house being tidy-ish and no longer under construction, with the silk moire wallpaper in the hall that my mom wants, and all the cats the most beautiful and well-behaved creatures, and me with an astoundingly beautiful handspun, handknit, self-designed sweater on. And Stephanie Pearl-McPhee taking a picture of the outside of the house (freshly painted, and with a tasteful amount of gold leaf) with the sock, and blogging that she's amazed I live in this gorgeous Victorian house.

What stops this fantasy dead, is, of course, that I think she'd politely comment- she might even take a picture- but she'd never blog about it. I don't leave comments on her blog (or any blog), I'm terrible at emailing people, I mostly lurk on Ravelry, I stopped swapping because I'm too cheap to go to the post office. And she, at least in my mind, is always very prompt with her correspondance and blogging, she documents her work religiously, she buys sweaters-worth of yarn without a moment's compunction.

So in the end, I can but continue to dream.

...until I perfect my hypnotism.