Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Yarn Bus: A Photo Essay

As many of you may be aware, our LYS, Flying Fingers, features a unique service known in the common parlance as The Yarn Bus. The Yarn Bus is a 12 passenger van that collects passengers in Manhattan and takes them off on a mystical yarn-filled journey through the Bronx and drops them off at the front door of the LYS. They do so in a vehicle commissioned from the fine folks who craft the wienermobiles.

This vehicle features a paint job in garter stitch as if the yarn had been knit in some sort of extra chunky thick and bulky bladdydahooha yarn in blue, like Jesus had been sitting around knitting this yarn on size US 300 needles and whipped Himself up a van. It also features three enormous fiberglass yarn balls and two gigantic knitting needles on the roof.

The moment we saw the promotional materials for the Yarn Bus, we got in touch with Kevin or Elise or Both of Flying Fingers and booked passage from the City unto Irvington on Hudson.

Immediately preceeding our journey, as Sooner was especially tingly and Bevin was counting the change in her pocket, we were in touch with Kevin, specifically, regarding our impending arrival. We made it very clear that we expected nothing less than his emphatic greeting on the sidewalk in front of the establishment. See archived correspondence below.

We took the PATH train free of coffee in our tired bones because we feared being late for the Yarn Bus. Can you imagine how terrible it might be to have to chase after a rolling ball of yarn down Broadway? Through Midtown? Yeah, you'd go without coffee, too. Don't even lie and try to pretend you wouldn't. We have your number, Mister.

The Yarn Bus was completely idling on the street corner at 19th and 5th Ave (which, by the way, to Elise or Kevin or Both, that is NOT Union Square). Sooner approached the van cautiously, vaucher in hand.

We were greeted by Liz, who immediately disclosed that she is not the usual Yarn Bus driver, but is a usual LYS employee. After complimenting her mega cool felted hat, we were joined by Lauren, a reporter at the New Yorker. Lauren was totally forthcoming about the fact that she is a non-knitter, and was along simply to gather information for a potential feature for her magazine. Sooner and I made quick work of schooling her in the ways of the wacky knitting world. We told her about acronyms. We told her about different fibers. We told her about THIS blog.

It's a good thing we got to Lauren before any crocheters did, because we were able to warn her about the ickiness of crochet and the folk who practice said inferior fiber art (TM). We feel like we helped her dodge a major bullet.

To her credit, Liz completely agreed with us about crochet.

Liz careened safely through Manhattan and retrieved 2 more passengers on the Upper West Side, one of whom brought coffee onto the Yarn Bus, which has now answered the question we had about whether we could bring our neccessary java next time. (Though the night before we thought about an emergency email unto Kevin regarding same.)

Liz presented us with free Flying Fingers size US 13 needles in purple clear acrylic, which were both useful and totally cute. Neither of us had 13s yet.

She also handed us a basket with a bunch o' stash yarn. We do not need to tell you that stash yarn from a yarn shoppe is way way way nicer than stash yarn you're gonna get off ebay. Bevin decided then and there to knit up an offering for Kevin. She took a thick and thin yarn called "ghost" and a smaller tie dye looking yarn called "tarantelli" with the ambition of making Kevin a scarf. When we arrived at Flying Fingers Bevin presented Kevin with a coaster she named "The Ghost of Tarantelli", pictured here.

Everyone piled out of the Yarn Bus immediately. Kevin was not on the street to greet us, but, to his credit, Liz forgot to honk. We walked in and were astounded that the place was so packed to the gills with yarn that several times during our visit, baskets or displays of yarn were knocked over. Their cup runneth over, if you will.

In addition to the mega ton of yarn available on the shelves at first glance, there are many signs that inform the reader "Fear not! We have a 'closet' just across the street and a warehouse 2 blocks away, both also packed with yarn. Enough for any project." Here is a photo of communication between Kevin, in the shop, and the slave children in the warehouse, demanding that several skeins of slimmer shimmer in color "Rave" be brought immediately for Bevin's perusal.

Note the walkie talkie. Elise is just to his side.

As we were touching yarn, Kevin came up behind Bevin and proclaimed "You're Bevin." Bevin and Sooner were totally excited and introductions were made. Hands were shook. Needles were tapped to crochet hooks. Bridges had been formed.

We immediately got down to business, as Sooner was there on a mission. Although it was the start of business, the place already had many customers crawling around and demanding personalized yarn attendance.

Kevin did not disappoint. He pointed Sooner to the Bamboo yarns, and at some point jaunted off to double check an email from Sooner asking specifically for red Bamboo yarn. Which he produced from inside a stool.

Sooner was sold on this yarn immediately for a Scarf Style scarf called Interlocking Balloons. Bevin wanted attention regarding her Clapotis. Kevin brought her around to many sport weight yarns and showed us both the Peruvian Tweed, which we were completely taken with and both ended up getting a skein for other Scarf Style scarves.

Lauren got ahold of Kevin at this point and began an interview that completely dredged the back story of Kevin, Man Crocheter of Flying Fingers Yarn Shop. Apparently Kevin was once a Wall Street tycoon. And now his lovely flaxen curls grace only Main Street. Kevin and Elise or both have seven children, many of whom provide the slave labor in the warehouse.

At this point Bevin needed coffee to make a real decision regarding yarn, as you might well imagine. So we trucked up the giant hill to find that downtown Irvington is completely closed on Sunday, save for a pizza place, a pricey brunch joint and a yarn store (that does not serve coffee).

We ended up having brunch, taking full advantage of our window seat to totally experience Sunday morning in Irvington on Hudson.

On our way back we saw the building Kevin and Elise both purchased, to be the future home of our LYS. Perhaps to replace the warehouse and "closet"?

There is an impassioned plea on the front window regarding the construction that will no doubt wreak havoc on the sleepy town for the next year.

Additionally, and, perhaps, most indicative of the flair with which our LYS operates, there is a massive fiber glass yarn ball sheep in the front window.

Her name is Wooly Wooly.

We got back to the store and continued shopping. We had occasion to visit with Elise, who is marvelous in all ways and very chatty and knowledgable. She helped Sooner decide that the tweed shall become Here and There Cables. She is no doubt correct.

Kevin completely stepped in and helped Bevin pick out her Clapotis yarns, which also ended up causing him to knock down an entire display of shimmer yarns. It was a yarntastrophe, to be sure. No one seemed to care.

We were mezmerized by the magical yarn spinner that turned our hanks of tweed into center pull balls.

When Bevin tried to use it to make a ball out of a center pull skein that completely lied on the packaging, she created a giant knot that required both Kevin and Heidi (a store employee) and herself 45 minutes to resolve. Bevin has the midas touch in terms of turning balls of yarn into unworkable knots. She did not even cast on in the store.

Sooner made fun of her.

The day came to an end all to quickly.

The Yarn Bus, courtesy of Liz, dropped us off near Central Park so that we might see an art installation. The Gates were no doubt shadowed by the gloriousness of the departing Yarn Bus.


yoko said...

Oh my god!!! This is so excellent!!! You guys have a rockin' LYS and it looks like you had a grand time!

freddyknits said...

I am digging The Yarn Bus. One more reason to love New York.

sooner said...

You know, Bevin, my one regret with regard to our yarn bus adventure is that I never rested a frosty cold beverage upon The Ghost of Tarantelli.

lucia said...

Your article has caused me concern, which I explain here: Three Strikes

Criosa said...

oh, that is just the greatest thing I've seen all day! while the Twin Cities have a plethora of awesome yarn shops (and a great thing called no tax on clothing or yarn), I am sad to say that to my knowledge, we have no yarn bus. *tear* I guess I'll just have to visit New York one of these days to experience such awesomeness.


kat said...

Thank you, Bevin, for posting to the Knitlist the existence of the Yarn Bus Photo Essay. I have been a fan of the Boy Knitter ever since his perky debut on the Knitlist, from which I learned many colorful new ways to describe a scarf.

yarnwench said...

That is an awesome bus. Where can I get one! I have a yarn shop and it sure would be fun to have something like that driving around Newport, Oregon! I just love it. Dodie Reed, Yarn for all Seasons, Toledo, OR

Ari said...

I'm so bloody jealous! What a day...loved the essay. Although it is a bit depressing to see such cool things and then turn around and look at where I live. Get ready...sit down, grab some oxygen....I live 60 miles OUTSIDE of BOISE! Yes, people actually do exist out here (notice I said exist and not live!). I once had a life, lived in Manhattan..sigh. At least I have your antics to provide a lifeline to me! I've been a fan since the "KF" incident! I had to laugh, clearly you were trading barbs with unarmed people! Keep it up!

illanna said...

I am coming to NY in May to ride the yarn bus. You convinced me to put up with visiting my family as a sacrifice to RIDE THAT BUS! Sounds like y'all had a blast. Great post.

Bonnie said...

Got a chance to ride THE Yarn Bus myself today. There were 2 other women aboard when I embarked from Penn Station. However, I am a little disappointed as we were NOT given the opportunity to actually KNIT on the way. We were given free needles but it was not until we were on our way home :-( If you ever want to ride the bus again let me know and I will join you.

Liz said...

Bevin!! You're going to get me in trouble! I did not say crochet was icky. I just agreed that I prefer to knit.----Liz the Yarn Bus driver.

PlazaJen said...

That is awesome. Can I just say on the topic of crochet? I was at a very nice holiday party a couple years ago, and a co-worker mentioned that I "crocheted". I hastily corrected him by shouting (as I am wont to do after a couple of adult eggnogs), "Crocheting is for Pussies! I KNIT!" And his fiance' looked over at me and said, "I crochet." So I said, "Sorry." Because you can say "Sorry" and have it mean many, many things. Like, I'm sorry you only crochet! And later that same crocheter actually MOVED ornaments around on my friend's tree because she thought they needed to be placed differently. So I'm not saying all who crochet lack tact and are pussies, because lord knows, we knitters sometimes have to add some trim or seam a shoulder with the hook, BUT, I'm also sayin' I'm not sorry for sayin' what I said, even though I did say sorry. ;)

Anonymous said...

The Yarn Bus will definitely be on my list of things to do next February when I am in the city again! Thanks for doing such a great job of describing an indescribable adventure!

=joy= said...

FANTASTIC! i can't wait to get on the yarn bus. thank you for sharing your trip with us! (btw, i do agree... 19th and 5th is in no way "union square"!

Madame DeFarge said...

Sure, I move from living in Manhattan for over 20 years to yarn deprived Tampa Florida, and someone invents a yarn bus. Sniff.
Actually we are beginning to get real yarn stores here, after 4 years of (gasp) Walmart & Michaels yarn. Oh, and for the person who couldnt knit on the yarn bus ... only true addicts like me carry a project in her purse at all times, and knits everywhere ... even on the bike in the gym. I earned the nick Madame DeFarge!