If you’re Rhinebeck-bound, we would love to see youย at Jill Draper’s studio in Kingston on Saturday night–details here.

Postcard from the Upper West Side

Dear Ann,
So, remember when you were here in September and we needed to buy some stamp pads so that we could rubber stamp our woodcut heads onto stuff (like you do)–and we stopped in at Stationery & Toy World on West 72nd Street? And I said, “this is a neighborhood institution,” and you said, “oh yes, I can see that.”
The “World” in the store’s name always tickles me. From the outside, it seems kind of grandiose for such a small shop. But inside, it is indeed a world: the world of 1970s-era merchandising. The shelves are stacked and crammed, like a library, with all the good stuff that every house–especially a house with school age kids–needs. I’m talking the state of the art of Lego Nano, and index cards in all weights, sizes and colors. And also, as you know, turquoise stamp pads.
It’s a weekly stop for me because (a) I only write with one kind of pen and (b) my children steal these pens. I have a micro-chat with one of the owners–a father and daughter– every time I’m in there; it’s the kind of place where you’re recognized by face, child or office supply predilection and you say hi and get called honey. I didn’t know, until now, that Donna and Larry live on Staten Island.
Word of their situation has been going around the neighborhood, where, let’s face it, the post-storm impact of Sandy has involved quite a bit of O MY GOD THE JUICE BAR IS CLOSED. Many people are joining in the effort to assist Staten Island, the Rockaways, Long Beach and other hard-hit areas, but in a generalized way, by making contributions to organizations that are helping, or signing up as a volunteer to sort and drive supplies to drop-off points. But personally knowing people who are so hard hit that their kids went back to school today in donated jackets–makes a difference. Upper West Siders have been helping Donna and Larry directly, thank God. And I don’t think anybody within a 10 block radius is going to run out of envelopes, fine point roller ball pens, or Scotch tape for the foreseeable future. Lego is starting to look like an intriguing hobby. Maybe Pokemon. Is Pokemon still a thing? I’ll ask Donna.
Anyway, I’m sharing this shop’s story here because it’s a snapshot. (And if you’re in the neighborhood, surely you need some office supplies.) One family among thousands suffering loss or extreme damage to their homes, with litle to fall back on. (Donna has been back at the store since Wednesday.) There are, no doubt, readers of knitting blogs who are facing similar circumstances. This is going to be a recovery that takes time and resources, and requires people in the community to think about something for more than a couple of news cycles.
In a related but much less significant story, these events–and people tweeting us– have motivated you and me to finish up a blanket design for a pattern that will be sold to benefit Sandy victims. Prior to the storm even being forecast, I had started a new blanket to have something exciting to knit on the subway (which is running again YAY), because the Bowling Avenue Tribute blanket (which, by the way is nearly done; I’m on square 15 of 16) got too big to lug around on public transportation.
Yes, it’s Noro Silk Garden. Yes, shade 269 is prominent again. Yes, it’s miter-based. But it’s different from previous Silk Garden miter-based blankets, at least to those of us who play with miters in our heads. It’s modular, yet no-sew. It’s easily size-adjusted and also easily proportion-adjusted. I hope to have it ready soon, but since people will be paying for it, it has to be tech-edited (fancy!) and easy to download, which will take a bit more time. Meanwhile, go on Ravelry to see other great patterns available to benefit Sandy relief, or just donate what you can to one of the many organizations helping ease the strife and get people back on their feet.
P.S. U.S. readers: VOTE. VOTE VOTE VOTE. Please vote tomorrow if you didn’t vote early. Votevotevote.

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  1. Oh, wow. A triad of important things: Staten Island etc, an intriguing blanket!! And the election. (I feel like that little girl on youtube and just am waiting for Wednesday morning, when Bronco-bama will be secure in his job and we can get on with stuff.) I would gladly buy that blanket pattern!

  2. If I lived anywhere CLOSE to that store, I would shop there. Daily.

  3. Made me cry. I LOVE THAT STORE.

  4. Thank looks like the best store ever. (And, yes, Pokemon is still a thing. My 10 year old is SO into it right now)

  5. That’s the kind of store I can never walk past without stopping. I hope a boost in business will help the owners and their families over the current (rather large) bump in the road.
    Blanket. Want. ‘Nuff said.
    Voting is very nearly a religious experience to me. Baffles me that anyone who CAN vote would choose to ignore that right and responsibility. I am so excited that tomorrow – at last! – I will once again go to Town Hall, take my turn at the row of wooden booths, and vote – again!! – for the President of the United States. Genuinely thrilling.

  6. I love stores like this!
    I also love mitred blankets – consider this a pre-order!!

  7. I love stores like this!
    I also love mitred blankets – consider this a pre-order!!

  8. I love stores like this!
    I also love mitred blankets – consider this a pre-order!!

  9. glad to hear you’re well. Just wanted to say that I gave to the Red Hook Initiative recently, and while they are one of myriad deserving groups they are a deserving group. So if y’all are looking for something other than the Red Cross – go with Red Hook!

  10. I truly miss independent stationery shops – I would love to have such a place in my neighborhood. I know your spreading the word will have a beneficial impact. I will continue to keep my local small businesses afloat as best I can.

  11. tragedy only feels real if you know it on the small scale. i hope big hopes for all those folks affected by Sandy.
    and that blanket? the Noro 269 is astounding in mitered form. sheesh. i’m swooning.

  12. Your post has left me wondering if I can shop them from Colorado. I’ll be searching the web and then watching for your new pattern. Thanks for putting a face on Staten Island for someone out West.

  13. Bravo to your fellow Upper West Siders for coming to the aid of the owners of a neighborhood store. Excited to learn that the Bowling Avenue Tribute blanket is almost done and will be making its debut soon. Looking forward to the new miter based pattern created to help people in need. Thank you.

  14. Best to Donna and Larry. I’m buying that blanket pattern for sure. I LOVE it. And I can’t wait to see the Bowling Ave. tribute blanket….

  15. I can’t wait for that blanket pattern to be available. You’re a mitered genius.

  16. Thank you for posting this! My daughter’s piano teacher told me that she needs a new notebook and the tooth fairy will need some Pokemon cards soon. West 72nd isn’t “local” for me – I live in the West 90s and you know how provincial New Yorkers can be about stores like this, but I’m heading their way this week.

  17. Kay, I love your big generous heart.

  18. I really love blankets especially this one which is made of yarn. It was good, the same as your good heart. I’m happy to know that you are making this kind of special project for those needy people. Just keep it up, and I hope you can help many people soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Kay, it’s beautiful! I will be thrilled when the pattern is released. I do hope Mr Noro can keep up with the demand for shade #269. It’s killer.
    xoxox to you and all New York!

  20. I will definitely buy this pattern when it’s available. It is beautiful. Hopefully knitters can help in this way!
    Now, I am off to Ravelry to look for other patterns to purchase to help out. Why didn’t I think of that before!

  21. Leave it to you Kay to do a wonderful blanket just in time. I love it. And do you think that the store would do mail order. We love good stationary and what not here in Nashville and we sure know what it feels like to be building back after the storm.

  22. Sandy was such an all-encompassing disaster. I just feel for New York.
    Anxiously awaiting pattern release!

  23. Beautiful all around! The blanket and the sentiment. Girls and I heading to Rockaways on Sunday to lend a hand.. They need blankets! Will definitely stop by the store. x.o.

  24. How did I miss the [most excellent] news that shade #269 was back in production? Love your blanket, will buy the pattern when available.
    I wonder if the Upper East Side would rally ’round a local store as much as the Upper West Side is doing? Just a thought. Thanks to you and your big heart, as another poster said.

  25. Wow, that’s a long commute, Staten Island to the UWS (and I know from experience). I’m a NYer in exile, currently getting a little taste of home from reading your post and hearing someone’s car alarm repeatedly go off.

  26. 1. Does the store do mail order, or is that too much pressure on them at the moment?
    2. **Please** don’t leave us hanging. WHAT KIND OF PEN?

  27. “It’s different from previous Silk Garden miter-based blankets.” : )
    When they have a museum retrospective of your work in the late, late, late, 21st century, I’m sure that there will be a section of it devoted to just “Silk Garden miter-based blankets.” And someone will no doubt write the late, late, late, 21st century equivalent of a dissertation on them…

  28. It IS different. It’s even more stained glass-y than Fussy Cuts. I love how the yellows sections in the center miters look like light coming through the windows…

  29. Ohh! Emm! Gee!! I love this shop! I wish I had one just around the corner from me. (Instead I have a laundromat and a bong store.) This place is absolutely delightful. I wish I could contribute to them or help in some way, just to acknowledge how much I appreciate that a store like this still exist. Thank you for sharing, Kay. You and your community are in my prayers.

  30. Ohh! Emm! Gee!! I love this shop! I wish I had one just around the corner from me. (Instead I have a laundromat and a bong store.) This place is absolutely delightful. I wish I could contribute to them or help in some way, just to acknowledge how much I appreciate that a store like this still exist. Thank you for sharing, Kay. You and your community are in my prayers.

  31. Lived on UWS years ago before it was cool – it was a great fun place and despite its cool factor I think it retains its core sensibility at least in part ๐Ÿ™‚
    I don’t live in NYC anymore but work here and take the 2/3 so can easily make a little side trip to this wonderful store for my grandson’s christmas!
    Blanket = wonderful!

  32. Love that store and would shop there HARD if I could.
    I so need index cards…..
    Thanks for bringing it closer, Kay.

  33. My first NYC apartment was in Schwab House, then 76th and Columbus. I love that store. Sad not to be closer to help out. Love the blanket too. Will definitely buy the pattern.
    Hope you are surviving the nor’easter ok.

  34. We all NEED whatever kind of pen is the only one you use, Kay. Can’t they tell us how much money to send, along with a prepaid mailer and sell them to us???
    Or a pack of index cards. Apps just aren’t the same.
    Even though I may never get around to knitting the pattern, I’ll buy it. It’s too good. (Maybe that is a rumor? That one buys patterns to knit the item???)

  35. Dear Kay,
    I just love that knitters are such great humanitarians!
    Sending my love and blessings from the west coast of Canada to all that have been affected by this storm. I may be on the other side of the continent where we have had our earthquakes and tsunami warnings of late, but I keep watch over the rest of the US and Canada too.
    I’ll be looking forward to the completion of this pattern and will add it to my library in support.

  36. Different people in every country take the business loans from various banks, just because it is easy and fast.

  37. I am making a quilt to send to the Sandy victims and then your pattern. Thanks for thinking about the Sandy victims. It is heartbreaking!

  38. I am making a quilt to send to the Sandy victims and then your pattern. Thanks for thinking about the Sandy victims. It is heartbreaking!

  39. I am making a quilt to send to the Sandy victims and then your pattern. Thanks for thinking about the Sandy victims. It is heartbreaking!

  40. (small voice) the pen?

  41. (small voice) the pen?

  42. Oh, I LOVE that shop. Although I think this last time we were with you was the only time we’ve not shopped there for something.
    Hmmmm. How to help, I wonder? It is the best stationery shop (and more!) I have ever set foot in (and believe me, I have set foot in a LOT, paper and pens being something of an obsession).
    Now. About this blanket. More, please.
    And yes, do spill the beans on what sort of pen. For those of us that need to know. B x x x

  43. I’ve never been to Staten Island and “Midland Beach” meant nothing yesterday to me until I read this community profile in the NYT. They were hit BAD, probably the most devastating impact in all 4 boroughs behind the Rockaways. This will give a sense of how bad things likely are for Donna and Larry:
    I’m travelling this entire month but will try and get up to the UWS when I’m back in December! Just in time for Christmas shopping!

  44. I thought I commented on this already but I guess I haven’t. Love the new blanket, love that 269 is back (Back in beige?) and LOVE the support for your local shop. It’s so sad to see small businesses lose their footing after the storms.

  45. Step 1: shop at store if you can…(we did, I now have my school supplies and fun magnets for the next 2 years)
    Step 2: Post story on Facebook and try to get any friends in the neighbor to join you in said school supply and lego purchasing
    Step 3:inform children that holiday gifts for 2012 will all be found in the toy and stationary store on 72nd!

  46. step 4: purchase Mason Dixon pattern to benefit Hurricane victims….

  47. Sending prayers and money for disaster victims–will also buy that spectacular pattern as soon as I can! Love it! Love all your blankets. You have put me in a very blankety mood.


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