Where in world...?

An old friend phoned the other day. He never phones. But this time he just had to know: "What are you doing living in Florence?"
He thought I was in Florence, Italy. I told him it was Florence, Massachusetts.
Here are some answers -- my occasional wanderings through Florence, MA and the surrounding Pioneer Valley.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Florentina, Flu Fighter and Knitter

Hi everyone, happy new year! Sorry I've been away, but there's a good reason. I hope you all were at least conscious for the holidays, as I was barely aware of them passing by. The flu had me in its grip, and just when it seemed to be loosening its hold, a ferocious sinus infection came along, happy to take advantage of an extra-lowered immune system. A round of antibiotics and some cough syrup laced with codeine help in these cases. Even with their help I'm only just coming back to the world. There are a number of things that I honestly don't remember from the last month because I was so ill and out of it. Even the fact it is a new year seems weird to me, as I didn't go through the normal passage of time, it seems. If we can count the passage of time in terms of boxes of Kleenex, then I might be better suited to recognize it's the new year.

A big part of bringing me back to the world has been my old hobby, knitting. I have been knitting since I was a little girl, and I don't even remember when I first learned it. All I know is that I practiced the two stitches for a long time, and put it away for years. In 2005, I came back to it again as a stress relief, and learned how to put a sweater together. Now I try to produce a sweater, a scarf, or a hat from time to time, so if you're in the market for a knitted item, let me know. I always wish I could be knitting for someone else, as I can't envision making all those knitted things for myself and filling a closet full of them --it seems a bit selfish. During my illness, I've been working on a couple of hats, and it's kept my brain functioning at some vaguely decent level.

Don't be fooled. It's a yarn paradise inside.
Northampton is a knitter's mecca in the Northeast because of Webs, America's Yarn Store. It's located in an unassuming place near the highway, and doesn't look like much from the outside, as seen on the left.

But when a knitter walks in the door, the yarn craziness descends. It's an explosion of color, which is especially welcome in the New England winter, and the salespeople are really very friendly. Unfortunately the lovely photo below doesn't show any of the salespeople who are always available to talk about yarn and knitting, as well as other related fiber crafts (weaving, spinning, crocheting, for example). I was greeted so nicely when I walked through the door yesterday, on my first day of decent health in about three weeks.
View from seating area (for non-yarn folks and dogs).

The yarn craziness usually pulls me into the warehouse in the back where bargains abound. Luckily I usually go into Webs with a specific project or need in hand, so I'm buying only enough to do that work. Otherwise I would be in really huge trouble in the warehouse (photo below), where some of the nicest yarns are sometimes discounted. Savvy shoppers keep their eyes on their twitter feed or their blog for more specials.
Hard core yarnage here. I have been known to lose it here.

A number of years ago, Florentina took her mom to a yarn store in Connecticut. This part of Connecticut where Florentina's mom still lives is rather wealthy, and the yarn store had her fuming. If you added up the cost of those fancy yarns, and the emotional cost of having to sit there with leisured women who don't have to work and stress out about their leisure time, a sweater would cost well over $200.00. Webs presents the sane alternative for a hobby that was originally meant to help cut costs, at least in my family. These days it also provides some comfort, as I can go in there with places where I'm stuck with my knitting, or just need to talk to someone about our love of knitting. I'm scheduled to take a class in sock knitting in April, and I can't wait!

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