Wednesday in New York

Instead of visiting live animals at the Central Park Zoo in New York City, I headed to the Arsenal Building nearby. The fourth floor was filled with Ruth Marshall’s knitted pelts and skins of tigers and other felines, snakes, and small mammals. To make them as real-looking as possible, she studied actual skins in museum collections. Her question is, “Why not create pieces that look like real animal skins, and let the animals live?”

Read more about Ruth’s work at www.ruthmarshall.com. Ruth’s book, Vanished Into Stitches, which has many photos of the work on display at the Arsenal, is available at amazon.com.

String Yarns (33 East 65th St, 2nd Floor) was my next stop. The shop’s motto, “if ‘obsession’ puts in mildly…welcome home,” prepared me for the luxurious yarns inside. The long, narrow store was bright and welcoming. A few ladies sat around a table, knitting and chatting, while I examined the yarns. My favorite for pure softness, lightness, and luxury was Zealana AIR, a blend of 40% Cashmere, 40% Brushtail possum down, and 20% Mulberry Silk.

Then I went west, across Central Park, to the American Folk Art Museum. I love folk art. It inspires a lot of my own work. When my family was in New York in 2012, I just didn’t have time to go.

This sign below was the first thing that greeted me as I opened the door. The museum was closed to install a new exhibit, and would open again on Tuesday, May 13, the day after I left New York. Better luck next time, I hope.

Next stop, Knitty City (208 W 79th St.), another long, narrow shop. This one was stuffed with yarn of all kinds—plain and fancy. People sat around tables, talking and knitting. Pretty bags and cute buttons rounded out the selection. Though I was nervous about my shoulder bag knocking skeins off shelves, I enjoyed the sheer range of choice in this shop.

My last stop was the Bard Graduate Center Gallery (38 W 86th St.), where the admission price was very reasonable for two multimedia exhibitions. “Waterweavers” showed contemporary work of Colombian textile artists, focusing on the river.

“Carrying Coca” traced the history of chuspas, the small, flat bags with long straps, used by the people of the Andes to carry coca leaves. The earliest bags, from before Europeans came to South America, were notable for their fine threads and attractive natural/naturally-dyed colors. I enjoyed seeing the evolution of the bags over the years to the present, when a very different style of coca bag is made for sale to tourists. Most of the bags were woven, but I saw a few knitted bags in the show.

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