Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Homage L'Atelier

My friend January and I have been trying to remember how many years ago we began knitting on Saturday afternoons at L’Atelier (a charming knit shop on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica); maybe in 2000.  My introduction to the shop came from a friend I made at the Brentwood Dog Park.  

My hyper-Vizsla Bradley always needed full out running which was available there.  Female dog owners would sit on the benches and talk or knit.  One young woman was knitting a gorgeous sweater for her husband and told me where she went for her yarn. The next day I went to L’Atelier, bought yarn to make a throw, called January and said, “I found something fun for us”.  Jan immediately made a throw.  That was the beginning of many throws, sweaters, scarves, purses and new friendships.

Leslie, the owner, was very welcoming, wrote wonderful patterns, suggested color combinations and generally insured that we spent almost all day Saturday knitting. Soon, Jan and I found ourselves making friends with other women and in a short time, knitting at L’Atelier became our Saturday habit. Ultimately, I think there were seven of us.  Knit, talk, knit, talk, eat lunch, knit, talk, well, you get the idea. We began celebrating each others birthdays and for a time would go out after the shop closed on Wednesday nights to drink wine and knit in a well-lighted bar. Mistakes were made.   A few times we had a “holiday party”, combining Christmas and Chanukah.

The group included a Property Manager, College Professor, Make-up Artist, Corporate
Finance Manager, Health Administrator, RN, Special Ed teacher and moi.  We ranged in age from 40 to... 

One Monday a woman parked in front of the shop forgetting it was closed.  She was so distraught and forgetting her foot was still on the gas, plowed into the plate glass
window thinking she was in reverse.  When we arrived to knit on Saturday, Leslie had
furnished the parking lot with chairs, tables and umbrellas and we sat down to knit as usual but outside rather than inside.

Sometimes we would go on field trips to other knit shops or movies or lunch or dinner. We even went to Thai Town for wonderful foot massages.
Nothing planned in detail, we just did things together; we surely spent a lot of money on yarn.  We figured it was way cheaper than a shrink.

As in all of life, change happens and our L’Atelier is now closed on Montana Avenue. The shop may be gone but will continue to knit together at one of our homes.  

You can't keep good women down or away from their knitting.

Monday, August 8, 2011

New York, New York!

Landing at JFK and walking out of the American Airlines building at 4pm on a recent July afternoon was easy.  Trying to breathe in the 106 degree outside air was not. The air just whacked me up the side of head.  Once in the nice, clean air conditioned car I made my check off list for the week, determined to do them all, sticky weather be damned.

The drive into Manhattan, is always a joy, no matter how many times I've done it. I get teary eyed now looking toward lower Manhattan and always will...the Twin Towers always made me smile.
Once across the bridge we quickly arrived at 305 E. 72nd St., home of my cousin Muriel, hostess for the week. This is the view of her building; the 2nd Avenue Subway Line is being pushed,
hammered and rammed down from 96th Street to 63rd Street causing pain and upheaval
all along the route.  Also, NOISE, dirt, dust, telephone interruptions, water main breaks,  potholes and palpable anger among the residents. TWO MILES, folks. Billions of dollars, completion date is a moving target.

First activity was to walk East toward First Avenue for dinner at Fratelli's; love their delicious thin crust pizza, salad and wine.  It is SO New York!  It seems that everything is New York but me!

Had a great breakfast Saturday morning at EJ's with Muriel and her friend Allie, then walked to the 67th St. Market (pales in comparison to any of our open air markets, mark one for LA)!

We met Helene, another friend, and saw "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert".  What a wonderful, over-the-top production with great costumes, sets, music and talent. Afterwards we luckily had drinks at Helene's house who has an unobstructed view of the Chrysler Building from her living room.  One of my special treats when I visit New York is to sit and stare at that gem, sucking up a vodka/tonic. Along with her granddaughter, the four of us had dinner at River Park, a beautiful, new restaurant along the East River with lovely views of Queens, owned by Tom Collichio. Delicious food along with a great ambiance. Check.

Next morning, a Sunday, Muriel decided we should check off the "High Line".  We went very early both to beat the crowds and the awful heat. It is a brilliant, beautifully landscaped outdoor catwalk built along an old elevated freight line, long ago abandoned, running from Chelsea through the meat packing district, along Manhattan's West side, from Ganesevoort Street up to 30th St. It is serene with wild flowers, grasses and wooden plank seating along the sides.  Just so lovely. Check.

We walked to EATLY, a foodie paradise, where all manner of foods, books, wines and eats can be purchased.  We had a couple of lattes and sat in a small park facing the Flat Iron Building...
We had a wonderful lunch at Szechuan Gourmet on 39th St. and then I luckily went to see "Book of Mormon" (my cousin is seeing it next week).  Superlatives, superlatives and more superlatives.  It won the Tony for good reason.  Then I walked from the theater on 49th St. to meet Muriel and my daughter, Stephanie (in NYC for 36 whole hours) for dinner at Marea on 57th St.  After a wonderful meal, we all walked to Madison Ave., Steph to the hotel and the two of us to a bus. Check.

I was first on line Monday morning at the Met to see the Alexander McQueen, "Savage Beauty"...oh, my, my, my.  A very exciting, wildly creative exhibition of clothing one would not see on anyone at Whole Foods. Check.

Met Muriel at the Jewish Museum to see the Cone sisters of Baltimore collection of Matisse and Picassos. Imagine buying those artists in the late teens and early 20's when they were considered
way out art. The sisters are a subject on their own, believe me.  Check.

We took the train to 161st in the Bronx to see a Yankee game.  The stadium is gorgeous but the advertising was very off-putting.  Game delayed due to rain.  We sat and sat and sat and finally decided to leave. Train back, nice dinner at a Thai place close to the apartment.  Got home to find the Yankees
ahead in the bottom of the second.  So what?  We were dry.  Check.

Muriel and Helene work at "Big Apple Greeters" on Tuesdays so I went to visit Ground Zero which I always do when I'm in NY.  Wow, was I surprised at the progress of the buildings.  The activity in the area was frenetic: trucks, cranes, horns blaring, workers all over the place.  I met Helene for lunch at a favorite:  Ed's Lobster Bar, 222 Lafayette St.  THE BEST, including any in the State of Maine, so there.   Check.

We took a bus to South Ferry and took the Ferry across to Staten Island and back.  My father grew up there and I clearly remember taking the boat to visit my Grandpa.  It used to cost 5 cents.  It's now free.  Go figure.  Check.

When we got back we walked to South Street Seaport and mingled with the tourists, had a drink and watched the passing parade.  Check.

Wednesday morning I met Muriel and Allie for coffee after they walked in Central Park for an hour.
Four of us waited on the cancellation line for "War Horse" and we all got tickets!  (winner of the Tony Drama Award).   I cannot use enough big words to explain how moved I was, how emotional I became how totally drained and grateful I was to have seen such a monumental, moving  play.  Check.

Packed Thursday morning and then we took the bus to Harlem, 125th St. to have lunch at The Red Rooster.  A wonderful restaurant of Marcus Samuelson, an Ethiopia man raised in Sweden.  Just the best food, atmosphere and plain old fun. Back to 72nd St., got my bag, kissed my wonderful cousin goodbye
and off to JFK I went.  Check.

New York, New York!   A wonderful town.