Many of you know that today is the third anniversary of my husband’s death. All of us deal with anniversaries, both sad ones and happy ones in different ways. My children each have their own way of dealing with the death of their father, but my way is always to stay as busy as I can, acknowledge the passing of a major event, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. A series of coincidences led me to today’s adventure, I told my daughter that my new philosophy is, “It isn’t worth doing if you can’t make an adventure out of it…”.
I’d like to crack a joke here and say that what would any self respecting fiber enthusiast do during the anniversary of a very sad event, and the answer of course would be, “Go yarn shopping.” I don’t know if that is really an appropriate joke, given the gravity of what today stood for, but in my own way, knowing this was coming, I planned to do just that. To keep busy and do something I haven’t done before, (of course I’ve bought yarn many times) but not in these circumstances.
Let me explain…
Back in the early 1980’s, when I was new to the craft fair circuit, I have this clear recollection of this couple, Maureen and David, who would come down the aisle at every craft fair in the northeast, showing all the handweavers their line of yarn. They were new to the business, though David dealt in mill end yarns, Maureen and David decided to put together a regular reproducible line of yarns, ones that no other weaver was working with or could find. Rayon, and rayon silk yarns were just starting to become accessible to the handweaving market and they were the ones who ushered in a new era of wonderful, high end yarns in gorgeous colors and innovative fibers. They called their yarn company Silk City Fibers.
Many of the weavers from that era, including myself, and my friend Candiss Cole all used their yarns. It was easy to set up a wholesale account, you just needed a tax number, which was easy to obtain, still is. During the prime of my craft fair career, I probably spent $8,000 a year on yarn, which back in the 80’s was a lot of money. Silk City Fibers got its name because it was located in Paterson NJ, which was considered for many years in the 1800’s the Silk Capital of the Northeast. Paterson NJ was 15 minutes from my house. Silk City Fibers was housed in an old warehouse, a kind of slum of a place, cold and dark and dank but they had yarns. A number of years ago, they opened the warehouse one Saturday a month, and you could find all kinds of bargains, discontinued colors and styles, at very reasonable prices. I tried to avoid going there because 1, I didn’t need anymore yarn, and 2, I always came home with yarn I didn’t need. Because who could resist. Mostly I was usually traveling when the warehouse was open, so that was always a good thing.
In the early years I would visit Silk City, sometimes to pick out yarn for a project for Handwoven magazine, or sometimes to consult with David or Maureen. Sometimes they even had me consult on colors. I remember many many years ago picking out furnishings with Maureen for a NYC showroom they were opening. That was a long time ago.
Since I’m no longer a production weaver, I don’t really need to buy yarn in quantity and sadly there are a number of, too many really, opportunities to restock the stash when a beloved weaver in the guild dies. Many of the older members had large stashes of Silk City Fibers. I remember one recent studio sale from a weaver who passed who was sitting on huge multiple pound cones of white Silk City Contessa, a rayon and silk yarn that had been discontinued a long time ago and is still my most favorite yarn I’ve ever used. I bought all of for dyeing. And when my friend Candiss had one of her weavers return yarn from many years ago when the weaver was diagnosed with a terminal illness, Candiss passed all of it on to me for a price I couldn’t refuse. All of it gorgeous Silk City Fibers.
Last year I got word that Silk City Fibers was sold. David retired and the whole enterprise was purchased by Lion Brand Yarn. Huge knitting yarn manufacturer. Available everywhere. The word was that they wanted to expand into the weaving market. I don’t know how true that is, but that dank dark basement warehouse moved, with everything in it, to Lion Brand’s gorgeous spacious facility in Carlstadt, which is only about 30 minutes from me. Silk City has only been in their new digs about 4 months.
Alice who the Silk City Fiber yarn development director, and an old friend, lives in my town. We ran into each other at Shoprite a couple of weeks ago. She caught me up to date on everything and talked about how to get the word out about Silk City Fibers to a new generation of weavers. We talked about conferences, we talked about social media. We talked about getting a flier into the conference bags at the Mid Atlantic Association Weavers Conference which is in about 10 days. I’ll be teaching there. Here is the flier they came up with…
So I decided that today, I needed an adventure, one that would take me out of the house and away from the memories of what today is, and I got in my car and drove to Carlstadt. The GPS struggled to find the facility and I ended up lost in a town full of warehouses, but I called them and they talked me back to the correct location. Wow, just wow.
The outlet store, filled from one end to the other of Lion Brand Knitting yarn is open 6 days a week, every day but Saturday. So on a Sunday afternoon, when everyone is watching football this fall, drive yourself down there all of my peeps in North Jersey. Wow, just wow. There is a lovely classroom set up along the side wall, and in there are racks and bins of labeled coned Silk City Yarns, not nearly the selection that the old warehouse held, but in my discussions with the women who worked in the outlet, there are thousands more cones still to be labeled and put out. And there are bargains.
The outlet is opened to the public and for anyone living in NJ or NY, it is a great destination for an afternoon of serious yarn shopping. Of course I ended up with two carts full of yarn I didn’t need, but still had to come home with me. Much of the yarn was between $1, $3, and $5 a cone.
Silk City Fibers is actually a wholesale enterprise. You need a resale/tax number in order to be able to order from them online. That isn’t a difficult thing to obtain. But they have no minimums. As long as you have a tax number, you can order cottons, rayons, wools, their famous Bambu line, and all sorts of fabulous stuff, one cone at a time. Alice is hoping to expand their 5/2 perle cotton colors, and no one has better rayons than Silk City Fibers. Skinny Majesty, Avanti, Linen, rayon Chenille, they are all still there, in gorgeous colors and available wholesale. For those of you who don’t have a resale number, many yarn suppliers like Cotton Clouds are still great retailers who can get anything you want from them, or order online directly from their retail site.
And so, I’m going to go down to my car and unpack six large shopping bags and fondle my goods. It got me through today. I’m grateful for coincidences that led me to today’s adventures. I will be fine…