From here to there

In hopes of promoting the fiber guild and my stash I went on a pretty fantastic ride on Saturday. It started at Athan’s in Allston. There is a great group of ladies who meet up there for fantastic food, conversation, and knitting. I got a lot of feedback about what would make for a good and bad guild, kinda rough for a guild that has yet to start, but good ideas non-the less. One idea that came out from this meeting was a shop hop for knitting store in the Boston area, perhaps this will happen in February…

From Athan’s I went on a southern Boston Metro area fiber crawl, visiting many yarn stores around Boston, looping to the south. Because I was on a schedule I did not have too much time to visit I will save a lot of description for future episodes of the show when I return to some of these places, but here is a quick wrap up:

  • A Good Yarn in Brookline: I was happy to be greeted by someone who knows me and was excited about the Guild.
  • Stitch House Dorchester: I dropped off some fliers (totally flustered by the time I got there, read on for more details).
  • Snow Goose in Milton:(new to me) Wow… this store was hidden in an isle of a fancy supermarket (not exactly… but I would love to pick up some yarn between the tofu and milk isles).
  • Sheep Street in Canton:(new to me) I picked up a frog notion case, couldn’t help it (I know the link is to the clover store, but please goto your LYS… oh yeah, don’t tell my pumpkin I bought the case).
  • Fancie Purls in Norwood:(new to me) The owner of this shop is so sweet and supportive of the other local yarn shops (rock on!).
  • SheepSkate in Dedham:(new to everyone) Currently the owner is doing a soft opening and learning a lot… Can’t wait to see the grand opening
  • Black Sheep Knitting in Needham:(new to me) The Friendly staff put up with me at closing time, let me ramble… I think I should have brought more breath mints for my ride
  • Putting on the Knits in Newton:(new to me) There are some amazingly detailed pieces in this store
  • Spark Crafts in Cambridge: The store is going through some changes with the absence of Renee, but a haven for beautiful yarn.
  • Mind’s Eye Yarns in cambridge:Home Base (why lucy puts up with me, I can not say?)

Here is a Google map with my original route. Due to time limitations, I was not able to make it to all the shops on my route.

This trip was a breaking point for me. While I was happy to visit all the stores and fiber… I realized something very important. I cannot rely on using Google maps alone to get to places. I cannot use directions alone when I am on such a diverse trip visiting so many places I have not been before. While it is possible to spend a day planning this kinda trip, I would rather not.

The breaking point happened early on in the trip. I was crossing from Brookline to Dorchester, which is a bit tricky for me, and I ended up in Roxbury center driving down what I think was going to be a parade route and I knew that I was not in the right place. For those non-locals, it’s like going from New York to DC and ending up in downtown Philly, you just know something went wrong.

After I found my way to Mass Ave, I went directly to the Best Buy and bought myself the cheapest ($150) GPS unit they had, The Magellan 3200. This is one of the smaller screen versions, but it worked great right out of the box. High scores on usability, it even asked if you wanted to shut it off when you unplugged the power from the car. It got me to all the places I had left to go with flying colors and saved me a lot of time with getting from place to place on the rest of my trip. The only draw back was that it had pretty boring computer software and did not announce street names, you have to pay more for street names in the Magellan line (which is typical).

So today I went out, returned the Magellan and got me a Mio Moov 200. For the same price as the Magellan, I could now hear street names in the direction. But, sadly… it lacks a lot of the ease of use I had in the Magellan. I found the buttons unclear and sometimes totally redundant. I could not set trip options like “toll roads” for each trip and I had to look up how to add favorites, LYSs of course, and the software that came with it didn’t allow me to edit my favorites or points of interest. So… I am going to return this one as well.

I am hoping that in the next week I will get to buy the last of the cheap GPS ($150 is the best price for anything good right now). I plan on buying a TomTom One 3d Edition. It does not have street names, but I hope that the interface is as good as the Magellan and the ability to share my favorites and places of interest with the rest of the TomTom users will mean that I help others in locating fiber places along the route. Oh yeah, they also give you regular updates to your maps as well as let you manage your favorites and points of interest from their computer software. If it is still to confusing to work, I will go back to the Magellan.

The reason I am sharing this with you is two fold

  1. There is so little good usability information out there about GPS units. Since these are now so much cheaper, I think that there should be more information out there about what real differences are between them. BTW, Text to speech is the name of the function you need for street names to be announced on your GPS units.
  2. Fiber stores and fiber farms are everywhere, get out there with a GPS in hand and start checking them out, they are so much closer than you think.

IAPM53: Local Yarn Shops at NENA 2008

The ladies from Creative Warehouse
The ladies from Creative Warehouse and their Kuku knitted dolls

Many thanks to Jan Anderson super yarn rep of “All About Yarn” for inviting me to NENA. She is a gracious host and very proud of the yarn companies that she reps. Also, many thanks to the folks at Blue Heron for giving me a table and hanging out with me during the day.

Thanks to those of you who sat down with me at NENA, including:
Monica from Stix and Stitches from Montclair, NJ (the better Montclair)
Helen from Mt. Laurel Yarn Boutique in Sturbridge, MA
Cynthia from Knitting Central in Westport, CT
Janet from Country Village Yarn shop in Groton, MA
Laura from Creative Fibers in Windsor, CT
Elissa from Creative Warehouse in Needham, MA

Other stuff I talked about during the show:
Knit out 2008 in Lexington
on October 5th from Noon to 5pm
Y Knit Podcast has a great episode about the Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat

Finally:
Franklin Habit is speaking at the first Common Cod Fiber Guild meeting on September 12th