Sunday, October 07, 2007

Bay Area

Last week I had to go to the San Francisco Bay Area on business. I took a few extra days and stayed the weekend after my business was complete because I had never been to California before. On my first free day, I visited Pier 39, where I saw the loud and smelly (but cute) sea lions.

I couldn't believe how close Alcatraz actually was. See it there behind the seagull? I was standing very close to the him. None of the gulls seemed to care about people being right next to them.

I took a boat ride around the bay, under the Golden Gate Bridge, and around Alcatraz. The tours that actually stopped at Alcatraz were full (as I had been warned by some friends), but my boat went pretty close.

After my day by the water, I drove around the city a bit, and went to the two yarn shops that came highly recommended to me: Art Fibers and ImagiKnit. I loved both of these stores for very different reasons. Both had friendly, helpful staff, and a comfortable atmosphere.

Art Fibers spins and dyes all their own yarns. They have almost anything you can think of, even some yarn that looks like rope. I came away with Carizza, Ming, and Sylph.

ImagiKnit is a regular yarn shop, but large, compared to those in the NYC area, and very well-stocked. I couldn't believe the diversity of their yarns and how many lines of each brand they had. I almost bought something that is rare around here, but not rare in general. That is, until I spotted the real rarity. Now, I love Malabrigo yarn normally anyway, so when I picked these skeins up and felt how different they were, I knew I had something special. A glance at the tag made me do a double take: 50% merino wool and 50% silk. Since when does Malabrigo make this? Well, it turns out, only two bags were sent to the US (from Uruguay, of course), and both to ImagiKnit. These were the last two skeins from those only two bags (the owners know each other I was told). In 2008, Malabrigo will be releasing this yarn in the US, but in a different weight. I am so excited to have something this rare in my stash. The picture below does not do the beautiful color justice!

On my second free day, I was more in the mood for a drive in the country than hanging out in the city. So, I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and headed north.

First stop was the Marin Headlands, a beautiful area consisting of little other than nature. I saw some surfers and people riding horses, as well as a lighthouse that I couldn't get close to because it was closed while I was there (it's very tiny in the picture below).

I started driving (after stopping for lunch in Sausalito) towards wine country. I ended up in the Sonoma area. Downtown Sonoma was having their annual vintage festival, so I stopped by there for a while and tasted some wine. I also happened by a yarn shop, Sonoma Yarns, which I did not expect because I didn't think to look for any on the internet before my drive. It was small, more like some of the NJ shops, and a needle felting class was going on. I was greeted by a cute, scruffy dog, and the owner who was really nice. I just picked up some Crystal Palace kid mohair to possibly make the sideways drop-stitch scarf that I had seen knitted up at Art Fibers.

I stopped again in Sausalito on my way back for dinner. I loved this little historic town. I had no idea that I would find such a cute little place near San Francisco. All the houses in this town are stacked up on hills, and from downtown, on the waterfront, there is a perfect view of San Francisco, Alcatraz, Angel Island, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Bay Bridge. There were lots of sailboats, and a cruise ship both times that I stopped there. I had dinner at Scoma's and it was wonderful. As I was sitting there, and the sun was setting, I kept looking over at Alcatraz. It seems so odd that it is sooo close out there in the bay. It must have been a little freaky for Bay Area people back in the day when the prison was working. I can definitely see why some prisoners tried to swim across. It just looks so close!

Here's a view of San Francisco from Sausalito, getting close to sunset: