Mary's Library

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Great Good Place

Near the corner of 14th and Grand, here on the South Hill in Spokane, there is a yarn store par excellence. It’s called A Grand Yarn and it is my great good place, my third place.

These terms are taken from a 1989 book by Ray Oldenburg, THE GREAT GOOD PLACE: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Community Centers, Beauty Parlors, General Stores, Bars, Hangouts, and How They Get You through the Day. From the blurb: “The ‘third place’ is a place where people can gather, put aside the concerns of work and home, and hang out simply for the pleasures of good company and lively conversation.”

I read that book when it was published and found it interesting in an abstract sort of way. I had plenty of friends at the time and the now-defunct Gilpin House Book Store in Alexandria, Virginia, was my third place. (I found Wilhelm there, in current nonfiction.) I’ve since decided Oldenburg's book says something profound about our lives today.

When I decided to move to Spokane I knew eight people here. That soon grew to nine when our friends Eric and Louisa had a baby. Brady is one of my 10 favorite people at the moment, but he’s not really into doing lunch or shopping at Nordstrom. I had to have a plan.

I didn’t realize how easy it is to meet people, get to know them, and become friends here in Spokane. But easy as it is, you do need a place to start, and my place is AGY. I signed up for a couple of knitting classes that I didn’t think I needed (turned out I learned a lot from Pat’s sock class and Gerda’s sweater class), and I met and got to know a lot of sharp, funny, talented people.

Since Oldenburg’s book was written, Starbuck’s and other coffee shops have proliferated and have become for many people their third place. But as great good places go, you can’t beat your local yarn store. If you live within 50 miles of 14th and Grand, A Grand Yarn is your “local.”

Want to learn to knit? Here are a couple of books that will get you started. But you will learn more quickly and easily if you sign up for a class at your yarn store.
THE KNITTING EXPERIENCE. Book 1, The Knit Stitch : Inspiration and Instruction (2002), By Sally Melville. Melville has added two books to this series, Book 2, The Purl Stitch and Book 3, Color. The stylish hats, scarves, and sweaters in The Knit Stitch are easy to make and most need a minimum of finishing.
STITCH’N BITCH: The Knitter’s Handbook (2003), by Debbie Stoller. This book is aimed at the younger knitter but appeals to everybody. It's packed with information and it has directions for some easy and beautiful scarves and sweaters, not to mention a bikini and a cat bed.

The term “a great good place” is, I assume, inspired by a short story of that name by Henry James, published in 1900. I don’t recommend it. Like much of late James it’s pretty obscure. Read "Daisy Miller" instead.


At 9:14 PM PST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mary,

I am so glad that you feel like you do about AGY. Our clients are all wonderful just like you!

My favorite knitting book is by the incomparable Elizabeth Zimmerman, Knitting Without Tears. I reach for it often and when I analyze knitting problems, I often think "what would Elizabeth do?"

See you soon, Gerda


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