The Storefront Window of Midwest Discount Yarn

I chose to highlight a collection in the storefront window of Midwest Discount Yarn at 5723 W. Irving Park Rd. I took photos of the collection, but as I really looked at them, I imagined the language that I would use to describe the objects. This seemed like an interesting task, so I decided not to include the photos of the objects, but a written account of what is in the window instead. 



The first thing that I notice is a large decoration made of puka shells. Circular at the top, with the circle sitting on a horizontal plane. Fixed at points along the perimeter of the circle are vertical strings of various lengths composed of puka shells of various sizes: small ones at the top growing increasingly larger as your eyes move toward the bottom of the string. Near that is a handwritten sign that proclaims: “MIDWEST YARN closed WED. and SUN. Two white plastic clothes hangers are on a hook in the upper left hand corner. One is holding a buttercream yellow tee shirt containing a graphic of a bird house on the front. The back is not visible. Below that is a medium-sized roundish wreath made of curly willow branches with gerber daisies, in a variety of colors, sprinkled amidst non-specific seeds and berries. Beside the wreath is a clothes tree bearing no clothes. A sheet of translucent yellow mylar, like what you might find wrapped around an Easter basket, is crumpled beneath a small pot wrapped in cream netting. The pot holds a modest arrangement of indiscernible purple flowers. Two white cardboard boxes, like the ones you get clothes in as gifts, lay nearby. The one farthest from the window contains some kind of small pink and white outfit and on top of the article of clothing is a plastic rattle that has “It’s a girl!” printed on it. The box closest to the window contains a similar small outfit but this one is blue and white and on top of this article of clothing is a plastic rattle that has “It’s a boy!” printed on it. Under the boxes is a loose foundation of large sheets of green and silver metallic wrap. Also sitting on this metallic foundation is a handwritten sign that reads:


 $20.00 EACH”.

There are two medium sized pots that are faux-finished to look like granite and each one contains a topiary with white hydrangea blooms at the top of the stems, which look a lot like gigantic cinnamon sticks. One of the topiaries has a plastic artichoke nestled in the hydrangea blooms, and the other topiary has two. Each topiary has another plastic artichoke at the base of the cinnamon stick stem resting on the fake dirt. There is a medium sized terra cotta pot that has been painted white and it contains a spherical arrangement of violets, but they are really blue. There is another medium sized pot that is faux-finished to look like white marble and it contains a haphazard arrangement of daisies (but the petals aren’t shaped quite like daisy petals) or daffodils (but there aren’t the right number of petals) with lots of ivy-like leaves that are dark green with yellow along the plastic veins. Behind the daisiffodil pot is a canister covered in rectangular mirrors which reflect the metallic green color of the paper. On the canister is a smallish basket filled with violets (these ones are not blue) and greenery. Close to the spherical violet bundle is a box with images and graphics that implies a target market of budding pre-teen sweater makers. According to the wording on the box, inside is an automatic knitting machine. Sitting on top of the Singer knitting machine is a bundle of raffia that resembles a portable bale of straw. Wrapped around the mini-bale is a plastic string with green ivy leaves placed in equal increments along it, but it is not the same ivyish greenery that is placed at the base of the daisiffodils. On top of the ivy-wrapped mini-bale sits a light brown bunny made in the style of loopy crochet with black plastic eyes and a pom pom nose. Nestled between its ears is a large pre-fab store bought sign that states:


Please Call Again”.

Beneath the puka shell dangly is a square wooden planter that contains four types of flowers. I can’t access references to specific varieties but they all appear to be tropical species. Right against the glass are three small pots. One is almost identical to the aforementioned small pot wrapped in cream netting with indiscernible purple flowers.To the right of that is a pot of the same size wrapped in lavender netting holding a modest arrangement of small fake sunflowers, Equally spaced to the right of that is yet another pot of the same size wrapped in mint green netting and it contains three not-so-bright-red roses. Beside one of the hydrangea/artichoke topiaries is a barbie doll-sized wicker chair that has some sort of small handmade stuffed animal with a bright red tongue ticking out and a light pink bow on what I assume to be its head. Behind the wicker chair is a large hand-sewn lamb with a pink satin bow tied around its neck. In front of it is a needlepoint piece enclosed in a copper-toned frame. The image is a little boy character, wearing a fireman’s helmet and boots. He has on a white shirt with gold trimming and a gold “#6” on the chest. His suspenders are red and his shorts are light blue with royal blue trimming. He is holding a fire hose and that has droplets of water falling to the ground beside a red wooden crate wagon that is holding a gray puppy. The puppy is wearing a royal blue bandana around its neck and has an odd very three-dimensional hairdo made of thick gray yarn. I call it a hairdo, because it is only on his head. The rest of his fur seems like regular cartoon dog fur. The text above the dogs head is this:


it makes

people wonder

what you are

up to !!”

But the exclamation points are not parallel lines. One is at a distinctly different angle. Near the framed needlepoint piece are four small hand-sewn stuffed sheep, two white, one ivory and one black. Only one of the sheep has eyes. In the middle of the sheep semicircle is a dog that is slightly larger. It has eyes (and a nose) and appears to be made of a very soft suede-like material that is the color of camels. Behind the sheep is a nondescript form. It appears to be animal-ish. It is black, has four legs, and is wearing a light blue braided cord around its neck. Above the barnyard scene is a multi-tiered set of glass shelves. On the bottom shelf is a selection very small teapot-like objects. Each design is distinct but they are collectively teapot-like. Due to their size they are probably actually creamers rather than teapots. They are painted in a manner that makes me think of gingerbread houses. The second shelf has a teeny tiny object that looks like a baby bassinet. You know the kind with the half-hood over the top. It is covered in lace and has eensy weensy pink rosebuds on it. The third shelf from the bottom has a medium sized pot wrapped in two toned silver and gold foil paper. The pot contains ten pink, barely opened tulips and they are all sort of bowing to the front of the pot. Beside the pot of tulips is a brown dinner plate with a cake made of yarn on top. I know that the cake is made of yarn because it has been produced to look like a slice has been cut from it. The color of the yarn cake makes me think of hazelnuts or streusel. The outside of the cake is covered in layers of flower petals that are orange at the bottoms transitioning into yellow at the tops. The bottom and top edges of the yarn cake are lined with a ruffle of white lace icing. Sitting behind the hazelnut yarn cake is a sock monkey wearing a maroon and orange ribbon that is tied in a bow around its neck. It makes me think of Virginia Tech until I notice that it matches her maroon colored Raggedy Ann-ish hairdo and her orange lips. Beside the streusel yarn cake is another one of those small pots wrapped in netting-this time peach-and it has two white roses in it with a sprig of baby’s breath. Next to that is the extracted slice of yarn cake which is sitting in front of four tops of pickets from a fence. They are held together with tiny hinges to form some sort of dividing screen. It is small but not small enough to be a room divider in a doll house, it’s definitely too big for that. It is painted white with a wash of blue on the top thirty or so percent to denote sky. There are three cacti painted on it. Two of the cacti are are tall ones, you know the ones that look like an official looks when he signals that the field goal is good and one of the short bushy kind that looks like it is made up of flat turtle shells. There are two humming birds hovering around the cacti. In front of the fence and beside the slice of yarn cake is a package wrapped in red paper with a goldenrod ribbon and bow tied around it. There are several varieties of pine sprigs gathered on the top, some tipped in silver and red glitter, along with two large red berries that are near the size of plums and one silver pine cone. Stuck to the glass shelf in front of the package are three of those silver peel and stick bows that you put on top of presents. Popping up from behind the package are four closed tulips that appear to be made from some kind of ceramic material. They have been covered in glossy white paint. Beside the package is a lamp that looks like a small traffic signal. The green light is on. On the top glass shelf above the tulips is a stuffed white rabbit with a pink nose and pink inside of its ears. But its ears are round not long, floppy gothic arch ears. It is wearing a hat similar to the one in those I WANT YOU Uncle Sam ads. But the stars are white on a blue background and they run along the vertical axis of the hat instead of around it in a band. The rabbit is wearing a navy blue jacket with red and white striped pants. Next to Uncle Sam Rabbit is a box with text indicating that it is:


There is a bull on the left wearing an ivory sweater with pumpkin colored trim and an puffy tangerine tulip on the chest. To the bull’s left is a wolf wearing a lavender sweater with three puffy pink hearts attached to the chest. Next is a brown bunny with the proper gothic arch floppy ears wearing a light seafoam green sweater trimmed in banana yellow with a puffy purple tulip attached to the chest. On the far right is a baby rooster with blue eyes wearing a pink sweater with light blue trim and a puffy red and black ladybug on the chest. Beside the farm box is a large doll with yellow yarn hair wearing a not quite pink but also not quite red dress and cape. She also has ribbons tied in bows at the ends of her braids and they are also not quite pink and not quite red. I know that she is Little Red Riding Hood but her face and hair look like the slew of nursery rhyme illustrations that accompany the story of Little Bo Peep. But the sheep are far away and there is a wolf right beside her, so I am not sure what to think. Way, way up above Little Bo Riding Hood’s head is a small swing– the kind you make out of a two by four and two ropes. This one is painted black, ropes and all and on it sits a small doll that could be wearing a harlequin outfit or a genie costume. It is made from silky shimmery gold fabric. Down on the bottom beside the black sheep is a square planter with those glossy white tulips in it. There is an Ashford spinning wheel behind the black sheep. On the treadle is a small arrangement arrangement that resembles a topiary but it is a birdhouse made from florist’s foam that is cut into the shape of a cylinder type three-dimensional heart turned upside down. There is a twig sticking out of the hole in the heart and some spanish moss fall out of it as well. There is a female bluebird on the peak of the corrugated cardboard roof and a red icicle like the ones that some people put on their Christmas trees hanging off of its tail. At the base of the tree is a strip of that corrugated edging that teachers use to decorate their bulletin boards and it is standing on its skinny edge. Inside of the circle is more spanish moss and some pink and white impatiens. Next to the wheel is a multi-seater rocking bench made from skinny tree branches. The armrests are wrapped in pink and white and blue and white gingham. There is a stuffed lamb sitting on the rocking bench all alone. Not too far away is a large stuffed stork wearing real spectacles and a top hat. The pink ribbon band around his top hat has small wild animals in various pastel colors on it. green mouse, blue elephant, lavender zebra, yellow chickie. On the two bobbins of the spinning wheel are styrofoam balls with simple smiley faces painted on them in black. Each head is wearing a metallic blue hat with a silver band around it. Behind the spinning wheel is a silver basket with blue foil tissue paper in it. There are some round ornaments with snowflakes and crystal beads on them and a small figurine of a man in a red suit with long white hair, a long white beard and big bushy white eyebrows. He isn’t wearing spectacles and he doesn’t have a large bag with him. Above the sliver basket is another pot of droopy pink tulips but this pot contains eleven. Behind the tulips is a Raggedy Andy doll and next to him is Raggedy Ann. She is standing behind a small disco lamp that has multi-colored plastic lenses to turn a regular bulb into fuchsia, tangerine, teal and electric blue light. It is not turned on.

2 responses to “The Storefront Window of Midwest Discount Yarn

  1. Here is that description of the book I mentioned in class. The artist, whose name I couldn’t remember at the time, is Fiona Banner.

    The Nam
    Fiona Banner
    London, England: Frith Street Books. 1997

    The Nam is a 1000 page all-text flick book: a compilation of total descriptions of the well-known Vietnam films Full Metal Jacket, The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, Born on the Fourth of July, Hamburger Hill, and Platoon. The films seem never to begin or end but are described in their entirety to make a gutting 11 hour supermovie. Banner describes the films as though she is there, not influencing the plot, but always on set running alongside the action. A massive undertaking, “It has been described as unreadable.”

  2. Thanks Marc… wow– sounds like quite an experience.

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