Yarny Adventures

During my staycation in Denver I had decided that I wanted to go to Fancy Tiger Craft, The Loopy Ewe and My Sister Knits.  Fancy Tiger is relatively close to where I was staying but the last two are up in Fort Collins which is about 1 – 1 1/2 hours away from Denver.  With that in mind, I did something I would not usually do, I reached out to two podcasters that I listen to on a regular basis to see if they would be interested in meeting up and they said yes!!

I think it’s a strange relationship – as a listener of podcasts I feel that I know the hosts as I listen to what is going on in their knitting lives each week or every couple of weeks but that doesn’t work in reverse. For all they knew I could’ve been some crazy stalker from Ohio.  So when I contacted Emily and Becky I led with a disclaimer that I was not crazy and if they were not interested that was cool.  It must have worked because in the end, we decided to meet up on Friday afternoon.

On Friday morning, I hit up Fancy Tiger on my way out of town.  I’ve heard so much about this shop and was really excited.  I got a parking place right in front which I think was quite lucky!  They only have on street parking so I’m sure it can be tough some days.  I loved the front window display and the decor of the store when I walked in.  The girls working were friendly but not overbearing, i.e. they acknowledged I came in the store and then allowed me to browse at leisure.  But, here’s where I have to admit it wasn’t my favorite store (and, disclaimer I don’t sew so did not check out the fabric area which I hear is definitely a draw).  First, there’s not a lot of yarn and the yarn that is there tended to be of a more crunchy, granola type which isn’t my scene.  They definitely had brands I had not seen, and overall the vibe was great in the store. I ended up buying a skein of MJ Yarns Simple Sock in the Green Dragon colorway. I was talking to my friend G when I got back and we talked about how sometimes we build up some of these stores in our heads and then they can never live up to those expectations.  That might be the case here.  I’m definitely glad I went but I might find other places to check out on future trips to Denver.

After that I hit the road and headed to Fort Collins.  I had decided to just get a hotel up there so I didn’t have to worry about driving back to Denver at the end of the night and that was a good idea on my part.  I was meeting everyone at The Loopy Ewe.  Emily hosts the Knitting Butterflies podcast and I had chatted with her last year about the Estes Park Wool Market.  Becky hosts the Knit Actually podcast and I found her through a post Emily shared on Instagram.  As soon as I listened to an episode I was hooked and knew she was my type of people.  Becky brought her friend Jen as well, which is good because I feel weird if I’m on the only Jen somewhere 🙂

I loved The Loopy Ewe so much!!!  It was so amazing and they had so many yarns I’ve seen on Instagram and heard podcasters talk about.  My plan was to buy yarn to knit the 3 Color Cashmere Shawl by Joji Locatelli.  Becky suggested that I use Knerd String for it and they had so many colors to chose from that I found just the right 3 colors and the skeins were large enough that I just needed one of each color which was nice.  It was a good choice as well because it is a Colorado dyer, which makes it special vacation yarn.  I’m hoping to get the shawl done in time for Rhinebeck but we’ll see…  I also bought a sock blocker and one of the Ann Budd gauge measures which is super awesome!  And, a skein of sock yarn from Fresh From the Cauldron.

We dragged ourselves away so that we could hit My Sister Knits (MSK) before it closed.  I was on such a high from The Loopy Ewe that I was worried I would not enjoy the next store as much – Wrong!!!!  I’m not sure which I loved more because they offered very different experiences but both were so great.  First, MSK is in an entirely residential neighborhood, in fact, it’s in a carriage house behind a regular house.  There’s a little yarn bombing on a tree out front and then a sign at the gate at the driveway leading you through a beautiful garden complete with chickens to the carriage house where the store is located.  We walked in and were greeted very warmly.

Here’s a funny story.  One of the women working asked if we had been in before.  I said no, I was from Cleveland to which she asked where in Cleveland.  This indicated to me that she knew my fair city as there are two answers to that question – west side or east side.  I told her where and it turned out she grew up in my town, in fact, about 5 minutes away from my house.  I love small world stories 🙂

Back to the yarn – they have so much yarn in this tiny two story carriage house.  I ended with a skein of self striping sock yarn from ScrumptiousPurl and a contrasting skein of Koigu sock yarn for the cuffs, heels and toes.  The very nice ladies took our picture outside in front of the sign and recommended places for dinner, they even offered us bottled water.  I’m sure it had nothing to do with all the yarn we bought 🙂

By this time we were hungry and thirsty!  We ended up at a place called Rio which was Mexican and made super delicious margaritas (told you the hotel was a good idea 😉 ) and we knit and drank and talked and laughed.  I marveled at how knitting was the one thing we all had in common and yet, if anyone walked by they would have thought we were life long friends.  I’m so excited that I now have both family and friends in Colorado to go visit.  And, I’m so excited that both Becky and Emily will be at Rhinebeck so I will get to see them again soon!!

If you want to hear more about our adventures listen to Episode 53 of Knitting Butterflies or Episode 39 of Knit Actually.  This is a super long post so I’m going to head back to my Ravellenics project now and will have more of my yarny adventures next week!

Big Yarn in the Big Apple

My next trip took my to one of my favorite places – the Big Apple!  This post will focus on all the yarn related activities took place during the trip and next week I will look at all the tourist things I did.  I mentioned in Saturday’s post that I went to the Lion Brand Studio so I figure I should follow up with more details.  But first, I try to get NYC about once a year or so and I always go to Purl Soho, because, well – it’s Purl Soho.  This trip I really wanted to make it to the Lion Brand studio because I had seen pictures of their summer window which had a farmers market theme and it looked so cute.  In that vein, I thought I would maybe branch out and check out some other stores.

To get some ideas, I left Kristin from the Yarngasm podcast a message asking what her favorite yarn stores were in NYC.  She was so kind and answered my question in episdoe 157 and I was so excited to hear my Ravelry name mentioned and my question answered.  She mentioned some stores that look great online, including Gauge + Tension, La Casita and Brooklyn General and I really wanted to do a Brooklyn yarn crawl, however, that did happen this trip but will definitely make it happen on my next trip.  I was spending Saturday and Sunday in Bayside, Queens and had no good way to get to Brooklyn.

Where did I make it to?  Lion Brand and String.  So, let’s start with Lion Brand.  It’s definitely a little out of the way, near Union Square and on the edge of the West Village, it’s on a very quiet side street and I almost walked right by it.  It’s very accessible by subway using the 14th Street stop on the F train.  I got in right before another huge downpour and it was hot and humid so I was almost melted by the time I got there.  The window was even more amazing in person and there was so much to look at in the store.  I wandered around, took some pictures and pet some yarn.  I was just about to leave when I noticed how hard it had started raining so I wandered some more and that’s when I decided to pick up the hat yarn.  The girls working at the store were so nice, friendly and helpful.  I sat down at the knitting table to wait out the rain and talked the two ladies who were working out some crochet issues across from me.  Here are some pictures from the store.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The next morning I had some time and so I headed to String which is located on the Upper East Side and is also pretty accessible via subway, although, you have to get off either at 77th or 68th of the 4, 5, 6 trains as it is at 74th street.  It’s on the second floor of the building and it took me awhile to figure out how to get in.  As I was Googling to make sure it was open, I was reading the Google reviews (I never put stock in them but they are interesting to read) and it was getting killed in the reviews.  I just looked again as I was writing this and I see someone posted a new review last week and I would totally agree with it.  But, back to getting in – there is a buzzer and you have to get buzzed in to the store.  Once you get up there it is a bright and beautiful space.  The store is very small but they make the most of the space.  There was a knitting group going on at one end and the girl working was very friendly and helpful.  I did think there were limited brands available but of the brands they carried they had a wide variety of fibers and colors.  I loved that they had a little knitting bar and I also loved these yarn wrapped sticks on one of the tables.

20150731_111742 20150731_111751

I did not buy anything at String as there was nothing there that I could not live without or get at home but I was glad I had visited!  I really want to make some yarn covered sticks and I have plenty of both at my house!

Glass, Yarn and Cows – A Weekend in Wisconsin

The past few weeks have been busy travel weeks for me.  My first trip was to Appleton, Wisconsin, it also happened to be my first trip ever to the state of Wisconsin (another one checked off the list!)  I serve on the board of a non-profit, COAR and we are assigned churches to speak at each summer so I volunteered to do a couple of the talks.  Please feel free to check out our webpage or my blog posts from earlier this year on my trip to El Salvador.  End of commercial – back to Wisconsin.

I had some interesting airport experiences the morning I left.  Starting with guy who kept asking where he could eat because he wanted beer and breakfast before his flight.  I stopped in the newsstand to get my water (I never get on a plane without a bottle of water and a snack because you just never know these days) and I had a bag that I won at a raffle that has the picture of a knock off Monet on it.  The guy ringing me up asks if that is Monet on my bag, why, yes it is, thanks for noticing.  And, ending with the girl sitting next to me on the plane who could not figure out that we lost an hour going from Cleveland to Chicago and that she would lose two more hours going from Chicago to San Diego.  But, I finally arrived in the tiny Appleton airport where they do not even have the spikes for you to drive your rental car over when you leave.

As luck would have it, I have a friend who lives in the area so I gave her call and we made plans to get together on Saturday which gave me Friday afternoon to explore.  I read about a glass museum (and it was free and it was in the town where there was a yarn store – double bonus!) and decided to head that way.  It’s the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass and you can read more about it here.  It is located in an old mansion so the actual building has a lot to offer and the collection of glass was very interesting.  I believe there 3-4 rooms just of paperweights and they were stunning.  The museum was very close to the shores of Lake Winnebago so I headed down there next where I found a little park to get out and walk around.

Now, the important part of the day – yarn store!!  I also have a friend in Madison, WI who was enjoying Knit Camp while I was there but before she left I had asked for recommendations.  She suggested Yarns By Design and she did not disappoint!  I was greeted by a very friendly clerk and explained I was in town visiting so she explained the layout of the store and was happy to let me wander at my own pace.  We did end up chatting quite a bit.  They had a great selection of sock yarns (my kryptonite…).  I did have to give her a hard time as she failed to disclose they had Regia Arne & Carlos sock yarn which I found upon closer inspection of the sock yarns.  I had been trying to get my hands on some of that for months! I bought the yarn and the needles so I could cast on new socks that night!!

On Saturday I headed out to meet up with my friend.  She married a Wisconsin farmer so I went out to their farm and met all their cows, I mean all their cows!  They raise cows for beef and farm wheat, corn, soy and alfalfa.  It was really interesting and I have a whole new appreciation for my food after seeing what all goes on down on the farm.  After that it was time for me to go to work.

The church I was assigned to was actually two parishes that had four separate locations.  Each church was so different.  These were rural churches and the one church was 150 years old and had been built by the original German immigrants in the area.  I finished up Sunday around noon and my next stop (which I believe some in the area also think is a place of worship) was Lambeau Field.  I feel like every football fan has to go if they are in the area.  I was surprised to find it was crowded, in fact, there was even a line to eat at the restaurant.  I didn’t take the tour but walked around the open spaces and snapped a few pictures and then drove around Green Bay.  Not much to see there.  I was trying to find a good space to check out the bay but really never found that.  And then it was time to head back to the giant Appleton airport and head home.  I enjoyed my short stay in Wisconsin and was happy to raise money for COAR and check off another state from the list!