Sunday, November 16, 2008

the best day

First, a little backstory - yesterday, I had a chance to meet my long-time "knitting penpal", Christine and her friend, Carolyn. Christine and I "met" when she was my partner for a mitt kit swap almost two years ago. She lives outside of Boston. Carolyn was almost her neighbor in MA and since has moved back to her hometown near Chicago. Chicago is a train ride away for when Christine planned to visit Carolyn, a deal was struck.

nutshell chicago

I hopped the Metra in Harvard and met Christine and Carolyn in a suburb of Chicago. I felt instantly like I had known them, the conversation was fast and furious and the trip was fabulous. We went for a late breakfast at the Southport Grocery and Cafe. Check out this menu. When I took my first bite of the bread pudding pancakes, I think I could have wept. And Carolyn's steak and eggs - I had to take a closer look because it was gorgeous. Next time I must have the allegedly infamous cupcake that I missed - but since I couldn't finish my pancakes... Thankfully we later went to Sarah's Pastries and Candies and had the most delightful cupcakes, em, Martha Stewart even thinks so. The cupcake of the month was a light tasting pumkin with pretty frosting, that tasted as good as it looked - no easy feat. It was probably a good thing a line had formed while I ate my cupcake, because that was the only discouragment I needed to not go back and blow the motherlode on the cookies and candies I had admired. (I was considering a Chicago Bears cookie for my mom but it's Bears vs. Packers today - I'm somewhat relieved that I did not bring that bad ju-ju into the house, whew.)

Of course, we are knitters - so food was merely the icing on the cake - pun intended. We hit 4 knitshops. We started in the Wrigleyville area (eep - edited - actually kind of nearish to Wrigley Field, I'm a huge Cub fan, but I stand corrected and would hate to offend anyone!:) at knit1. We got there a few minutes early and the neighboring cafe owner, who I am thinking might have been the spouse of the knitshop owner, invited us out of the cold to wait in his shop. We decided to tough it out - diehard knitters are just like that, right? But then the Moroccan rug shop owner from the other side invited us in to "watch" her shop while we waited, she went to the cafe to get coffee and we watched the colorful rugs. To the most non-suburban me, it seemed like a kitschy neighborhood where shop people knew and watched out for one another - I loved that. I was happy to discover the Malabrigo worsted I needed to make the Just Enough Ruffles Scarf at knit1. It turned out that those were the only two skeins of natural Malabrigo I saw all day - it was karma.

Then, onto nina. The Plucky Knitter had suggested this shop when I sqee'd about my trip to her recently, and it had already made the short-list! What a zen shop, so organized. The colors and textures were fabulous. We all walked out with the fixings for a scarf - I foolishly resisted some yummy ingredients, while C & C lived on the edge - I should have, dammit. The shop had samples of the most simple and delightful chunky ribbed scarves made from a combination of things things like suri, kidsilk haze, other softy things - the squishable scarves were singing like a siren to us. It was fun to try to wander the shop and guess what yarns were in each yummy scarf. I think the shopkeeper mistaked us for newbie knitters given our mild giddiness and went about pointing out exactly what we needed. I can't wait to see my new "in person" friends' finished scarves. What a lovely souvenier of the Chicago yarn haul. I may just have to get the other pieces yet - just like me to initially have the "strength" (as if) not to buy something only to then scour on-line and spend more money finding the same thing.

Downtown, we went to Loopy, ADD Knitter recently got some gorgeous things there. This was the most utilitatian shop we went to - filled to the brim with everything possible. I am guessing that this is the go-to shop for many Chicago knitters - you can't not find anything here. I took a second to knit on the community scarf, while Christine styled a photo. It was extra charming that a lanky, casually dressed man asked me if I was finding everything alright. A man that knits (Joe-Six-Pack, perhaps?) - yay! And they have a men's knit night. My brother-in-law lives in Chicago...hmmm. Okay, I know - it aint happening.

The last place we shopped was truly near the heart of downtown, it was exciting to my somewhat country mousified self. It was walking distance from the magnificent mile, and should remain unnamed. Very dated, and the parking, egads. But then, it was like magic and just like the adage "when one door opens, another one opens", because there was Sarah's pastries. It was as though angels were singing, we somehow traded a "meh" yarn shop for eternal cupcake-dom. This area, including a quick jaunt onto Michigan Avenue, held a wonderful vibe for me - crazy, busy is not usually my thing but somehow this day was so pleasant, I kind of enjoyed the bustle along with the comraderie of new friends.

Carolyn has a knack for navigating the city - I was quite awed, her driving rocked and she never seemed harried, not once! I would have surely cursed. a lot.

We ended at Starbucks near the train station. (warning, tangent ahead) Somehow on the way to the coffee shop I posed in a picture as part of a human pyramid for an excited family doing a scavenger hunt - I love a good stranger interaction. Somehow re-fuels my tank, it seems to me that this time of year people can be kind of in their own world - focused and anonymous. I am a true believer in the random acts of niceness (kindness is a whole nother tier of this phenomenon), a smile from a new person can make my whole day. I must remember that when I am shopping with my head down...

So anyways, finally, at Starbucks the knitters knit. I took so few pictures I could kick myself. I kind of hate having my picture taken so I am not aggressive, hell, I'm not even assertive with my camera. So I have no close-up "Look - Knitters!" pictures, aw. Somehow though, I am confident that there will be a next time. Thank you both!


Blogger IrishgirlieKnits said...

That sounds like the best day!! Cupcakes, yarn, knitty friends!!! Yay!!!

1:10 PM  
Blogger The A.D.D. Knitter said...

What a great jaunt!! I love days like that:)

3:55 PM  
Blogger Diana @ Photodee said...

Wow! How cool! Sounds like a ton of fun! Human pyramid, huh? LOL! Too funny!

5:23 PM  
Blogger Carolyn said...

There will DEFINITELY be a next time. It was too much fun not to do it again!

I'm glad you had as much fun as I did. It really was "the best day!"

6:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm seriously going to have to check out the cupcake place next weekend.

p.s. Knit1 is in Lincoln Square or very close to North Center, and not Wrigleyville. It's the neighborhood my boyfriend lives in and it's a world of difference to a chicagoan. :D

7:14 PM  
Blogger MollyBeees said...

I'm so jealous! I've only been to Chicago once to the Field Museum and wouldn't have a clue how to get there or where to go. It sounds divine!

7:50 PM  
Blogger Jodi said...

Glad to hear you enjoyed the Windy City! Nina is one of my fav yarn shops here. And you were totally in my neck of the woods -- I live mere blocks from Wrigley (and spend a lot of time drooling over all the lovely things at the Anthropologie on Southport).

9:24 PM  
Blogger a friend to knit with said...

okay. i want a day like that. and in one of my favorite cities. how fun.

10:44 PM  
Blogger Nell said...

What a great day!!! I love Chicago. It's such a great city. Glad you had fun.

10:52 PM  
Blogger Marisol said...

Gosh what an amazing day! I adore Chicago... I spent sometime living out there when I was consulting. I lived in Shaumberg though as it was closer to the client side: "Your in Good Hands".

I loved walking down the magnifecent mile and I would see folks doing those scavenger hunts all the time. How fun!!!

Ah so many memories of the windy city, Filenes Basement, The Blues Clubs --especially Kingston Mines that was my favorite! The deep dish pizza like Lou Malnatis - Yum!
Hey come to think of I believe you can mail order from them:)

11:24 AM  
Anonymous tiennie said...

Sounds like a very fun time! I want to go next time!

11:27 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

Yay! What a day for you. I loove Chicago, my brother used to live there so I would go stay several times a year for a long time.

How fun and exciting and I am jealous you got a pumpkin cupcake. So glad you got some time with knitter friends. Bread pudding is another favorite of mine but I have never heard of bread pudding pancakes-yum. That sounds so cozy.

Hey, I am totally making that scarf. I have to order that pattern. Thanks for the link.

4:16 PM  
Blogger cbknits80 said...

Totally a great time! I'm so glad you were able to meet us. You capture the day perfectly!

5:33 PM  
Blogger Hilary said...

How wonderful! Aren't knitter meet-ups the best?

11:30 AM  
Blogger Knitterella said...

Wow! What sweet looking shops! What a great trip - totally jealous :)

6:16 AM  
Blogger Cinnamonamon said...

What a lovely day!! :)

1:41 AM  

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