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Archive for November, 2009

When I woke up in Hibbing I was greeted by a heavy layer of frost. I plotted my travels for the day; a morning appointment in town, then a 2.5 hour drive to Duluth for a second sales call, then a 3 hour drive back to the Minneapolis area.

Before setting out for appointment number one I remembered why “Hibbing, MN” stuck in my head like like a piece of popcorn sticks in your teeth; Bob Dylan grew up here! Well doesn’t that just make sense. I mentally played some tracks and yep, Hibbing came right into focus. I did a quick Google search for landmarks, but came up with only “The Greyhound Bus Museum”. No thanks.

I arrived at The Knitting Knight a tad early for my appointment. By a tad, I mean about 1/2 an hour early. As my college girlfriends put it, I’m pathologically on-time. I knocked on the door anyways, and was greeted by the shop owner’s brother. I asked him if he could think of any Bob Dylan Landmarks that I could get to before his sister got there. He graciously gave me directions to Bob Dylan’s old house. “It’s a blue house on Bob Dylan Drive with a big mural of “Blood on the Tracks” on the garage.”  Lo and Behold…

Bob Dylan's Garage

Bob Dylan's Garage

I wonder if Bob ever got a letter addressed to this street...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I snapped a few photos because my Dad is a HUGE Bob Dylan fan… I couldn’t not. So, these are for you, Dad.

 

 

When I got back to the Knitting Knight, I settled in for an appointment. I Looked around the shop and was struck by the range in price points that this shop offers. Miss Amber has everything from Red Heart and Lion Brand all the way up through Noro and Misti Alpaca. If you are looking for a rare novelty yarn, I think this store will have just what you’re looking for! Plus Amber and her brother were quite entertaining to visit with. This was my second shop on this trip to be run by siblings. As someone who has my fair share of brother and sisters, I find these arrangements quite endearing and also hilarious.

 

 

Duluth streets all seem to drop straight off into the lake.

From the Knitting Knight I pointed Lola South-East-wards and started driving. Next stop was Playing With Yarn in Knife River. I was treated to yet another stunning day on the road, thank goodness! I did get to cruise through downtown Duluth. Duluth was a surprising treat, with it’s charming shopping district and SPECTACULAR view of Lake Superior. Namely, that view of Lake Superior is from the main drag in town, a remarkably steep and winding road that appears at every turn to drop off instantly into the Great Cold Blue Yonder. All I could think of is driving on this road during the icy months, which in Duluth is usually probably late September until Late May, and also June, July and August. I lucked out and had a clear and miraculously ice-less day. I’m not particularly used to driving anywhere where they have actual geography. I’m from Chicago.

 

When I did pull up at Playing With Yarn I should have taken a photo, or two, or twenty. This shop is located up a National Scenic Highway, backing up onto Lake Superior and surrounded by beautiful pine forest. But alas, it finally happened, I was LATE (gasp!) so I just hustled inside. In this shop I found a very well established shop. Judy, the shop owner, had a very informed perspective on the industry as a whole. She offered me loads of advice and “food for thought”, so much so that I ended up staying much too long. When I finally left, it was dark (and again, I mean DARK like I am not accustomed to).

I ended up crashing in Duluth for the night instead of heading back to Minneapolis. That turned out to be a great idea for several reasons. First of all, I lucked out with the absolute nicest hotel I have stayed in yet. Kudos to the Duluth Days Inn. The woman at the front desk hooked me up with a “handicapped” room because I was so tired and struggling with my bags/food. So my room was extra-big and extremely clean with a brand new mattress and just looked so inviting and warm. The front desk even called me an hour later to make sure everything was too my liking. I am by no means accustomed to such service when I’m on the road. I was just blown away! What a great way to spend my last day on the road.

I woke up the next morning, packed up, and settled in for a long haul back home. It was 9 hours of largely uneventful driving. Cow. Pine tree. cow. pine tree. strip club billboard. pine tree. dead deer. pine tree. pine tree. I think you get the picture.

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When we left our tireless heroine (me) she was hitting the hay in a motel near Stillwater, MN….

When I woke up I realized I had bitten off quite a lot for the coming days. On this day I had 1 appt in Minneapolis, 1 in Buffalo, and I had to get to Hibbing for the night. Well, the flaw in my plan lay there…Hibbing was more than a little farther out than I had anticipated. More like twice as far as I anticipated. Minor miscalculation.

Calhoun Parkway, Minneapolis

My first appointment was at Linden Hills Yarns in Minneapolis. This shop is in a charming corner of the city with beautiful houses and a stunning parkway along a large and picturesque lake. I was blessed with a beautiful cloudless day so I could fully enjoy this parkway.

Please be aware, people in this neighborhood don't know how to park their cars. Getting my massive suitcases back in my trunk was a real trick with this car here.

Linden Hills was a fitting yarn shop for this area. The shop was packed with skillfully knitted sweater samples. Jan, the owner, welcomed me warmly and explained that she had a very experienced, talented clientele. During our meeting she worked on the rice fields sweater, a fascinating two color garter stitch project out of the new Marianne Isager book. I could hardly tear my eyes away. If you are a sweater knitter, this is a fantastic shop to visit.

From Linden Hills I headed out to Buffalo to visit Patty at Silver Creek Cabin. This shop was tucked away in the basement of a coffee shop in a quaint suburb. But don’t let it’s location fool you; this shop was packed floor to ceiling, entryway to backend with yarn. And good yarn!

After leaving Silver Creek I started the longest leg of my journey that day. I pointed Lola northwards and pressed on to Hibbing, MN. Cell phone reception was spotty and signs of human civilization were few and far between. As the sun set I learned rapidly that people out here have an entirely different and shockingly severe definition of the word “dark”. If there was anything to see along the way, I missed it. It was dark.

Suddenly, out of the darkness, I saw the most beautiful WalMart I have ever laid eyes upon. I had arrived in Hibbing. I pulled into the Motel 8, and called it a night, a full 12 hour drive from home.

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I’m back home again after a very productive and interesting trip to Minnesota. I visited Kelly at Double Ewe in Circle Pines on Monday Morning. Her shop was very homey and warm and I enjoyed visiting her very much. If you are looking for Jordana Paige bags in northern Minneapolis, stop by and visit this shop soon!

"...falling down the rabbit hole..."

From Circle Pines I headed over to Mahtomedi to visit the ladies of Lila & Claudines. Well, as I mentioned in a previous post, this shop had a lot to live up to. And, well, they did not disappoint! These ladies have really put their heart and soul into creating an invigorating, joyful and all out FUN place to shop and knit. I could have stayed for days…or years… wow!

knitting wonderland at Lila & Claudine's

Oh, before you go and start asking around for Miss Lila or Miss Claudine, you should know… This shop is owned and operated by sisters Kirsten and Polly. They named the shop after their grandmothers. How sweet!

The sisters stocked up on the South West Trading Company so if you need anything, this is the place to go! If you don’t think you need anything, this is still the place to go!

From Lila & Claudines, I emerged dazed and delighted. I sought out a motel for the night, checked in, dropped my bags and then set out for a perhaps non-yarn-shop adventure. I found a brochure and ventured out into Stillwater, Minnesota. From the brochure I quickly decided that this was a vacation-worthy destination. I never made it one block into the shopping district. Just as soon as my tires hit Main St I saw a sign for “Darn Knit Anyway” and well, the car parked itself. I had found a rare find, a yarn shop that was not on my list. Lo and behold, shop owner Aimee just opened this little gem a month ago! I looked around and visited with her. It was nice to meet someone else just starting out as a professional in the knitting industry. Aimee did end up buying some Jordana Paige bags as well, so if you are in the market now you know where to go! Also, she is giving out the cutest little tote-bags with her awesome shop name on them right now, I don’t think those will last so go quickly!

Tune in tomorrow for the rest of my trip.

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I’m on the road again this week. I woke up this morning in Mounds View, Minnesota. I’m very excited about my itinerary this week. Today I’m visiting what must be a very special shop, Lila & Claudine’s. I was first alerted about this shop just days after it opened, by one of my vendors who lives out in Seattle! She had already heard rave reviews of this new shop all the way across the country! She described it as “falling down Alice’s rabbit hole” and demanded that I send her photos when I get there. Well, today’s the day and I’m interested to see what the fuss is about.

Also this week, I’m heading farther North than I’ve ever been, to Hibbing, MN. I’m a little nervous about traveling that far from home. However, the weather has been cooperating and I’d much rather venture out there when it is not under 4 feet of snow and ice. Just sayin’.

I’ll keep you posted. Wish me luck, everybody!

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Row3

I‘m am thrilled beyond thrilled to announce a new addition to the Knest Inc family! I just got off the phone with the charming and talented Julie from J.Knits yarns. J. Knits is a fabulous hand-dyed yarn company with some truly KILLER COLORS! right off the bat, I can tell you that the color “Minneapolis” should be on every stores’ shelves! Check out their website, get to know the line, and get excited with me. I can’t wait to get my rep kit and bring this line to you all!

minneapolis colorway

minneapolis colorway

If you are particularly enthused about this new addition, please leave a comment or drop me an e-mail. That way I will jump you straight to the head of the line to be contacted.

Be the first in town (or in the state!) to carry J. Knits!

 

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IMG_0597IMG_0599It’s true! My own personal Jordana Paige bag is here!

I got the Rio in Eggplant and I am thrilled with it. This particular bag is already, in my experience, the most popular JP design. Every time I show this line and customers are in a shop, they immediately OOh and Aah over this one. Green Bay to Minneapolis to Chicago, it’s a hit, and that is no fluke.

This bag is a shoulder crusher, to be sure, but sometimes you gotta schlep a lot of stuff. This and all JP bags are made of ultra-lightweight vinyl, so the total weight of this bag is up to you. Personally, I can carry my 15 inch laptop, my current sweater project, all my promotional rep materials, all the notions I could ever want (crochet hooks, tape measures, extra DPNs, scissors, etc), my purse items like wallet, lipsticks, hand sanitizer, and notebooks in the main body compartment. I can fit my rather clunky digital camera, cell phone, headset, business cards and car keys in the generous side pockets. And here’s the kicker… I don’t have to dig for a SINGLE THING. And with all that weight, the straps don’t appear to strain at all!

The Rio is a winner for us gals who have a lot going on. It is durable, organized, and fashionable. Put this one on your X-mas list!

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IMG_0581

It is a sad fact that the downturned economy and a multitude of other forces have sunk several independent yarn shops in the south-west suburbs of Chicago. It seemed to me that this blight of boarded up store fronts was just too bleak to be true. Surely at least one shop managed to hunker down and weather the storm? Well, it turns out, one did! Yesterday I went to visit Stitch N’ Hook in Shorewood, after being tipped off by Jordana Paige that there was a shop still open in the otherwise barren LYS-graveyard. Ms. Sonda’s shop is modest, but well edited. Stitch N’ Hook has a clear and well executed focus on affordable but fashionable sweater knitting. This shop has a spectacular set up for warm and inviting knit nights! I can tell that this shop has a dedicated following of talented knitters. If you haven’t been there yet, I recommend that you go soon. Be advised that there is a mess of construction all up and down Cottage St. The shop is still accessible, but if dealing with construction makes you batty then you should probably wait a month or two before checking this gem out.

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