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Archive for the ‘minnesota’ Category

Sorry for dropping off the Blog-O-Sphere for a while, I do still exist!

Part of the reason for my absence is the gone-missing-ness of my camera upload cable. Posts without photos are like decaf-espresso shots….no fun. Well, I have unearthed the errant cable and so here I am! Lets catch up a little.

The gifts, all tarted up for the big day

Due to a slow December, I did get all my X-mas knitting and quite a few other people’s shopping done well in advance. I was quite pleased with how all the gifts looked, wrapped and ready for Christmas morning! Everything seemed to be pretty well received and appreciated. It was a (relatively) peaceful holiday with precious little drama, besides my mother’s brand new, top of the line oven going Ka-Putt on us, X-mas eve with loads of family members due to arrive the next day… and nothing prepared. We managed to keep our wits about us and everything worked out just fine, though.

Mom in our classy room!

Once the holidays were over I got ready for a big trip out to Anoka, MN for a fashion show at Shepherd’s Choice. I will confess, I was more than a little concerned about this trip. The event was booked in the middle of the day on a Saturday, meaning that I would be hard pressed to either drive in that morning and immediately put on the show, or drive out right after the show, being on the road alone in the dark well into the night. I could not find any other appointments out that way so I could not justify staying overnight for 2 nights for just one appointment. Also, right before I left there was a big ole’ dump of snow right over my route, making the roads impassable, at least in my immediate area. I was more than a little on edge about going all that way in those conditions all alone.

Well, long story short, my mom came to the rescue! We drove out there on Friday afternoon, in the brand new SUV she got for X-mas! We decided to stay in Stillwater, MN, because I’ve been there before and thought it was adorable! Well, Stillwater was indeed adorable, but DARN COLD! Mom and I checked into the deal-of-the-century Water Street Inn, and were beyond grateful to be inside from the -10 temps outside.

All set up for Bubble-then-Snuggle, I guess

Besides being affordable, adorable, and warm, the Water Street Inn also had Spectacular food (the best meal I’ve had on the road to date!). There was live music in the bar and the holiday decorations were still up, making my mom feel festive and smile-y. The room had one surprising feature, worthy of photos: a whirlpool tub right smack-dab in the bedroom! We did not use it, but we were amused by it. We instead decided to cozy up to the in room fireplace to relax. I will certainly be staying at the Water Street Inn again. Mom says she would love to come back to Stillwater to shop and explore, only next time when the weather supports human life.

The next day we went over to Shepherd’s Choice in Anoka, MN for the fashion event. We were greeted with warm smiles and great enthusiasm, despite the continued deep freeze outside. The fashion event was a great success! Customers knit with sample balls from Bijou Basin, fondled sample garments, learned a great deal about luxury yak fiber, and then settled in for a SWTC fashion show… complete with volunteer models. It seemed a little silly, talking about breathable, lightweight summer fibers like soysilk and bamboo, but I think everybody found it hopeful and comforting. Spring will get here eventually, we should start preparing for it now!

I will be posting photos from this event, but alas….more camera cable capers! My mom took photos on her camera and so she gave me the camera to upload them, but I do not have her cable.

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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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I was on the road again this past week. I cruised on up to the Twin Cities for a couple of days to visit a few shops. First I visited Adrianne at Be Ya Gi in Little Canada. We had a great time chatting and sipping coffee and ooing and aaaing over yarn and such. That may seem like a strange name for a shop and it took me a little while to really get it, but it is a mash-up up of “BEads, YArn, GIfts”. That is exactly what they have there, how clever!

From Be Ya Gi, I had a surprise cancelation, so I had some free time to eat lunch and explore Minneapolis a little bit. I visited Russel + Hazel, a stationary store that I enjoyed just a little too much. They had bunny-shaped paper clips! And customizable planner notebooks! And a “Binder Bar”! I was in 7th heaven!

After R+H, I went to Needlework Unlimited, a very large and established yarn shop. There, I met with Karen, who has been at the helm of this great yarn empire for over a decade. Meeting someone that experienced in this industry is a surprisingly rare treat. I enjoyed my visit immensely and learned a lot.

From NU, I checked into my motel for the night. This was my first “yellow-light” situation with a motel. Meaning: I didn’t feel entirely comfortable with the cleanliness or safety of this place, but it was quite enough to make me say “no” and leave. What appeared to be a prostitute was eyeing me from the moment I pulled up. She sat in the newly re-furnished lobby and glared at me as I checked in. I got to my room, a dark cavernous space furnished with cast-off patio furniture and king size bed roughly twice my age covered in cigarette burn holes that smelled of BO. It was early, so rather than hang out in the room, I looked up a shopping district and took off. The prostitute glared at me as I left.

The next day I packed up and hit the highway for Shepherd’s Choice in Anoka. When I arrived, I was warmly greeted by Karen, her daughter Nancy, and their friend (whose name I can’t remember and I feel really awful about that cause she was lovely!) I was blown away by these ladies’ enthusiasm and warmth! I could have stayed for days, I was having that much fun with them. They have just moved the store from a barn out in rural MN to a store-front in a quaint suburb. Despite the stress of moving, these gals were invigorated and inspiring. I am really looking forward to hosting a Fashion Event with them in January!

From Shepherd’s Choice, I made one last stop at Knitter’s Palette in Lakeville. There I met with Pam. We had a nice little visit before I hit the road for home.

On the way home, I made a very important decision: I have decided that I much, much, MUCH prefer taking I-94 from MN to IL over I-90. 94 cuts through rural WI and drops me off right in the twin cities over the MN border. 90 takes me through 2+ hours of rural MN before I get to the city. Rural MN creeps me out for some reason, but Rural WI does not. I-90, however, does have the grandest crossing of the Mississippi river I have ever seen, so, put that in your pocket and walk with it.

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It’s been a slow week here at The Knest.  I’ve been doing a lot of cold-calling which means I’ve actually been doing a lot of message-leaving. That’s not really anything to blog about. So, instead of letting the blog languish away, or worse, posting comprehensive list of voicemails I have left, I put together a “director’s cut” of road photos if you will. These are photos of things I have seen while on the road. I think they are quirky and fun, but did not fit with other posts.


In Madison, WI

Rural Route in Wisconsin

 


My trusty steed, Lola, hanging out in
Eau Claire, WI

The View from my hotel window in
Waupaca, WI

 


Spotted a block away from the Waupaca Arts
Center. Too Cool!

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