Saturday, February 13, 2010


Get away from it all...sort of

Only a knitter would drive twenty miles out of her way to find a great yarn store.

Actually, that’s a lie. A knitter would drive farther than that (as you’ll soon learn), if the yarn store was really worth it.

Nineneen seconds on the internet can find you

a yarn store. DestiKNITions is about finding you that great yarn store, the one that’s practically its own community, therapy, family, and yarn-obsession support group all wrapped up in fiber-filled four walls.

People often like to “get away from it all.” Me? I like to “get away from it all as long as there’s a cool yarn store nearby.”

Now entering Delavan, WI.

I’ve been here before--part of my husband’s family hails from these parts--but this visit was for a meeting of a ministry I strongly support: Young Life. The three day weekend seminar offered my husband and I the chance to kick back at a wonderful old-school resort called Lake Lawn Resort. It’s primarily a summer place, so reminiscent of Dirty Dancing that you expect Patrick Swayze to wander out of a cabin and hoist “Baby” in a victorious dancing lift at any second, but with a laid back winter charm in the off season. The kind of place that bored you to tears as a teenager but you just adore now that you’ve got teenagers of your own.

Lake Lawn boasts a spa, good food, a great view, and a homey-but-not-dowdy atmosphere that creates the right mix of relaxation and diversion. Civilization is just down the street if you need it, but you can convince yourself you’re out in the middle of nowhere if that’s what you need more.

For starters, don’t even THINK of spending a weekend in Wisconsin without partaking of an official Wisconsin Friday Night Fish Fry. My buddies at Needles 'n Pins recommended The Duck Inn, but there are probably a dozen good choices for this Dairy State obsession. Everyone will have a recommendation--just pick one. You may think you’ve had fried fish before, but if you haven’t done it in Wisconsin on a Friday night, everything else pales (or would that be scales) in comparison.

Saturday belongs to Delavan. Or, more precisely, outside of Delevan, up there on County Road A, at the jam-packed little white farm house that hosts Needles ‘n Pins Yarn Shoppe.

It’s my favorite kind of place--a total, satisfying “find” you’d miss if you weren’t looking for it. But you know us knitters, we’ll go hunting for a good yarn shop, even if we have to drive by it six times to get it right (not that we know from experience or anything).

Needles 'n Pins is the real deal. An authentic, knowledgeable store filled with quality inventory. And I do mean filled. Every square inch of this place is packed to the gills. Owner and multi-published author Doreen Marquart is one of those unflappable masters who won’t blink when you show her the tangled mess you’ve made of your entrelac or the catastrophe you’re calling a cable. No sock has ever stumped this gal, and she’s got customers from

a bright 9-year old to a spunky 89-year-old currently knitting afghans for her great-great-grandchildren. The store specializes in friendly, individualized help. During my visit, a woman entered the store and declared she’d driven sixty miles to come get help with a mistake. Foolishness? Not on your life. Real knitters know a great shop when they see one, and as this woman so deftly put it, “It’s a long way to go but the people are so nice!” As far as I could tell, Doreen might even hand you some chocolate to calm you down while she walks you through a solution.

When I say deep inventory, I mean it “I want to make sure you’ve got enough to make your project,” Doreen says. A conservative estimate is 40,000 skeins, not to mention the full shelves of patterns, needles, buttons, and such. Yes, ma’am, you’ll leave this store fully equipped, or I’m guessing she won’t let you out the door.

She’s got an eye for quality, that Doreen. She was one of the first people to discover Koigu (pronounced koy-goo, in case you were wondering as I was) back before it became the mad trend that it’s become. So, as you can imagine, she’s got a whopping inventory of the stuff and some other nifty new finds besides. Don’t you dare leave without asking to see the “milk yarn.” Yarn from milk? You betcha. After all, Wisconsin is “the dairy state.”

Doreen offered up our first baby project for my “knit along” from Needles 'n Pins, her adorable original “Cupcake Cutie” hat. As you can imagine, it’s a store favorite, and the exclusive pattern is available for purchase. Fans of DestiKNITions know my fondness for cupcakes--I just love it when my passions converge!

Another project Doreen recommends is the “Very Easy Baby Sweater” from Lisa Knits. Done up in Opal or On Line Supersocke 6-fach, this could make a little person in your life very comfy this winter.

For your own comfort--or the comfort of a lucky friend--take on Judy Pascale’s Shapely Shawlette, an excellent use of Doreen’s huge inventory of Koigu Premium Merino or her other great find, Claudia.

Your gadget find from this store is the very clever Susan Bates Handi Tool, a smart combo of craft needle and crochet hook.

After your sheepy shopping frenzy, ask Noreen for directions to The Real McCoys “just over the hill” for down home good burger experience. Or, if the small town main street is your thing (delightfully refreshing for this city suburb gal), drive back into Delavan and spend the afternoon on the honest-to-goodness main street. I had surprisingly good crepes at the Sun Mist diner, but other favorites were the Brick Street Market for cheese (of course, you’ve got to buy cheese!), the sheer hunt-for-a-bargain atmosphere of Tommy Guns Antique Mall, and the outdoor statues depicting Delavan’s relationship with the circus (betcha didn’t know that!).

My weekend was just the low-key get-away that I needed. If you need more wow in your weekend, spend a day at Lake Geneva, but this out of the way trip was just what this frazzled knitter needed.

No comments: