Wednesday, June 3, 2015

DALLAS, TX - Day One

Dallying in Dallas...

Anyone my age gets a mental image of J.R. Ewing when you mention the word Dallas.  Certainly, there are no shortage of stereotypes attached to this Texan city.  But we DestiKNITters, we go beyond the stereotypes to have unique adventures of the yarny (and yes, the sugary) kind.

I was in Dallas for the most fun of professional reasons, to accept the Reviewers Choice Love Inspired Book of the Year from Romantic Times Magazine.  Any reason to don an evening gown and give a speech is a good thing for this former theater major.  But you know me—I couldn’t let it go at that.  I had to go find out what some of Dallas’s yarn shops had to offer.  I was not disappointed.  Let’s get started on this first of two days:

Panini Bakery & Cakes
6063 Sherry Lane 
Dallas, TX 75225
(214) 363-1225

You probably already know I believe in bakery goods for breakfast.  When you start you day with dessert, life just goes better.  Here, thanks to a tip from my sources, I indulged in their signature white chocolate mousse cake with raspberry filling.  Outstanding.  All the joy of a sugar rush without the ick-too-much feeling that comes when the frosting overtakes the cake.  They make a dark chocolate and a cappuccino version as well…I may need return visits! If you can’t stand the thought of so much sugar at breakfast, they do “Lunchboxes” from 11- 2.

Next, on to our fiber find:

Holley's Yarn Shoppe
5211 Forest Ln
Dallas, TX 75244
(972) 503-5648

Tucked in at the northeast corner of Forest and Inwood you’ll find a friendly, inventive yarn shop eager to welcome you.  Owner Susan Holley Wellik is a bundle of energy.  A former marketing executive and stay at home mom, Susan “needed a clubhouse” to host her knitting passion, and she’s made a terrific hangout for the rest of us.  The congenial, encouraging atmosphere lets   you know you can bring your thorniest knitting problem here and get good help.  “Let’s find a pattern you will like and use” is Susan’s service model, and it keeps a loyal band of customers coming back again and again.  

Most classes are set up as “open help” rather than focused on specific projects, but there are some technique offerings to boost your skills.  Susan is a big believer in toe-up socks for teaching. ”All the skills come right up front with toe up socks.”  Her classes offer a “lifetime guarantee”—you can keep coming back until you get it right, no matter how long that takes.

Susan stocks the store by weight—a smart choice given the Texan climate.  She selects yarns by touch—“Here, it’s all about the tactile.  We don’t layer much in Dallas—whatever you knit is going to touch your skin, so it has to feel good.”  She’s right in that thinking, and right on target in her products—this whole store feels good!

Can’t decide?  Here are some projects to consider:

Cowgirl Shawl
Grab 2 skeins (or roughly 200g) or any long striping yarn plus another 50g of a complementary solid, and you can whip yourself up this sturdy yet flirty wrap.  This one is made from Cascade Casablanca with a ruffle of Borrocco Lustra.  Any worsted weight you’ve got hiding in your stash will work as well, but go for a long striping variety to give you the eye-catching vertical stripes that make this piece pop.  This is a good first shawl—there is a lot of basic stitching but with enough design treats to make a novice knitter feel accomplished.

Market Bag
Whether or not your city, like Dallas, has recently banned (and as of today un-banned) plastic bags, here’s a perfect project.  Lots of versions are meshy and open, but sometimes I want one a bit sturdier.  This one fits the bill, with a nice little touch of tassels.  It works up with two hanks of a nice cheery bright like Rowan’s Creative Linen—but be warned:  this one calls for a LOT of i-cord!

Silk Wrap
Sometimes a full shawl is too much, and you just want something light and cute to punch up an outfit or keep the air conditioning off your neck.  This wrap showcases the color and texture of Silk Jewel beaded mulberry silk to fabulous results. The beads mean you’ll get great eye appeal whether you choose a bright tone or a versatile neutral. Great gift or vacation knitting!

Dallas Top
Well, of course we’d need to include Tahki’s Dallas top done up in 6-11(depending on sizing) skeins of Aruba cotton linen blend.  Following Susan’s “it has to feel good against the skin” motto, this project is stitched up in reverse stockinette for a smooth and comfortable wear.  The soft tropical color combinations let the texture do the talking.

Once you’ve filled your project bags, head to:

Liberty Burger (right next door) or
Liberty Burger Lakewood
1904 Abrams Pkwy, Dallas, TX 75214
(214) 887-9999
Yes, there’s a location right next to Holley’s if you’re tight on time, but you may want to consider this other one if you’re going on to the park (see below), or aren’t hungry enough to eat before you spend time knitting in the great outdoors.  Whichever location you choose, just don’t do takeout.  You want to dine-in so you can experience the “Adult Shakes”—spiked milkshakes! And you might want to check out the website first, because not all Adult Shakes are available at all locations (which might influence your choice).  Me?  I ended up choosing the Nutty Monk (yea Nutella!) but would have been just as happy with the Mudslide.  We don’t have these in Chicago, and boy-howdy that needs to change…

Ready to soak in some Texan sunshine?  Head to:

Klyde Warren Park
2012 Woodall Rodgers Freeway, 
Dallas, TX 75202
(214) 716-450
Image from

This one you’ll have to take my source’s word for, because it was raining every single day of my visit to Dallas.  The 5-acre green space hosts hundreds of events and is a great place for a relaxing afternoon of alfresco knitting or just hanging out.  There’s a full service restaurant and a walk-up kiosk if you haven’t stuffed yourself earlier, as well as an enticing collection of food trucks (a Texas “gotta-do” in my opinion).  Fourteen different areas and features give you endless ways to spend your time. The Dallas Museum of Art is close by if the weather turns surly.  

End your adventures by ducking just a few minutes east to:

Kate Weiser Chocolate
3011 Gulden Ln 
Dallas, TX 75212
(214) 326-6419

Art you can eat!  Like the Christopher Elbow chocolates I discovered in Kansas City, these confections are as much about how they look as how they taste.  Honestly, you could pick your next Color Affections Shawl combination from any of these “handpainted” chocolates.  Inventive shapes, wild colors, luscious flavors—these are so much more than a box of sweets!  Select a few that catch your fancy and eat them staring at the stunning new Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.  I chose toasted coconut, sweet potato (yes, really!), and hazelnut latte.  A feast for the eyes and the tongue, and the perfect way to end my first day in Dallas.

Dinner—if you have room—can be anywhere you choose.  Just stay away from the barbecue, because that’s on tomorrow’s docket!

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