Sunday, January 24, 2016


A Mini Adventure Close to Home:  Mount Prospect

Chicago-land’s breadth as a yarn community continues to amaze me.  Once a year I let DestiKNITions explore its home turf.  This enables me to discover great shops local to me (but maybe not to you) and explore neighborhoods I may often drive by but never visit.

Such is true of today’s DestiKNITion.  Mount Prospect was known to me only as the town northwest of shopping mecca (and home of one of my writers’ meetings), Schaumburg.  It’s essentially a straight shot up from where I live on IL Route 83, but like all my favorite DestiKNITions trips, it felt like a pleasant surprise of an adventure.  If you’ve got half a day in Chicago’s northwest suburbs, I can guarantee you a pleasant fiber excursion here!

My favorite days start with coffee and baked goods, so I was in for a treat at:

Central Continental Bakery
101 S. Main Street
Mount Prospect IL  60056

The big deal here—and a very big deal it is—is the paczki.  Pronounced “pawnch-ky,” (yes, I know, I can’t figure it out either), this round filled confection is THE goodie for the Polish community on Fat Tuesday.  Although based on how large I’m told the line is when that pre-Lent last hurrah comes around, it’s much larger than one ethnic heritage.  

Any other day of the year it can be called a Bismarck, but this year on February 9 (Fat Tuesday) the lines will go clear around the block for these paczkis. Paczki Day is serious business here.  I counted over 40 available flavors, including favorites like cream cheese, strawberry, Key West Key lime, Lady Godiva, and sea salt caramel.  You owe it to yourself to try this famous confection!

Caffeine and sugar gloriously infusing your bloodstream, head just a handful of blocks away to our fiber find:

Mosaic Yarn Studio, Ltd.
109 W. Prospect Avenue
Mount Prospect, IL  60056

A store that’s been in operation for 18 years is a gem indeed.  Owner Darlene Joyce has the perfect skill set to lead this enterprise, given her background in fashion, home economics, and teaching.  It’s no surprise she values the store’s class offerings as a high priority.  “I like to help people to be creative.  There aren’t enough creative outlets in the world today.”  Agreed!

Mosaic Yarn Studio is out to change that lack.  I counted over 30 different class offerings in one newsletter!  With “Lunch Bunch” on Wednesdays, Knit/Crochet Night on Thursdays, and a showstopper of a knitting retreat every year in Michigan, every knitter can find something to up his or her game.  Some customers have been gobbling up yarn and classes for 15 years—that’s a full spectrum of fiber education!  Darlene sets out to create “a safe place to learn and connect,” and the store’s atmosphere nourishes from your first welcome.

a huge sample collection to inspire!
Intergenerational connections happen all over the store.  Darlene ensures the stock is “deep enough that any size woman can make anything she wants.”  Here’s a store where you can dream boldly and get the support to make it happen.  Her joy in sharing new projects or techniques, as well as connecting knitters to the rich history of their craft, comes through when you talk to Darlene.

Looking for a project?  Here are a few ideas from Darlene:

Charlotte’s Web Shawl
If you’d like to explore color interplay, grab five skeins of Koigu’s Painter's Palette Premium Merino (KPPPM)in an array of colors and cast on this triangular fringed beauty from the book Wrapped in Color: 30 Shawls to Knit.  Every shawl will be a one-of-a-kind work of art, and the possibilities are endless.

Biscotti T
A basic tee with some clever design elements including a longer back hem and short-row shaping, this garment will get lots of use.  Done up in Noema cotton-acrylic-poly blend from Louisa Harding yarn, you can pick from a variety of color combinations that range from bold to subtle.

Bavarian Knitting Hat
Want to stitch up some history?  Grab some Juniper Moon Tehzing and learn some of the historical patterns Mosaic Studio offers up.  Impressive stitch clarity and intricate design work make this piece no ordinary head-warmer.  Perfect, because Chicago winters require a full wardrobe of warm and beautiful hats.

Knit A Long:  Brassica Shawl
Darlene’s exclusive design stitches up 3-4 skeins of Berroco’s Cosma alpaca-wool-silk blend into this lovely crescent shawl.  I find the picot-eyelet border particularly stunning, and I’m truly happy to be casting on a shawl that isn’t top-down!  Sure, it’s a bit complicated to be working the body and border simultaneously, but I’ll happily accept that challenge in order to knit this from side to side.  I’m hungry for a project with such an accelerated, rows-get-shorter-instead-of-longer finish as this one will provide.

Oh, and they gave me a coffee mug, too.  Color me happy! If you’re in the market for an adorable gadget, look no further than Hiya Hiya’s charming sheep needle gage.  Too cute!

Once you’ve filled you knitting bag, it’s time to sample some of the other charming independent businesses that create this block.  

For example, have you got a geek in your life?  I sure do.  And geeks—and lots of other people—love gaming.  Even if you’ve never heard of Magic cards or Dungeons and Dragons, stop in just to experience a geeky peek at:

Games Plus
101 W. Prospect Ave. 
Mt. Prospect, IL 60056 

It may look small on the outside, but this 30+ year establishment boasts a national reputation.  You need a reservation to sit down and play at one of these gaming tables!  There’s a whole world in there you may have never known existed, believe me.

Ready for lunch?  No need to leave the block for this, either. Pop a few doors down to:

Dave’s Specialty Foods, Inc.
105 West Prospect Avenue
Mount Prospect, IL   60056

They don’t come much friendlier than chef/owner David Esau.  The portabella mushroom sandwich and cream of asparagus soup I had there warmed the cold and blustery day with good food and great conversation.  I’m a huge fan of basic food exquisitely done, and this place does just that.

Keefer’s Pharmacy
5 West Prospect Ave
Mt. Prospect, IL 60056

If you’d like to be reminded what life was like before big box drug stores, drop in here.  We used to have a place like this back in my neighborhood, and I sorely miss the local touch a family pharmacy can provide.  A compounding pharmacy, meaning one that will mix up custom medications just for you (and your pet, by the way), is a hard thing to find nowadays.  And delivery service! Oh, how I miss a pharmacy that delivers.

See?  Sometimes to have a great adventure, you only need to drive 30 minutes up Route 83.  Next time you’re in the northwest Chicago area with half a day to spare, you know just where to head.

Up next I dive into the gleefully non-top-down Brassica shawl.

1 comment:

Pamela S. Meyers said...

Sheesh, Allie, you were so close to me. I had no idea that yarn store was on that street. There's also a shoe repair guy who brings his cute dog to work with him. :-) You should have called and I would have joined you to explore.