Saturday, February 4, 2017


Caffeine, cupcakes, and cashmere...

Our second day in Salt Lake City starts in a coffee-bar that will bring a smile to fans of my book The Perfect Blend.  While my heroine Maggie Black opens a coffeehouse called “Higher Grounds” in Seattle, this one has the same funky neighborhood feel I’d like to think Maggie wanted:

Higher Ground Coffee
2005 E 3300 S
Salt Lake City, UT 84109
A quirky rustic atmosphere combines with lots of friendly staff and inventive drink flavors, this place is everything you want in a local shop, including the obligatory free wi-fi. The outdoor patio looks like the perfect spot to spend a sunny afternoon, but the small collection of rough-hewn tables makes it a cozy spot to get your day going in winter, too.

Once the caffeine sufficiently enters your bloodstream, you’ll only have to cross the street to today’s fiber find:

The Wool Cabin
2020 E 3300th S
Salt Lake City, UT 84109

KayLynn and yours truly
When owner KayeLynn Van Wagenen took over ownership of this 35-year-old business in 2016, she set a goal to create “an atmosphere of connectivity.”  The cozy fireplace, snacks, groupings of comfy chairs, and shop pup “Baloo” all contribute toward a place where any wandering DestiKNITter feels totally comfortable.  

Spend just a few minutes here and you’ll watch KayeLynn greet every customer, cheerfully wind their yarn, and offer them the chance to sit down, chat, and snack while she does.  It’s the kind of place you can just sit and knit.  But oh, you’ll definitely want to do some shopping while you’re here.

The shop is filled with a wide range of tactile goodness.  “I want yarns my customers will enjoy touching, enjoy knitting with.”  That translates to a vast selection of natural fibers, but also reasonably priced alternatives for budget knitting, “Trends are okay, but I lean towards the classics that will give a good knitting experience. I’m always looking for something delightful, something that will produce a project that will last.” She promotes local dyers like Sarah Marsden, quilt project bag producer Sherl Gillian, as well as many of the area’s alpaca ranchers and artisans.  

The store boasts numerous opportunities for social knitting as well as a Wednesday morning “help time” to get you over that tough spot or save you from that botched row you can’t figure out how to fix.  Walk in knitting on Tuesday nights offers another chance for yarny fellowship.  A crochet friendly store, The Wool Cabin is set to offer something for every fiber aficionado. 

Here are a few projects you might want to consider:

Reyna Shawlette
Available from The Wool Cabin as a kit, Noora Liavola's Ravelry pattern uses 2 skeins of Fiber Co.'s Acadia. While the designer says she designed the pattern specifically for variegated yarns, you can see it looks equally stunning in a solid or flecked fiber.  If you’re ready to move beyond basic knit and purl stitches, this is an ideal project to expand your skills.

Knit Along:  The Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief
Ravelry photo
This Orange Flower Yarn pattern takes one skein of Marsden's Intrepid Tulips hand dyed merino-bamboo blend and knits up a cozy-yet-tailored shawlette just perfect to welcome spring.  Alternating sturdy stockinette with ribbons of eyelet and garter, there’s just enough flair to keep this sensible kerchief easy to knit but not boring to wear.

Fringe Cowl Kit
Two skeins of Chunky Merino Superwash knit up in this clever accessory designed by Cia Abbott.  Finally, a place for those amazing buttons you have to take center stage!  An ideal gift for anyone you love who needs to brighten up their cold weather wardrobe.

Felted Entrelac Bag
Entrelac is something I believe every knitter should attempt.  It looks so very impressive, but is really quite simple once you get the hang of it.  Three skeins of Plymouth Yarn Gina 100% wool or Galway wool worsted get knit up big and then felted down to a perfect size bag to carry your knitting projects.

When you’re done shopping and ready for lunch, head toward the giant green dome down the street to eat at:

Ditta Cafe
1560 E 3300th S
Salt Lake City, UT 84106
Known just as much for their breakfast burritos as for the green dome that makes this an easy place to find, Ditta is a lovely, friendly spot for lunch.  We had the delicious rustic potato soup, which surprises you with a hearty broth-base rather than the creamy thick texture we expected.  Hang out and make progress on the jigsaw puzzles, play a game of chess, or chat with your tot over a tasty kids’ meal.  The baked goods look yummy, but hold off—we have some serious desserts coming.

And for those desserts, we’ve got two options—try one, or both!

So Cupcake
4002 S Highland Dr
Salt Lake City, UT 84124
My favorite touch was the “So Open” sign that lit up when this adorable eatery was open for business.  As a Make-A-Wish family ourselves, I loved that this bakery was born of a Wish trip for owners’ daughter Celina to visit celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse.  Fav flavors were key lime, maple bacon, and chocolate-peanut butter.  They serve mini versions so you can try more flavors!

Glaus French Pastry Shoppe
3100 S Highland Dr
Salt Lake City, UT 84106
 An un-fussy, “been here since I was a kid” old-school bakery, tucked in a storefront that boasts the sign Beau Brummel Bakery (a name carried over from the restaurant the owners once had).  My sources touted the whopping eclairs and the pineapple rum cake, which you can also get in petit-fours version (try the lemon graham cracker petit-four while you’re at it).  You’ll also find breads here. 

While you’re waiting for all that sugar to settle, make the drive to Bountiful for our next yarn shop.  If timing has kept you from having lunch yet, stop at:

Plates & Palates
390 N 500th W
Ste 100 C
Bountiful, UT 84010
My sources tell me the lemon tarragon chicken pasta salad is the way to go here, but I heard raves for the paninis and salads as well.  Clearly, this establishment takes the classic soup/salad/sandwich dynamic up a notch—even before you get to their legendary coconut cake.  Coconut cake?  Twist my arm…

Hemstitched Heirlooms
585 W 2600 S
Bountiful, UT 84010
Hemstitched blankets are a Utah tradition I’d never heard of, but it constitutes a blanket, bib, or burp-cloth with a perforated hem that gets decorated with a crochet edge.  

This unique craft is how Hemstitched Heirlooms got their start, and you can still see a fine collection of supplies to make those treasured items.  But it doesn’t stop there—owner Shannon Rayl realized her dream in 1994 to open a full-scale yarn shop as well.

While her offerings are mostly basics with a few intriguing specialties—there’s an impressive selection of adorable “Top This” hats—the true strength of this shop is the depth of stock.  When Hemstitched Heirlooms carries a yarn, they carry “sweater and afghan volumes of nearly the entire palette.”  That means you’ll always find enough of what you need here.

As you’d expect for an establishment born of blankets, there’s a hefty focus on baby yarns and cheery fibers for children’s projects.  Another speciality—and Shannon’s preferred beginner project—is washcloths.  You’ll never run out of color and pattern options for washcloths here.  

An airy and open space, Hemstitched Heirlooms also has a darling child’s play area and a dedicated classroom.  Here are a few of the projects that caught my eye:

Brioche Cable Cowl Kit
Ski country needs a sturdy, warm cowl, and this one fits the bill.  One skein of Plymouth Galway combines with 2 skeins of multi-colored Gina to create this highly textured piece.  An eye-catcher for sure, and toasty enough to handle any snow the mountains send your way.

GAP-tastic Cowl
Here’s another beautiful cowl where the texture is the star.  Big enough to double wrap, this Jen Geighley design takes 2 skeins of Plymouth Baby Alpaca to surround you in fluffy warmth.  The simple stitch pattern lets the color be the star.

Skylark Cardigan
If you’re ready for a more complex project, consider the lovely vintage vibe of the Skylark Cardigan.  I’ve never been able to master bobbles, but this garment might lure me into another attempt.  Knit from Berroco Corsica cotton cashmere blend, this is sure to be soft yet hold its shape nicely.

Knit Leaves Sweater and Hat
Nothing beats the cuddle of an adorable, stylish baby set.  This Leisure Arts (#4577) pattern set knits up in 3 skeins of Vintage Worsted (if you’re knitting for a newborn, though, use DK weight).  So sweet!

Knit Along:  Summer Shadow Shawl
The lush colors of Zen Yarn Garden just beg to be made into a shawl, and Angela McGarrah’s Summer Shadow pattern is up to the challenge.  I especially like that it comes in two sizes—shawls often feel too small for a gal my size. While it is top down, the bottom half is knit across in a lovely, lacy leaf pattern.  Angela gives detailed instructions on how to determine size so you can feel confident you won’t run out of yarn before all that leafy goodness is done.

Once you’ve filled your yarn bag with fiber finds, feel free to check out some of the other establishments in this little shopping center.  I liked:

Hip & Humble
559 W 2600 S
Bountiful, UT 84010
Snazzy little boutiques are my favorite places to shop.  This store was a pleasant collection of kitchen gadgets, jewelry, giftware, and clothing.  I loved the friendly touch of a corner playroom for little ones so mom can get her shopping done.  

By now, you’ll probably be ready for coffee.  If you just want a drive-thru, then sources tell me Sips Coffee is great for java or the flavored sodas that are so popular in this area.  If you crave sugar, then Nielsen’s Frozen Custard is nearby, and a raspberry concrete might fit the bill.  However, if you want your coffee to come with shear baked goods bliss, all you need to do is walk up the sidewalk until you find:

Parson’s Bakery
535 W 2600 S
Bountiful, UT 84010
Everything looks delicious—and everything is, by all accounts—but trust me the cookie you want is the chocolate parfait. Yes, the sugar cookies are famous, and the pumpkin chocolate chip cookie is unique and tasty—but you want the chocolate parfait.  Hands down the best cookie I believe I’ve ever eaten.  You get food here, but why take up all that space with boring nutrition when you can have the chocolate parfait???

It’s been a long day.  You may just want to go home, but your feet up, and knit.  When the time comes for dinner, however, I have two recommendations—one right nearby and another that’s a bit of a drive:

Just a few door down:  
Ti Ammo Pizza
515 W 2600th S
Bountiful, UT 84010
A definite notch up from the standard pizza joint, this new establishment is finding a loyal following fast thanks to the excellent food. Family owned and family friendly, the word that kept coming up in descriptions was “authentic.”  Great bruschetta (a personal favorite), too.  And gelato—if you can stand to add more sugar to your day.

A bit of a drive away:
Hoppers Brew Pub
890 Fort Union Blvd
Midvale, UT 84047
Unlike evil “Doc Hopper” of Muppet Movie fame, this place got enthusiastic nods of endorsement anytime I mentioned it. The menu is classic sports pub fare, complete with a multitude of tvs for game watching—although in other sports, one person felt compelled to mention it also hosts a Pokemon GO portal/gym as well, if you’re into that sort of thing. The menu is good and what you expect from a place like this: beer, garlic fries, massive portion chicken tenders, and…beer cheese. What’s not to like?

Not a bad set of adventures for your second day in Salt Lake City.  Tomorrow, we tackle one more yarn shop and the unique sites downtown.

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