Saturday, July 29, 2017


Head for the Hills...

Midway between San Antonio and Austin lies “The Hill Country.” Sure, you can race up 35 (if there’s no traffic, that is…), but the backroads drive is one of the best in the country.  While speaking at a church retreat earlier this year, I had the chance to further explore the region and one of its most charming towns—New Braunfels.

Every DestiKNITions adventure begins with coffee! For a sugar and caffeine fix to launch your day, head to:

2 Tarts Bakery
139 N Castell
Ste 300
New Braunfels, TX 78130
It’s always a good sign when there are as many kids in a bakery as grown-ups.  They had me at the Longhorn cookies and the key lime pie, but the coffee was outstanding as well. The homey, clever atmosphere welcomes you, right down to sprinkles shaker on the table. Darling in every respect…and delicious.

Duly fortified, let’s get straight into today’s fiber fix!

Lucky Ewe Yarn
2327 Gruene Lake Dr - Ste C
New Braunfels, TX 78130

When lifetime sewing fan Linda Thomas wanted a new place to connect after her consulting career, she went out and created one.  Together with manager Julie Havard who oversees the shop, Linda has created Lucky Ewe as a place that exudes creative inspiration and community. 

I felt welcomed from the second I walked in the door, and while you can put some of that down to good ol’ Texan hospitality, I think much of the credit goes to the women behind Lucky Ewe. 

“I hire people people,” says Linda. Both women think of the store as an extension of their welcoming personalities and love of social connection. “I want to make sure people feel no barriers to being here or getting help,” Linda assures.  The listing of “Get Your Help from Betty” sessions on Tuesdays bears that out, to be sure.

And not just women, mind you.  Designer Ben Matthews lends a host of exclusive designs to Lucky Ewe. “Our community is so rich with talent,” says Linda. “Half the shop is devoted to local fiber, artisans, and designers.” If you are a “souvenir yarn” buyer like myself—collecting fiber and patterns whenever I travel—this is just the kind of shop you crave. 

“We designed everything to be fun and accessible,” explains Linda.  “Our designs range from beginner to intermediate, so that nothing ever feels intimidating.  We want you to be successful in whatever you try.”

And there’s lots to try.  In addition to a fine selection of yarns, Lucky Ewe has birthed two of its own fiber lines as well.  Maverick Fiber Co. takes its name from the famous Texan family and presents soft, lush, acid dyed fibers in splendidly rich colors.  Organically died Wool Tree Yarn takes its name from the German history of the area and how Europeans viewed the strange new cotton fiber as coming from lambs somehow grown on trees! You’ll be amazed at the colors local dyer Casey Galloway can coax from a centuries-old technique using native plants, barks, bugs (yes, bugs!) and seeds.

Lucky Ewe celebrates all kinds of fiber arts, with classes and products for knitters, crocheters, spinners, and weavers.  In addition to yarns, you’ll find yarn bowls, bags, shawl pins drop spindles, and notions—all products of local artisans.  

One of these is Alexandra Davidoff, whose luxurious bags and clever stitch-marker bracelets make great gifts for either yourself or the knitter in your life. And kits—lots and lots of kits.

One special product is the Handspun Hope line, born from a mission in Rowanda.  This unique blend creates a life-saving industry for women genocide victims as well as education for their children.

Here are some projects to consider from this cozy shop:

Crosshatch Shawl Kit
Yearning to dip your needles into color-work skills? This kit gives you the perfect opportunity to try…with guaranteed fabulous results. Great texture, a bold interplay of hues, and two snazzy tassels give this wrap lots of style. The kit provides two balls of Juniper Moon Zooey to pair with one ball of Noro Mirai, but combos of any solid and self-striping yarn will do.

Chestnut Street Scarf
I can’t think of a better way to show off Wool Tree’s subtle hues than with this intricately cabled pattern by Alexandra Davidoff. Lion Brand featured the pattern as a free download—what more do you need?  Well, about 465 yards of great wool, that’s all—but stick to solids to show off those wonderful cables.

Proxima Shawl
One skein of Wool Tree fingerling stitches up with lacey loveliness in this top-down, scalloped-edge shawl designed by Susanna IC. A simple chevron eyelet pattern gets enhanced by a scattering of beads along the lower edge. If you love triangular shawls but the garter tab start gives you fits, this is a project for you.

Antrim Cowl
Another Susanna IC design combines a pair of Maverick’s contrasting colors and a whole bunch of texture in this boldly striped cowl. I like the slightly lighter weight of this—it gives it a broader range of seasonal wear.  This would look nice in your favorite color combo or the school colors of someone you want to keep cozy.

Ewe Can Weave Coaster Loom
Seriously, could anyone resist this hand-size table loom with Lucky Ewe’s adorable logo sheep on it? If you’re looking to lure a young person into the fiber arts, or just like to give gifts that go a bit farther than the ubiquitous gift card, this could be the ticket.

Knit A Long:  Maverick Cowl
Benjamin Matthews takes the stunning colors of Maverick yarn and lets them shine in this generous cowl. Pick your own pair or let the helpful staff guide you to a great combination (that’s what I did).  If you choose your own fiber, make sure you have at least 462 yards of DK yarn divided evenly between two colors.  Cozy and stylish! It may be July, but I can’t wait to cast this one on my needles.

Now that you’ve filled your project bags with great knitting, might you need some more caffeine (when don't I)? 

Kora Kora Coffee
2348 Gruene Lake Dr - Ste B
New Braunfels, TX 78130
You can never have access to enough coffee, so this charming little java joint is just steps away if you missed your morning joe. There’s something about the welcome and attention you receive in a place like this that no national chain can match. If you’re a fan of latte art, you’ll be especially pleased. Free wifi (of course) and yummy baked goods round out the offerings.

The Purple Chair
2302 Gruene Lake Village - Ste C
New Braunfels, TX 78130

Every DestiKNITter knows the rule: support your local indie bookstore! This cheery children’s bookshop has some good offerings for grown-ups as well.  Yes, there is indeed a purple chair.  And a knitting kit! Ask to hear the poignant tale of how the store was born. My favorite thing about the place? The store hours are described as “10ish to 3ish.” The world is a happier place because of establishments like this.

The Gruene Door
2360 Gruene Lake Dr
New Braunfels, TX 78130
Eat whatever entree you like—I had the salmon—but you must must MUST try the flash-fried spinach! I mean it!  The stuff is like candy. I’ve thought about it so many times since I ate here, and I’d drive an hour out of my way to eat it again.  And no, you can’t duplicate the recipe at home with a household frier (I asked).

Popbelly’s Popcorn
2327 Gruene Lake Dr - Ste B
New Braunfels, TX 78130
Need a snack—or in my case, munchies for the road? We’ve got you covered. Stop in, sample any flavor that interests you, and go home with something yummy. Gift tins can set you up for birthdays and college students, too.  I love the brightly colored kernels to go along with the inventive flavors.  Crawfish? Why not? Dreamsicle? It’s popular. Ask for the flavor of the month if you need a place to start—but I promise you won’t stop there.

McAdoo’s Seafood Company
196 N Castell Ave
New Braunfels, TX 78130
If you’d like a bit of an upscale place for dinner, head back to this establishment very near 2Tarts. Boasting a New Orleans theme, McAdoo’s is housed in a restored post office. Excellent seafood gumbo, bisque, oysters, or fondue were all recommendations.  If the weather is fine, ask to be seated on the very lovely outdoor patio.  Live music some nights and a daily happy hour mean this is a good stop for more than just dinner.

There’s a lot more to do in the Gruene/New Braunfels area. Find out the shopping and dining details here when you're ready to plan your trip.

We’ve certainly spent a pleasant day in the Texas Hill Country. Next up, we cast on the lush colors of the Maverick Cowl.

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