Saturday, October 9, 2010


Gentlemen, start your....

First off, my regrets in advance for some wacky font troubles.  I'm trying to get the fixed but didn't want to delay the post.

Anyway, everyone knows Indy for the race-car thing, but I was impressed with the city during a recent visit.  My affection for small and mid-sized American cities is no secret, mostly because of the discoveries one can make when you take the time to look beyond the standard tourism sites.  And from a fiber (and, okay, a caffeine and sugar) perspective, Indianapolis has a lot to offer.  
Because Indianapolis is one of those affordable cities, I recommend staying downtown.  You will need a car for this city, so if it makes you nuts to pay premium for parking (I married one of those but wasn’t traveling with him this time), choose an option farther out, but for me there’s always something energizing about staying in the city.  Indy also has several good tourist-shouldn’t-miss spots, so a downtown location makes catching those sights easy. will happily point you to your choice of these, but a few of my favorites are Connor Prairie living history museum, the top-notch Indianapolis Zoo, the surprisingly stirring Soldiers and Sailors monument, and my personal favorite, the Canal Walk (come on, they’ve got gondolas!).
Day One:
Pick a standard tourism activity for your morning, but rest assured, we’ve got your afternoon covered.  When you’re ready, head for the five blocks or so of diagonal Massachusetts Ave that make up the “Mass Ave” district.  Have lunch anywhere that suits your fancy (there are lots of choices), but save coffee and desert for:
The Flying Cupcake
715 Massachusets Avenue
Indianapolis, IN  46204
The sheer pinkness of the place makes you smile--we were tipped off by the bubble-gum pink van parked out front as we were looking for it--but the baked perfection of their cupcakes will take you over the top.  Big, wonderful confections that were the perfect balance of moist and sweet.  The coconut and chocolate ganache ones I had were spectacular.  My friend had a very unique one called The Bee’s Knees that was a pear cake with honey and ginger.  We ordered about twelve in all and every single one of them was delectable.  The t-shirts sold here, with lines like “Real Men Eat Cupcakes” are just as irresistible as the sweets.  Their specialty, the Red Velvet Elvis cupcake, was fabulous--and I don’t usually care for red velvet cake.
As the sugar courses through your veins, consider your choice of not one but two excellent--but different--coffee spots.  Need caffeine NOW? walk a little further down (or is it up?, we are on a diagonal here) to :
755 Massachusetts Avenue
Indianapolis, IN
A surprisingly good latte awaits you, even if this is primarily a frozen yogurt place.  Don’t be fooled by the mechanized coffee machinery--lattes are about precision anyway, and the guy behind the counter will make sure you like what you get or he’ll make it again (when’s the last time you had THAT kind of customer service?).
If you really need the artisan coffee experience (and many of us do),  head on down to our day’s second destination, the funky artsy neighborhood called Fountain Square and pop into:
Calvin Fletcher's Coffee Company
615 Virginia Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46203
(317) 423-9697
These people take their coffee and their community very seriously.  The store regularly donates proceeds from a tip jar to a local charity.  If you’ve got a non-coffee person with you (bless you for including the unenlightened!), the store boasts no less than eleven flavors of Boylan soda.  Our sources tell us the raspberry bar is the treat of choice here.

Ready for your fiber fix?  Keep your eyes peeled as you travel down Virginia need to look closely to catch
Mass Ave Knit Shop
862 Virginia Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46203-1705
(317) 638-1833

Yes, the Mass Ave Knit shop is on Virginia Ave...get over it.  They moved to a bigger place, and you should be grateful they did; this place is 
enormous.  Big enough to hold in-store retreats twice a year!  They do “overnighters”--this produced gasps of “I wish I lived closer” from every single one of us.  The kicker for me was the “men's room" spousal entertainment center with recliners and a television.  The massive table filled with projects and sweets tells you this is a community store, cozy and welcoming.  Owner Susan Brennan welcomed us with open arms and infectious energy.  The store's massive...and I do mean massive...inventory is arranged by gauge with loads of project samples to tempt you. 

 Projects that caught my eye include:

Parisian Ribbed Wrap
An exclusive pattern in 5 or 6 skeins of Plymouth Chunky alpaca, short rows create a unique wrap with an eye-catching back. Perfect for showing off your collection of pins.  My friend and fellow author/knitter Camy Tang models it here for you.  Camy, by the way, proclaimed Mass Ave Knits "the best yarn store I've ever been to."  And she's been to a lot.

Looking for something on a slightly smaller scale?  Ask Susan about the two-button headband. You’ll want an excuse to access the store’s outstanding button selection, believe me.  See all those? 

Our Knit-Along from Mass Ave Knits will be dramatic Cabled Hand Mitts, using a skein of South West Trading Company's Saphira yarn.  Perfect for keeping knitting hands warm as the fall weather hits.
You can spend an entire afternoon in here; it’s that big.  So go ahead, linger, chat, wander the nooks and crannies that make this large store still feel warm and cozy.  When you’ve bagged up all your purchases, we’ve got something truly unique planned for your evening.

Santorini Greek Kitchen
1417 E. Prospect St
Indianapolis, IN 46203
(317) 917-1117 
One of my favorite things about DestiKNITions is that I get to feature places I’d never have found without the recommendations of our savvy shop owners.  Fun, warm, neighborhood kinds of places that aren’t just meals, they’re experiences.  This is one of them.  Owner Taki Sawi and his wife Jeanette are just plain amazing...everybody loves them, and they seem to love everybody.  Eat hearty; you’re going to burn some calories after your meal.

Okay, so when was the last time you went Duck Pin Bowling?  Ever?  Well, now’s your chance.  The cool Fountain Square Theater venue hosts not one, but two duckpin bowling allies:
Action Duckpin Bowl & Atomic Bowl Duckpin
1105 Prospect Street
Indianapolis, IN 46203
(317) 686-6006
Unique doesn’t begin to describe it.  Action has a 1930’s vintage vibe while Atomic has a 1950’s feel.  Just in case you were wondering, duckpin is a smaller ball without holes (yea! I won’t break a fingernail!) about the size of a large grapefruit.  The pins are shorter and squatter, too.  Lady-sized bowling; the perfect girls’ night out. One caution:  chances are you’ll need reservations, so call ahead.
You couldn’t ask for a better funky, artsy, retro fiber day.
Day Two:
One of the neatest things about Indianapolis is its many distinctive neighborhoods.  If feel like I could spend several weeks here exploring the many different atmospheres.  Today, we’re traveling to the other end of town to a different artsy vibe in the Broad Ripple neighborhood.
Start early, you’ll want lots of time to explore.  Grab some coffee but save breakfast for later and drive up Meridian Street.  Sip your coffee as you enjoy the parade of huge historic homes that line this street.  Cut east along the canal and park along Broad Ripple Avenue.  Notice that even the crosswalks are artsy here.  
Stop for an ecclectic breakfast at: 
3 Sisters Cafe
6360 North Guilford Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46220 
I liked the mismatched, laid-back vibe this place gave off, even though it can be packed on weekends and not a place for fast-paced service.  And the food was quality stuff.  Lush omelets with build-your-own ingredients, lemon corncakes with fresh blueberries and lemon curd, rave-worthy french toast, not to mention eggs a dozen inventive ways and seriously good scones.  If you’ve got a vegan in your group, she’ll especially appreciate this menu.  (Tip: If you end up here for lunch, my sources rave over the creamy avocado gazpacho and the humus appetizer. ) Don’t worry if it’s taking a while to polish off your meal; you don’t have far to go:
Across the street you’ll find:
Broad Ripple Knits
6367 Guilford Ave
Indianapolis, Indiana 46220
I love this place.  It’s like you stumbled into a good friend’s home and she owns more yarn than you can imagine.  It’s as charming as the whole town--and as friendly, too.  “We expect to see our customers come in a lot and hang out,” declares owner Karin Lyons, who hosts lots of classes.  I’m impressed that they start off beginning knitters on a cardigan, getting them to pattern literacy pronto.  That’s the kind of service that grows life-long fans of the craft, not just someone who knocks off a scarf or two for the holidays.  Customers range from very young to very “seasoned,” and you know a store likes folks to hang around when they have drinks available.  Speaking of drinks and atmosphere, it’s store policy to celebrate when you finish a project (I believe I heard something about a bubbly beverage, but I’m not confirming any rumors)!
Projects to keep an eye out for:

Alison’s Cardigan
Ask for this exclusive pattern fashioned by store instructor Alison Jester.  Done up in sport weight like Fresco by Classic Elite or Ultra Alpaca Light by Berroco, this basic-yet-snappy garment can show off a great color or an interesting fiber in style.  Three cool buttons complete the look.

Fringed Edge Scarf
One skein of Plymouth Yarn’s Kudo gets you this distinctive accessory with a very simple cast-on-cast-off pattern.  Excellent for gift-giving season!

Want to get literary?  Later this year you can ask for the Ahern Shrug, a retro piece out of Giselle Classic Elite to honor local author Elizabeth Stuckey French’s January novel, Revenge of the Radioactive Lady.  Heroine Marylou Ahern would be so pleased---if she weren’t fictional. 
Our Knit A Long is part of a city-wide yarn and needles effort called SuperScarves.  If you’re looking for a reason to move to Indy, this might be reason enough.  Host to the 2012 Superbowl, the city’s entire knitting community has committed to hand-knitting the 8,000--yes, you read all those zeroes right--scarves needed to deck out the entire expected Superbowl volunteer corps.  8,000 hand-knit scarves.  To honor this fiber fanaticism, the city’s unofficial mascot, StructureMan, received his own giant-sized scarf (even though I find it endlessly amusing that StructureMan doesn’t have a neck) knit by Allison and Karin with died rope and paint-roller handles.  Mine’s a bit smaller, thankfully, done up in local company Alpaca With A Twists’s specially-died-for-the-occasion yarn.  

Once your loaded down with your knitting treasures, take some time to wander the neighborhood.  I found Broad Ripple to have an inexplicable “beach town” feel to it...laid back and entertaining.  Just a few of the shops you wouldn’t want to miss:
6327 Guilford Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46220
The kind of place where I could spend my next book advance in twenty minutes flat.  I aspire to afford this kind of stuff in my home, on my wrists, all around me.

Big Hat Books
6510 Cornell Ave. 
Indianapolis, IN 46220
(317) 202-0203
An unusual, uncluttered small bookstore with an art gallery and yoga studio upstairs. Look on top of the bookshelves for an admirable collection of...naturally...hats.  People seem to either love or hate this place...and that alone makes it worth a visit in my opinion.

6512 N Cornell Avenue, 
Indianapolis, Indiana 46220
(317) 254-9939
Fab-u-lous.  Friendly.  Artsy-elegant but not fussy.  They talked me into a pair of black JAG jeans.  I hate jeans.  You know what?  I love these jeans.  The mark of a great boutique is when they know what you need even when you don’t.

When you’re shopped out--or just need to hit the “pause” button on your shopping, head over to France.  Well, not really to France, but to something very much like it:
Petite Chou
823 E Westfield Blvd
Indianapolis, IN 46220-1715
(317) 259-0765

A serious oo-la-la fact, a couple next to me was dining alfresco with their poodle!  The kind of atmosphere that makes you want to have a chic little scarf tied around your neck and a man in Italian shoes paying you smooth compliments across the table.  I’m especially fond of restaurants where they don’t make you feel odd for dining alone, which I do often, and this place was wonderful.  If you like this place, don’t hesitate to check out its sister establishment, Cafe Patachou, while you’re here.  But don’t get desert...I’ve got plans for that at:

Back behind Broad Ripple Knits, in a rehabbed train station, is some of the best ice cream you’ll ever have.  
Broad Ripple Ice Cream Station
901 East 64th Street,
 Indianapolis, IN 46220|317 257 5757
I had a double dip of the heavenly Caramel x 3 and Whistle Stop Wake Up as instructed by the folks at Broad Ripple Knits.  Absolute heaven--worth every calorie and then some.
Should you need some coffee--and who doesn’t, ever--relax, we got it covered:

Monon Coffee Co.
920 E Westfield Blvd
Indianapolis, IN 46220-1718
(317) 255-0510
I’d never let you go a day without a really good latte, you know me.  And I was impressed that you can submit a drink suggestion on their website.

Well, there you have it.  Two lovely days in a surprising city, and not a racing reference, pun, or metaphor in the entire episode. And I’m married to a car guy so I deserve extra points for that.   
Up next?  My crack at a SuperScarf.


Camy Tang said...

Indy was SO fun with you and Danica! I'll be knitting those cabled hand mitts with you when you get to them!

Kimberly and Abby said...

That's a lot crammed into only 2 days...

Bonnie said...

Thanks for profiling my city! It's so nice to see someone mention unique things about us instead of just the Speedway. I'm glad you enjoyed your visit. You hit some great spots!