Saturday, November 5, 2011


We’re going to start off a little southeast of this town, launching our adventure from a small retail nook known as The Shops of Northfield Village Square.  Tucked onto Happ Road just south of Willow Road you’ll find a little collection of shops and eateries that are the kind of places DestiKNITters love best...really good but just off the main path.  Start your day at

Three Tarts Bakery and Cafe
301 South Happ Road
Northfield 60093
847.446.5444 phone
Their advertisements claim “everything’s good here,”--and I found it to be true--but their real claim to fame are their decorated sugar cookies.  You can order these moist and tasty works of art in dozens of styles and shapes for a special occasion, or just munch on what’s out for the day (ghosts, in my case).  Half the fun is watching the tutu-clad little girls from the nearby dance studio come in and get a post-class cookie.  Partial to cake as I am, I was impressed by the display and the coconut cake I ordered lived up to its hype.  Good coffee, some actual food should you want nutrition (but why?), and nice seating.

A stroll down the collection of stores will land you some very charming shopping in a nice variety of stores, but don’t forget to look to the north where you can explore a whole different kind of stitch-work:

The Canvasback
1747 Orchard Lane 
Northfield, IL 60093
I’ve come across many knitters who dabble in needlepoint, or want to. I found this friendly store a welcome place to consider the craft.  A nice selection of classes and a truly helpful staff mean you get excellent service--this store hasn’t been in business for 37 years for nothing.  

When asked for a good first-timer’s project, the staff pointed me toward this lovely small handbag with a removable/changable stitched flap.

When you’re done, keep with our “three” theme and make the 15 minute-or-so drive to today’s fiber stop:

Three Bags Full Knitting Studio
1927 Cherry
Northbrook, Il 60062
Don’t go looking for a big sign--there isn’t one.  I had to call the store even though I discovered I was sitting in the parking lot right in front of it.  Despite its huge size and deceiving retail-ish location, this store manages a homey feel, right down to the couch in front of the fireplace hearth.  

Three Bags Full has grown in each of its three moves, achieving a wide selection for an adventurous clientele.  “I’m out to create more knitters,” owner Lynette Swanson says, and her enormous schedule of classes and the loads of enticing project samples in her store are there to back up that claim.  If you’re looking for what’s new, chances are she’s got it.  Her long pre-store career as a knitting teacher is evident everywhere you look--there are incentives to enhance your skills in every nook and cranny of this store.  

Oh, and did I mention there’s a Starbuck’s only yards away?  Ah, the salted caramel hot chocolate is heavenly this time of year.  Also heavenly are these projects that caught my eye:

Thrum Mitten
It’s hard to come up with a mitten I’d call original, but this one does it.  The kit, which features a knit mitten stuffed with toasty roving that molds to your hand, is available in a riot of colors at the store.  

It looks like it’d never be comfortable, but after poking my hands into one of these, I was hooked.  Or is that needled...

Cool Hemp Ponchette
This asymmetrical garment pairs simple and complex stitch patterns to make a statement beyond the standard scarf.  A versatile pattern, it can be done up in 4 skeins of any DK weight cotton-type yarn.  Not every pattern like this translates as nicely with variegated yarn as with a solid, but this one will, so you can go luxe or casual.  I loved the drape.

Cotton Classic Jumper
How much cuter can you get than this little girl’s dress of Lynette’s own design?  Think of the fun you could have with colors--all it takes is 3 balls of any cotton dk-weight yarn.  Make the little girl in your life one of these, and you could win Grandma of the Year.

Our Knit Along from Three Bags Full:
Lovikka Swedish Thick Wool Mittens
Any dog-owner will tell you a good pair of mittens means the world when you’re out strolling Fido (or Fidette in my case) on a frigid morning.  This pattern by Linda Lutz pairs a sturdy mitten--from Cascade’s “Ecological Wool” 100% Undyed Peruvian Highland Wool--with an artsy cuff by overstitching with Zitron’s Trekking.  If color combining isn’t your strength, get help like I did from a member of the staff so you’re assured a spiffy result.  Lynette advises checking out U-Tube for a video on gusset instructions if you’re new to that technique.  I can’t wait to get started on these.

Lynette’s vote for favorite gadget?  Clover’s Kacha-Kacha stitch counter.  It’s so much fun to say, how you not want to own one?

Now that you’ve fed your fiber appetite, it’s time to meet your gastronomic cravings.  You’ve got three meal choices just outside your door:

1911 Cherry Lane, Northbrook, IL, 60062

You can see Marcello’s from Three Bags Full’s window, and the store staff claim their broasted chicken--which you can get six different ways--is “absolutely to die for.”  I love family establishments, and this one’s been pleasing customers since 1947 so I suspect they know their stuff.  If you’ve needing a gluten free pizza, head here.

A quick jump across the street (look for Sunset Foods) will land you at two other options:
Georgie V’s
1139 Church St
(between Cherry Ln & Keystone Ave) 
Northbrook, IL 60062
Good breakfast and lunch places are always worth finding.  If you managed to miss the apple pancake in Highland Park, this spot boasts a pretty good one, too.  The California Wrap was the Three Bags Full staff recommendation, although several on-line reviews cited outstanding omelettes as well.  No frills and friendly, this is just a good honest neighborhood eatery.
just steps away you’ll find:

Francesca’s North
1145 Church St
(between Cherry Ln & Keystone Ave) 
Northbrook, IL 60062

More of a dinner spot to Georgie V’s breakfast vibe, we were told the fish of the day is the way to go here.  The menu--mostly classic Italian--changes daily and keeps it’s regular customers coming back.  I met people who said they’d been coming here every week for five and six years--you can’t create that kind of loyalty without hitting the right notes.   

If you’re up here during the summer, I’d top of either your Highland Park or Northbrook adventures with an evening at Ravinia.  In my humble opinion, it is quite simply one of the nation’s most outstanding outdoor concert venues.  Hosting every kind of music, Ravinia takes the cultural picnic dinner to an art form you can barely imagine if you’ve never seen it. Click here to see photos from their most recent “ultimate picnic contest” to see what I mean One of this area’s prime knitting in public spots...that is until the sun goes down.

Two down, two to go.  Stay tuned, the North Shore treasures just keep on coming.

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