Thursday, November 10, 2011

CHICAGO'S NORTH SHORE: Winnetka Illinois


I’ll admit it...I was operating on the stereotype.  Here I was thinking I’d landed in the realm of the popped polo shirt collar (hey, I grew up in Connecticut, I can say that) and the luxury SUV.  And I did--no doubt Winnetka is among the north shore’s prettiest communities especially on a sunny fall day.  But I hadn’t counted on it being so wonderfully artistic.

Start your day with an outstanding breakfast at the universal local favorite:

Caffe Buon Giorno
566 Chestnut St
Winnetka, IL 60093
Sure, it’s cash only.  Yes, it can be crowded.  It’s totally worth it.  Breakfast all day places are my absolute favorite, and this one is wonderful.  My genuinely friendly waiter made an outstanding recommendation for the crab cake eggs benedict--the place makes their own hollandaise sauce.  Wow.  Hands down the best meal of this trip.  Chestnut street and the surrounding area are a wonderful little suburban downtown so feel free to wander off all those calories when you’re done.  

Make sure you turn the corner and catch one of the great independent bookstores of our day:

The Book Stall at Chestnut Court 
811 Elm Street 
Winnetka Illinois 60093 
Jam packed with great stock and a loaded events schedule, this is one of the national A-list stops for book tours so your bound to catch someone truly interesting.  Check out their selection of autographed books (cookbooks, too!) for yourself or someone on your gift list.  

When you’re ready, travel up Green Bay Road to the little neighborhood known as Hubbard Woods and our fiber fix for the day:

1054 Gage Street 
Winnetka,IL. 60093
The neat thing about Stitch(es) is that it’s as much a boutique as it is a yarn shop.  You feel stylish just for walking in the door.  The little storefront establishment opened just last year, and it couldn’t be more charming tucked on a short side street alongside a park.  

Run by knitwear designer Sue Peterson of Sue P. Knits, the store boasts wonderful samples of what we all wish our knitwear looked like.  I had fun watching Sue engage her constant flow of customers from the calm, focused expert looking for a specific fiber to the near-hysterical novice who yelped “Help!” and thrust her ribbing into Sue’s helpful hands.  Sue wants you to succeed, wants to introduce you to new techniques and projects, and you feel sure her artistic twist will somehow rub off on your boring old scarf.  

Her very inventive stock is organized by weight with the likely needle size posted alongside (a nice helpful touch).  The store offers loads of interesting kits and a selection of riotously colored Hadaki bags which I’d never seen before.

While a load of projects caught my eye, here’s a few to look for:

Churchmouse Baby Wrap Sweater
Done up in two skeins (1 striped, one solid) of Shibui Staccato or Classic Elite Silky Alpaca Lace, this pattern makes the perfect first time Grandma sweater--basic but with oodles of style.  

Vintage Mohair Sweater
A quick Ravelry search will bring up several Sue P Knits patterns, but this fluffy, cozy cardigan was a favorite.  Six skeins of Classic Elite La Gran will most definitely knit up to keep you warm this winter.  People will probably come up and ask to pet your sleeve.

Mohair Bias Looop
If you need something a little more basic, these loop scarves are this year’s rage.  Two skeins of Kidsilk Haze--one of my most favorite snuggle-worthy yarn choices--whip up into a versatile accessory that won’t tax your brain cells.  Go with a angelic white, or pop for color in Kidsilk’s new striped version.

Shibui Baby Albaca Cowl
Chicago is cowl country, and this winter is supposed to be a killer, so I’m glad the Knit Along from Stitch(es) is a cozy cowl.  No photo yet--I'm among the first to try out one of Sue's brand new patterns.  Done up in super soft, super warm Shibui Baby Alpaca, it’ll be a blast of color to brighten up my dreary winter.

Now that we’ve gotten our daily dose of fiber, it’s time for a little shopping.  

Turn the corner and you’ll see a sunny stretch of Green Bay Road dotted with lots of interesting shopping.  There’s a fine selection, but my favorites were:

Creme de la Creme
901-903 Green Bay Road
Winnetka, IL  60093
It was the exquisite linens in the window that caught my eye, but there’s so much more to this unique store.  Owner Sandy Freeman says the store has “Nothing you need but everything you’d like,” including my favorite Sarah Oliver Handbags.  Knit by “The Purlette’s”--an adorable gang of seniors hired from Mill Valley California by designer Sarah Oliver--each bag sports grand personality and the signature “O” brooch that marks it as a one-of-a-kind treasure.  Who can resist?

Farther down I wandered into furniture heaven.  Really, I would move in tomorrow and live in the sublime showroom of:

Sawbridge Studios
Handcrafted Furniture and Accessories
1051 Tower Court
Winnetka, IL  60093
If, like me, you are a raging fan of prairie style furniture, this place will drop your jaw.  Exquisite just about covers it.   Clocks, beds, bureaus, tables, chairs, each of exceptional quality and full of artistic character.  Were I confined to live out my last days in a rocking chair, it’d most definitely come from here.

Switch gears and indulge your inner child by wandering through:

Beat Street
930 Green Bay Road
Winnetka IL  60093
It may look like a toy store from the outside--and it’s loaded with cool toys--but there’s a little of everything inside this delightfully stuffed-to-the-gills store.  I love that her business card lists the store hours as “10:58am - 5:28pm.”  This is one of those places where almost everything you see gets you thinking of a friend who would “just love one of those.”  If you want to rock someone’s Christmas stocking this year, head here.

I had a marvelous afternoon indulging some of my very favorite whims--and I suspect you will, too.  See? I told you there was more here than shiny Volvos...

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