Friday, November 12, 2010

Touring the yarn

Our little Wednesday afternoon knitting group made a field trip to the beautiful hilly area near Madison that was missed by the last glacier. We visited 3 fiber shops and 2 places for food and came away very satisfied.
  First stop was the Sow's Ear in Verona. It seems to be the most popular yarn store in Madison even though it's not actually in Madison. A big plus is that it has coffee and food; it claims to be the first place in the Midwest to combine a yarn store with a coffee shop.  It's a brilliant concept. I hadn't eaten there before other than grabbing a smoothie after a bike ride. (In a striking coincidence, many of our bike rides start and end near the Sow's Ear.) We enjoyed our lunch and then did a little yarn shopping. I did a little stash enhancement, buying some yarn for a double knitting project I have in mind. For me, the key thing about my stash is having lots of colors in a few specific weights of yarn. I'm afraid I've started a collection of DK alpaca and add to it whenever I see a color I like.
  We continued on to Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill, a few miles outside of Mount Horeb. We had an appointment with Anne, one of the owners, for a tour of the mill.  Anne answered all our questions as she explained taking the raw wool through the entire yarn production process including dyeing it.
 The mill is full of enormous machines covered with fuzz.
Anne said that there are only 5 mills of this size in the entire country. Blackberry Ridge is having an open house with tours on November 20 and 21; check it out if you are in the area. It's a working mill so if you want to go at a time other than during an open house, just call ahead to make arrangements. Here's a picture of some of their yarn display. I enjoyed buying some yarn right where it was spun.
   By now we were feeling a little faint from fondling all that fiber so we stopped at Sjolinds Chocolate House on Main Street in Mount Horeb. Many of our bike rides end up at Sjolinds because of their excellent coffee and bakery treats. They also sell a vast assortment of chocolate bars from all over the world.
   Just a few doors away is a fairly new yarn store The Cat and Crow. We met and chatted with the two owners, Mo and Rebecca, who are both very welcoming. They have a nice selection of yarn, including lots of llama in natural colors. I scored some Rowen 2 ply jumper yarn in their stash exchange basket. You can take in yarn with ball bands and get a store credit for it or you can buy something from a basket for a very reasonable $2.50 a ball. Isn't that a great idea?

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