Having lived a rather nomadic existence for my first three decades, there is one place that will always be home: Chicago. With family roots there and important years of my personal history, it has a special place in my heart.
Just passing by landmarks of my life on the el makes me weep for no reason other than that they are dear to me. Fortunately, none of my fellow strap-hangers notices or if they do, they give no sign. After all, it is mass transit in a major city and you see just about everything.
When I do visit, there are certain “musts,” which are all people I need to see. On this trip, however, I built in just enough time (work crisis notwithstanding) for some yarn-crawling around town.
My first stop was the newest entrant to the Chicago yarn scene. Windy Knitty occupies an incredibly sunny storefront in the Andersonville section of the North Side. It was a pleasant eight-block walk from the el through a shady neighborhood to get to Clark Street. There, I found owner Mandy poring over color cards for more stock to add to her already bursting cubbies. Windy Knitty has yarn to satisfy different price points and tastes. In particular, there is significant stock of various madelinetosh, Malabrigo and Three Irish Girls yarns, as well as some local dyers like Fleur de Fiber, who has her studio within walking distance. The space is clean and uncluttered and the yarn is well-organized. Mandy gave me a friendly greeting and we chatted a bit before she helped me
dig through her madelinetosh Pashmina to try to match two skeins in the colorway Burnished. What grabbed me was the hint of color that looks exactly like the patina on aged copper and bronze. It doesn’t photograph well here, but it’s pretty amazing IRL.
Alas, the aforementioned work crisis 500 miles away ate into my time significantly (requiring me to go to a public library computer lab to build a web page on the fly …), and with one more LYS and happy-hour appointment, I had to leave before I wanted to. If I were living on the North Side, Windy Knitty would be a LYS where I would be happy to teach.
The last time I visited Loopy Yarns, they had not moved into their home in historic Dearborn Station. My previous visit had left me a little lukewarm. No so this time. I received a warm welcome and much-needed directions to the rest room so that I could enjoy my time there. The space suits the shop’s needs nicely, with actual classrooms on the lower level. I did go with a specific desire: to add the new size 3 and 4 Signature circular needles to my toolkit. Alas, the shop had yet to receive them. Rats.
However, I was delighted to lose myself in the “lace room.” Although the yarns ranged from cobweb to fingering, the sock-weight fibers were not the kind to put on your feet. While some of the yarns were familiar, others were not. Loopy Yarns carries a variety of bases from Alisha Goes Around, which I had never seen in person before ~ one of the hazards of living sans LYS. I brought home a skein of Richness (of Martens) Fingering in Nile as a souvenir. It seems similar to Spirit Trail Fiberworks Sunna, one of my favorite yarns of all time.
In addition, Loopy carries Swans Island organic merino, a yarn I have only seen online. This fingering-weight is incredibly soft, with nice yardage and natural colors. (The colorway is labeled “Brown” but the tag says “Russet” – more descriptive, by far.) Although there are myriad skeins of similar colors in my stash, this one spoke to me in a way the others did not, so it was promptly wrapped in tissue to leave with me, too.
Locals swear by Loopy as the mothership of all that is good about Local Yarn Shops. I was happy to find interested and interesting people there. In a retail setting where personality sells more yarn than any display, Loopy clearly is selling plenty of yarn.
I had an impending date with a Churchill martini, and scooted on my way, glad to have done just a little yarn crawling in my home sweet home city.