CHATTANOOGA, TN: Day Two--Downtown | Author Allie Pleiter

CHATTANOOGA, TN: Day Two--Downtown

A little bit of everything...

The thing I love about small cities is their downtowns are so manageable.  Chicago is a sprawling city, walkable in neighborhoods but not the whole.  Chattanooga, with a picturesque river running through it (not unlike my native Chi-town), has a set of lovely districts as well...just right-sized.  

Today we’ll start with coffee at:

Stone Cup Roasting Co
330 Frazier Ave 
Chattanooga, TN 37405

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“Black as hell, strong as death, sweet as love.”  That’s a Turkish proverb about coffee that heads the company’s website, so you know these folks love their beans.  Those beans get shipped all over the country, but you can grab a cuppa--and some nice little baked goods--at this open-feeling spot overlooking the river.  It has just the right amount of artsy feel, but no so funky that you feel out of place. What I loved was the solid wall of electrical outlets for us laptop fiends--aren’t you always looking for the table with an outlet??

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Take an hour and wander up and down Frazier Avenue’s charming neighborhood.  Don’t miss Clumpie’s Ice Cream or N2Shoes, along with several other nifty retail establishments that caught my eye. Make sure you see the dance steps in the sidewalk--where else can you do the "Hokey Pokey" in public and not look foolish?  A click to can help you plan your outings, but it’s one of those places small enough to just “wing it.”

When you’re ready for lunch, head to

Taco Mamacita
109 N. Market Street
Chattanooga, TN 37405

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Not your ordinary taco stand by any stretch, DestiKNITters!  My server here was the nicest one of my trip...very friendly and quick to offer good suggestions.  The Chicken Tortilla Soup comes with all the elements and broth separate so you make it yourself right in front of your eyes.  I had a very good “Taco Royale” with some excellent sweet potato fries (my fav).  Bueno, indeed.

Ready for your fiber fix?  You’re only steps away from:

Genuine Purl
140 N Market St, 
Chattanooga, TN 37405

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This is the great thing about yarn shops--you can have two in the same small city and they feel totally different.   Genuine Purl is like going over to your favorite aunt’s house--the one with the cool friends and miles of yarn.  You’ll sit around the table, chat, find some new fiber to play with, and no one will look at you sideways when you drop your third stitch in as many rows.  A beginner could walk in panicked and come away calm.  

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It’s pleasantly cluttered, down-home cozy, and filled with projects.  Owner Kathy Brunson has serious professional fiber chops and a staff that all started as customers (the best ones always do, don’t they?).  “We carry everything but the super-chunky,” Kathy says, “because you’d roast in that down here.”  

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Another neat twist:  many of the sample projects shown in the store tell you the approximate cost of the yarn required...a smart and useful service. The store offers a pattern of the month (often free) and loads of encouragement to learn and try new things. 

Some projects to scope out while you are here:

Knitterella’s Smocked Slouch hat
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Done up in two balls of Rowan’s chain-structured Lima, this hat offers an embellished band under a cozy, slouchy crown.  I love that it comes in two versions:  regular and extra-slouchy.  The smock stitch is a new skill for me, so I’m looking forward to learning it.  Lima is super soft and heathery, but Kathy tells me 200 yards of any 5-stitch-to-the-inch yarn will work.

TGV Shawl
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This Ravelry pattern from Susan Ashcroft Designs makes cozy use of Kauni Effectyarn’s stunning colorways.  400 yards will wrap you in a rainbow, a forest, or whatever your imagination makes of the gentle stripes this yarn is known to produce.  According to the pattern, this thing knits up lickety-split, which makes it ideal for gift giving.

Toboggan Neck Warmer
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Another great gift item, this neck warmer takes two hanks of Classic Elite Toboggan, adds a trio of spiffy buttons, and makes for a stylish winter accessory.  Kathy tells me no buttonholes are needed, so that simplifies things considerably.  Toboggan blends merino and superfine alpaca--so you know it be as soft as it is chunky--and comes in lots of wonderful colors perfect for brightening up cold drab days.

Ishbel Shawl
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This delicate shawlette by Ysolda Teague can be done up in fingerling or lace.  Kathy recommends Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend.  I love these because they are seasonless--draping just as nicely over bare shoulders to ward off overzealous air conditioning in summer as they do to around a turtleneck in winter.

Once you’ve filled up on yarn, take your senses in a different direction and dive into the

Tennessee Aquarium
1 Broad Street
Chattanooga, TN 37402 

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It’s the perfect size for a pair of afternoon hours, and I find the design clever and user-friendly.  Gaze at the river otters and decide if they really do look like Benjamin Cumberbatch (click here if you don’t know what I’m talking about...but make sure you are somewhere where loud laughing is appropriate).  Perhaps the fish will give you color ideas for your next project!
When you’re ready, dive into a deep dark of another kind at:

The Hot Chocolatier
201 W. Main Street
Suite 101
Chattanooga, TN 37408

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I admit, it sound like the title of one of my novels, but my favorite moment came as we entered the building.  A woman leaving the shop exhaled with such bliss that we all burst out laughing.  Yes, it’s that good.  You know how I love my french macaroons, and theirs were excellent.  Big glass windows let you peer in on owners Wendy and Brandon Buckner as they work their magic to make your tastebuds happy.  It was here that we met the two owners of Gin Gin’s and struck up a lovely conversation.  Southern hospitality in action!

Should you need dinner after that, or if you want to be conventional and eat dinner before your chocolate (heavens, why would you?), wander over to 

Urban Stack Burger Lounge
12 West 13th Street
Chattanooga, TN  37402

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Suddenly everyone’s into gourmet burgers.  Urban Stack boasts “Killer Burgers and Manly Drinks” along with a commitment to locally grown foods and a certified “green” building, so you can feel good about the environment as you do damage to your cholesterol count (evens things out, don’t you think?).  Where else can you sip a Bacon Manhattan with your awesome burger?

I’ve already decided I need to come back to Chattanooga to do all the things on my list I didn’t accomplish.  There’s so much more to this town than a song title.  You owe it to yourself to check it out.

Next up, I tackle the Smocked Slouch from Genuine Purl.
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