Today we head to the northside of the city to experience another neighborhood Andersonville, rich in ethnic flavors. And I do mean flavors.
First stop: Breakfast at SVEA
5236 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60640
You can’t think Swedish without thinking pancakes, and if you’re only exposure to Swedish pancakes has been through IKEA, you’re about to get a delicious education. If you serious about cinnamon rolls, brave the Sunday morning crowds at Ann Sather where they rank as a national treasure, but I always opt for the independent local join when I can, so I followed the advice of the staff at Arcadia Knitting and went to Svea. Don’t you dare leave without ordering the Swedish pancakes! It’s a wonderfully homey place packed with tables and character. My pancakes arrived within nanoseconds, the waitstaff was charming, and the coffee kept coming—my kind of place.
Take an hour or so to walk off your breakfast by wandering up and down Clark street, where an amazing array of shops make up this colorful neighborhood. Chicago’s famous Women and Children First feminist bookstore is just across the street, and during my visit a puppet theater mounted on the back of a bicycle was giving a performance on the opposite street corner. I found a bead store, a high-end clothing boutique, and a host of other one-of-a-kind establishments that made my hour’s wandering entertaining even before I scored a bargain or two.
Next Stop: Arcadia Knitting
1613 West Lawrence
Once it gets to be around noon, head several blocks to the broad, busy intersection of Lawrence and Ashland Avenues. Just a few doors down on the southwest corner you’ll find this big, no-nonsense store jam-packed with supplies, yarn, and goodies. Parking isn’t too challenging here, but it’s also accessible by a number of public transportation lines if you’re so inclined. Run by Sharon and Kathy “The Yarn Sisters,” this is a store that prides itself on good advice, skilled problem solving, and serious education. If you’re itching to take your skills up a notch, this is most definitely the place. I loved the “sample table” set up in the back of one room so that you could “try out” a row or two of their newer stock.
Sharon sat down with me and suggested the following projects:
Another of those nifty short scarves, this one takes a more rustic approach with the some beautiful texturizing—the kind of scarf that goes beyond warm weather garment and into the realm of way cool accessory. This will be my knit-along project so stay tuned for more details.
Kinetic Shawl from Knitty (Fall 2008 issue but available online)
Kathy suggested the dramatic, draping Kinetic Shawl in Cristal Palace’s stunningly colored Mini-Mochi. I found this to be one of those yarns you walk straight toward with your hands outstretched. Kathy’s right; the woven-look texture would show off the spectacular color-ways of this superwash meriono perfectly. I’ve been craving this project since it was suggested, especially in the foresty-green “Fern Rainbow” colorway.
One of those wonderfully basic, wonderfully adaptable patterns, this basketweave-look scarf also makes great washcloths or babyblankets out of any worsted-weight yarn that catches your fancy. A solid project that lets beginners achieve impressive results without a high stress-factor. You can make it soft and snuggly or textured and manly—it’ll all be dictated by the yarn you choose.
Sweet Honeybee Bakery
1918 West Montrose Ave.
Chicago, IL 60613
Phone : (773) 275-0697
Once you’ve extracted yourself from all the luscious choices at Arcadia Knitting, take yourself to a new realm of luscious choices: the cupcakes at Sweet Honeybee Bakery. With options like these, who needs lunch? Order two or three of your favorite flavors, and settle into one of the tables. If you think you can keep the frosting off your knitting, this is a homey little spot to cast on or get a couple of rows done. The German chocolate and key lime were particular favorites, but honestly, I don’t see how you could go wrong at this place.
Next Stop: The Perfect Cup
4700 N Damen Ave
As you wait for the sugar rush to kick in (or maybe to calm down), head on over to the charming Logan Square neighborhood to The Perfect Cup. I love spots where the good coffee and the comfy chairs just beg you got get some serious knitting done. Sunny windows, a neighborhood flair, and just the right amount of bustling clientele make this one of those quintessential local coffee joints we all wish were two blocks from our house. Order up a mocha latte and kick back for an hour or two.
Next Stop: The Book Cellar
4736-38 N. Lincoln Avenue
You might be looking for a little nourishment by now—so head to a great spot to feed your stomach and your braincells, the Book Cellar. Tucked into one of Chicago’s more adorable “town square” locations, this local bookstore/café has an energetic vibe you just can’t find at the big chains. Should you need more than the soup and sandwich variety of meal, the Square has several good restaurants, but with all those pancakes, sugar, and caffeine, I figured it’d be best to keep it on the light side. Wander the stalls and talk to the very friendly staff, catch one of the many author events this establishment hosts, or just people-watch from behind your yarn and needles. I always feel smarter just for having been in this store, so be watching for the sensation of your head expanding as you pack up your car or ship yourself off to the airport.
A word or two about lodging:
Chicago has just about everything just about everywhere. Big, ritzy hotels or charming bed and breakfasts, you’ll find anything you’re looking for. Every major chain has several properties here, so if you’re cashing in your points you are likely to find your brand. If, like me, bed and breakfasts are your thing, I suggest you click on over to either bedandbreakfast.com or the Chicago Bed and Breakfast Association where you’ll find loads to choose from, including our old zen friend The Ruby Room.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this fiber-filled frolic through my hometown. Stay tuned for my three knit-along projects and–for the first time on DestiKNITions–the chance to WIN FREE STUFF!