DAY TWO (Friday for our purposes):
Extreme, and loving it...
Today, we start with a Denver landmark. If you care even the smallest bit about books, you simply can’t visit Denver without making a pilgrimage to our first stop:
The Tattered Cover
1628 16th Street
There are several locations, but this is the main one, and its coffeeshop is the perfect place to grab a quick breakfast for our day. If you’re a DestiKNITions fan, you’ve heard me rant about the demise of the good independent bookstore and how they need your business. Somewhere in this amazing store is a purchase with your name on it--go forth and find it! Don’t get too lost, however, we’ve lots of adventures ahead of us today. Hop in your car and head out about on a roughly 15-minute drive to the western side of town for today’s first yarn adventure:
Showers of Flowers Yarn Shop
6900 West Colfax Ave
Lakewood, CO 80214
Toll Free: 1(800) 825-2569
Local: (303) 233-2525
Now, I have to admit that I hear a lot of superlatives when owners describe their shops. When owner Sharon Sturm said “this is the biggest store you’ve ever seen,” I didn’t quite believe her.
Believe her. This is hands-down the biggest store I’ve ever seen. If they don’t have what you want, you may actually not want it--or you’ll find something else you want more. Obscure 6/0 US needle size? They’ve got it. Eight colors of self-striping sock yarn? Check. Sharon took me on a “backstage tour” that took my breath away. It was like yarn heaven--skeins and cones and balls literally as far as the eye could see. Now you may not get such VIP treatment, but don’t you dare miss the exquisite “floral” arrangements that give the store its name. Sharon creates stunning flowers out of yarn. I mean amazing, carry-them-down-the-aisle-at-your-wedding kinds of arrangements. Celebrities get them. Heads of state own these. When I die, I want my funeral flowers to come from here. And buttons? The store is as known for its buttons as it is for yarn. It has its own auditorium for fashion shows, for crying out loud! If you spy a trio of dogs, chances are Sharon is at the store, and you should make it a point to see her and ask her to tell you stories about the flowers she makes. Or sit by the fire and knock off a few rows surrounded by all that fiber beauty. The whole place is just an experience not to be missed.
As you’re walking around with your mouth hanging open (unavoidable, believe me), check out the following projects:
This cozy wrap is our Knit-Along from Showers of Flowers, and guaranteed to take the chill off in style. Done up in Mousse from Kint One Crochet Too’s Gourmet Collection, the fuzzy jewel tones are an eye-catcher. Holiday party, here we come.
Entrelac Look-Alike Scarf
Entrelac got you stumped? Here’s a scarf that looks like entrelac, but isn’t. The staff can guide you to a colored yarn that will give you the stained-glass effect of entrelac without all that pesky picking up of stitches. Plus, I love the zig-zag edges.
Throw yourself back to the sixties with this funky, fringy vest done in a sueded yarn for ultimate grooviness. If texture is your thing, this project has enough pattern and texture and movement to make your day.
You know those folks who just plain love yarn. Love, love, LOVE yarn and knitting? This store is filled with those people. You can gasp and oogle and everyone will know why--you’re amongst your own kind in here. Sharon told me people have actually hyperventilated upon seeing the sheer volume this store has to offer, so keep a paper bag handy. Better yet, bring a big paper bag to hold all the goodies you’re likely to take home from this behemoth of stores.
Need a little counterbalance to all that splendor? I got it covered. Grab your sense of humor, a child (or friends who just act like children), perhaps some antacid, and head on down the street to one of the strangest, wildest restaurants you’ll ever see:
6715 West Colfax,
DO NOT go here on a weekend evening! Even a weekend lunch might have lines longer than a theme park--unless you want to wait a very long time for very mediocre mexican food, stick to a weekday lunch. And the theme park reference? Well, it’s not far off the mark. If Taco Bell and ChuckECheese had babies, you’d get Casa Bonita. The place features (and no, I’m not making this up) strolling musicians, daring cliff divers (pilfered shamelessly from what I guess to be local high school diving teams), exciting gunfights (looking suspiciously like dried-off cliff divers), amazing magicians, hilarious puppet shows...and my personal favorite: dancing monkeys in costume. Really, how can you pass up this cathedral of kitche? You don’t come here for the food. You may regret coming here for the food. If Pilsbury made sopapillas, they’d come close to what Casa Bonita serves. This isn’t cousine by a long shot--and don’t worry, I’ll make up for it later in the day. But the atmosphere? It’s absurdly memorable. While I doubt I’ll come here again, I’d have been really sorry to have missed seeing it at least once. Plus, if you don’t have a child with you while you’re eating here, folks just look at you funny--and that’s entertainment in itself. Don’t bother with desert, we’ve got a compensatory premium ice cream joint all picked out for you.
Head back into town--the east side to be exact, for our next adventures. While it sounds like you’re trekking all over the rockies, you’ve really only traveled about 20 miles in total by the time you hit our next stop:
Sweet Action Ice Cream
Denver, CO 80203
I promise, your desert here will make up for everything I’ve just put your digestive system through. I don’t think there’s anywhere else on the planet where you can get baclava ice cream. While that recommended treat wasn’t on the menu the day I visited, I did have a unique flavor called “horchata,” which was a creamy, ricey, vanilla-ish concoction which is evidently a Mexican drink (see, I was thematic without even trying). The popsicles here are not kid-stiff and worth every penny of the $30 they charge for a box of 24. Taste three or four ice cream flavors (my sources tell me to make sure you try the classic oreo), decide on your preference, and mosey up to the open-to-the-sidewalk counter to people-watch over your sugar fix. Sure, the neighborhood is a bit edgy, but that just adds to the fun!
As you slurp up the last of your chocolate sauce, look to your left and you’ll just barely make out our next fiber find:
1 S. Broadway
Denver Co 80209
I love this store’s clean, arts & crafts feel. It has an quirky, funky edge that fits the neighborhood, with a young and hip feel that attracts an adventurous younger clientelle. They love knitting newbies at this store, and the welcoming atmosphere seeps right into you as you walk in. Owners Amber Corcoran and Jaime Jennings showcase a lot of local and handspun yarns, and have a sizable spinning section, too. While it has a little bit of a French Market feel to it, this is definitely not your grandmother’s yarn store. It’s also a store to service quilters, with fabrics and sewing classes designed to help you get your craft on in any number of mediums. Walk upstairs to see roving in more colors than I’ve ever seen anywhere. Keep your eyes peeled for the following projects:
Curly Sheep Needlefelting Kit
We’re taking a detour on our Knit-Along from this shop, so you’ll get to watch me dive into the world of needlefelting (get out your bandaids, people, this could get ugly). An adorable little foray into many knitter’s second passion, this little guy feels entirely dooable and hard to mess up. Stay tuned to see if that’s true.
Knitty.com’s Urchin Hat
Done up in any number of colors in a thick yarn such as this Malabrigo’s Chunky, this hat has a little bit of pattern pizzaz going for it as well as a gage that ensures a quick speed.
You can see why this little guy is a store favorite, all big eared in grey and pink Naturespun sportweight from Brown Sheep Co. Totally irresistible!
And, in a new feature, here’s a knitting gadget recommended by staff member Zach: The Sweater Stone. Your nifty sweaters will never be ruined by unsightly pilling ever again!
Take an hour or two to wander up and down the street--this neighborhood is diverse and interesting (granted, if it might be a bit “edgy” for some of you). You owe it to yourself to stop into the Goodwill Store just down the street--it’s the nicest one I’ve ever seen. When 5:00pm rolls around (have reservations here just in case), head over to your sumptuous dinner spot:
Beatrice & Woodsley
38 South Broadway
I had a lovely tea at this restaurant, because my travel plans would not allow me to come for dinner, but they only serve tea from 2-4 on weekends. Feel free to rework the itinerary to allow you to come for tea if you like--I highly recommend it. No matter what, though, make sure you check out the clever sinks in the washrooms. Really, I know that sounds odd, but I mean it. This place felt like I was dining in the forests of Lord of the Rings--all tall trees and lights and white wood. Where is Viggo Mortenson when you need him? This romantic spot’s small plates concept allows you to get adventurous without stuffing yourself. It’s one of those restaurants that just begs you to linger over good wine (or an exotic cup of tea) and great conversation. Make sure you ask your server to tell you the legend behind the name...it’s as romantic as the decor.
You’ve traveled from the ridiculous to the sublime today. Kick back anywhere you like and knit the night away, for there’s more to come.