Anyway, everyone knows Indy for the race-car thing, but I was impressed with the city during a recent visit. My affection for small and mid-sized American cities is no secret, mostly because of the discoveries one can make when you take the time to look beyond the standard tourism sites. And from a fiber (and, okay, a caffeine and sugar) perspective, Indianapolis has a lot to offer.
615 Virginia Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46203
Yes, the Mass Ave Knit shop is on Virginia Ave…get over it. They moved to a bigger place, and you should be grateful they did; this place is enormous. Big enough to hold in-store retreats twice a year! They do “overnighters”–this produced gasps of “I wish I lived closer” from every single one of us. The kicker for me was the “men’s room” spousal entertainment center with recliners and a television. The massive table filled with projects and sweets tells you this is a community store, cozy and welcoming. Owner Susan Brennan welcomed us with open arms and infectious energy. The store’s massive…and I do mean massive…inventory is arranged by gauge with loads of project samples to tempt you.
You can spend an entire afternoon in here; it’s that big. So go ahead, linger, chat, wander the nooks and crannies that make this large store still feel warm and cozy. When you’ve bagged up all your purchases, we’ve got something truly unique planned for your evening.
1417 E. Prospect St
Indianapolis, IN 46203
One of my favorite things about DestiKNITions is that I get to feature places I’d never have found without the recommendations of our savvy shop owners. Fun, warm, neighborhood kinds of places that aren’t just meals, they’re experiences. This is one of them. Owner Taki Sawi and his wife Jeanette are just plain amazing…everybody loves them, and they seem to love everybody. Eat hearty; you’re going to burn some calories after your meal.
Okay, so when was the last time you went Duck Pin Bowling? Ever? Well, now’s your chance. The cool Fountain Square Theater venue hosts not one, but two duckpin bowling allies:
1105 Prospect Street
Indianapolis, IN 46203
Unique doesn’t begin to describe it. Action has a 1930’s vintage vibe while Atomic has a 1950’s feel. Just in case you were wondering, duckpin is a smaller ball without holes (yea! I won’t break a fingernail!) about the size of a large grapefruit. The pins are shorter and squatter, too. Lady-sized bowling; the perfect girls’ night out. One caution: chances are you’ll need reservations, so call ahead.
I liked the mismatched, laid-back vibe this place gave off, even though it can be packed on weekends and not a place for fast-paced service. And the food was quality stuff. Lush omelets with build-your-own ingredients, lemon corncakes with fresh blueberries and lemon curd, rave-worthy french toast, not to mention eggs a dozen inventive ways and seriously good scones. If you’ve got a vegan in your group, she’ll especially appreciate this menu. (Tip: If you end up here for lunch, my sources rave over the creamy avocado gazpacho and the humus appetizer. ) Don’t worry if it’s taking a while to polish off your meal; you don’t have far to go:
I love this place. It’s like you stumbled into a good friend’s home and she owns more yarn than you can imagine. It’s as charming as the whole town–and as friendly, too. “We expect to see our customers come in a lot and hang out,” declares owner Karin Lyons, who hosts lots of classes. I’m impressed that they start off beginning knitters on a cardigan, getting them to pattern literacy pronto. That’s the kind of service that grows life-long fans of the craft, not just someone who knocks off a scarf or two for the holidays. Customers range from very young to very “seasoned,” and you know a store likes folks to hang around when they have drinks available. Speaking of drinks and atmosphere, it’s store policy to celebrate when you finish a project (I believe I heard something about a bubbly beverage, but I’m not confirming any rumors)!
Want to get literary? Later this year you can ask for the Ahern Shrug, a retro piece out of Giselle Classic Elite to honor local author Elizabeth Stuckey French’s January novel, Revenge of the Radioactive Lady. Heroine Marylou Ahern would be so pleased—if she weren’t fictional.
Our Knit A Long is part of a city-wide yarn and needles effort called SuperScarves. If you’re looking for a reason to move to Indy, this might be reason enough. Host to the 2012 Superbowl, the city’s entire knitting community has committed to hand-knitting the 8,000–yes, you read all those zeroes right–scarves needed to deck out the entire expected Superbowl volunteer corps. 8,000 hand-knit scarves. To honor this fiber fanaticism, the city’s unofficial mascot, StructureMan, received his own giant-sized scarf (even though I find it endlessly amusing that StructureMan doesn’t have a neck) knit by Allison and Karin with died rope and paint-roller handles. Mine’s a bit smaller, thankfully, done up in local company Alpaca With A Twists’s specially-died-for-the-occasion yarn.
Once your loaded down with your knitting treasures, take some time to wander the neighborhood. I found Broad Ripple to have an inexplicable “beach town” feel to it…laid back and entertaining. Just a few of the shops you wouldn’t want to miss:
Fab-u-lous. Friendly. Artsy-elegant but not fussy. They talked me into a pair of black JAG jeans. I hate jeans. You know what? I love these jeans. The mark of a great boutique is when they know what you need even when you don’t.
When you’re shopped out–or just need to hit the “pause” button on your shopping, head over to France. Well, not really to France, but to something very much like it:
A serious oo-la-la vibe…in fact, a couple next to me was dining alfresco with their poodle! The kind of atmosphere that makes you want to have a chic little scarf tied around your neck and a man in Italian shoes paying you smooth compliments across the table. I’m especially fond of restaurants where they don’t make you feel odd for dining alone, which I do often, and this place was wonderful. If you like this place, don’t hesitate to check out its sister establishment, Cafe Patachou, while you’re here. But don’t get desert…I’ve got plans for that at:
Back behind Broad Ripple Knits, in a rehabbed train station, is some of the best ice cream you’ll ever have.
920 E Westfield Blvd
Well, there you have it. Two lovely days in a surprising city, and not a racing reference, pun, or metaphor in the entire episode. And I’m married to a car guy so I deserve extra points for that.