I have my husband well-trained.
I can’t even remember what my husband had, I was so immersed in our wonderful fondue and my French onion soup. Cheese heaven. The place was packed, so make sure to get here early, as they don’t do reservations on the weekends.
A warm, friendly place that’s as much about the coffee as it is about the yarn. This is the only yarn shop I’ve ever seen where people don’t just come for the fiber! Owner Debra Wheeler, who began here as a high school employee and bought it from the owners in 2000, has done a remarkable job of crafting a perfect mix of fiber and coffee community. “As a suburb of Madison, we have a huge espresso scene here,” Debra says, and she delivers to both audiences. You know an owner is loved when her customers secretly yarn bomb the shop with knitted hearts for Valentine’s Day!
Boasting several classroom areas and a twelve-page list of available classes (most with wait lists!), Debra is committed to moving people up the skill chain. “Scarf to hat to mittens and beyond.” The store is packed with inspiration in the form of diverse finished projects and lots of great yarn in each weight. Like the other places we’ve been, Sow’s Ear actively connects to the local fiber arts community.
Designed by Debra’s beloved late father David Helgesen, this artful can and bottle cozy utilizes Dale of Norway yarn (Sow’s Ear is the only area shop to carry this iconic yarn!) to create a colorwork piece that will cuddle your Wisconsin brew in style.
The whimsical squirrel yolk on this sweater would be a huge hit with women from my Alpha Gamma Delta college sorrority days (the squirrel is AGD’s mascot). Done up in Brown Sheep Company’s Nature Spun sport weight, this design by Amy Detjen welcomes the fall weather in artsy style.
Some of you may know Knitcircus’ Jaala Spiro–I met her for the first time at Chicago’s recent YarnCon–from her wonderful podcast. Her marvelous handpainted yarn and this Ravelry pattern combine for a lovely shawl that any shoulder would love to display.
Sporting another artful neckline and some really lovely shaping, this Ravelry pattern wields Lamb’s Pride bulky to fantastic results. Thanks to the cable-crafted owls, this one looks as good in a neutral as it would in a bright color to catch the eye.
I was really sorry this shop wasn’t open–but my husband and my checkbook sighed with relief. This looks like the place to find wonderfully unique, artistic clothing–the socks alone made me drool with envy. With nifty jewelry, cards made by local artists, artisan bath products (my personal indulgence of choice!), I could have spent happy hours–and hoards of dollars–in here.
This is Wisconsin, after all. You’ve got to shop for cheese. According to Debra, this is the go-to spot in Verona. They’ve got cheese, cheese accessories, cow items, utensils, fondue pots…the whole dairy done up right. And–also because this is Wisconsin–beer (more on that later).
It’s not often I get to recommend a take-out place, but this one seems exceptional. Locally sourced meat (from the nearby Jordanal Farm), this place boasts “good, wholesome, affordable, homecooked local food fast!!” They even make their own pickles! Personally, I found myself craving the sweet potato bacon salad, while my husband found the Friday night BBQ pork ribs quite compelling.
Even I, who do not drink beer, was fascinated and entertained by our tour of the brewery and the wide selection of brews. Okay, yes, it also had a lovely gift shop. As beer destinations go, I was impressed. You get a strong sense of a creative, innovative company that went far beyond the bottle of brew. After all, craft people recognize fine craft in all kinds of endeavors, don’t we? Based on the number of awards I saw, these people know their stuff. I had to have something to fill my Sow’s Ear cozy, right?