Knit Me in St. Louis
DAY ONE: Friday
After settling into your lodgings of choice--a downtown hotel with a view of the arch in my case--it’s time to get the first order of business out of the way: no, not yarn, food.
Sugar fix first, so find your way to:
3055 Lemay Ferry Road
St. Louis, MO 63125
My sources say the chocolate-strawberry cake is to die for, and very affordably priced. This is the go-to wedding cake establishment, they tell me. You can pick up a light lunch here, too, if you’re the kind of person who has to pretend at nutrition. Me, cake for lunch sounds just fine. Especially since we’re going to do “old school” burger for diner.
Lick your fingers and continue on to our first yarn store:
Sometimes you walk into a yarn store and wonder if you’ll come out with lavender yak lace-weight or some other exotic thing you’ll regret by next week. Other times you know you’re in a store where the staff won’t let you make a mistake like that. Our first stop is definitely in the latter. I had the privilege of watching Hearthstone’s owner Georgia coach several customers into very astute purchases--some against their own impulsive judgement. This woman is a true resource. The fact that the store’s been in business for almost 20 years should tell you something. Knowledgeable and friendly, this is one of those stores where they’ll patiently walk you through how to fix your totally botched entrelac. I heard one customer say, “When I need help, I know this is where I can get it.”
As for gadgets? The adorable handmade stitch markers hit the spot for me. I’m a sucker for anything with a sheep on it. There were several months where my ring-tone was a sheep going “baaa,” until it began to get me more stares than I could handle.
St. Louis, MO 63123-6907
After dinner, find your way to our next stop:
109 Crestwood Plaza
St Louis, MO 63126-1701
Sugar, Fiber, Grease, & Art. Yep, I think that about covers all the bases, don’t you? Head on back to your lodgings and cast on if you like, but remember there’s more tomorrow.
DAY TWO: Saturday
Spend the morning wandering the historic Layafette Square district, taking in the shops and historic buildings. West of Truman Parkway and south of Choteau Avenue, there were dozens of places to shop and wander. Wind your morning up with lunch at:
Lafayette Fire Company No. 1
1801 Park Ave.
St Louis, MO 63104
I’m told the fried banana cake is why you’re here, although lots of other things look good on the menu. The cool thing about this place is that they’ll ask you if you’d like to round your bill up to the nearest dollar, and the restaurant donates the difference to several charities. How satisfying is that? Food and philanthropy--not a bad way to start the day
After lunch, pile your well-fed and well shopped self into the car and travel to today’s fiber fix:
St. Louis, MO 63139-2459
How can you not love a yarn store with a party room? Sandy Kulash’s welcoming personality infuses Knitorious with a contagious energy that makes you think you might actually master the kitcher stitch after all. Organized by vender with a monstrous selection, this store has an artistic, friendly feel. The enormous class space lets you know they take pride in helping knitters take the next step in their craft. They’ve also become a haven for harried parents of nearby children’s hospital, teaching many a stressed out mom what we all know: knitting is the perfect balm for all the sitting and waiting medical trauma brings. It’s just a warm, fuzzy place. Sandy has cool artsy stuff right alongside “utility yarns” for basics or beginners.
Speaking of utility, our Knit-Along from Knitorious is a very useful Market Bag from Plymouth Yarn Company. I especially liked the reinforced square bottom of the bag as well as the cheerful selection of colors (who wants dreary utility?) Fantasy Naturale 100% cotton provides. I hear the farmer’s market calling to me, and I haven’t even cast on yet!
Want a slightly bigger project? Check out Ruth Sorensen’s absolutely stunning Kauni sweater in Denmark’s Kauni Shetland Wool. This one really caught my eye, as it did evidently of the famous Yarn Harlot, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. Her exploits with this gorgeous project are well documented, and because the yarn can be challenging to find, Knitorious is a asset to be sure. When I grow up, I want to knit this sweater.
It’s probably more my speed to take on the Noro Mini Knits baby sweater. Don’t be fooled by how Silk Garden feels at first--it washes up soft and fluffy. Any tiny person in your family would be very fortunate to wrap themselves in this miniature masterpiece.
OK now, DestiKNITers, I’m warning you. Tonight is serious food.
Stellina Pasta Cafe
3342 Watson Road
St Louis, MO 63139-2000
Wander father down (or is it up?) Watson Road, keeping your eye out for the unassuming storefront of Stellina Pasta Cafe. I know, it doesn’t look like much from the front, but trust me on this...this place has awesome food. In fact, on a Saturday night, you might well know it from the crowd out front. But if you time it right with the closing of Knitorious at 5, you should be fine. Outstanding homemade pasta awaits you. This was far and away the best meal I had in St. Lous, and one of my very favorite reasons for DestiKNITions--some place I’d have never have found without the wise counsel of Sandy’s recommendation. Take yourself to the edge of carbo coma, but don’t indulge in desert...we’ve big plans for that.
Ted Drewes Frozen Custard
St. Louis, MO 63109
Go a bit farther on Watson to the famous Ted Drewes Frozen Custard--center of the frozen confection universe. The crowd is a dead give-away--no problem finding this place. Our Stellina waitress suggested a "concrete" in some odd concoction of flavors I’d never have put together: raspberry hot fudge, and pistachio. It was absolute heaven. Go there every night you’re in town. No one would blame you and it’d be worth every ounce you pack on. Seriously. Not that I went there twice in one day or anything. 'Cuz I did. And I'm not one bit sorry.
DAY THREE: Sunday
Ah, the Sunday caffein fix...staple in any DestiKNITions itinerary. We’ll spend today in Kirkwood, so begin your day at the delicious:
120 S. Kirkwood Road
My first impression of this place was my favorite: I walked in the door to find someone knitting. Hard to beat that, but the friendly barista, when asked for a suggestion, introduced me to “gooey butter cake.” Oh my. Now, it’s hard to get my attention with something that isn’t chocolate, but this thick, sugary, coffee-cakish concoction did the trick. The place has an energetic, friendly vibe...not the “you might not be cool enough to hang out here” vibe some coffeebars can give off. I felt welcomed and clever for having sought it out. Of course, the real whipped cream on my mocha went far sight toward fetching my favor, too.
Now it's time to pretend we’re care about nutrition by sauntering over to:
Kirkwood Farmer’s Market
150 E Argonne (Taylor & Argonne)
Kirkwood, MO 63122
Sunday hours can be iffy and vary by vendor, so if you’re really into farmer’s markets do this on Saturday when everything is sure to be open. There are several lovely stores within eyesight if there aren’t many vendors open or fruits and veggies aren’t your thing. Actually, this is a full-time farmers market so you can visit any day...even with special seasonal focuses like a Christmas market and a fall pumpkin patch. Stock up on garden goodies to take home, but once high noon hits, ditch the nutrition and head straight for:
While I was not stout enough to trying the intriguing “Monkey Snot” flavor, I did go for “Tiger Blood” and was pleasantly surprised with the results. Now, I’m generally not a popsicle/icee/shaved ice fan, but this stuff locals call “TroMo” is far more enjoyable than I expected. Like Ted Drewes, the line tells you it’s worth the wait. Absolutely the most refreshing thing you can imagine on hot summer’s afternoon. Even the $2 small buys you the biggest brain freeze in the county, near as I can tell. I wouldn’t risk the large without a neurologist present!
If you need some actual food, double back to the recommended
La Salsa Fresh Mexican Grill
140 S Kirkwood Rd
Kirkwood, MO 63122
My sources tell me the Stuffed Fajita Quesadilla is the thing to order here, but the charming outdoor seating looked like it would make anything taste good. Actually, this downtown and the adjacent farmers market were the recommendations for one of the favorite places to knit in public.
Whatever you do, make sure you leave yourself enough time to devote to today’s Yarn shop, because it closes at 4pm on Sundays:
10724 Manchester Rd.
Kirkwood/St. Louis, MO 63122
Some yarn shops just take things a notch higher. You walk in and the place not only oozes “craft,” it oozes “artistry” and even “mastery.” Kirkwood Knittery is one of those places, but not to the point where you feel you aren’t qualified to walk in the door. At Kirkwood Knittery, it’s more like inspiration than anyone looking down their needles at you. You want to hang around and hope the talent rubs off. Master designer Brooke Nico--you must have been drooling over her stunning beach coverup on page 65 of the Spring/Summer Vogue Knitting like I was--makes you want to be a better knitter, and believe me, Brooke and her partner Susie Kinsella are eager to empower you. The shop is a friendly riot of color, pulling you in with lots of locally distinct yarns and inspiring examples. “I’m not going to cast on for you...you’re going to be independent and think for yourself,” claims Susie, and you believe her. You’ll come away from your visit to Kirkwood Knittery a better knitter. With a full class schedule from basics to a serious 8-week design seminar (complete with a load of homework!), you’ll find what you need to be a self-sufficient knitter here. A fanatic’s paradise. But not so much that if you flub up, they won’t let you back. Oh, and don’t miss the way-cool clear tote bags for your goodies, complete with pockets for all your gadgets.
Our Knit-Along from Kirkwood Knittery is this stunning Elizabethan Collar, done up in Diacosta acrylic/rayon blend for fabulous drape. It’s the perfect thing to turn an ordinary shirt into an eye-catcher, especially with the elegant colors Diacosta offers. You’ll need a button for this, so make sure you check out Kirkwood’s truly awe-inspiring collection.
If you’re new to the craft, check out the Giotto Scarf for an impressive offering done up in the ribbony Colinette Giotto yarn of the same name. The vibrant color selections make it easy to whip up a dramatic statement with some pretty basic stitching.
Feeling artsy? Opt for the Origami Shawl in Blue Heron Rayon Loop. Ask the staff to show you all the ways you can wear this shawl, and enjoy its near-liquid drape on your own shoulders once you’re done.
Want to have the coolest stitch-marker/row counter in town? Check out the Lacis Lace Knitting Chain Row stitch marker. It’s sort of like a stitch-marker abacus. A bit of a learning curve, but think how impressed your friends will be when you try to explain it to them. Anything that makes me look smart is always a hit with me.
Next up: I cast on the Farmers’ Market bag from Knitorious.