Sunday, March 16, 2014

Let's make 30 into 31: Wisconsin & Iowa yarn crawl.

One of my goals in life is to go to all 50 states. As of last week, I had been to 30, which isn't too bad for a 26-year-old who has only been a resident of 4 (I was born in Massachusetts, grew up in North Carolina, went to college in Ohio, and got a grown-up job in Wisconsin). Looking at a map, the only Wisconsin neighbor that I was missing was Iowa, so I made it a goal to get to Iowa at some point this year. Why not turn this into a yarn crawl?

As I've mentioned before, I'm a knitter. Drinkers do pub crawls, and knitters do yarn crawls. Last weekend, my knitter friend Kat and I did our own two-state yarn crawl so that we could get me to Iowa and of course, shop!

First stop: The Sow's Ear in Verona, just outside of Madison. This is my favorite Madison-area yarn shop. Not only do they have a broad selection of yarn, but they have a full coffee shop and cafe as well. It was the perfect caffeine jolt that we needed for the Iowa trek.

The Sow's Ear was once a house, but now it's the best yarn shop in town. I love its warm, welcoming look.
Then, the main event: a 1.5 hour drive to Dubuque, Iowa, which upped my state count from 30 to 31. We headed to the little downtown area to shop at Yarn Soup: a great small-town yarn shop.

I really liked their yarn selection, and their salesperson Sarah was very friendly and helpful. 
We were greeted by a full-stocked wall of rainbow yarn. Win!

They had a great selection of ultra-bulky yarn, complete with mega needles. Bulky yarn can get a bad reputation, but it's one of my personal favorites (the bulkier, the better!).

And like any good yarn shop, there were sheep-shaped knickknacks.
We browsed for a while and picked our prized new yarn. I was quite happy to find these wise words pasted on the cash register:

So true.

My yarn purchase: marled Cascade yarn. I'm a sucker for anything black and white.
We made it to Iowa and found the yarn, but then it was time for a bite. We wandered around downtown Dubuque, which is centered around the historic Town Clock:

Wikipedia says that this monument has been around for over 130 years. This is the second-generation Town Clock, as the first collapsed in the 1870s and killed three people. Eep!
Dubuque is a typical, tiny Midwestern town: little shops, antique-y places, and small local restaurants. We decided to grab some Italian food at Crust, located right on Main Street.

My soup & salad lunch: yum!
Iowa experience: check. It was time to head back to Wisconsin, and we decided to make a quick stop to check out de la Pear.

de la Pear is a quaint yarn and gift shop in Mineral Point.
Rainbow wall of yarn: check!
Olive oil soaps from around the world? Yup, they've got 'em.
My favorite part of de la Pear was seeing their enormous loom. I don't know much about loom crafting, but I know this was by far the biggest one I'd ever seen.

Gorgeous, vivid reds.
After three shop visits in two states, our yarn crawl was complete. A Weird Al marathon on the way back, including all 11 minutes of "Trapped in the Drive Thru," was an excellent end to the trip:

Then, I got home and updated my map of states I've visited. Cheers to 31! And seriously, how did I manage to skip over Vermont?

Friday, March 7, 2014

It snows in March. This is how I deal with it.

In the other places where I've lived, snow in March was out of the question. But Dorothy, we're not in North Carolina anymore. This is Wisconsin, where March is fair game for frost and flurries.

Thankfully, I'm equipped for these circumstances. My full-length parka (aka "mega coat") keeps me warm when I'm out and about, but at home, it's all about the fireplace. 

Rocco likes staying nice and warm, too.
No spring weather yet? No problem.