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?

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