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"Travel Blog: Welcome to Chi-Town!"
Author:  planetpurl
Tags/keywords:  Chicago travel knitting yarn shop
Deep dish pizza, juicy "dragged through the garden" hot dogs, art and yarn, lots and lots of yarn!
09/14/2009 - Chicago, Chicago, it's our kinda town...


Chicago’s had a lot of nicknames over time, including the “City of Big Shoulders”.  We expected tiny boutiques since real estate would be at a premium in the country’s 3rd biggest city, but we saw some of the largest urban knitting shops ever on this trip.  Maybe they should call Chicago "City of Big Yarn Shops."

There are lots of reasons to head to Chicago.  Planet Purl's own "Knitguy" went to school there and still considers it his second home.  Theater and sports reign supreme in Chi-Town.  The Art Institute is one of our favorite museums in the world, but if we're being completely honest, we love Chicago for the shopping and dining.

Chicago is home to its famous deep-dish pizza.  Our favorite guilty Chicago treat, though, is a chicago hot dog -- plump, juicy all beef, boiled or steamed, and topped with mustard, onions, and sweet relish. a dill pickle spear, tomato slices, pickled peppers and a dash of celery salt.  Never, but never, add ketchup!

In the old days, pre-knitting and fiber fever, our favorite shopping spot was the venerable Marshall Fields department store.  Now it's just a prettier Macy's, but never you mind...there's enough yarn in Chicago to keep you plenty busy!

So pop a cold one, rustle up a Chicago style dog, drag it through the garden (load it with veggies) and join us for a little armchair shopping in Chicago.
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09/14/2009 - Loopy

Chicago is an “everything on it” kind of town.  The pizza’s thick and stuffed.  You order a hot dog, and the first thing you hear-- “Everything on it?”  Well, Loopy is that kind of LYS.

Located in downtown Chicago (aka the Loop), Loopy is just a block off State Street, sung about by Frank Sinatra and home to the old Chicago theaters with their vintage marquees.  They’re also just a couple blocks from the Harold Washington Public Library-- the largest public library building in the world, and from Grant Park-- the city’s great waterfront green space.  Loopy’s a stone’s throw from all the big downtown attractions.

They have two floors in a part of the Loop known as Printer’s Row, since most of the buildings used to house publishers.  With all that room, it’s no wonder they decided to stock every single color of Cascade 220.  They have a broad selection, from less expensive offerings to fine yarns -- Misti Alpaca, Malabrigo, Artyarns, Noro, Lorna’s Laces, Dream In Color (which is hand-painted in Chicago), Manos del Uruguay, Mission Falls, Mirasol, some hand-painted Donegal tweed, a whole room just for sock yarn, and a huge selection of sale yarns.  They were also the only LYS we found in Chicago that catered to spinners and weavers.  “Everything on it,” indeed.

47 W. Polk St
Chicago, IL 60605

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09/14/2009 - Nina

Less than a mile outside of downtown, and just a couple blocks off of the CTA Blue Line (a ride on the Elevated Train, or L, is also a mandatory part of any Chicago visit), was Nina.  Keeping with our super-sized theme, Nina was a big shop with lots of space.  The day we visited they were preparing to host an event with the owners of Malabrigo Yarns.  It was a classy and intelligent store with a well-designed take on funky.

They carry Malabrigo of course, as well as Berrocco, Blue Sky, Be Sweet, Rowan, Cascade, Debbie Bliss, Shibui, Dream In Color, locally made Lorna’s Laces, Louisa Harding, Ozark Handspun, Classic Elite, and great skeins of bulky wool by Twinkle Handknits.  They also had the cutest little felting kits by Pick Up Sticks, and elegant handmade needles, pins, and shawl sticks.

Nina’s West Town neighborhood was one of the first large Polish neighborhoods in Chicago.  The intersection of Division, Ashland, and Milwaukee is known as the “Polish Triangle” since the provisional Polish government met here during World War One.  Chicago has more Polish people than any other city in the world-- even Warsaw, and you can definitely find some good authentic cuisine in this neighborhood.

1655 W Division St # 5
Chicago, IL 60622-3802

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09/14/2009 - Knitwerks

Knitwerks, was one of the smaller shops we visited, but the owner provided a really warm and familial atmosphere.  During our short visit, several people (regular customers we presume) stopped in just to say hi or get a piece of advice.  There was a real sense of community here.

It’s definitely an oasis of calm just outside the center of Chicago’s downtown.  If you’re one of the 3 million annual visitors to the McCormick Place convention center, then the few short blocks to Knitwerks might be just what you need to unwind.  Knitwerks is also conveniently located to the Museum Campus along the shore of Lake Michigan.  The Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, and Museum of Science and Industry are world-class, and provide a nice quiet alternative to the nighttime amusements on the North side of the city.

If you want to take some knitting to the museum, Knitwerks carries Rowan, Frog Tree, Madil, Great Adirondack, Cascade, Ironstone, Interlacements, Lorna’s Laces, Claudia’s Hand-pantied Yarns, Debbie Bliss, and Sundance.  They also carry Simply Shetland, Opal, and Fortissima sock yarns.  It was one of the friendliest places we visited, and a great representation of Midwestern hospitality.

1934 S Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60616-4803

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09/14/2009 - Knitting Workshop



Knitting Workshop in Bucktown was another big shop, with a really great selection of books and magazines.  It was uncharacteristically cold in Chicago this summer, and they were in the process of changing their display for the season-- bonus for the scarf and sweater business! 

Knitting Workshop carries Nashua Handknits, Ella Rae, Mirasol, some Rowan, beautiful silk lambswool from Simply Shetland, Jamieson’s, Classic Elite, Fiesta, Claudia Handpainted Yarns, Noro, wonderful 100% silk boucle by Daisany, a good selection of Patagonia and Araucania, and sock yarns by Opal, Regia, and Galway.

If you find yourself at Knitting Workshop on a particularly windy day, then you should make sure to knit yourself something hip to warm up with, because just a few blocks south of Bucktown is Wicker Park-- Chicago’s hipster hub.  At the intersection of North, Damen, and Milwaukee Avenues you can choose from any number of hot dog stands (you have to try a true Chicago-style hot dog) and sit and watch as the tattooed musicians and artists pass by the dozens.  Don’t worry though, they don’t bite.  In the Midwest everyone’s nice.

Knitting Workshop
2115 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60647-4528

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09/14/2009 - Knitter's Niche



Knitter’s Niche is in the neighborhood of Lakeview on a stretch of shops and eateries called the Southport Corridor that’s seen a huge boom in boutiques and other hip spots in the last few years.  Knitter’s Niche is no newbie though.  They’ve been on Southport for 13 years and the owner has been knitting for 45 years, her expertise being lace knitting. 

Their focus is on instruction, and we’re pretty sure you’d be hard pressed to not walk away with at least a little knowledge, if not some yarn.  They carry Fiesta, Lorna’s Laces, Dream In Color, Interlacements, Jade Sapphire, Cascade, Filatura di Crosa, Karabella, Classic Elite, Misti Alpaca, and Elsebeth Lavold. 

Knitter’s Niche is right by some of the most exciting places in Chicago.  There are a variety of concert and theatre venues along Belmont Avenue, just to the south.  The shop is surrounded by bars and restaurants.  And less than a mile away is the world famous “Friendly Confines” of Wrigley Field.  The second oldest baseball park and home of the Chicago Cubs, with it’s old charm and green ivy has been known to charm even the hardiest non-sport fans on occasion.  If not, think about it this way: two hours at a baseball game/ (insert extravagant knitting item here).  Sounds like a good trade. 

Knitters Niche
3206 N Southport Ave
Chicago, IL 60657-3204

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09/14/2009 - Arcadia Knitting



Arcadia Knitting, on the far western side of the Uptown neighborhood, had two long sections of storefront along busy Lawrence Avenue.  Uptown used to be home to the Capone crime family and mini-mansions are scattered throughout the nearby side streets.  Just a half mile from the shop, at the corner of Lawrence and Broadway is the famous jazz club The Green Mill.  It’s a great spot for music and old Chicago charm-- they say that the one booth where you can see both entrances was Capone’s.

Arcadia Knitting is a perfect place to shop and energize before hitting Uptown.  With a couple couches and more than a dozen chairs spread around, there’s enough space for a small army of knitters to take advantage of all the natural light coming in from the windows.  Plus, they had toys for kids to amuse themselves while Mom (or Dad?) enjoys a knitting recess.

During our visit they were carrying Classic Elite, Cascade, Karabella, Filatura di Crosa, Shepherd’s Wool, Berrocco, Knit One Crochet Too, Misti Alpaca and Jade Sapphire among others.  They also had a nice selection of sock yarns from Opal, Lorna’s Laces (a local product), Lang, Fortissima, and Neighborhood Fiber Co-- a line that’s only stocked at a handful of stores. 

Arcadia has an open knitting night on Fridays, but they assured us that “the expert is always in.”  They gave us a nice Chicago welcome, and it was on to the next shop and the next neighborhood.

Arcadia Knitting
1613 W Lawrence Ave
Chicago, IL 60640

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