Saturday, May 29, 2010

GLEN ELLYN, IL

My hometown shop...

When I’ve a yearning for yarn, there’s two places I head. You’re about to meet one of them, String Theory Yarn Co. in lovely Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Glen Ellyn is also one of my favorite places to spend a sunny suburban afternoon, so for this “hometown” edition of DestiKNITions I’m going to take you there. If you showed up on my doorstep wanting an afternoon of fiber fun, this is how we’d do it.

Start:
Breakfast at
Honey
499 North Main Street
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137-5125
www.honeycafe.net
630-469-0000

This is by far my favorite Glen Ellyn eatery, and yes, it has mostly to do with the outstanding cupcakes. Not that I’d discourage you from downing a few for breakfast, but there’s much more this charming minimalist restaurant has to offer. The Pan-Seared Oatmeal, for example, is as outstanding as the French Toast Kabobs are decadent. The Caprese Eggs Benedict is another favorite. They boast a really fine ala carte selection from which you can choose two or three delicious options--the risotto is a personal fave. Start your day off right so you’ll have plenty of energy to saunter down Main Street and to our various adventures.

Next Stop: Ten Thousand Villages
499C Pennsylvania Avenue
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137-4440
www.tenthousandvillages.com
630-790-1166
Ah, but don’t saunter down Main just yet. Veer East, lest you miss two unique shops just off the Main (literally) drag. Ten Thousand Villages is one place where you can splurge and not feel materialistic--everything in the store is fair trade and supports global commerce and cultures. A great place for shower and teacher gifts because it won’t be the standard issue gift fare, but something hip and interesting.

Right Next Door: AliKat
499 Pennsylvania Avenue
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137-4440
630-469-5760
Speaking of hip, this place drips coolness. One of those shops that looks young and trendy but can still serve those of us old enough to know what a typewriter is. I’m a big fan of the artful jewelry, while my teenage daughter went nuts over the handbags and wallets. Again, a great place to find an inventive gift.

Next Stop: Paisley on Main
494 North Main Street
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
630-790-2735
www.paisleyonmain.com
I admit it; I’m a Vera Bradley addict. And now that they’ve introduced a pattern in my beloved black and white, there’s no stopping me. This store has other cute giftware, but for me its all about the Vera. They know their stuff, too. A friendly staff rounds out the pattern-crazed experience.

Our Yarn Fix:
String Theory Yarn Co

477 North Main Street
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
630-469-6085
www.stringtheoryyarncompany.com

What I like most about this store is the thought behind it. Owner Janet Avila opened String Theory six years ago with the inspirational vision of selling yarns that are “socially responsible and environmentally friendly.” You don’t just get your yarn fix here, you make the world a better place--how much more satisfying can it get?? And Janet’s picky; it’s not just a good cause, it’s really good yarn. Whatever catches your eye here, the staff will know why it’s good yarn and what it’s especially good for, not just who it helps. You simply can’t go wrong. Janet understands what real yarnies have known all along: we’re all connected. She actively fosters connections between customers, believing “anything can be resolved around a knitting table.” She gets that we want community, not just cashmere. We love the social learning experience that is sitting around a really friendly yarn shop. A proponent of excellence in learning, String Theory offers first rate classes from top-notch instructors.

Aside from great yarns, String Theory also has some supplies that have become my personal favorites, not the least of which are some lovely handpainted Peace Fleece needles, cool gadgets like Dick Dree’s handmade “nostepinde” which will help you create the perfect center-pull ball, and stunning shawl pins created by Janet’s talented father, Jerry Schurmeier. As for projects, here are some of the recommendations from Janet:

The Be Sweet Baby Hat
Normally I steer clear of yarn-label patterns, but Janet assures me this adorable toddler topper in Be Sweet's organic cotton/bamboo Bambino Taffy is a keeper. As it’s our knit-along for this episode, we can verity that fact soon. The hat offers an entertaining variety of stitch patterns and a nice self-striping colorway, as well as a sigh-worthy feel on the fingers, it makes an interesting yet small-scale project. Perfect travel knitting, I suspect.

Wagtail Yarns Beaded Scarf
This project embodies the values of String Theory perfectly--cool stuff thoughtfully produced. The 7-ply mohair feels like silk and the exclusive String Theory pattern makes for a unique project. In a world where we’re starting to care about local production, Wagtail yarn is as local as it gets: everything--and I do mean everything--from feeding the goat to the twisting it into the hank you hold in your hand--is done onsite. No carbon footprints were harmed in the making of this fiber feast.

Mountain Colors “Miss McKenna’s Shawl”
Knit on the bias from in Mountain Colors’ “Half Crepe” merino wool, this shawl needs a warning label: addictive. No one can seem to make just one, especially in the drool-worthy colorways that have made Mountain Colors a knitter favorite. The color and weight--both seasonless and ideal--are only half the attraction. The clever on-the-bias increases not only strike the balance between zen-mindless knitting and just enough punch to keep it interesting, but it gives the shawl fantastic drape. The thing stays on, no matter which of the many wearing options you chose. Gotta love it. Make one for yourself, but know you’ll be back for more--and no one will question whether the second or third shawl really is “a gift for a friend.”

Right next door: The Bookstore
475 N Main St # 100
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137-5191
630-469-2891
www.justthebookstore.com
Yes, you’re going to support another high-quality independent bookstore if I have anything to say about it. Aside from earning points by being next to a yarn shop (actually, the bookstore was here first), the staff at this establishment are tried-and-true booklovers. There aren’t too many places well-read enough to actually recommend a book to you, and this is one of them. Save an author--buy a book. Here.

Next Stop: Dancing Lights
473 Main Street
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
630-790-4548
Jam-packed with all kinds of trinkets and garden-y stuff, this artsy store makes you want to fill your back yard with lanterns and throw a party. I love the free-standing metal lanterns here, not to mention the amazing selection of bird feeders.

Lunch option: 2Toots Train Whistle Grill
450 North Main Street
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137-5168
630-858-4300
www.2toots.com
If you have a preschooler--or just the inclination to act like one--you can’t go wrong at 2Toots. Where else can you have your food delivered to you on a model train? I dare you to leave this playful diner-style restaurant without a grin on your face--or without the train-sound whistle that begs to be blown to distraction until you annoy your companions (if they aren’t sounding their own).

Cross the tracks heading uphill on Main Street to the rest of our adventures. Cut half a block down Duane Street to my favorite new beverage/beauty pairings:



Pamper option #1: Cosmo’s Beauty Bar
526 Duane Street
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137-4676
630-790-0713
www.cosmosbeautybar.com
The grown-up section of our adventures. They pretty much had me at “martini and pedicure.” The swanky service and no-fail combination of pampering and cocktails makes for a particularly happy “happy hour.”



Pamper option #2: Teas and Toes
413 N. Main St.
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
630-469-8327
www.teasandtoes.com
Of course, if you want to get a little more zen about it, this place takes a more healthful, wholistic approach. It is a “teahouse and foot sanctuary,” and it lives up to its name. Reflexology services and a tea for every taste offers a spa for your insides as well as your insoles. While you enjoy a Balinese Floral footbath, your guy can take in the Iron Man Soak--although I suspect it might take some convincing if my spouse is any indication.



Caffeine and/or Lunch: Bells & Whistles Snackery
405 North Main Street
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
630-545-2355
www.bwsnackery.com
Lunch here is a delightful adventure. You’ll feel like you walked back in time to the era before franchise eateries. Ice cream in real sundae glasses. Tin cielings with rotating fans. You expect to see a guy asking a girl to the sock hop just around the corner. Not only is this the spot to indulge in my favorite daily ritual: the two o’clock latte, but how can you miss with the mini moo”--something like two tablespoon-fulls of ice cream in a cone the size of shot-glass. Where else will the counter staff help you identify that the “Blue Moon” ice cream tastes like Froot-Loops (because we were wondering and it does!)?



Sugar Fix: Dessertz
546 Crescent Blvd.
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
630-229-8175
www.lindatscheesecakes.com
Do not let the unassuming storefront fool you...amazing confections wait inside. While they do most of their business by order so any day’s available walk-in inventory may seem small, do not be fooled. These are the most amazing cheesecake cupcakes I have ever tasted. Really. Actual moaning took place during their consumption. Fab-u-lous.



Next Stop: Bundles of Books & Gifts
560 Crescent Boulevard
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137-4151
630-545-0069
www.bundlesofbooks.us
You know those businesses that just win you over on sheer friendliness? This used/new bookstore is one of those. Their passion for the written word is irresistable. Forget the high-tech coffeebar-toting big box bookstores and patronize charming personal small business places like this. The world needs them.

Let’s see...yarn, coffee, sugar, books...I think we’ve hit the four major life forces on this day in suburbia. Hope you had fun. Next installment, we’ll venture to my other local fave. It’s just like a virtual visit to my house! Or my stomping grounds, at least.

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