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From the Long Haul…No Mall for Me!

I just returned from a 2000+ miles trip to Minneapolis where our company was a vendor at an educational conference. We stayed at the Marriot Airport, right across the street from a gigantic IKEA and the Mall of America. I spent one afternoon prowling the IKEA and that evening at the Mall. I loved the marketing concept I found at IKEA and wish we had one in the area where I live. We don’t and I am sorry. But I was not moved to buy anything although I drooled on the thick 100% new wool rugs. It seemed god to be out and about in the big wide world.

However, the Mall of America was a disappointment for me. Most things I had already seen on the internet so I wasn’t inspired by much. J Jill store had some lovely things but nothing that struck me right between the eyes and most was something I could easily make. I did go to Nordstrum’s and hit the Chanel room. It was mostly empty racks. The Chanel room contained a surprisingly colorful coat for over $6000. It must have been left over from the Spring collection because I don’t see a picture of it on the Chanel website in the RTW section. It was made of a thinly woven boucle of thick yarns in primary and secondary colors and was bestuddled with faux jewels echoing the colors all around the jewel neckline and down the front as well as encircling the wrists strapes. It was spectacular but nothing I’d want to recreate. Michaels Fabrics offers spectacular boucles so we sewists have the opportunity to recreate the Chanel look and the traditional Chanel construction should we wish. We don’t need to travel to a Chanel boutique in Minnesota to buy it.

I checked out what was left of the Dries Van Notten, Lanvin and Armani collections. There were only 1 to 4 pieces in each label proving that at one time more of the collections had inhabited the Couture section. Most pieces were evening wear. I even spent some time checking out the new St John’s knits department. It had it’s own department but again most of the garments were for evening wear.

The one Lanvin piece was a muted navy satin jacket with the flared sleeves of Butterick 5088 shown below. The sleeves were cut for a close fit and the flounce started above the elbow and was only 4 or so inches long, making the jacket a 3/4 length sleeve. That was a pretty piece and didn’t look like the flounce would widen the wearer like many of the current patterns with flounced sleeves do. I have not been drawn to make any of this style up to add to my personal middle width.


I’ll do my sewing snoop shopping in NYC or another major US city like Chicago, Miami, or Southern California. The Mall of America didn’t have it for me.

And I’m ever so grateful that I sew! We have it all, we sewing enthusiasts. Great patterns, great fabric and creative juices. We don’t need to be mall rats.!

I did stop in to Bead It and picked out some very reasonably priced antique buttons. I also got some silver (26 gage) and some gold colored wire (24 gage) for crocheting jewlery should the need arise.


So I traveled north of Minneapolis in search of knitting knowhow and implements. First a stop at Needlework Unlimited where I bought a set of crochet hooks and a couple of knitting related cards for some friends.

Hooks copy

Then I saddled up for the 70 mile trip north to Carole’s Country Knits at Rocking Horse Farm. After a drive through the flat north country where every house and commerical building looked to be brand new I came to St Cloud and a delightful group of buildings, old and new, housing this machine knitting outpost.

I wadded through a gorgeous batch of 8 week old, long-haired kittens brought in by a cat not offocially resideing at Rocking Horse and in through the wooden screen door into a lovely, comfortable, warm room full of gentle humans enjoying a round sock knitting machine seminar being lead by Deb Oswald. I was warmly greeted by Carole and her son Jason, both accomplished knitters with deep knowhow. And there I browsed and read and learned and queried.

I mentioned to Carole I’d bought a motor for my knitting machine but was afraid to turn the thing on and up she jumped into a private demonstration of her knitting motor and tips and techniques for running the thing. The same thing happened when I mentioned that I was next going to make friend with my G – Carriage. My! She happens to teach a Garter Carriage class and immediately I was treated to the “Beginner’s Special” introductory mini-course.

Meanwhile the sock knitters were breaking for Carole’s free, homemade and yummy looking buffet. This shop embodies the gentle, warm Art of Welcome to the extreme.

If you ever have the chance to spend time with Jason and Carole Wurst or to visit the Rocking Horse Farm shop, revive your spirit and give yourself permission to taste the treat.

So here’s the haul from Rocking Horse Farm:

There were sooooo many yarns to choose from: cottons, wools, wool blends, acrylics of all colors and sizes but I choose to bring home the Wool-Ray and a Mohair and a few extra cones. This size of cardboard cones are now going extinct and my winder may not be able to handle the new size so I was glad to snatch a few up. Aren’t these lovely colors? The dark one is a deep walnut brown.

All of these books, except for the middle line published by Rocking Horse Farm, are now long out of print. I expect I’ll be trying a lot of new things here at The Stitchery.

A Very Lucky Long Haul Indeed!


About Mary Beth

I am fascinated by changing patterns and colored threads. I sew garments and am teaching myself to machine knit. Since selling the building that housed my workrooms, The Stitchery, I'm searching for a place to set up the knitting machines again. There must be room here somewhere!

2 responses »

  1. It’s always interesting to hear about my home town from a visitor. Have you been here before? SR Harris Fabric Outlet (north of Minneapolis) is the place to stop if you want to find a fabric treasure. I agree with your opinion of the Mall of America – there are a number of small boutique stores in Minneapolis as well as many suburbs that are great for inspiration. Next time you make it Minnesota let me know and if your time permits I’ll meet you for a cup of coffee.

  2. I love, love, LOVE the “We don’t need no stinkin’ swatches postcard! Thanks for the best laugh of the day. Also thanks for letting me know I can skip MoA.


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