Decorah Blue Saturday Sky


Yesterday, on a gorgeous day (above freezing!  sun shining!), at my friend Lee’s suggestion, she and I took an afternoon trip down to Decorah, Iowa, with yarn on our minds.

Now, Decorah is the home of Lee’s alma mater, Luther College; plus she has family ties there.  But when she’s there, she doesn’t generally have the freedom to go off and wander around yarn stores.  For me, though it’s well under two hours’ drive away, I haven’t been there for over 25 years, when I visited my high school friend who was then attending Luther.

We had hoped a couple other knitting friends could come too, but sadly not.  Lee kindly drove (well, on the way there, that was in the interest of self-preservation: I have no innate sense of direction, and no knowledge of NE Iowa).  That meant I could knit away on my Shetland Seas Shawl while we talked away.  (Here it is, though it’s a little farther now than when this picture even was taken.   The advantage of a color-changing yarn is that there IS visible progress!)


The first picture above was taken at Vanberia, which I keep wanting to call Yarn-beria, but sadly, this was not the case.  As you might infer from the Scandinavian flags* proudly waving in the balmy January breeze, this is a Scandinavian/Nordic import shop, and until two years ago (we found out) did carry yarn and patterns imported from Norway.  Lee bought her first Norwegian sweater pattern and yarn here, back in college.  So it was disappointing to find out that this part of their stock had been relatively recently discontinued.

*By the way, Sweden is not being boycotted on purpose, I don’t think: the second flagpole was empty, where there obviously should be a Swedish flag; they did have Swedish imports.  And there is a Danish flag not fully visible in this picture.  Do YOU know your Scandinavian flags? Can you correctly identify in order the three that are showing without looking them up?

(I will admit that I do not have a Scandihoovian drop of blood in my body; but from sheer proximity to Nordic-ness around here, I could promptly identify three out of four flags plus the missing one that should be there, and correctly guess the fourth one, though I didn’t know it at first.)

But the visit was not in vain (I can find a silver lining to spend money on in any cloud):  they still carried imported cardigan clasps, as one would use on an authentic Norwegian sweater.  (Plus, they had Dale sweaters for sale, so I could figure out how many to buy: if you’re curious, all the women’s Dale sweaters  they had, had six pairs of clasps regardless of size, so I bought seven pair in case of loss or breakage.)  I still have the plan in my head to make a steeked stranded colorwork cardigan (though obviously it didn’t happen last year; anything for me-myself-and-I most often goes to the back of the queue).  So these clasps are earmarked for that as yet un-knit, heck, un-designed sweater (but I can see it in my head!).


Please excuse the salt stain on the floor that I did not see until after the picture was taken.  I was a little distracted by a  certain black kitten.  I was just taking the first picture, after carefully arranging the clasps just so, when a black blur came whizzing through my viewfinder and hockey-sticked the top pair under the coffee table while jumping on the bottom pair.  Grrr!  I tried unsuccessfully again, and finally had to resort to trapping her under my arm like a resentful football as I took this picture.

The top pair is probably for a child’s cardigan, or perhaps for the placket of a pullover like this, but I liked it.  It would also probably be appropriate for a cardigan knit from finer yarn.  The bottom pair is likely what I’ll be using.

Besides clasps, I also found some imported treats, for daughters and others.  And someone from my old church was in that store and recognized me.  (As the ‘one with the smart daughter’ — RockStar was a very verbal and precocious toddler at the time.) Go figure.

So for yarny satisfaction, fortunately, we had first gotten our fix here:


See the blue heron in the window, complete with scarf?


(Those long necks give plenty of opportunity for scarf knitting/wearing, you know!)

The owner was leading a knitting group/class during some of the time we were there, but was very helpful.  And there were yarns there I’d never seen: some of the less often-seen lines of Marisol (free trade) and Frog Tree (also socially aware yarn).

Among other things, I bought some of this lovely Meriboo (70% merino/30% bamboo) Frog Tree, which is DK weight and which I am envisioning as a colorwork vest, somehow (are you reading this, Nora?).  (Sounds like more steeking.  Hey, actually, it could be Baby’s First Steeking!  Practice before the cardigan!)


(The football had escaped.)

Also, some Marisol Tupa silk/merino in red, some EcoWool in dark natural (considering a Hemlcok Ring like Jared’s original, which was in Ecowool), some clearance Sublime angora blend, some pencil roving, that looked like fun though it feels like cheating to spin it:


oh, yes, I had fun!  Blue Heron opened a year ago, so after Yarn, oops, Vanberia stopped carrying yarn.  Very nice shop.  Here are some interior details, it’s in an airy historic building:

tin-ceiling-at-blue-heron wheel-for-sale blue-heron-interior

I didn’t think I had any whole pictures of Lee, but there she is in the picture above, to the right of the Addi Needles.

But here are her legs, trying to make a decision about which yarns to pick for a teenage boy chullo.


(This was a selection of Marisol Sulka, 60% merino/20% alpaca/ 20% silk.)

Then, we walked to Agora Arts in the historical Hotel Winneshiek, past these guys loitering outside.


And past this Green Man on the bank building.


Sorrowfully, other obligations called, though we could definitely have spent more time.  So after a quick stop at the coffeeshop (chai and a scone for me), and a brief drive-through for me to see Luther College, we hit the road again.  I missed taking a picture of the somewhat disturbing polesitting horse and hanging cowboy en route, but next time, I promise I will.

I have a short space this afternoon without children.   (Then I must do penance for that by taking a certain RockStar to the vicinity of the mall: she is going on a church retreat next weekend, and needs a one-piece swimsuit, which she apparently does  not have (although I had encouraged the purchase of same last summer, as I recall.)

So I am off to knit like the wind over the Shetland Islands on my Shetland Seas shawl while I have some peace and quiet.  I want to see BLUE!

3 responses to “Decorah Blue Saturday Sky

  1. Norway, Finland, Iceland(?). (Okay, I just googled and found I got them right. We have a flag collection that honors all of our mixed heritage — Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and Denmark — so I had a head start.)

    What a great day!

  2. That looks like a super fun day, and gorgeous sky to boot. Your shawl is looking lovely, and I want to see blue on it, too!

  3. I saw your comment on the BMFA blog about taking the train to the west coast & just wanted to encourage you (if you love trains). I have long wanted to do that &, when my daughter found out that she was going to Seattle for work for a week, she invited me to join her (she works for the fed govt as did I before I retired & they pay a flat rate to hotels no matter the room size – so I have a standing invitation to join her at any city I’d like to visit where has to go for work.) She, of course, had to fly but I took the train & met her there. It was so much fun! The first evening (I left from Chicago) after dinner, they passed out little bottles of Champagne (or apple cider which I opted for). The afternoon of the second day, there was a wine tasting of Washington state wines for first class passengers (with the leftovers awarded to the passengers based ona Trivial Pursuit type game). The food is reasonable good (it wouldn’t get a rave review as a restaurant but you wouldn’t ask for your money back either). They fill up all the tables. So, unless you are part of a party of 4, you will share your meal with a stranger. You get to meet & talk to people from all over the country. Everything is so relaxed on the train – the employees are all super friendly & you haven’t lived until you’ve taken a shower on a train! Our train was a few hours late because they were doing track work & we had to go to Vancouver (which is right across the river from Portland & then switch to a local train for the ride up the coast to Seattle. There wasn’t a single complaint -everyone was like – OK more time on the train with beautiful sights (in fact, my real dream trip which I may insist upon when my partner retires is to take the train to Seattle, spend a few days, take the train down the coast to LA, & then back to Chicago). And there were 2 other knitters in my car! Of course there was much comparing of projects & ooohing over yarn. But I should warn you that, if you are on a tight time schedule, you might get very nervous taking the train – it could be 5 or 6 hours late. But, if you can deal with that & get into the spirit of things, relax & enjoy meeting new people (there was a 90+ year old guy at my table for one meal who had played in a swing band near Glacier Nat’l Park in the 30’s!) you will have the time of your life. I love train travel. We are going to the Bay Area & taking the train – leaving on St Pat’s Day & returning on April 1. My daughter’s husband recently received a promotion he couldn’t refuse (he was sure they’d fire him if he did & with this economy . . . . ) & they now live in Palo Alto. We have been missing the grands ferociously & are timing our visit to coincide with spring break for the oldest one.

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