Sip and Stitch
Get knitty in the city at two area yarn shops with cute cafés to boot
402 W. Lakeside St.
Sometimes a space just has good bones. Lakeside Fibers has them. It doesn’t hurt that aromas of baked goods and coffee drinks waft in from the attached Lakeside Street Coffee House. The shop’s interior is one of the prettiest in the city: original pressed-tin ceilings, a worn wood floor and a cozy knitting area beckon. Reclaimed pieces used for store displays are fascinating. A gorgeous wooden wheel (once used in Stoughton High School’s furnace) that’s adorned with sweaters and skeins of yarn, an old card catalog that houses needles and supplies, and beautiful aged wooden cabinetry all offer loads of character to this south-side knitting supply shop.
Jackie Shanahan (who also owns Monroe Street’s The Knitting Tree) purchased Lakeside two years ago after she was approached by the previous owners. “They have a love for this neighborhood, and they wanted the yarn shop to stay,” she says, but they were busy operating the attached coffeehouse. Shanahan changed a few things after taking over, most notably adding the store’s showpiece: a wooden boat made by a neighbor who lives a block and a half away.
Shanahan, a knitter since she was a child, revels in the camaraderie the hobby offers. “I love helping customers pick out yarn for their project,” she says. “I know customers here by name and their taste, and I work to find them the perfect yarn to make a project their own.”
The Sow's Ear
125 S. Main St., Verona
Cookies and milk. Salt and pepper. Knitting and coffee. Some things are tailor-made for each other. And walking into The Sow’s Ear will make you acutely aware that adding great food to this mix can make your knitting adventure more pleasurable. After all, if you can nab an Ancora coffee plus quiches, salads and sandwiches made with Hook’s cheese, Sugar River dairy products and bread from Madison Sourdough, you’d be a knitwit not to stop in.
The white farmhouse has a chic, eclectic, living-room feel with robin’s egg–blue walls, reclaimed furnishings, wooden floors and even pictures from owner Debra Wheeler’s great-grandma’s house. Although it opened in 2000, Wheeler took over the shop in 2007. She takes great pleasure in explaining that the name refers to the old adage about making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. “Taking something and making it better,” she clarifies, clearly referring to the skeins of alpaca, silk, wool and bamboo yarns that are ripe for crafting into knit caps, baby sweaters or fashionable throws.
Take a class here, or just talk to the staff; they love helping. “The staff tries to be friends with everyone that walks in the door,“ says Wheeler. “And people really like that knitting is hands-on, and they can make something for themselves or their families.”
Contact Shayna Miller at email@example.com.
Photos by Martha Busse