I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in the newsletter, that I had never really been on a dedicated color tour – well, now I have. My husband and I spent the weekend in the northern half of the lower peninsula of Michigan, looking at beautiful fall colors and other scenery. The colors hadn’t changed as much as we would have liked, but northern Michigan is beautiful – with lakes, peninsulas, and harbors – so we enjoyed the drive and the time away.
My husband grew up in Michigan. His family often vacationed at Ludington State Park, so a stop there was high on the list. We started out in Traverse City, drove around the Leelanau Peninsula, and then made our way down the Lake Michigan coast. I couldn’t imagine a trip like this without visiting a few yarn shops, so I looked online to see which ones might be convenient. As it turned out, visiting the yarn shops worked quite well with the route we decided to take.
We had reservations at a hotel near Traverse City – a five to six hour drive from our home. The weather was so beautiful, that instead of checking in before continuing north, we just kept driving. We drove up to Suttons Bay where I had located the first yarn shop, Thistledown Shoppe. Suttons Bay is about 16 miles north of Traverse City, but both are located on Grand Traverse Bay.
Sutton’s Bay looked to be a thriving town, catering to tourists throughout the summer and fall. The yarn shop is located in part of an old house, with the yarn filling at least four rooms. The owner was pleasant and extremely helpful with pattern identification and yarn suggestions. She carries many beautiful yarns, including Madelinetosh, Dream in Color, Fyberspates and her own line of Thistledown Shoppe yarn.
My husband decided to see what else he could find in the town and at the yarn shop owner’s suggestion, stopped at Enerdyne. He enjoyed looking at microscopes, telescopes, weather stations and the large section of geographical and cartographic books and posters. He probably could have spent a couple hours exploring the store.
Just south of the town, we had seen a wine cooperative and thought it might be fun to do a wine tasting. (We saw several wineries throughout the weekend). The owner of the yarn shop suggested we continue on to her favorite at the Leelanau Cellars tasting room in Omena. After tasting a little wine, we made our way to Northport, the northernmost town on the Leelanau Peninsula. We then continued our drive to Leeland and Lake Leelanau before making our way back toward Traverse City.
We arrived in Traverse City around dinner time, but the first restaurant we checked had an hour and a half wait. Thankfully, they were able to recommend a different place, Harrington’s by the Bay, and when I called they said the wait was about 20 minutes. I was a little concerned at the discrepancy, but I needn’t have been. We were served delicious seafood meals – swordfish, walleye, and a shrimp appetizer – a fitting end to our day.
Our hotel was a bit south of town and just before we arrived, we spotted a “Yarn Shop” sign along the road. It was dark, so we couldn’t see the building, but decided it would be our first stop in the morning. When I looked at the map and my list of shops to visit, I saw that it was one I had listed.
The shop was called Knitology. As I approached, I was a bit apprehensive because the outside of the building was not at all attractive. The inside, however, was great; in fact, this turned out to be the yarn shop I like the best of all the ones we visited. Michael and Randy opened the shop in January, but already have a nice selection of yarn. They carry over 15 brands of yarn including Berroco, Cascade, Malabrigo and Madelinetosh – all of it neatly arranged on shelves. Michael introduced me to a locally (East Jordan, Michigan) milled yarn, Shepherds Yarn by Stonehedge Fiber Mill. There were store samples of various yarns on display, many or all of which had been knitted by Michael.
Our next stop was Lost Art Yarn and Needlepoint. When I walked in, I wondered if I was in the right place, since it looked like I was in a needlework shop. As I stepped further in, however, I realized all of the knitting yarn was in a large area in the back. Overflowing shelves featured Opal, Malabrigo, Berrico, Trekking, Debbie Bliss and others. Basic solids were displayed on an outer wall, with shorter sections of shelves in the middle of the room displaying the specialty yarns. The young clerk was quiet, letting us browse at our leisure.
The third yarn shop in Traverse City is located in the downtown shopping area. I was surprised to find Knit Knorth upstairs in a second floor room, but it was easily accessible via a large staircase or an elevator. The shop was small, but the yarns they carried were wonderful. The owner, Adle, wasn’t in, but her crew was very helpful. Knit Knorth carries premium yarns, many from small independent mills. There was yarn from the Stonehedge Mill and this time, I couldn’t resist.
We were starting to get hungry and asked where we should go for lunch. The yarn shop clerk recommended Green House Cafe across the street. The restaurant specializes in soup, salads and sandwiches – the food was great and the service was quick. I highly recommend it.
Cedar, Glen Arbor and Frankfort
After lunch, we explored the southern part of the Leelanau Peninsula. We drove to the tiny town of Cedar to find Wool and Honey, a yarn shop that draws customers and designers from around the world. They sell online and have built up a reputation for quality merchandise. They recently hosted Stephen West, where the designer himself offered a knitting class.
The owner was friendly and helpful, the store spotless, and the yarn some of the most luxurious I’ve seen. Their popular Sleeping Bear Yarn Club was especially tempting.
Glen Arbor was a bit disappointing. We struggled to find the yarn shop, and when we did, I just wasn’t terribly impressed by the yarn. She carried some nice yarns, but nothing that really grabbed me. The town seemed busy, but we were confused as to what the main draw was. I would say, stop in, if you are in the area, but don’t go out of your way.
We started toward Ludington, but wanted to drive through Frankfort on the way. My husband was hoping to find some smoked fish, so we called ahead to see when the shops in Ludington closed – they were all closed for the season! We decided to see if we could get some in Frankfort. We found Port City Smokehouse – it was open and we were able to buy three kinds of smoked fish.
We got to Ludington about an hour before it got dark. We were able to find the House of Flavors, a childhood favorite. After a supper of ice cream sundaes, we left Ludington for our hotel ten minutes away in Pentwater.
Despite the foggy, misty weather, we decided to go back to Ludington on Sunday morning. We walked out on the pier and then drove out to Ludington State Park. Memories from my husbands childhood, came back to him as though it was just a couple years ago. It was fun to hear him re-live the adventures.
We came back into the town and I was able to visit one last yarn shop. Nautical Yarn had more yarn than I have ever seen in one place. With that much yarn, I found it hard to shop; there was so much to look at that I felt overwhelmed. I was able to come away with a couple skeins though. If you visit the shop, plan to stay awhile.
We had a delicious lunch at Q Smokehouse BBQ before heading for home.
Our weekend was filled with old memories and new ones. We experienced beautiful scenic drives, ate delicious locally sourced food and had fun shopping. We’ve decided next time we’d like to stay a little longer.