Monday, March 31, 2014

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles - SLC Part 1

Let me just preface this post by saying that Amy and I REALLY wanted to go to a particular yarn store in Salt Lake City, Utah.  When we first knew that we'd be traveling to SLC for the USAFit conference, we searched for local yarn shops online and found Blazing Needles.  We both "liked" the shop on Facebook and spent the last few months alternatively drooling over the yarn inventory pictures they'd post, and worrying that all the beautiful Malabrigo Rasta shown would be gone by the time we got there.  So yeah, you might say we were motivated to make the trek there once our plane landed in SLC.

We would be staying downtown, at the Marriott.  The store was about three miles away.  I mapped it out and saw the symbol for the light rail (Utah Trax) very close to the store; how perfect!  We were taking Trax from the airport to the hotel, so we bought a day pass in anticipation of going to the yarn store after we'd checked in at the hotel.  Our first ride on Trax was successful - we were quite proud of ourselves for figuring out the map and how to buy our tickets:
This was at the airport station...puzzling over the Trax map/schedule...
But we soon figured it out, bought our all day passes so we could travel hither and yon, and we were off, feeling impressed (and a bit relieved) that we'd managed to get this far.

After a nice lunch, we set off for Blazing Needles.  It looked like we needed to take the Blue line to the Center Point stop and then transfer to the S line.  I must say, this was a different group of passengers than who we traveled with from the airport.  A bit more of the everyday city people...but we country bumpkins were fine, until we got off at our stop and couldn't find the S train.  If you're a fan of The Amazing Race TV show and have ever wondered how dumb the teams could be when they miss an obvious directional sign, well, let's just say that we understand how that could happen now.  The platform got a little crowded with high school students and we were trying to not look like completely clueless tourists, but eventually we gave up on that pretense, crossed the street and asked a bus driver (foreshadowing) where the S train was.  Turns out we'd walked almost to the sign where it was before turning around.  Oops.  While all of this was happening, I called the yarn store to double-check directions.  The very sweet woman who answered the phone said she wasn't familiar with how to take Trax to the store (foreshadowing), but she tried to help me as much as she could.  We found the train and right before I got off the phone she said "get off at Fairmont" and I told her we'd see her soon.  As we crossed the tracks Amy saved my bacon, as I only looked one direction and apparently trains come from both directions.  Who knew?  I do now!

So we were pretty pleased with ourselves.  Sure, we'd gotten a little confused, but we figured it out and were on our way to the YARN STORE.  All was well.  We rode the train to the Fairmont stop, which turned out to be the end of the line.  Huh.  We got off and walked to the street corner.  Amy put the address of the store into her phone to give us directions as the man who got off the train with us called for a taxi (foreshadowing) - I have to say, I was a bit mystified as to why he rode the train and then called for a taxi, but whatever, dude.

We started walking, and Amy's map app kicked in - and that's when we discovered that we still had over a mile left to walk.  What the what??  There was a picture of the Trax symbol right next to the shop!  We were confused, but determined.  And walking a mile isn't anything to a runner, so we kept going.  Except that we weren't wearing running shoes, but rather, the Danskos that we'd flown in (great for taking them off to go through security).  No worries - it was only a mile, right?  Well, I have to say that walking a mile in an unfamiliar area made it feel like it took forever.  We went through some quaint areas, and some sketchy areas.  We kept walking and walking - it was a pretty warm day, and of course we were wearing jeans and long-sleeved t-shirts...not optimal clothing for this adventure, but no worries - we were going to the yarn store!
Our route.

Then a city bus passed us, driven by the same man who'd given us directions to the S line train!  Some expletives later, we realized that the Trax symbol on the map was actually a BUS SYMBOL.  We could have just ridden the bus - I'm sure that driver thought we were insane as he passed us.  This would also explain why the person at the store didn't know how to get us there using Trax.  No one in their right mind would try to get to the yarn store via Trax...and yes, I realize that says a lot about us.

As we walked and walked, we realized that we did not want to retrace our steps back once we were finished with shopping at the yarn store, and we decided that we'd have to call a taxi to take us back to the hotel.  At least we knew there were taxis in the area since that (smart) man had called one!  Finally, we saw the store.  We were giddy at that point - well, giddy, sweaty and in need of some water.  We walked inside and heard "they made it!" and had to laugh - there was a shop full of people who had heard (via Jess, the woman I spoke with when I called earlier) that we were heading their way in a not-so-easy fashion, so they all were expecting us.  What a welcome!  The store owner, Cynthia, immediately and without asking, gave us each a glass of cold water.  She introduced us to the group of women who were sitting and knitting (!), and when we explained that we started out the day in Texas and were staying downtown, several of them offered to drive us back to our hotel once we finished shopping.  How nice!  And yes, we accepted a ride from a stranger...but then, when is a fellow knitter ever really a stranger?

Water in hand, a quick picture on the porch before we started shopping.
I was so happy to see this wall of Malabrigo, especially the Rasta yarn!

They were having a trunk show, which was really interesting - a lot of knitted garments made with Shibui yarn were on hand, so you could see how it knitted up and also try on the clothing to see if the pattern was flattering to your particular figure.  I really liked a top and bought enough yarn to make it, along with the pattern.  And of course some Rasta came home with me, along with some lightweight tweed yarn created by Jared Flood, a well-known knitting designer:
The Shelter yarn on the left is Jared Flood's line; Rasta in the middle, and the apple green and blue yarn is the Shibui that I'll use for the top.

We had so much fun at Blazing Needles!  The store was amazing.  Tons of yarn, all beautifully displayed.  So many knitted samples, which is very helpful when you find a yarn that you like - seeing a cowl or a hat or a sweater (sometimes all three!) knitted up with that yarn is a huge factor in deciding if that yarn needs to come home with you.  Buttons - my gosh, the button selection there was incredible.  Lots of knitting tools, books, and accessories...it was by far the best-stocked knitting store I've ever been in, and I'm very envious of the local SLC knitters who get to drop in whenever they want.  We were there for over two hours, and I feel like I got such an education with yarn and patterns.  Cynthia, Roman, and Jess enthusiastically and patiently explained anything I was interested in, or had a question about - their love of knitting made me want to KNIT ALL THE THINGS!
With our bounty, standing by their blazing needles sculpture - see the metal ball of yarn?  And the two knitting needles coming off the post, with the knitted piece hanging off the needles?  At night, they light up the sculpture with propane and the needles really do look like they are blazing!

Knitter Marie drove us back to the hotel, regaling us with stories about the area.  Randomly, we saw two teenage zombies (complete with make up and zombie clothing) waiting at a Trax station, so she rolled down her window and hollered at them - she was a hoot!  All in all, it was an epic adventure, one that Amy and I will not soon forget, and a crazy fun way to realize that we traveled by planes, trains, and automobiles all in the same day!

26 comments:

  1. So much fun to read this post and what an adventure! But in the end you found the store and it sounds like a great store! So sweet that the lady drove you back to the hotel.

    And now I will patiently wait to see the results of what you make with the yarn you bought.

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    1. I'm going to wind some of the yarn today and cast on!

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  2. LOVED this post and have already read it twice.
    living vicariously---and ZOMBIE-LAUGHING (?!)

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  3. I'm laughing so hard right now because GIRL. I have done that same thing in an unfamiliar city. One time in NYC, we read the maps wrong and my sister and I ended up walking 5 MILES to get cupcakes. Then we had to take a $35 taxi to the train station so we wouldn't miss our train back to CT. OY. But what an adventure and I bet whenever you look at that yarn you'll have great memories!

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    1. I bet those were some darn tasty cupcakes!!!!!

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  4. As a train-riding city folk type myself, I have to laugh a little at this whole adventure :) But really only because it's totally happened to me before! Google Maps has a public transit option when you look up directions, but when I first moved to Chicago, all we had were those big paper maps. I famously made a similar mistake when meeting Bob for our second date - I didn't know to transfer train lines, had to walk about a mile to get to the right train, and was over an hour late! Thankfully punctuality wasn't all that important to him.

    Also, either my dad or brother usually makes a ton of "Planes, Trains & Automobiles" references when they visit :)

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    1. I didn't know that about Google Maps - shoot, that probably would have saved us quite the walk (but at what cost? we had an ADVENTURE!!!).

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    2. Exactly, no good stories start out with "We got accurate directions from Google Maps..." :)

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  5. Just a wonderful post, and makes me want to knit knit knit, and shop shop shop! Nothing better than the eye candy of a new yarn store. You're a great writer, Shelley, and I love your humor, as always.

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    1. Thanks, Leslie - I started writing this as we waited for our flight in the airport and finished it early this morning, hoping it made sense. :)

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  6. Aww, I love that you guys geeked out so much about the yarn store and went to all that trouble to get there. Hey, you were brave, and you figured it out, and showed up. And I love the warm welcome from the owner!

    I stayed in downtown SLC last April and really loved the town. I hope you got to explore more while you were there!

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    1. I cannot recommend this store enough; the staff and customers were all so nice...and the yarn!!! Ahhh. :)

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  7. The SLC TRAX System is so confusing!! If you are not use to having bus and train transportation in your town then the symbols can be confusing. We have the city bus system up here in Park City that is free and it is still confusing to me!! I would be so lost using the Trax in SLC.

    I have been looking at Blazing Needles website myself. I now will have to make a trip down to SLC and check them out just for the buttons!! You cannot find good buttons in PC. :))

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    1. I think coming from an area where we don't have mass transit, we were slightly doomed from the start (although we were too optimistic to realize it at the time). It all worked out, though, and I'd ride Trax again, for sure.

      Also? YES YOU NEED TO VISIT BLAZING NEEDLES!!! Lucky you being relatively close. :)

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  8. Transportation systems are so confusing in any city if you don't live there. We use local transport when we travel and I can't tell you how many times we have gotten on the wrong bus, wrong stop, etc because the stuff is so confusing! However, it sure looks like you hit the jackpot!

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    1. Good to hear we aren't the only ones who get confused by other city's mass transit systems!

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  9. OMG, what an adventure! Yep, trains go both ways - sadly we have too many people who get off a train and cross over the tracks, only to realize that a train is coming the other way.

    As I was reading I thought you were going to get there and they were closed! So glad it worked out in the end.

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    1. "As I was reading I thought you were going to get there and they were closed!"

      OOH, more foreshadowing for Part 2 of our SLC adventure!

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    2. I was thinking the same thing! Glad you were able to shop! I love the pink yarn!

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  10. Oh my! Yes, I was also one who thought you weren't going to get to the yarn store, and I was hating that!

    I did that once in S.F. with BART and taking my MOM to a museum. OMGOSH, that was a long walk with an old lady ;)

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    1. Had the store been closed, I think there would have been tears. Seriously.

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  11. Wow, what an adventure! Just think, you made some great memories! That yarns wall is amazing. That is cool that they let you try on patterns!

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  12. I love reading about the adventure!!!!! Love the yarn too.

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  13. I loved reading your adventure! I live about 45 miles from Blazing Needles, and must admit, it is my FAVORITE store! Small, and cozy. The staff is wonderful. Unfortunately, I cant go in too often. My bank account wont let me! :) Happy to see you finally made it to the store.

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    1. You are so lucky to live near Blazing Needles! I get it about the bank account, though...I'm on a yarn diet for the next few months, LOL.

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  14. What a funny adventure! I found myself laughing out loud reading this. I'm going to Salt Lake City in the fall for work and now feel fully warned about public transportation. :) That looks like a truly fantastic yarn shop! - Jess

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