Our final stop on the Steel Valley Yarn Crawl was in Ligonier, PA. If you don’t know, Ligonier is about an hour and a half east of Pittsburgh – definitely in the Steel Valley, but not the Steel City! This worked well for my mom and sister, who could easily make the stop on the way back to Maryland. For Naomi and I, it meant a pretty epic morning day trip.
I had to laugh as we approached Ligonier through Latrobe, PA. You have to drive right past the Steelers training camp to get to Ligonier, and I knew many Pittsburghers had trekked out to Latrobe at just that time for just that destination. I wondered how weird those fans would think I was for skipping such an auspicious event just to buy yarn.
On further reflection, I’m actually not sure who’s weirder.
Once you get to Ligonier, though, the flavor changes completely. This little town is like some kind of summer home paradise for retired Episcopalians. During our little walk around the square, Naomi and I passed no fewer than five antique stores, four cafes, and two ice cream shops. There was a carrilon somewhere nearby, playing English hymns over the noon hour. There is even a second yarn store in town! I’m not sure how that works.
Naomi and I stopped at one of the little cafes, populated mostly by senior citizens. It had a train going around a track hanging from the ceiling. We had maple walnut ice cream for lunch.
Lest you think we got totally sidetracked by the cute town, we did spend most of our visit inside our journey’s object: Kathy’s Kreations.
The Kathy in question is Kathy Zimmerman (no relation to EZ, as far as I know), who is still actively designing for major knitwear publications. Her helper, who was the only one on the floor when I got there, asked me not to take pictures of the inside, so I’ll have to describe it for you. The layout is somewhat unusual, with a center aisle heading all the way to the back, and outer aisles parallel to that one. Like Wolf Creek, this divided setup made it difficult for me to wrap my head around what was there. It had a quirky feel, with such oddities as a glass counter that displayed the angora collection like so many diamond necklaces. But what is neat about the store is that Kathy likes to feature other designers and artists as well, especially from Ligonier.
Mom, who got there on Saturday, was bolder than I, and had a great conversation with Kathy. For a souvenir project, she picked a pattern that Kathy designed, and got her approval for her yarn substitution. Mom even got Kathy to sign her pattern!
Maybe it was the long trip, or the fact that I was wrangling a bored toddler, but I let my intimidation get the better of me. Since it’s been… gosh… like two years since I’ve published any designs, I couldn’t quite bring myself to talk shop! Kathy was really nice, though. I got the feeling she would be a good listener to a relative novice like myself.
As for me, I did something I never do – I saw a sample sweater and decided I wanted it. It was a simple vest with draping lace-patterned front and a plain back, knit sideways. I bought a similar yarn to that recommended, in a color I don’t usually get. (I am trying to get more into cool colors, inspired by my minty child.)
The final pattern for the cowl, contributed by KZ herself, was called “Russian Rib.” Unfortunately, I was about to run out of green, so I could barely fit a single pattern repeat into the last stripe. It did not do the pretty pattern justice. I comforted myself with the thought that both the first and last stripes were skinny and a little wonky, so at least they would match!
Despite all my precautions, I still ran out of yarn on the last row. Come back tomorrow to see how I solved the problem, find not one but two cowls, and reflect on the whole yarn crawl.