A Knitter’s Weekend: Twin Cities

Am I thrilled to be back on MDK traveling? “You betcha!”—as they say in Minneapolis/St Paul, the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Let’s go.

Not just butter

Land of Lakes is a real thing. Arriving by air, you can’t miss the thousands of lakes and big rivers below. We kicked off our visit strolling Lake Harriet, part of the Chain of Lakes that splashes through the cities. All the lakes have walking/running/skating/biking paths around them, playgrounds, seating, helpful signage and lots of greenery.

Public outdoor spaces here are well designed, user friendly—and full of friendly users. Complete strangers might make eye contact and say “Hi” … as if they already know you.

Near the bandshell you’ll find the Bread and Pickle Café. Eat like a local and order a Walleye (Minnesota state fish) sandwich and a craft beer. Add a side of cheese curds, and all will be well.

Mill City

For geographic orientation, local history and urban archeology, we headed downtown to the Mill District. Flour put Minneapolis on the map when the largest grain mill in the world was here on the Mississippi River. Now it’s the dynamic Mill City Museum, which includes a slice of the partially collapsed factory, literally exposing the past. Behind it is the Mill Ruins Park.

A block away, a park ranger invited us to walk on a river lock and thus we were standing ON the Mississippi. We strolled the Stone Arch Bridgea pedestrian crossing of the river with historical plaques and terrific views.

Our roundtrip hike earned us cold beers outside Owamni by the Sioux Chef. This stylish restaurant Focuses on modern North American cuisine. We were fascinated by the menu and the Sioux Chef mission to foster conversation about the colonization of diet. Don’t learn the hard way like we did: reservations need to be made weeks in advance.

by Architect Jean Nouvel to honor the history of Mill City and featuring a mural portrait of Sir Tyrone Guthrie

While in the neighborhood, admire the Guthrie Theater, with post modernist architecture echoing the historic mill buildings. Snag a couple of tickets, and make it a world class theater night.

Show me the textiles

The American Swedish Institute is housed in a castle-like mansion where you can explore temporary exhibitions as well as fixtures like the Norse Saga Room. Makers, check out their schedule for Nordic Handcraft Workshops.

The Twin Cities has the largest Somali immigrant and refugee population in North America, and the Somali Museum of Minnesota is the world’s only museum of Somali culture. Take a guided tour through rooms of traditional artifacts, textiles, and a full-sized nomadic hut.

Nearby is the Midtown Global Market, an indoor market and gathering space helping to launch foodie startups and entrepreneurs. We found arepas, tortas, Pho, organic halal meats, microbrews, clothing, crafts, and the Indigenous Food Lab.

Nourished, we headed next to the Textile Center. In the gallery, the annual members show demonstrated that fiber artists work in many, and sometimes unexpected, ways.

I peered longingly into the expansive craft library, the weaving studio, and a light-filled classroom. A teacher setting for up a sewing class on the techniques of Madeleine Vionnet, showed us how the designer constructed her signature drapey frocks.

Vionnet dress samples from a class in progress

Instant regret I hadn’t looked ahead and reserved myself a seat and a sewing machine! But it was the dye kitchen the turned me most green with envy! Members have elbow room at commercial sinks to dye fiber and fabric. And of course a visit to the gift shop is de rigeur.

Wool lover’s paradise

You want sweater weather? Gotcha (wool) covered. Minnesota is as far north as you can go in the US Midwest, with long cold winters. Despite temps well below 0°F, festivals on the frozen lakes with art shanties and fire lanterns draw eager, bundled-up crowds.

out and about the Tangletown (!) neighborhood of Minneapolis

There’s a big active knitters guilda spiffing sheep and wool fest called Shepherds Harvestand at the Minnesota State Fair, the needlecraft competition is serious. The knitting bar is set high.

In St. Paul I popped into The Yarnery. In their peaceful, well-lit store owners Shelly Rae and Scott Rohr stock yarns I usually don’t see elsewhere. Best of all, they stock yarns in. All. The. Colors. I spied Roseline’s Candles there on display too. Roseline’s is a local Black-owned/woman-owned business, with a storefront and studio in the artsy hipster neighborhood of Northeast Minneapolis as well as nearby in St Paul.

When I was ready to sit and knit, we walked across the street to The Gnomea pub with a wonderful beer garden when the weather cooperates, and plenty of space inside when it doesn’t.

For more fiber-tourism, a yarn crawl is easily achieved.

Remembering

In conversations, signage, and memorials, residents of Minneapolis continue to advocate for justice and to remember victims of violence in the city where George Floyd was murdered nearly two years ago.

The organization Know Peace sponsors public arts projects like Mural No. 5

On the site Minneapolis.org, many of the city’s murals are listed with their addresses for visitors to take a self-guided tour.

Travel with the Littles

A display at Heartfelt makers shop

Como Park Zoo offers a lovely garden stroll to see the animals, and a carousel. The conservatory is stunning, too. And visit the Linden Hills neighborhood to pop in at The Wild Rumpusa kids bookstore with live animals, and Heartfelt a charming makers shop for all ages.

A MUST pick

SpoonBridge and Cherry by Coosje van Bruggen, Claes Oldenburg. Pro-Tip: on a hot day sit downwind of the water misting out of the handle!

There’s one place that, for me, is a must-visit: Walker Art Center Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Beautiful in every season, free, open till midnight, and spectacularly sited. Bonus is the pedestrian bridge to Loring Park. We always traverse it to enjoy the light and structure and poetry running through it. Metaphor? No! Literally poetry along the beams.

About A Knitter’s Weekend: Each piece in our series A Knitter’s Weekend is written by a knitter with local knowledge and a personal point of view. If you have additional places or information you’d like to share, we’d love to hear it—please leave a comment. And if you have plans to visit the Twin Cities, be sure to save this article in your MDK account.

All photos © Gale Zucker

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