Posts Tagged ‘kentucky’

there are not a lot of yarn shops in the greater cincy area, and knit on! is not the largest of them (although it may be the easiest to find). located just a few miles east of the crazy newport scene in bellevue, ky, knit on! occupies a cute and homey corner storefront on bellevue’s fairfield drag. knit on! claims to have the area’s largest selection of yarns, needles, and accessories, and i believe they just may be right. that’s no big feat, to tell the truth: many of the yarn shops around town seem to have a narrow focus and inexplicably small selection of yarns and books. but the amazing thing about knit on!’s claim to fame is the amount of space they cram it all into.

walking into knit on is like walking into a long-time crafter’s oversized walk-in closet. it is quite literally stuffed with shelves and racks, and those shelves and racks are close to overflowing with gorgeous textiles and the tools you need to turn them into durable, wearable goods. depending on your state of mind this can induce either euphoria or claustrophobia. when i tried to browse with a toddler in my arms and a diaper bag over my shoulder, i knocked over everything in my path (plus a few innocent bystanders who somehow came within my orbit of accidents), which drove me out of the store very quickly. but when i browsed without the toddler or the diaper bag i found myself closer to knitting nirvana. ooh, the colors. aahhh, the textures. just about everything i could want was here — and what i wanted that wasn’t here was easily substituted by some lovely something that was.

but truly, the best reason to make the drive to knit on! is for the customer service. while folks at fiberge can be just a tad too indian hill for my tastes (the proletariat in me was bound to come out sooner or later) and one more stitch can manage to be a little stand-offish and unhelpful despite its seemingly friendly location in walnut hills, knit on! is all about building community. when i was calling around, in december, to find a particular yarn to make my sister-in-law a scarf, nobody at any yarn shop knew of anybody in town who might carry it. the woman i talked to at knit on! also didn’t know where i could buy it locally, but when i told her that i didn’t want to buy it online she offered to find it for me, get it shipped in to her shop, and let me buy it from her. same price, great service. what’s not to love?

and for the true knitting community enthusiast: consider a knitting sleepover at st anne’s. for a great price and what sounds like endless supplies of food, it sounds too good to be missed.

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The CincyScenes staff ventured a little further than usual this past Saturday, as we made the journey downriver to Louisville, KY, for the aforementioned USGP Cyclocross race, a two-day event dubbed the Derby Cup. As we ventured down the I-71 corridor, the weather did not look promising, with looming skies and the occasional shower. (Some would call this perfect cyclocross weather, but we weren’t certain that our 14-month-old junior member would feel the same.) Once we cleared I-275, the rain became more sporadic, and we were able to enjoy the beautiful fall colors as we rode the roller-coaster of northern Kentucky hills. Well, Carole and I were able to enjoy the fall colors; the youngest staff member decided this was an ideal time for a nap.

During the drive it became clear that Carole was struggling with something – specifically, how to pronounce the name of the city we were driving to. Her research had informed her that locals called it “Lo-uh-vull,” and other denizens of the Ohio River Valley referred to it as “Loo-uh-vull, whereas outlanders (like her) would take the all-too-literal approach of saying “Loo-ee-vill.” Eventually, her efforts so frustrated her that she began referring to it simply as “that place we’re going to.”

Our plan in “that place we went to” was to take in the women’s and men’s Elite races, and head back to the comforts of home in the late afternoon. We pulled into Louisville a little in advance of the women’s race, checked out the exterior of Water Tower Visual Art Association and, um, other riverfront scenery. Then we took advantage of the extra time to drive down Main and Market Streets, making mental notes of features for future visits – I am particularly eager to check out the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory.

We made it back to Champion’s Park in time for the start of the women’s race, which featured an elite field of current and former champions from road, mountain, and Cyclocross. No matter – current US Champion Katie Compton, as she had done two weeks earlier at Harbin Park, put the hammer down early and rode away from the field to win by over a minute. The exciting race was for second, as a trio of Canadians tried to hold off a surging Georgia Gould, and failed.

Between the women’s and men’s races, we wandered through the tent area, checking out a podium presentation, the pro’s bikes, and the various sponsor’s promotions. I looked longingly at the Bluegrass Brewing Company’s outpost, and made a mental note to sample their wares at a time when I wouldn’t be driving home again so soon. Carole is especially fond of the Crank Brothers’ logo, as I am of their pedals, but we were here to watch the races and managed to avoid succumbing to the mercantile temptation.

The men’s field was even more stacked, featuring the deadly one-two Kona team punch of US Champion Ryan Trebon and Harbin Park winner Barry Wicks, Jeremy Powers and Tim Johnson, and a host of talented racers from across the country. Tour de France veteran Chris Horner showed up, trademark smile and all. Our personal rooting favorite was former Junior National Champion Bjorn Selander, whom we’ve seen race numerous times in our days in the Upper Midwest. For both the women’s and men’s race, we were treated to a little local flavor as riders were literally called to the post by the official bugler of Churchill Downs – a very nice touch.

The race started fast and just got faster, as riders navigated the European-style flyover (a set of steep stairs with a down ramp on the other side), barriers situated after a sharp turn, and a sand pit that took more than one rider down. The crowd was excited, clanging cowbells and tooting on big plastic horns. The course was designed so spectators could get two or even three different vantage points on the race without moving far – it was one of the most spectator-friendly courses for a spectator-friendly sport that I’ve ever seen. A big shout-out to the folks on the PA system, too, who managed to narrate the exciting action from various points throughout the course.

And the racing was exciting, with the two Konas and Powers and Johnson establishing themselves early and hitting each other repeatedly until Powers and Johnson emerged, and Powers finally rode away from Johnson for the victory. Horner showed his strength (if not his handling skills), recovering from at least one wipeout that I saw to move from a mid-20s start and finish 11th. Bjorn rode very impressively, heeding well my admonitions to “close that gap” and “keep it up”; he started in the 8th row – in almost 60th place – and raced strongly enough to finish 23rd overall, and 3rd in the under-23 class. Kudos to the nice young gentleman from Hudson, WI, who would go on to finish 19th in Sunday’s race.

A race weekend of this caliber is a special thing to have in the region – there are only two other weekends like it in the United States. And while Louisville can rightly claim it as its own, the Derby Cup is surely close enough – and big enough — to be part of the Cincinnati bike scene.

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I first went to the Southgate House oh, about eight or nine years ago, when we happened to be in town, visiting, at the same time that a friend was doing a show there. Since I have this thing for Kentucky — it’s the South! right across the river! you can see the South from here! — we had to go.

Ritt Deitz has been putting on a good show for years. I can only vouch for the last eleven (years, that is, not shows), but if the tales he tells are anywhere near the truth, he’s been stealing limelight since he was young enough to think thick curly hair, a serious attitude, and rippin’ chords were too cool for school. (Got questions? See his teenage son, Wilder. That’s him on keyboards.) So when Ritt and his gang returned to the Southgate and we didn’t need the serendipity of a well-timed family visit to bring us to Cincy, well, we had to be there.

The show’s opener was one Justin Lynch. I can see I need to start taking notes — I can’t tell you the name of Justin’s band (which he left earlier this year) or the name of the place in Northern Kentucky (the South!) where he’s playing next weekend. (Turns out it’s here, and you can cath up with Justin and guess the name of his old band here.) But I can tell you he’s from Mt. Adams, sang a lovely song to his wife (who was celebrating her birthday that evening), and wrote a sweet tune called “The Backseat” about his family’s drives home from Sunday dinners with relatives when he was a kid. Not the kind of material I usually think will make for a good song — but for Justin it does. Justin is also a hoot to listen to between songs…he rambles his way through anecdotes that were probably jokes once, long ago, long before the punchlines wandered away in search of direction. He has a nervous energy that sits easily just on the hip side of nerdy — as a compliment to both, we noted that Justin reminds us of a particular local magazine editor of whom we are quite fond. If you see his name on a marquee somewhere (Justin’s, not the editor’s), stop in for a listen.

Ritt and his group — his two sons, two friends from Madison, and two previous bandmates who still live in Northern Kentucky (the South!) and showed up for special appearances here in Newport — were on tour for their new album, Upstream. Rock on creeks, rivers, and all things watery-hilly: Kentucky geography lends Ritt’s music a rhythm you can feel even after the music has stopped but you’re still looking out the window.

His family/percussion section — Mitchell on drums (and occasional harmonica), Wilder on keyboard (and occasional accordion and bongo) — ditched a day of school to make the weekend loop through Chicago, Louisville, and Newport, returning to Madison just before the PTA pledged to chase Ritt down. At the Chicago show, some guy came up afterwards to talk about the “little one” — that’s Mitch — “gittin’ it”. And git’ it he does, jammin’ away with his whole body, pounding out rhythms using elbows, forearms, and the palms of his hand, lookin’ sweet — SWEET! — but disinterested the whole time. The kid’s got drummin’ attitude in his genes. Wilder is taking his own performance to new heights, whalin’ on the ivories and adding harmony to his dad’s vocals. It’s a big leap from his first recorded performance, the solo “…and the pirate said ‘never mind,'” heard at the end of Hillbilly.

The Deitz trio were joined by long-time collaborator and stringed-instrument player Joe Meisel, fresh from his work in Ecuador, and by oh, crap, I really do need to take notes, by the guy behind Joe in the picture you just looked at, who Ritt described as “adding this cool celtic thing to our sound.” Jim Faris sat in a few tunes on stand-up base.

The best part of the show for me was seeing Wilder and Mitchell. Shannon held Wilder when he was one week old. I met the boys when Mitch was too young to crawl. And we took care of the two of them when their younger sister Ella was born. So now, well, it makes me all misty-eyed to see them coming into their own: full personalities, mondo talent, and awesome band-hair.

And the Southgate House? It’s still smoke-funky and cash-only in the upstairs bar, and the view across the river is now blocked by the Aquarium, but it still puts on a good show. We’ll try to get in TMBG in November.

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