Category: Thoughts

Cleveland: an Accidental City Guide

Downtown Cleveland seen from the shore of Lake Erie

Downtown Cleveland seen from the shore of Lake Erie

It’s been a little while since I last posted, a lot has happened in the last six months which has meant I have had to take a blogging hiatus (moving flat, doing DIY on aforementioned flat, getting a puppy) but I’m back now with a slightly different post to kick things off – an homage to the city of Cleveland.

This Autumn I was lucky enough to visit Cleveland for the second time. Cleveland is one of those towns you either only dimly aware of (if you are British) or have bad associations with (if you are American). When I told most Brits I was visiting they would usually say “Where is it?”, and when I spoke to Americans they would usually say “Why?”. But contrary to popular opinion Cleveland is a charming place, the problem is it’s so much of a hidden gem that even when you are there it is difficult to work out what to do.

My beloved and I were in town for a wedding and had a couple of days to explore the city, but when we weren’t with the bride and groom we really struggled to find where to go or what to see. In the end we based much of our trip on the following forum thread on the Apartment Therapy website. This was posted in 2009, and I think the fact that we used this to plan a lot of our time shows how bad the problem is.

So in the name of telling the world how great a city Cleveland is here is my hit list of things to do and see in the city.

The People

Friendly people in Cleveland

Friendly people in Cleveland

The people of Cleveland are incredibly friendly, they are also astonished you are there. This conversation I had with a woman in the queue for security at Cleveland airport exemplifies the kind of interactions I had all week:

Lady – “I just heard your accent, where are you from?”
Me – “I’m from Scotland”
Lady – “And you came to Cleveland?!”
Me – “Yes”
Lady – “What did you think?”
Me – “I had a great time”
Lady – “Well imagine that!”

Also at the airport there is an electronic screen advertising the city which says “Cleveland – More affordable entertainment than other US Cities!”

There is so much more to Cleveland than a cheap night out. People of Cleveland: have more confidence in yourself. It’s a lovely place to visit.

Food & Drink

We stayed at an Airbnb in Tremont, a part of the city with some fantastic restuarants and bars all within walking distance. We loved Barrios for its tacos, beer and cocktails, and had fantastic American style pizza at Edisons. For breakfast we drove to Ohio City to Jack Flaps (which has delicious breakfast burritos and Vietnamese breakfast Bahn Mi).

For afternoon coffee and cake Blackbird Baking Company in Lakewood had delicious pastries and the best pumpkin spiced latte I have ever tried. Made with real pumpkin, apparently.

Real Pumpkin Spiced Latte anyone?

Real Pumpkin Spiced Latte anyone?

Cleveland boasts an embarrassment of new-wave brewpubs, notable places we visited included: Fathead (the beer is great but the branding gives me the creeps), Platform, Market Garden Brewery, and Great Lakes (special shout out to the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter). There are far too many for me to mention here – this is an opening selection, not a definitive list.

Shopping

Canopy Collective had an incredible fusion of mid-century furniture and knick-knacks combined with artist books and prints.

Flower Child Retro probably the best vintage shop I have ever been to – put aside a good few hours to explore the shop, it has everything from furniture to ballgowns. I walked away with three incredible velvet dresses. This is a must visit if you are in the area.

River Colors Yarn Store (next to Blackbird Baking Company) has a large selection of locally spun yarns and international wools.

If you love vinyl Separate Reality Records is overwhelming, with one of the largest selections of records I have ever seen, go there and lose yourself.

Separate Reality Records

Separate Reality Records

Machine Knitting and My Inner Critic

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I’m always scared of sharing a picture like this. I’m terrified someone will say:

“What are you doing?! That’s not the correct way to wet block a piece of knitting! You’re not using the right equipment – are you sure those are rust proof pins? They certainly aren’t specialist pins designed for blocking. If you don’t do it right the edges will be uneven and you will get little rust marks on your wool. 

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“And is that a yoga mat? Why don’t you have a proper foam base on which to pin your fabric? One with a wire at the top to hold the piece flat. Also why is it on the floor? It’s a trip hazard and someone could hurt themselves on all those pins.

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“And while I’m at it why do you have such badly finished black painted flooring? Don’t you know that it looks terrible in photos. This blog isn’t aspirational at all. Your interior design sense is terrible, and your project does not match your furniture.

“Also isn’t writing a blog post about this very self-indulgent? No one cares what you think about knitting or anything else.” 

This is exactly the type of inner monologue which runs through my mind when I make something like this and think about sharing the picture. I’m largely self taught as a sewer, knitter and designer and almost everything I learnt came from books or the internet, as well as a few helpful tips from friends and relatives and the odd evening course and workshop. So when I come to actually work on a technique a lot of the time what I am doing is actually made up.

But what am I so scared of? There are plenty of internet trolls out there but not many dedicated to knitting (or so I hope!). And if it is wrong who cares? Really who cares?! This scarf is for me, I’m not hurting anyone and if I move fast enough when I wear it no one will notice the mistakes anyway.

There are a lot of conversations being had right now around imposter syndrome, particularly in women, and I have been speaking with lots of friends about how perfection in any artistic endeavour is a fool’s errand. But why can’t I take this to heart? Why am I still thinking these things? Does anyone else recognise these feelings?

What I am slowly discovering is that machine knitting a scarf might be an 11 week project but having confidence in your ability is one that takes a lifetime.

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