Fish on Fire: The Wisconsin Files

Here’s a bit of a catchup blog for the last few days of our Wisconsin Adventure:

First, remember this?

Spin! Company

Spin! Company

This is the yarn shop we first visited on Monday, the one with the yarn-cozied sturgeon out front. I asked if I could take some pictures of the shop- since it’s beautifully arranged inside a historic bank from around 1908! The ceilings are tin, the place is huge, and yes- there’s a vault. Even more importantly, yes- that vault is filled with yarn.

I think everyone secretly wishes they had a bank vault for their stash...

I think everyone secretly wishes they had a bank vault for their stash…

The inside of the vault is glass, so you can see all those neat workings going on inside. The vault walls are a good 3 feet thick, and there is a stash of very pretty yarn inside. Here’s that ceiling, too:

Tin ceilings are the best ceilings!

Tin ceilings are the best ceilings!

look at that place! it’s huge, and full of samples: everything is so close together that it was hard to get a picture of the shop itself, but trust me, it’s wonderful. The sample of the hitchhiker shawl there inspired me to get started on that project- so I’ll be casting on for that very shortly!

There were also many adventures in the barn quilt category. The barn quilts of Door County are an organized effort to acknowledge the cultural heritage of quilts, and they have a website, as well! There are pictures on the site of all the quilts, I believe- but here are some pictures of the ones we found that I took:

Duck's Feet

Duck’s Feet

I’d never heard of Duck’s Feet before, and neither had Mom, but we both agree it’s pretty awesome. Also, the colors are great, and this is another one like the crazy quilt square that is hung diagonally instead of square- which I think is really neat.

Eight Pointed Star

Eight Pointed Star

So colorful! This one is exactly the opposite of the last one, I think- the colors are very much more playful. The eight pointed star block was on a barn on Washington Island, which I’ll tell you a bit more about later…

Marcia's Star

Marcia’s Star

The Marcia’s Star quilt was a bit different, because it was mounted on barn doors instead of above them- so the quilt is actually in two pieces, so that when the doors need to be opened, they simply slide apart. That’s so cool!

Farmer's Daughter

Farmer’s Daughter

It is at about this point in our barn quilt adventure that we really start to wonder whether the names of these squares were made up on the spot, I’ve never heard of this one either, and it certainly bears no resemblance to any farmer’s daughters that I know! I’ll have to do some Googling and see if this square is really called that.



This wasn’t technically one of the official Door County Barn Quilts, but it exists just the same: It’s on the workshop space at Sievers School of Fiber Arts on Washington Island, which you can learn about here. It’s exactly what it sounds like- there are a variety of instructors who teach anything and everything from basketry to quilting- and anything in between. My favorite part about this place is that they make no overt attempt to classify what they’re doing as Art or Craft- that is left to the individual people who learn and teach there. The students sell their artwork in the visitor’s center, and supplies/books are available there as well. I was hoping for some handpsun yarn or local roving, but I ended up with a fabulous book on textile printing and some wool wash for my new shawl instead. It’s a pretty big place, and some members of our expedition were anxious to move on to the next attraction- but I would have liked to stay longer, just the same. Maybe I’ll take a class there someday. Maybe I’ll teach a class…


Sheep and the Washington Island Ferry

Sheep and the Washington Island Ferry

Sheep was along for the ride, after a boring week of staying at home- and he was happy to be out adventuring on our day trip to Washington Island. He looks pretty nervous about the stormy weather here. He might also be nervous that we’re crossing Death’s Door- a passage of water responsible for most of the shipwrecks in the area.

But he seems to be a little happier later in the day, manning an antique engine on display at the Washington Island Maritime Museum. (also, they have a Ford Model T snowplow at that museum. It was awesome. Sheep thought so too.)

Full Throttle, Captain Sheep!

Full Throttle, Captain Sheep!

He’s got it down to an art.

We also visited one of the five polished limestone beaches in the world:

(one of the five beaches in the world, if you fall for the typo in the brochure...)

(one of the five beaches in the world, if you fall for the typo in the brochure…)

There’s a pretty big fine if you steal any rocks, so we just made towers instead. It was much too chilly for swimming. The rock towers are called ‘cairns’, and they were everywhere in Door County- more prevalent in the more northern parts, though. like here:

It's like Easter Island- they just appear!

It’s like Easter Island- they just appear!

In a state park near Gill’s Rock at the northern tip of the Door Peninsula- there is a beach that looks like this. You have to hike down steep hills, over very interesting terrain to get to it, but it’s there, and it’s brilliant.

The trees are clearly leaning to get a better view of the beach.

The trees are clearly leaning to get a better view of the beach.

Everything was misty the day we were there- deciding whether or not to rain or shine.



All the nature was beautiful, and it was totally worth the constant fear of falling and breaking my neck- or worse- my camera.

Moss is my favorite.

Moss is my favorite.

There was also this very fabulous driftwood building on the beach:

Somebody spent a lot of time on that...

Somebody spent a lot of time on that…

You can tell it’s huge because that little black bit in there is my mom.

Oh, but now I’ve saved the very best for the very last. When I say fish boil, you probably say yuck- unless you know something I didn’t know before I went. Apparently fish boils are a huge deal in Door County- kind of like clam bakes in Cleveland. It’s the same sort of cook-everything-in-one-pot deal, and it’s quite a spectacle:

fish boil

That was a little montage of what the ‘boil over’ looks like- our friend the volunteer firefighter throws accelerant on to the fire once everything’s done cooking, because when you cook this type of fish an oily film floats to the surface, and you have to boil some of the water out of the pot to get rid of the film. What’s clever about the whole thing is that the water boiling out of the pot puts the fire right out again- which I suppose is why there’s only one volunteer fireman on hand, instead of… all of them.

Here’s what the boil-over itself looks like:


Now, I don’t even like fish- but this fish was pretty tasty. For fish. It was drenched in butter, and it didn’t taste fishy at all- so aside from the fear that I was going to choke and die on a tiny fish bone, it was pretty great.

The angels have spoken. Door County is the place to be.

The angels have spoken. Door County is the place to be.

Everything we did here was awesome, and it will be very much missed. Now, though, It’s back to my screen printing, dyeing, sewing, and getting ready to head back to school in a few weeks. It was kind of a shock to get back and realize I had to really get down and get going if I’m to keep my store up and running while I’m at school. I’m about to get some dyebaths going, and tomorrow I have to screen print another batch of care tags- as I’m out of the first batch already.

In the next few days, you’ll see a reprints and new colors of both the keep calm and carry yarn bags, and the post apocalyptic life skill bags (shameless plug- if you haven’t visited my store lately, you should do that!) After that, I’ll be getting going on some brand new designs!


One thought on “Fish on Fire: The Wisconsin Files

  1. Mary Dennis says:

    I enjoyed reading about your trip to Door County Katherine and I can just imagine that you were in yarn heaven at that store with the bank vault! Keep on writing and picturing. You do it well.

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