Sausalito is in San Francisco's backyard and it happens to be one of my favorite small American towns. It immediately begs the question: "Wouldn't it be cool to live here?" Residents live in bungalows on hilly streets with beautiful bay and skyline views. From San Francisco, simply cross the sometimes fog-shrouded Golden Gate (by car or bicycle) for a day trip, a weekend, or a week.
For the inside scoop on Sausalito, I asked longtime local business owner Nadine Curtis where she shops, dines and what not to miss on a visit.
After a stint living in South Africa, Nadine, launched a luxury fiber line aptly named BE SWEET. The business is based on the concept of being kind to others. Here are her Sausalito suggestions.
SF What is first on the list of things to do for visitors to Sausalito?
The best way to visit Sausalito for the first time is to take the ferry from San Francisco ($9.25 for adults & $4.50 for seniors). You will pull in at the center of town and enjoy the magnificent view of both the quaint town and the spacious bay.
SF Where to stay in Sausalito?
NC I like Cavallo Point - this resort is off the charts!
SF Best dining spot on the water?
NC Le Garage is my personal favorite for dining on the water - French at its finest!
SF Where's the best view in Sausalito?
NC The Be Sweet office. We have the pleasure of looking out over the water every day. I see boats, birds, bicyclists and daydreamers. It's a pleasure to work from this glorious little town.
SF Which shop is your favorite?
NC One of our favorite local shops is Blue Bird - a beautiful knitting store. And of course the Sausalito Ferry Company is a gem not to be missed.
SF What is on the must-do list?
NC Stop at the Golden Gate Market for a turkey sandwich on the south side of town. This is the perfect pit stop if you decide to bike in from the city or a quick pick up game paired with a glass of wine at Bocce Bar.
About Nadine's Sausalito business: Since 2003 local South African artisans support their families by spinning baby mohair (South Africa is the leader in mohair production), bamboo, merino wool and silk accented with glass beads, ribbon and a tad of metallic bling. (There is even a T-shirt yarn made from recycled cotton T-shirts.)
BE SWEET has become a force with online yarn retailers as well as a slew of select local yarn shops. This seriously scrumptious yarn line has knitters going gaga over inventive names like Bubble Ball, Whipped Cream, Satisfaction and Magic Ball. Knitting with these soft and delicious yarns is undoubtedly a fiber treat. With a myriad of colorways available, the sky's the limit on knitting unique accessories and garments.
In the following Q & A, Nadine chats about the South African artisans who create the fine fiber line.
SF When did BE SWEET begin and what was the inspiration behind the business?
NC I started the business in 2003 while I was living in Cape Town, South Africa. I was inspired to work with local artisan groups that were making innovative and beautiful products as well as supporting job development for previously disadvantaged women and men. I wanted to be a part of a supportive moment - giving people a chance at more economic opportunities and creative work.
SF How many local artisans in South Africa are involved in spinning? Are they also involved in designing yarns?
NC We currently work with four artisan groups that produce the BE SWEET yarn range. The largest group manages all of our mohair and merino fibers and accessories. They are based in a rural farm area on the coast in the Eastern Cape. Approximately 60 women dye, spin, tie, knit and package at this location. Our Bamboo and Cotton suppliers are based outside of Cape Town and are a small team of 10 ladies and a man. BE SWEET'S new T-Shirt yarn is made by a male duo who work from a home-based workshop in a Cape Town-based township. Other various small run fibers employ a handful of artisans. BE SWEET yarns are collectively designed. Yes, the artisans have a role in the development. Fiber choices depend on raw material availability. We get to have a lot of fun when we start working out the specialty fibers like African Bead Ball, Fluffy Nubs, and Bambino Taffy to name a few that are relatively new. Our Magic Ball colors are fun for the artisans to play with and develop.
SF The yarn line includes a variety of luxury fibers. Is there a degree of difficulty involved in producing them when ribbon, beads or glitter is added to the process?
NC Our biggest challenge with the specialty yarn add-ons is consistent availability. South Africa is an incredibly resourceful country but using materials that are imported can be a strain at times. Distributors will discontinue materials if demand or price varies. We try and master the art of improvisation.
SF A coveted fashion-forward accessory can easily be created from one of your many novelty yarns. Which one is your most popular at the moment? Which yarn do you suggest for a quick knit?
NC Our most popular project this fall is our Entwined Cowl made with 4 skeins of the fiber called Whipped Cream from our new basics range called Simply Sweet. The fiber is a mixture of kid mohair, wool, and silk. Clever construction and easy to knit - braided. Magic Balls are the BE SWEET quick-knit favorite. Try one skein for a simple cowl - cast on 65 stitches using 11 needles in the round and voila you've got a hand knit treasure. Our Extra Fine baby mohair is delightfully lace-like. Our Fine Shawl (or Scarf) on Diagonal has been hugely popular. All you need are 5 x 25g balls of yarn in coordinating colors. For an evening accessory, our most elegant piece is the Ostrich Shawl. It's a simple project made with our Medium Bouclé baby mohair using stockinette stitch and then add 2 meters of hand-dyed ostrich feathers that match your yarn color choice. BE SWEET's mohair and feathers is offered in over 80 colors - yum!
SF What's hot for spring?
NC A new Magic Ball color called Morocco - it's a gorgeous mix of deep purple, pink, magenta, orange, and tobacco. We also have a new Marbled Mohair slated for spring; it's a bulky knobby yarn with gradient multi-colors that will match up with some of our favorite Magic Ball colors. And lots and lots of patterns! To name a few ... Belle Bamboo Hoody, Keystone Hat, and more.
Follow Susan Fogwell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Susan_Fogwell