How much yarn could I fit in my suitcase?

west coast trip loot

I just got back from a month and a half in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, and Portland, OR – and while, I’ve never been a huge souvenir buying person, there was no way I could be gone for 6 weeks, visit a multitude of yarn, fabric, vintage & bead stores and come home with nothing.

So come home with something I did.

8 skeins of yarn, 4.5 yards of fabric, 3 books, multiple prints, buttons, beads, and a candle (plus a ring that I was busy wearing while taking these photos).

yarn close up

Since I knew that I’d end up buying yarn anyhow, I didn’t travel west with any knitting projects. Partly because I knew I’d end up buying yarn there, partly because I’d be gone long enough that any project I brought wouldn’t last for the whole trip, and partly because I didn’t have anything actively on the needles. (I ended up doing a lot of sleeping on the flight west.)

So towards the beginning of my trip I made a point of going to Imagiknit in the Mission in SF – I picked up two cones of Ito’s Shio yarn, along with some needles and stitch markers. I ended up swatching and casting on for a lace weight sweater on US 4 (3.5mm) needles, a project that would (and did) last me for my entire trip.

Being based in NYC means I have access to tons of yarn, so while I was shopping, I was very specifically looking for things I had never seen before and knew I probably couldn’t get at home (aka no Madelinetosh, Malabrigo, Manos, etc) – as well as yarns that I’d love to work with.

just the yarn

This ended up narrowing my selections of yarns down considerably – I was looking for lace weight & light fingering weight, local or new-to-me yarns primarily in deep purples and blues. I ended up picking up 8 skeins/balls/cones of yarn in total.

2 cones of Ito’s Shio in Navy – which is already in the process of becoming a sweater. This is a Japanese yarn, 100% wool lace weight, with 525 yards per 40gr cone. It’s made up of two threads running parallel to each other, has a beautiful drape and is a deep, rich, interesting heathered navy.

Next to the Ito is a skein of Knit Purl’s anniversary lace weight yarn, which the label says was created in collaboration with Shibui yarns, and Canon Hand Dyes. So I think, the base is Shibui’s Cima, which is  328 yards of a 70/30 alpaca/merino lace weight blend. And while I don’t generally pick up variegated yarns (even relatively tame 2-color varigated) this skein was just too pretty to leave behind.

Next to that, is a skein of Knitted Wit’s Single Fingering, in “Prussian Blue” from Twisted Yarns. The Knitted Wit seems to be a hand dyer local to Portland, and the Prussian Blue is a beautiful rich black/blue color. At 475 yards of a fingering weight single, 100% superwash merino, I’m not quite sure what I’m going to make with it, but I’m thinking I might combine it with another yarn.

Last in that row of yarn is a giant skein of Marli Tharn’s Light Sock in “Fountain Pen” from Avenue Yarns. It’s a black/purple hand dyed light sock weight. With a generous 822 yards, 150 grams skein, it’s destined to be combined with something and perhaps knit into a sweater (or maybe even a shawl).

The wound ball over on the right hand side of the photo is a ball of Holst Garn’s Noble, in “Eggplant.” I picked it up from Close Knit in Portland. It’s a European brand from Denmark, and they had just gotten it in, so I’m super excited to knit with it. It has 333 yards per 50 grams and is a 95/5 wool/cashmere blend.

Then that skein of off white colored yarn is from Lacis Textile Museum in Berkeley, CA – it’s 1,000 yards of 60/2 cobweb weight silk yarn that’s more than divine – it’s simply scrumdiddlyumptious.

books and yarn

Books, books, books…

I came home with three books – the first two of which I got for reading on my trip and the last one was just too good to pass up:
Over-Dressed: the shockingly high cost of cheap fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
Airline: style at 30,000 feet by Keith Lovegrove

I got them all from various shops in Berkeley, and am rather astonished with myself for being able to walk out of Powells in Portland with nothing – let alone enough books to fill a second suitcase…

artwork beads buttons

Compared to yarn & fabric – beads and buttons and artwork basically don’t count because they take up no space (right?!).

They’re flat and tiny – and oh so beautiful! I picked up 9 vintage clock buttons from Happy Knits in Portland (they were also gracious enough to give me some waste yarn for my sweater when I needed it), and I think they’ll end up as details on a sweater at some point. I’m imagining 3 at the neck, and some along a vent detail at the hem – but that idea could change completely before they come off the cardboard.

I stopped in at Baubles & Beads with no intention of buying anything. But, it turns out that they’re closing their Berkeley location (and moving to an online only shop), and were therefore having a sale – 50% off of all loose beads, so I picked up some owls, dragons, chess horses, skulls, and other shinies.

The artwork is from two places. The crow in the center, possum at the top right, and raven patch all came from cousin, and are by Corina Dross, I believe from her etsy shop. While the three abstract circles tucked in over on the left are from Amy’s Not Dead Yet – when I first got to the Bay Area I ordered a handful of cards from Amy, and used them as thank you cards throughout my trip. I have three left over and am thinking of framing them as a series – or holding on to them for future card giving needs.

fabric close up

And last, but never least 4.5 yards of fabric – both pieces are from Stonemountain & Daughter, which is a brilliant fabric shop in Berkeley.

That crazy bright pink/yellow/brown/white plaid is spectacular in person (and a terrible pain to photograph). It’s a cotton gauze that I got 3.5 yards of, with plans for turning into another Archer button up shirt (because you can never have too many). It may or may not have been carried as a scarf on my flight back east…

The black & white plaid is a brushed cotton remnant that I picked up on my way out the store. I have just under a yard, and no real plans for it. Though I do have a vision of a patchwork plaid skirt of sorts, so maybe this will end up as part of that project.

And that’s what I brought home with me. I’ve never been quite so glad that I prefer hard-to-find, thin, highly squishable, yarns then I was the night before I flew, while I was squishing everything back into the original suitcase I flew west with.

I came pretty close to sitting on my suitcase, and my purse was pretty close to bursting at the seams, but in the end, it all fit.

travel yarn doesn't count

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2 Responses

  1. Yay fabric! Yay string!

    I don’t knit (or crochet) but I do sew sort of a bunch, & while it hasn’t been a goal of mine to wear only things I’ve made, I could do at least a couple days of it already. Problem is, I keep getting absorbed in adding details to the pieces that are already ‘done’ instead of starting more…

    Here via Havi, & I love what you’re doing!

    1. Holly

      Yay sewing! and I totally understand the urge to keep adding things to “finished” pieces of clothing. Thanks so much for stopping by Kate!

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