A yarn (and fabric) tour of Portland, the younger.
As I was saying yesterday, it turns out having to fly something across the country is a pretty good filter for your purchases. This it turned out to be excellent news, because PDX seems to have a yarn shop, fabric shop, or vintage store on every single block.
The first place I visited in Portland was Twisted Yarns (well, after I did “brunch & letters” which seems like a thoroughly PDX thing) – they were thoroughly friendly staff, as well as customers, and an excellent yarn selection. I picked up a skein of Knitted Wit’s Single Fingering, and probably would have also brought home some of the spinning fiber. Again – if I hadn’t had to fly it across the country.
Yarnia was an entirely unique yarn shop. They have tons of cones of thread in a whole variety of fibers, weights and colors, and then you choose which threads you want in your yarn, and the staff winds them together for you. They don’t add twist (like you would when you’re spinning threads together), they merely wind the yarn together onto a cone, while keeping the threads under equal tension. (They have a pretty good FAQ section on their website, if you’re curious). I didn’t get anything here – because I didn’t have any particular projects in mind. This seems like the perfect place to go when you have a very specific idea, and can’t find quite the right yarn.
Happy Knits was an absolutely lovely shop! They have two love bug shop dogs – one of whom hopped on my lap when I knelt down to look at one of the lower shelves. I picked up a handful of vintage clock buttons here that I can’t wait to use as detailing on a sweater (or maybe a shirt?) I loved how this shop was set up with a front room full of yarn, and a back room with tables, and chairs, and couches for classes and social knitting.
The staff was also kind enough to help me out with some waste yarn when I found myself ready to split for the armholes of my sweater, but without anything to put my stitches on – for which I’ll always be grateful.
Knit Purl was beautiful. Not only did they have stunningly beautiful colorwork lace window displays – the inside of their store was also bright and lovely as well. The shop seemed a little congested right by the doorway when I walked in, but I think that was a combination of a couple people were looking at the same yarn, it being a weekend, and (I believe) a class had just finished. They had a good selection of local yarns, in addition to your tried and true stand-bys, and an impressive wall of Shibui. I ended up with one of Knit Purl’s anniversary skeins of yarn.
The last thing I picked up in Portland was from Close Knit up on Alberta street in NE Portland – I might not have ended up at Close Knit if a dear friend, Nancy, hadn’t said (in a few more words) “get thy ass up there!” And I’m so glad I did.
The shop was warm and friendly with a delightful staff, and stuffed with skein upon skein upon skein upon skein of yarn – tons of local and new-to-me stuff, along with your go-to Cascade-like yarns. The staff here managed to maintain an excellent balance of letting me browse and do my thing, while also being warm, inviting, and able to answer questions – it’s a really tricky balance, and one they managed wonderfully.
I also visited Dublin Bay Knitting, Pearl Fiber Arts, Cool Cottons, and the Whole 9 Yards – all while managing to forget to take photos. They were all lovely. I think since I visited them towards the end of my time in Portland – I was a little bit overwhelmed by yarn (forsooth! I know.)
Dublin Bay Knitting had a lovely Irish theme going, (without painting the shop green), which I really appreciated. It’s a bit out of the way, and there was some construction going on, so I ended up there kind of by accident, but it didn’t seem like it would be hard to get to if you were looking for it. The shop was charming and inviting, with tons of little details, tools and knitted knickknacks. It seemed to be organized by brand (rather than by weight) – so it was fun to browse familiar-to-me yarns, organized in an un-familiar-to-me way.
Pearl Fiber Arts was excellent! It carried a variety of spinning fiber, as well as yarn, and they had a wall of locally dyed yarns – the person behind the counter made a point of pointing this out, which I really appreciated. The only reason I didn’t come home with something was that the majority of the shop tended towards bright, variegated colors, which I tend not to knit with a whole lot. However! I did almost end up walking out with a skein of lime green lace weight yarn in a wool/silk blend. It was thoroughly temping, but I think if I had walked out with it, that might have been the final straw for my suitcase.
Cool Cottons was all quilting cotton, but had a tremendous selection. Along with some fabulous prints that I would have totally bought in a different fabric.
Same with The Whole 9 Yards, they specialize in upholstery fabric, but had fabrics that I would have taken home in a heartbeat if they hadn’t been heavy duty vinyl.
I said it feels like Portland doesn’t have a block without a yarn, fabric, bead, button, or vintage store, and that is truly how it feels. Between PDX and the Bay Area, I ended up visiting 15 yarn & fabric stores in 6 weeks, (plus countless vintage shops, boutiques, book stores, bead shops, restaurants, museums, parks, etc – I can’t even remember them all).
In the end, I walked away with 8 skeins of yarn, plus 4.5 yards of fabric. Which I think (all things considered) shows a pretty damn high level of self-restraint.