Consumerism: the third and fourth days

Okay, time to wrap this up. My third day of shopping, I braved public transport (the bus system was completely easy and efficient) to go to the Alberta Arts District. It’s across the river and it was interesting to see something other than downtown, especially a more residential area.

First I went to Close Knit, which was a lovely cosy yarn store with a good selection of more mid-range yarns. Lots and lots of Cascade 220, which is a great workhorse yarn, as well as some more high-end brands. I really only wanted to buy a needle (I needed a 40″ size 6 with pointy tips for a lace shawl), but on my way to checkout I was seduced by the “40% off” rack and grabbed a ball of Schoppel Wolle XL Kleckse Cat Print, in the colorway Beerenauslese. (Still within my guidelines – on sale!)

IMG_1813excuse the overexposure – it was the best shot of the color

At the time, I had convinced myself that I would make a pair of socks with this – and I may yet do that, as I’ve never made socks that actually fit, and while I rarely wear socks (as opposed to tights/stockings or athletic socks), having a handknit pair would be pretty nice. However, I think I have other plans (see below).

I also went to a lovely little fabric store, Bolt. I did not fulfill my goal of fondling/figuring out knits, because they had knits, but not a vast selections. But (similar to my experience at Powell’s) it was great to see in person fabrics I’d only looked at online – and of course I bought some. (The best part is that it was day one of their Fall Sale and EVERYTHING was on sale.)

The top is I think a J.Crew fabric? (didn’t know such a thing existed), and the photo turns the dark print black, but it’s actually navy, and a beautifully light and breezy voile. The middle is a Robert Kaufman chambray (with colored flecks that don’t show up especially well here), and the bottom is an Anna Maria Horner crosshatch.

The sale was clearly a big thing – there were a number of customers getting their fabric cut when I first walked in, in a not very big space (but well organized and laid out). While my fabric was being cut, one of the women working (she sounded owner-y or manager-y) was talking about how her son (clearly little) wanted attention while she was preparing for the sale, and so how she had him hold the bolts of fabric on his lap while she put the sale price stickers on, and how she kept checking periodically to make sure his legs hadn’t fallen asleep as she piled more and more on.

Then I wandered up and down the street looking in all the shops, bought my husband a slice of banana cream pie at a pie bar, bought me a Belgian waffle at a waffle shop, and bused it back downtown.

The last full day, a friend of my husband’s joined him and me to re-explore the downtown knitting options, as she is also a knitter and hadn’t had a chance to do so yet. So we went back to Knit Purl, and…um…I bought more yarn (which is still beautifully wrapped so again, no picture). But hey, the husband picked it out, so that doesn’t count, right? It’s Tosh Merino Light in Citrus, which is the world’s greatest orange, and I also bought a printed copy of Olga Buraya-Kefelian’s Tabi Mittens, to make my husband a pair of incandescently orange lobster-claw mittens. (He loves tabi socks.) Even in the desert, it’s probably wise to have one pair of mittens.

We stopped at Pearl Fiber Arts, where my husband’s friend bought some yarn, and then the owner (seeing our Knit Purl bags) asked us if we were going to complete the circuit? Circuit? we asked, and found out there was a third downtown yarn store, not too much further north. Armed with directions, we marched ourselves along to Dublin Bay Knitting Company.

To make a long story short, this was yet another gorgeous yarn store, with yet more brands I’d never seen in person, as well as friendly and helpful staff. As befits the name, there were traditional Irish and British yarns, but also lots of more modern companies as well. I fell madly in love with everything Hedgehog Fibres and bought a skein of their sock yarn in the Typewriter colorway. As with the Schoppen Wolle, I thought, “Eh, I can use a pair of socks, right?” But once I got them home and put them together, I decided that a two-color shawl of some variety might be a much better way to put these two to use:

So that was my crafty tourism in Portland. There are at least three other yarn stores I didn’t even get to, as well as two fantabulous fabric superstores (on the edges of town, so harder to get to on vacation) – so now I absolutely want to move to Portland, where there is lots of yarn to be had, and lots of opportunity to wear garments made from it! (And fabric, too, but you can wear that in the desert without difficulty.)

Second day of vacation shopping

My next day in Portland, I went to the bookbuyer’s mecca, Powell’s City of Books (which is a wholly appropriate name). I limited myself to looking at craft books, because I knew that if I just roamed all the stacks and shelves I’d probably never leave. And I was pretty restrained, buying only these:

The book on top is this one:

There were a lot of great vintage “how to sew” books, and I wish I could have taken them all home. Well, I wish I could have taken many more things home, and it was hard even to narrow it down to the four I chose. But I had seen a good review of the vintage book somewhere on the web, so decided to try that one. I have also wanted the Radcliffe book for a while, and when I got to flip through it in person, I liked the look of it.  The fitting book was a “staff pick,” and since there were a gazillion fitting books, that seemed as good a reason as any to choose it (also, it wasn’t a huge hardback book). Finally, there were also a gazillion “intro to photography” books, and I have no idea if this one is supposed to be any good, but agin, flipping through it, I wanted to read this one more than the others.

I also ran into a book signing by rock musician Corey Taylor of Slipknot fame (and Stone Sour, but I’ve only heard of Slipknot), which was kind of fascinating. I walked round one set of bookshelves to find the local news person doing an interview with a camera person in tow; it’s funny how immediately identifiable “TV news person” women’s style is. Lots more makeup than most ordinary people. Soon after an entourage guided him across the floor to where he was going to sign, trailed by a huge long line of people wearing black and tattoos all clutching Taylor’s latest book. One guy kept declaiming loudly about being at the end of the line and how long the line was getting – he was clearly super excited to be there.

After Powell’s I wandered over to an interesting store called Scrap, which is a “donation-based creative reuse store and donation center,” or basically a thrift store for arts and crafts supplies. It’s a great concept, and there was lots of really inexpensive stuff there, as well as a good number of shoppers. But I had forgotten until I got there that I, personally, really hate shopping at thrift stores, so I didn’t find anything I wanted or stick around for long.

I didn’t go to Voodoo Donuts on this trip, but Blue Star was near Scrap, so I treated myself to a Raspberry Rosemary Buttermilk donut, which was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.

And then on the way back to my hotel I stopped at Pearl Fiber Arts, which is a nice little shop filled mostly with local yarns and fiber, as well as very pretty wooden yarn bowls and ceramic buttons. There was nothing I couldn’t live without, but it was still fun to browse, and the owner was very friendly.

Two more days of craft tourism to go…

First day of vacation shopping

oops – I wrote this last week but forgot to post it till now.

My first day in Portland, I went to Knit Purl, which is absolutely beautiful, with a very clean, simple, aesthetic. Lots of gorgeous, higher-end yarns, with helpful and friendly but not obtrusive salespeople.

I especially enjoyed getting to see some brands in person for the first time, like Brooklyn Tweed, Sincere Sheep, the Fibre Company, Hand Maiden, and especially Shibui – there were two walls devoted to all their yarns (they own the store), and all their products were amazingly beautiful. I have never handled any of them before and could have spent (probably did spend) a ridiculous amount of time just standing by those walls stroking skeins.

In fact, I came this close to buying enough Shibui Pebble, Cima, and Baby Alpaca to make a Trace sweater. But while the results are admittedly spectacular, Shibui’s recent practice of designing sweaters that use two or three of their different lines held together frustrates me a little, because it just adds to the amount of yarn required and gets costly fast. I also chickened out on knitting a baby alpaca sweater (even though the Baby Alpaca yarn was one of the softest things I’ve ever touched, like angels came down to earth and fed the alpacas on celestial clouds and nectar or something), because I worried it would end up too hot. But oh my goodness the yarns were lovely.

Also, if you’ve seen people talking about how incredibly soft the new(ish?) yarns by Woolfolk are? Oh. My. God. They’re all correct. It is truly one of the softest wools I’ve ever felt. I didn’t buy any because the palette, while lovely and classic, is a little muddy for my tastes. But I may  change my mind in the future. I’m thinking if I ever decide to tackle a black sweater (and that day is coming, I’m sure), that might be the yarn to use.

I sort of blew my mental budget on the first day, although I stuck to my guidelines and bought enough lovely local yarn from Bumblebirch to make a light cardigan. It’s fingering weight in Dandelion (acid yellow-green/citron) – which continues my trend of buying yarn that’s either green or purple. But I really like the colorway and my husband approved of it as a “me” color.

(I am boringly not posting a picture because they wrapped the skeins so beautifully in tissue paper, and sealed them with a sticker, that I can’t bear to break them open until I’m going to use it. But they gave me a lovely tote bag. See?)


That was it for the first full day. Frankly, it made me sad that Knit Purl isn’t my local yarn store, though it’s probably safer for my attempts at stash control that it’s not. More about the rest later.