Rose City Yarn Crawl Recap: Day 1

Shops Visited: 8

New Shops Visited: 1

Total Shops to Date: 8

Stash Acquired: None (I know, right?)

Non-Stash Acquired: Needle felting pad, book, needles, scarf for Jack

If I hadn’t had a sneak preview yesterday, it would be 2 new shops visited today.

Did I mention that Jack was taking a half-day off of work to come yarn crawling with me? Did I mention that I have the best significant other ever? The man I’m marrying, etc.

Because he had work-related things he had to do in the morning, we didn’t get going until just after noon, and with that in mind, we’d decided to visit the shops downtown, and possibly the cluster right across the river from them. The goal for the day was 4 shops, 3 of which I’d previously been to. I may have previously mentioned that the only thing that I hate more than driving downtown is parking downtown, so we left the car at the park & ride right over the Interstate Bridge from home and took the train into the city.

Angelika’s Yarn Store, 1975 SW 1st Ave Ste L
Pattern: Heavenly Vest

The first shop we visited was the only new one for me, Angelika’s Yarn Store. This is the first LYS I’ve been in that had multiple knitting machines on display. They also had a wide variety of needles and hooks, including the Knitter’s Pride sets that I’ve heard a lot about recently. She specializes in Cascade and Lorna’s Laces, with a handful of other yarns scattered around the store.

Looking at the website, I noticed this in the “About” section: “My Advice: Keep to simpler patterns. Knit and crochet therapy is supposed to be fun and relaxing. And if that means nothing but scarves in stockinet [sic] stitch, so be it! Don’t stress this part of your life with complex patterns.”

Reading that, it probably won’t surprise you that this store wasn’t really to my taste. Hey, I have a crazy fondness for complex patterns. Cookie A is one of my favorite designers. Cables and lace and colorwork! Multiple charts! Patterns that leap wildly from page to page! Socks and fingerless gloves and shawls! Sign me up. Stockinette-stitch scarves? Anything but that, please.

Things, though, that any crafter appreciates: good lighting. Well-organized stock. Yarn displayed in something other than the plastic bags it was shipped in. Did I mention good lighting? Aisles wide enough to move comfortably in, without worrying about bumping into the aforementioned plastic bags. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt for some of these; the store was obviously very busy. Maybe she didn’t have time to unpack everything, and chose instead to just put it all on shelves still in the bags, and she’ll finish on Monday after the Crawl is over.

I didn’t find anything to buy here, so I didn’t get a copy of the free pattern, which was a vest made out of Lorna’s Laces Heaven, which is 90% kid mohair and runs $59/skein on sale. I hope that the vest can be knit out of a single skein, but a fitted garment knitted out of mohair isn’t exactly what I’d expect from someone who recommends “stress-free” knitting. Mohair allergies are also very common, so it certainly isn’t the kind of pattern that would have a wide appeal, especially of the sort that would encourage someone to make a purchase of your featured yarn.

Before I give a complete review, though, I’m going to go back and check it out on a day that doesn’t involve hoards of knitters descending upon them, to see if there’s an improvement.

Dublin Bay Knitting Company, 1227 NW 11th Ave
Raindrops on Roses Cowl

Our second stop of the day was up in the Pearl District, at Dublin Bay Knitting Company. I stopped by this shop last week, and I was just as delighted with it this time as I was last. Dublin Bay carries podcast yarn – and by that, I mean yarn that I’ve mostly heard about on podcasts and never knitted with myself. Blue Sky Alpaca, Spud and Chloe, Sweet Georgia, Three Irish Girls, and more, all in breathtaking colors that make me want to just curl up (in front of the fireplace, no less) and soak it all in. After I’ve walked around stroking it all, of course. I picked up some Zen Yarn Garden last week, and there was a skein of something that I was drooling over but ended up walking out without. If I can’t find something better over the course of the Crawl, though, you bet I’ll be back to bring it home.

Dublin Bay is full of beautiful woods, beautiful wools, and lots (and lots) of natural light. Huge windows, plenty of overhead lighting, beautiful samples, it’s a knitter’s dream. If you just want to visit a yarn shop because it’s a beautiful place to be, you’d be hard-pressed to find one that fit the bill better than this. It doesn’t hurt that the shop is nestled between a couple of parks and is right off the river, either. Plus, there’s a stationer’s next door. Fantastic.

Urban Fiber Arts, 428 NW 11th Ave
Who Are You? socks

This is my third visit to Urban Fiber Arts, and I have the same sort of feeling every time I leave it. I really want to love this shop, you guys. They specialize in local dyers, they have some gorgeous fiber (including Abstract Fiber), several spinning wheels, some very nice needles, and an entire rack of Jared Flood patterns! What’s not to love?

And I come to the conclusion that there must be something lacking in me, because there’s just something… not quite right… about this shop. I can’t put my finger on it, either. The staff is lovely, the product is really stellar, it’s just – not where I want to shop. Which is a pity, because it really does appear to be hard to find good fiber in this town. (This may change. I have a lot of shops left.) It’s small, and the selection isn’t incredibly varied, but it’s certainly very nice.

I’ll keep trying, and maybe I’ll hit that magical combination that will make the shop what I want it to be – or will clue me in as to what I’m not getting there. If anybody’s been there and can figure out what’s bugging me, I’d love to hear from you. Like I said, I really want to love this shop.

Knit Purl, 1101 SW Alder
Delphi Scarf (obtained)

The first time I went into Knit Purl, I really didn’t like it. Fortunately, it’s improved with repeated visits, and I must conclude that I came in on a bad day the first time. After the first time, the staff has been universally friendly and helpful, and the stock mostly just makes me wish that my yarn budget was about three times higher. Their “workhorse” yarns appear to be Malabrigo and MadelineTosh, and they have a wide variety of Habu and other podcast yarns. Like most of the downtown shops, it’s small, but it’s jam-packed with yarn – but in a way that isn’t overwhelming, and makes it easy to both look at and find whatever it is you’re looking for. They also have a very nice book selection. This was actually the first place I ever flipped through a copy of Coastal Knits, right after it came out.

Downstairs, they had a sale room set up, and Jack actually ended up finding a sample scarf that he liked a lot that was very reasonably priced. I’m not really a scarf knitter, as I mentioned above, so I’m happy to encourage his scarf-purchasing habits. The gal who checked us out didn’t know what it was made out of, but it appears to me to be at least a close cousin of Kidsilk Haze held double with what looks like copper wire. Think Habu stainless steel, but thicker, yet totally flexible. Lovely stuff. When we got home, he wrapped it around my neck, and suddenly I have a desire to knit something out of Kidsilk Haze (or close kin – Cascade Kid Seta would work just fine for me, for example).

Twisted, 2310 NE Broadway
Pattern: Cracklin’ Rosie Cowl

Finished with downtown, but with lots of time and energy left to spare, we reunited with the car and headed over to the Hollywood District to visit Twisted. The mysterious Thing I’m wanting from Urban Fiber Arts? Twisted has it. They also make me wish my yarn budget was three times higher, and unlike Knit Purl, they have fiber. More podcast yarn here, mostly represented in the Wall of Sock Yarn, but they also have some lovely commercial yarns. They’re very multicraftual, there’s space to hang out, and did I mention the tea bar? Yeah, they have one. Plus, super-friendly staff. The only thing I wish Twisted had was adequate parking, and, well, it’s close-in Portland. Nobody has that.

We swung back by Gossamer, so that Jack could get his passport stamped and I could show him the needle felting art (he was suitably impressed). I talked about it yesterday, so I won’t get into detail. While I was there, I also picked up a needle felting pad, since the little one I got with my original needles is good for sock repair but not anything of any size.

Yarnia, 4183 SE Division St
Pattern: Division Dream Cowl

I first visited Yarnia back in January, and I don’t really have much to add. The owner is friendly and helpful, there’s lots of yarns to choose from, and some of them are shiny. Jack really seemed to like the possibilities in here; by the time we were leaving, we were talking about a custom color for a pair of fingerless mitts he liked. I’ve created a monster, guys. A super-knitworthy monster who likes to buy me yarn. Best monster ever.

Happy Knits, 1620 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Pattern: “Bertie Lou” Blue Bird (Obtained)

Happy Knits is still one of my favorite local yarn stores, and one of the three that I consider “my” LYS. (The other two are Twisted and Close Knit.) “My” LYS means that it’s a shop that I’ve dropped by because I’m in the neighborhood, and that I’ve specifically gone out of my way to go into, and that I’ve gone into looking for a specific item, knowing that they would have it. Happy Knits carries Knit Picks supplies, which means I can go pick up a pair of needle tips so that I can finally get to work on the Through the Woods Cowl, for example, without having to put together an order and pay shipping and tax and try to convince myself not to spend $50.

Their yarns are somewhere between workhorse and luxury, with a nice selection of podcast yarns as well as more affordable fare. I picked up the yarn for the Sneaky Mountain Shawl here (which did a lovely job of keeping my neck warm today). They also have a gorgeous book and pattern selection, including self-published books from designers like Stephen West and Ysolda Teague. Also, Coastal Knits, which I finally broke down and bought. Gnarled Oak Cardigan, YOU WILL BE MINE.

We would’ve stopped by Yarn Garden, but by that point it was after 6 and they had closed. Seven yarn stores isn’t bad for half a day’s work, though, don’t you think?

More tomorrow!

~ by Amber on March 3, 2012.

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