Rose City Yarn Crawl Recap: Day 2

Shops Visited: 10

New Shops Visited: 8/9

Total Shops to Date: 17

Stash Acquired: Yes.

Non-Stash Acquired: Basket for the farmer’s market

For those of you keeping score, I have two shops remaining to visit tomorrow. For the sake of my sanity, I’m not going to give a full report about all nine shops I visited today – some of them will go in tomorrow’s recap, along with pictures of my haul. (Daylight! It’s good for pictures.)

Also, I realized that I miscounted yesterday: we visited eight shops, not seven.

Kathy’s Knit Korner, Forest Grove
Pattern: Rain Shadow Cowl

I drove out to Forest Grove so you don’t have to!

Actually, if you’re out in Forest Grove for whatever reason, Kathy’s Knit Korner is a nice little shop. She has a wide variety of yarn and fiber, with representation from both major commercial yarns and local indie dyers. One drawback is that, while there’s a lot of overall variety, there’s not much individual variety within each line. For example, she has multiple weights of Cascade, but not many colors.

Today’s event at Kathy’s was a trunk show featuring indie dyer Three Fates Knitting. Her stuff is lovely, and I heartily recommend swinging by her Ravelry shop in a couple of days to check out her beautiful yarn and fiber. My first fiber purchase of the Crawl was here, where I finally broke down and picked up some silk hankies in an unlabeled colorway that I think is probably Nuclear Furnace. Beautiful stuff, and I can’t wait to work with it.

Knitting Bee, Beaverton
Pattern: Cabled Confection Cowl (obtained)

If this shop were closer to me, I’d probably be in there all the time. It’s warm, friendly, well-lit, well laid-out, and has a really nice selection. There’s lots of natural light, and the yarns are displayed in a way that nourishes the senses. It seems to be mostly organized by weight, and all the regular quality-yarn suspects are here: Malabrigo, Noro, Berocco, and newcomer to the US Fyberspates. Their Scrumptious yarns are something to behold, and there was a trunk show of finished objects on display here. Lantern Moon also had a trunk show going on, with lots of bags and some very pretty needles.

Green, blue, and black sock-weight yarnOne of my goals going into the crawl was some obnoxiously yellow-green yarn for a hat. I wanted a step down from highlighter yellow, not quite chartreuse, a couple of clicks off of lime – there was a color I had in my mind’s eye, and I wanted exactly that shade. Nothing else would do.

The closest I’d come so far was an alpaca yarn at Dublin Bay, but it was a single-spun bulky weight, and while the color was perfect, it wasn’t quite the yarn I was looking for, and at that point in the Crawl, I wasn’t going to settle.

Then I found this skein of StitchJones in the sale bin at Knitting Bee. I wasn’t sure about it, because I was looking for a solid worsted weight, and this was neither, so I walked around the store with it for a while.

Jack found me still holding it, looking at some Malabrigo in Sunny Lime, which was almost-but-not-quite the exact color I wanted. (That particular colorway appears to have a lot of variation; I’d looked at some at Happy Knits the previous night, and it was too muted. This was closer.) He pointed out that the StitchJones had the green I was looking for (the picture is looking rather dark on my monitor; this may be a truer representation of the color), my very favorite shade of blue (a color I’d been trying not to buy all weekend), and some black, which would tone it down enough to work with my actual wardrobe.

Yeah, totally brought it home. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? I can’t wait to figure out what I’m going to do with it.

THEN WE HAD LUNCH. At a place called Teriyaki Woo. I could not make that up.

For Yarn’s Sake, Beaverton
Pattern: Bridgetown Brewer’s Loop Cowl

I visited this shop some time ago, and didn’t really find it to my taste. Since then, they’ve moved to a much larger space,and I’m happy to report that I love the changes they’ve made. The space itself is huge; this may be the largest yarn store in Portland. They have a large selection of lots of different dyers, both commercial and indie, including tons of my beloved Abstract Fiber in multiple weights, some of which I hadn’t seen before. It’s laid out and lit in a way that makes it easy to browse, and makes me feel like it would be easy to put together a project. The tools they carry are all high-quality and lovely to look at, including a basket from Lantern Moon that almost came home with me, some very nice drop spindles, and Crystal Palace needles.

There’s a comfortable area at the front with couches, and Knitted Wit was set up with a trunk show, and there was enough space in the store that it didn’t feel like extra product had been shoved into a space that wasn’t designed to hold it for the sake of the show.

All in all, it’s a nice shop, and it makes me wish it were closer than Beaverton. If Beaverton is your neighborhood, though, you’re well-served by these two stores.

All About Yarn, Tigard
Pattern: Sweetwater Shawlette

This is an odd shop, and like Angelika’s, it really brings home to me that at least 40% of a good yarn shop is presentation. From the door, I could tell that All About Yarn was a large store, maybe even as big as For Yarn’s Sake. Remember the bad old days when supermarkets were fairly new, and they had low ceilings, narrow aisles, and lousy lighting? Somewhere in the early ’90s, someone had the brainstorm that food would sell better if it looked more appetizing, and it would look more appetizing if it were better lit, and going into the grocery store didn’t feel like you’d wandered into a cave with florescent lights.

Whoever designed those original supermarkets might have had a hand in the internal architecture at All About Yarn. Like I said, I could tell from the doorway that it was a large store, but once I got past the open area where the baby yarn and new books live, the store suddenly felt small and cramped. It’s very poorly lit, mainly hanging florescent lights that probably came with the space. Natural light, so vital to good yarn shopping, was almost completely absent. There were windows in the front doors, but the shop was narrow and deep in a way that definitely didn’t contribute to the lighting penetrating very far. Samples were hung seemingly at random – I witnessed another customer finding a sock sample that she was utterly delighted by, and having to carry it (fake foot and all) up to the front to ask where the yarn to make such a thing might be. It was, strangely enough, nowhere near the sample that was showing it off.

That said, as far as product is concerned, All About Yarn knows its business. The main issue is, with the bad lighting and poor layout, it took me a good ten minutes of wandering around to actually realize that the stock was genuinely high-quality merchandise. For example, at the back of the store, almost as far from the natural light as is physically possible, they have a tremendous display of Noro. The “pattern room” is another example of too much good stuff, poorly laid out. The room itself is a room that probably was designed to be an office – a small, airless sort of space with no windows and only one door. It is full of 4-drawer file cabinets. The contents of these are displayed in 33 4″ 3-ring binders, sorted by type. If, say, you are looking for a woman’s pullover pattern, there are three of these binders to page through in the hopes that you might find a pattern that you like.

I would really like to give this store a better rating, but what it needs is a makeover. Perhaps What Not to Wear: Small Business Edition?

Oddly, I did end up making a purchase there. I’ve been wanting a market basket for when the Farmer’s Market starts up again in a few weeks, and they had a few handmade African baskets hiding under a table. One of them was a lovely shade of green, and I brought it home.

Northwest Wools, 3524 SW Troy St
Pattern: Woven Stitch Scarf

Coming from Tigard, I drove down several heavily trafficked roads, made a weird left turn, went over a hill, around a corner, and over a bridge, and suddenly I was in a magical village that should have been populated by centaurs or maybe hipsters. Multnomah Village, a surprise tiny village at the edge of Portland, is adorable.

If you make another weird left turn, you’ll end up in front of Northwest Wools, which is just as charming as the village that surrounds it. It’s well-lit and well-organized, with the heavier weight yarns sorted by color in the front room (Noro gets its own shelf), and cotton, lace, and fingering weight in the left-hand room, along with a lovely little collection of spinning fibers. There is a Ladybug in the window, and flyers advertising wheels available from at least four major manufacturers. There’s also a nice little classroom in the back, which will play host to Cat Bordhi in August. (I may be the first person on the list to hear about this class, when it happens. Jack may have put me on it, because he recognized her name on the poster in the window. The man I’m marrying, etc.)

While Northwest doesn’t have a particularly large collection of anything, it feels well-curated, as if the owner put careful consideration into every skein, hank, and braid. Multnomah Village seems like it would be a nice place to spend an afternoon, and Northwest Wools would definitely be on the list of places to stop if I did.

We went to four more shops after this, but I think that’s enough words for tonight. Tomorrow: reviews for Make One in Milwaukee, Winona Studios in Oregon City, Wool ‘N’ Wares in West Linn, and then back to Portland proper for Yarn Garden. We’ll also be visiting my beloved Close Knit, and The Naked Sheep Knit Shop!

See you tomorrow!

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~ by Amber on March 4, 2012.

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