A Three Hour (LYS) Tour

Sunday, the last day of the LYS tour, dawned with appropriately sunny glory.  Perfect for a three hour (or so) tour. I know I am completely dating myself with that reference, but I couldn’t help thinking about “…The Professor and Maryanne…” going out for their three hour tour.  We only went to three shops and somehow it felt like a bit of a whirlwind to me, though a fun one.  How do people do the whole tour?! 5 days, 26 shops. Fun, but crazy exhausting.  You know you’re old when that much running around sounds like a lot of fuss instead of a great excuse for a party.  My friend Troy (pictured in front of NW Handspun Yarns on the far right) and I, with our monumental stashes, conferred ahead of time and decided that we would not buy anything unless it was supremely special or something needed for a project.  I’m proud to say we stuck to our guns and were pretty successful, not that I wasn’t tempted by all the Madelinetosh gleaming from the stacks.

First stop after a sensational breakfast at The Calico Cupboard was Wild Fibers in Mt. Vernon, where I was sorely tempted by the Trapper Cowl sample knit in buttery soft Manos del Uruguay Maxima.  Luckily, I couldn’t find any color combos that needed to jump into my greedy little fingers, but I’ll admit to some excessive fondling occurring while in the shop. Repeatedly.

After that we headed back north to NW Handspun Yarns where my steely resolve crumbled in the face of more Manos; bargain bin, silk blend, a good contrast color for some other yarn I’d been gifted. Realistically not good rationalizations, but perhaps I was feeling woozy from a lack of specialty coffee and the profusion of yarn fumes.  Did I need it? No.  Did I like it? Yes. No sense dwelling on it now. Time to put that yarn to work!

Our last stop was Apple Yarns, where we were greeted by a flurry of activity and friendly faces.  This is the shop I frequent most often and here, they actually know my name. On the other hand, they know Troy at all the yarn shops :)  I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t make the rounds (or chat much).  Too much temptation.  Plus, it’s been clearly proven that if you talk to me while I’m shopping, your interest in me will result in my feeling it necessary to spend money in your shop.  I’m a sucker I am. And a good one to boot! Anyway, I did pick up two bargain bin skeins of Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock in Coral Rose for a future somethin’ somethin’. Best part? I had a gift certificate from last year’s Stash Buster Sale at the shop and I only spent a whopping 30 cents on my two brand spankin’ new skeins of awesome.  Not too shabby.

I’m too lazy to photograph the acquisitions; sorry but you’ve all seen yarn before.  The big news now is that Stash Dash 2015 starts tomorrow!  And unlike my friend Knitting Up North, I have not really sat down and laid a plan for my Dash success.  I assume I’ll be working toward a 5K (5,468 yds) though there is potential to push it to a 10K (10,936 yds) if I’m really motivated.  But with only 1.5 weeks of school left, I’m assuming knitting time will be greatly reduced as I adjust to the summer schedule and trying to find ways to fill our time.  Then again there are karate lessons and park visits which, so far, have resulted in extra knitting time. We shall see.  Stay tuned for some Stash Dash updates to come!


Sock Summit 2011 Day 3: July 30, 2011 – Far Afield

Back to our regularly scheduled Sock Summit Update (warning – picture heavy)….
Saturday morning found us a little more leisurely than usual.  That’s not to say we slept in, but Jess didn’t have class at all that day and Troy and I didn’t have class until 1:30 PM so there was no rush to get out the door immediately.  We had decided this would be the perfect morning to do a little exploring and we thought the Farmer’s Market would be the perfect thing to do.  Jess was amazing and pretty much figured out exactly where we needed to go and which TriMet route we’d need to take to get there.  Luckily, we were in the free zone for where we wanted to go, so it was super easy.  All I can say is, kudos to Portland for their public transportation!  If only we had something this nice where I live.  Of course, it’s not hard to get around in my town, but there are times where I’d like to not have to worry about driving or parking.

Skidmore Fountain

We hopped the Trimet to the Skidmore Fountain stop which was a quick 5 minutes or less from the Convention Center block. At our stop, I was initially put off by the group of scruffy looking loiterers shouting obscenities at each other over their shopping cart, but we just walked the other way and I put it out of my mind.  What caught my eye first was the historic architecture surrounding us; buildings with flourishes, and the historic colonnade housing a portion of the market.  I never cease to be fascinated by old structures and their histories.  The stories are there, buried, waiting for me to discover them.  I wonder about the people who lived and worked here. What was life like for them?  Were they happy, sad, indifferent?  As I soaked it in I snapped a few photos for posterity.

Architectural Details of The Colonnade


The Saturday Market - Portland, OR

We wandered, we looked, we soaked it in.  I found a lot of inspiration at the market, seeing all kinds of items that had been re-created from vintage or cast off things; upcycling being the buzz word I presume.  This has always been an interest of mine and seeing examples of this in the marketplace gave me all sorts of ideas for future projects.  I bought a couple of leather cuffs made from old belts.  Because I needed to “toughen up my image” I told Troy.  Couldn’t hurt.  Before long we were getting hungry and we decided we’d all divide up and get the food that sounded best to each of us.  Troy and Jess convinced me I’d love pierogies, which I had never before tried, so I bought my lunch at a cute little cart just across the street from the Portland Saturday Market sign up above.  Mmmmm…. Potato and cheese filling with onions and bacon on top.  I have to say, my first experience with pierogies was a blissful one!  Troy, who was holding a table for us, had to have the same after I came back with mine.

My First Pierogies

The picture is a bit blurry you see, because I was salivating so hard I could barely hold the camera straight :)  I told Jess and Troy that I did believe my blog was starting to turn into a food blog as most of the pictures I took over the weekend seemed to be of food!  After eating and looking a bit more, we thought we spotted the mecca of doughnut shops – Voodoo doughnuts – on an adjacent corner, and had to have a look for ourselves.  As we got closer, we asked a few people what the situation was and they told us that the line was at least an hour long.  An hour long!  And it was mid-morning, not even breakfast hour anymore.  Of course, there is no bad time for a doughnut.  But none of us was down with waiting an hour just to say we’d been there.  We satisfied ourselves with snapping a picture of the sign and Jess even got a guy sitting outside at a table, about to bite into a doughnut the size of his head, to agree to having his photo taken.  I’m pretty sure one of his friends had one of those specialty maple doughnuts with bacon on top.  Oy.

All Hail Voodoo Doughnuts!

After that, we wandered around a little longer to see what we could see.  We thought maybe there’d be a fun little shopping district or some such somewhere near all this other goodness, but no such luck.  We did see this, which explained a lot:

Keep Portland Weird!

Coming up on Chinatown, we thought perhaps there would be something fun to explore here too, but it was all but dead.  I did find the entrance enchanting though, and thought a rather funny sign deserved preservation on film.  Do you think they realized what they were advertising?  Or did they think it was funny too?

Entrance To Chinatown


Hung Far Low

Perhaps this was old Chinatown and there is a new and bustling Chinatown somewhere else in Portland.  By then in our travels, it was getting close to time to head back.  So we boarded the TriMet and were on our way back to the Convention Center.  I’d had a raging headache all day and it wasn’t getting any better.  I think we got some coffee before our class and maybe poked around the Marketplace again and at 1:30 PM Troy and I headed to our Perfect Rib Class with Cookie A.  I have to admit, I wasn’t feeling 100% by the time we got to class, and there was a lot to cram into this one-hour wonder.  Despite Cookie A. being a friendly, knowledgeable, and all around excellent instructor, my brain was at maximum capacity and most definitely not firing on all cylinders.  So I didn’t get much out of it, unfortunately.  Through no one’s fault but my own, of course.  There were lengthy handouts that I brought home and I imagine I will study them later, the next time I get around to trying to design my own sock.  I loved the idea that you can incorporate ribbing into the pattern itself (the main idea of this class) and I think that is perhaps why Cookie A.’s designs are among the most beautiful of all sock patterns.  Her ribs never look just stuck on, in fact, everything flows seamlessly together into a harmonious design.  I know accomplishing this myself with my own pattern, will make much more sense when I can sit down and study it later with my brain in a more receptive state.

Cookie A.!

After class, we met up with Jess again and decided it was time for another field trip.  We piled into Troy’s car this time (I think yesterday’s trek had taught us that it would be much more relaxing to drive just in case we got lost again) and headed to the nearest LYS, Portland’s Twisted.  What a sweet little shop!  They had all sorts of yarns my LYS doesn’t carry and a lot of local indie dyed stuff that was really fun to see.  The Twisted booth at the Marketplace at Sock Summit had been handing out 10% off coupons for the brick and mortar shop, so of course we had to take advantage.  I bought some beautiful Madelinetosh Tosh Merino in “Grasshopper” for a slouchy hat.  I love slouch hats, but don’t know if they love me back. I’m thinking this is a bit like shawls.  They look funny on you only if you feel funny in them.  You have to work it and just know you are cool and then, in turn, you will be cool.  It’s my new experiment.

Twisted Yarn Shop - Portland, OR

Jess asked the gals in the shop for a restaurant recommendation and they gave us a few.  Jess and I were thinking sushi, but after driving back and forth a bunch, with no sushi place materializing, we settled for the one place they recommended that we could actually find: Cha! Cha! Cha! Taqueria.  It was cool inside and inviting.  Most of the clientele were seated outside, so it was nice to have the place to ourselves.  The food was billed to be authentic and locally sourced which is apparently a condition for every restaurant in Portland.  But you know, I do believe it makes a difference!  Our meal was delicious.  Troy and Jess got something called Molcajete that Jess says is served at one of her favorite restaurants back home.  All I know is it arrives in a ginormous sizzling bowl of goodness and smells heavenly!  I got poblano chile and cheese tamales and we all got the requisite frosty adult beverage necessary to complete a summer meal such as this.

Jess & Troy


Mmmm... Tamales & a Margarita!

After dinner was consumed, we headed back to the convention center for a “special kind of baby shower” in honor of Ravelry founders Casey and Jess’ new baby Eloise.  Each of us had knitted a hat to donate to the cause and it was astounding to arrive there and see the sheer number of sweet knitted things that people had made.  There were several gift bags on the tables and I was a little confused as to what that was all about until Tina Newton and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee started looking into one of them and exclaiming over the huge amounts of tiny socks nestled inside.  I guess that one knitter had gone sock wild and knit dozens upon dozens of socks for donation.  Kind of made me feel a little subpar with my one measly hat :(  But I guess every little bit helps!

My Little Hat for Eloise's Charity Baby Shower

We kind of thought that, since it was a baby shower and all, there should have been some cake or something.  But no cake.  We settled for milkshakes from Burgerville (yum!) and some knitting in Troy’s room instead.  I’d all but convinced Troy and Jess to take on the Westknits Mystery Shawl KAL 2011: Earth & Sky with me so we purchased the pattern and discussed color choices while sipping our cool frosty treats.  After a while Jess and I bid Troy goodnight and headed back to our room for some shuteye.  A thoroughly wonderful, totally exhausting day.  And one of the best ever in recent memory! And tomorrow would mean goodbye :(


A Churchmouse, A Hilltop and One Bad Woman

I have to apologize in advance for what will most certainly be a boring post.  The subject matter, though far from boring, will most likely not be elevated by my current lukewarm attitude towards writing and blogging.  Which is sad, really, because I had such a lovely day last Saturday with Troy on our own personal LYS mini-tour.  He deserves a much better account of our day shopping together down south and I think that’s why I have hesitated to blog about it yet, hoping that I would find some inspiration to write something deserving of the amount of fun I had on our trip.  But I will do my best and I’ll just tell you and Troy in advance that I had one of the best days ever hanging out with him last Saturday, whether or not you can tell from what I post.  Right up there with kissing alpacas ;)
Our day dawned bright and early.  Troy picked me up around 7:15 AM and while R. Darling was out working hard for his money, I was just getting prepared to spend some of mine.  After a quick stop for coffee crack and pastries at the local Starbucks, we hit the highway headed for the Bainbridge Island Ferry.  Our first stop was going to be Churchmouse Yarns & Teas on the island and I was supremely excited.  Troy had amped me up by showing me this blog post he’d found and ever since then, we’d both been trying to figure out the soonest we could possibly go visit.  On the ferry we chatted & knit, me on my mystery sweater for Warm Woolies, and Troy on his scarf from our Luxury Yarn Retreat back in the spring.  Before we knew it, we were there and looking for a parking spot.  The shop isn’t too far from the ferry dock, but finding parking takes a bit on a sunny Saturday.  But we scored a great spot right in front of Churchmouse and made our way inside. (Just a note – I think I’ve finally figured out the clickable photo thing, so all of today’s photos can be viewed larger except for the yarn pics.)

Troy entering the tour's first stop

Troy entering the tour's first stop

I was stunned at the visual beauty and sheer amount of yarn in this place.  Yet, with the huge variety of yarn present, you never got the feeling that it was crowded in there.  And it wasn’t as if this was a gigantic shop or anything, they just have a very keen sense of space and aesthetic.  We were sort of dazed at first, not knowing where to start but wanting to look at everything all at once.  So we split up.  I only took one measly photo because I always feel weird taking photos in yarn shops, as if someone will come sprinting from the back room and tackle me the instant I point my camera at something.  Why do I feel that shops are off limits to photography?  I wish I could get rid of that feeling.  But I did look around surreptitiously about four times to make sure someone wasn’t giving me the eye, and managed to sneakily shoot this photo so you could see just how lovely the displays were inside the shop.  (Psst – go to that blog post I mentioned up above for better photos.  He’s obviously not afraid to take them!)
Gorgeous Churchmouse displays

Gorgeous Churchmouse displays

I think we spent perhaps an hour petting yarn, looking at patterns, admiring the sensibility of the place.  There was a lovely gentleman there who was quite friendly and extra solicitous.  I am not used to that much personal attention in a yarn shop, but he was kind and really interesting to chat with.  I wondered if we were getting some special attention because he’d seen me snap my photo and thought perhaps we were important yarn folk of some kind.  Either way, it was a lovely shop and I’m so glad we made the trip over to see it!  Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed will be there teaching at some point towards the end of summer and I’m betting Troy will find his way back there since he enjoys Jared’s blog so much :)  So here’s what I bought at Churchmouse….
2 Skeins of Curious Creek Omo in "Birches in Norway"

2 Hanks of Curious Creek Omo in "Birches in Norway"

1 Hank of Malabrigo Sock in "Rayon Vert"

1 Hank of Malabrigo Sock in "Rayon Vert"

Lovely new yarn in hand, my stomach started to grumble.  We decided that rather than eat in Bainbridge Island, we’d try to catch the next ferry back to Seattle and find some place to eat closer to our next stop which would be Hilltop Yarns.  I think we missed the ferry we’d hoped to catch, but stayed in line for the next sailing so as to be sure we wouldn’t miss the next one.  Ferries can be hard to catch on sunny Saturdays in the PNW.
The New Hilltop Yarns

The New Hilltop Yarns

Back on the ferry, we knit on our projects again and then disembarked and drove around quite a bit (no, not lost!) looking for the way to Queen Anne.  Troy, not being your typical guy, finally stopped and asked for directions and it turns out we were quite close to the shop after all.  Spotting it on the corner of the block, we drove around until we found a parking spot about a block behind it and then made our way up to the shop.  It was much smaller than we’d expected from all the hype, but still nice inside.  To their credit, they were moving the week before we arrived and I’m sure things felt very up in the air for them.  We browsed a little and though I had hoped to find some Hazel Knits Rogues, I was disappointed.  Perhaps at Hilltop East in Bellevue I might have found what I was looking for.  But I did find one color that she hasn’t had in her Etsy shop until the big update on Friday June 26 (at which I scored 3 new colors: Strawberry Lemonade, Stick o Butter & Blacklight).
Meet Lipstick 1984

Meet "Lipstick 1984"

By the time we finished browsing Hilltop, we were starving.  I don’t know if any of you familiar with the Queen Anne area of Seattle have ever noticed this, but I swear that you could throw a rock, blindfolded, any direction in this area and hit an Asian eatery of some kind.  There are sushi places next to Thai places, next to Asian bistros, next to Japanese places, next to more sushi places.  It was crazy.  I could totally dig it.  We ended up choosing Thai food and boy am I glad that we stopped there.  Orrapin was perhaps the best Thai restaurant I’ve ever been to. Sorry On Rice, but I believe there’s a new standard for you to live up to.  They first served us with a delicious cabbage and broth soup with just a hint of spice, and then our entrees came quickly after.  I had ginger chicken and Troy had yellow curry.  Everything tasted so good I ate until I thought I might burst, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to take it home with me as I normally would.  But still, there was room for coffee afterwards of course!  We filled our caffeine tanks at Caffe Ladro and then began our way home.
Commenting on the exorbitant traffic which we assumed was just a normal Saturday in Seattle, we came across a charming old building on the side of the street.  As traffic had slowed to a standstill (which we later found out was due to the Solstice Fair in Fremont) we had the chance to look more closely at what turned out to be one of the best stops of our day.  I desperately wanted to stop but didn’t want to make Troy go if he wasn’t interested.  He said, I kinda want to go in.  And I answered with, It does look cool.  And then, We’re kind of passing it. Then he said, I think we should go in.  So we turned into Wallingford Center, parked and headed inside where we were greeted by one of the most glorious sights I have ever seen – CUPCAKES!
Simply Sweet Trophy Cupcakes

Simply Sweet Trophy Cupcakes

We decided we would most definitely have to come back for those because I had noticed on the shop directory that we were in the presence of yarn!  With a wistful backward glance at Trophy Cupcakes, we made a beeline for Bad Woman Yarn.  Which, incidentally, was the yarn shop I’d expected to see when I went on my trip to Manzanita, Oregon last summer, but which had been replaced by the T-spot Yarn shop instead.  I found out today that it’s the exact same shop, just moved north!
Bad Woman Yarn - Not So Bad At All!

Bad Woman Yarn - Not So Bad At All!

The shop owner asked, as we stepped into the shop, “Did you get a good picture?”  I said I hoped so, but it turns out I didn’t take too many great photos that day.  But you get the idea.  I felt guilty carrying my iced coffee in there, but he didn’t seem to mind, just whistled along to the bluegrass playing in the background.  This shop had quite a selection of yarns I’d never seen before and some I’d heard of but had never seen in person, much as Churchmouse had.  We amused ourselves walking through the extensive sale section and up and down the many aisles of cubbies filled with yarn. I could have easily spent much more than I did, but I was trying to be good that day (and there were still cupcakes to buy!) so I limited myself to 4 hanks of Malabrigo Chunky in Pollen and a Norah Gaughan booklet.  Both the owner and the gal in line behind me wanted to know what I was going to make.  I said I didn’t know – maybe a scarf, or a hat and a cowl, or a hat and some mitts (any of you Malabrigo Junkies have some good ideas for something more exciting?).  All I knew was, whatever I ended up making, it was going to be something that would cheer me up on a cloudy day!  Somehow I still ended up spending more than Troy in this shop though (How is that possible, Troy?).
Buttery Malabrigo in "Pollen"

Buttery Malabrigo in "Pollen"

After Bad Woman, we made our way to one of the coolest pharmacies I’ve ever been to called Pharmaca, and an all handmade shop called Amita.  I would have loved to buy so many things in the handmade shop but honestly, $100 for a skirt?  I really can’t afford that, no matter how cute it is and how much I’d love to support someone making things with their hands.  After much browsing, we finally went back upstairs to get in line for our cupcakes. Would you believe that there were now at least 15 people waiting in line for cupcakes?  At least there were still Red Velvet cupcakes on the available list.  That was all I really cared about. I have never tried one and everyone is always raving about the Red Velvet, so I figured here was my perfect chance.  Halfway through our wait, I felt my chances of tasting this cupcake wonder slip away as Red Velvet was removed from the list.  No!!  It can’t be!  But faith was restored moments later as a new batch of Red Velvet arrived.  I bought 2, one for me and one for R. Darling who I was hoping, wouldn’t want his so I could have two all for myself.  Turns out, he wanted his after all, but that’s o.k. :)  I’m afraid my picture of it turned out terrible, so no Red Velvet goodness for you, but you can see what it looks like on the Trophy Cupcakes site.  Mine is long gone.  It was good, but I don’t get the hype really.  Still, I can say I’ve had one and I might enjoy learning how to make them myself someday.
Well what do you know? I guess I had a lot more in my verbiage tank than I’d expected! Hope you enjoyed the small glimpse of our lovely mini-tour of Seattle area LYS’s. And many special thanks to Troy for such a lovely day last Saturday! I had a truly wonderful time with you :)