Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Yarn Shops in Portland, Oregon
I had a wonderful time in Portland last week - for business and for yarn. The photos above were taken from the top of the tram at the university. It's a free ride down and you get great views of the skyline. But now onto the important part - YARN!
There are a number of yarn shops in Portland but (as usual) I was limited to which ones I could see as I was sans car. I took the free shuttle downtown to Powell's bookstore as it was midpoint between two stores.
My first stop was The Knit Knot Studio.
The Knit Knot Studio
1238 NW Gilsan
Portland, OR 97209
This was a tiny, little yarn shop. I'd say it the store space was no bigger than my bedroom, but with higher ceilings. It was well lighted, had nice displays and had a decent selection of yarns given its size. As I walked around, I found two yarns I really liked - one was some kind of cashmere blend and was uber expensive while another beautiful hank (also very expensive) was from Blue Heron Yarns in Easton, Maryland. Even if I loved it enough for the price, I refuse to buy yarn from my home state when I'm all the way out in Portland.
I kept searching around the store for something from the Northwest, or at least the West coast. I was going to ask the store owner if there was anything specific to Portland but she was busy with an enthusiastic customer. I listened in to their conversation (not that I could avoid it since the store is that small). The owner was very nice as she explained some kind of yarn to the customer (she also said hello when I walked in) but when talk turned to payment, my ears perked up. It seems she doesn't take any credit cards that give the customer points or miles or have some kind of rewards/points associated with purchases. The credit card companies charge a higher percentage for those cards so she doesn't accept them. This is the first time I've ever heard of a retailer not accepting such cards. I was shocked. I understand that the economy is shaky and owning your own business requires you to find cost-cuts where you can, but this was ridiculous. If times are tough, you should either lower your prices to increase the volume of sales, move to a cheaper lease/rent location, or work on marketing to increase sales. Limiting your customer's choice of payment? Not a good idea to inconvenience your customers. The only credit card I use has reward points so when I heard her say she wouldn't accept it, I left. I had found nothing in the store that was worth the price let alone the hassle of not being able to use my credit card. So in summary - it was an okay store but I can't honestly recommend you stop by there if you're visiting Portland.
I was slightly disheartened after my first stop. It's rare to find a yarn store that disappoints. Though it was now 3:00 pm PST, it was 6:00 pm EST and I was starving. I stopped by one of Portland's many microbreweries, Deschutes. Sadly, another disappointment. Of the 6 beers I sampled, only 2 were good. My burger was extra well done instead of medium and the heaping pile of fries was unappetizing.
I left the pub and headed toward the second yarn store on my list. I must say that I was not expecting much given the first two stops that left me unfulfilled. Plus it was quite chilly and I was the genius who didn't bring a jacket as it had been 80 degrees in DC the day before. Cold and disappointed, I walked to KnitPurl.
My third stop was a charm.
1101 SW Alder
Portland, Oregon 97205
866 656-KNIT (Toll Free)
What a wonderful store! Not too big, not too small, wonderful layout and an amazing selection. This next photo, which they so graciously allowed me to take, is for the Queen.
Have you ever seen such a selection of Koigu in your life? They seemed to have every color! Click on the photo and see the larger version. The selection made me drool. I wanted to buy it all though I had no idea what I would use it for. I also found some beautiful silk blend yarn but it was expensive and from a New York state producer. Luckily I had come to the source of some fabulous sock yarn from Shi Bui Knits. Here's my purchase which came in this cute little bag:
I got one skein in Earth (left) and one skein in Tweed (right). They were about $10 per skein and should make a pair of socks per skein. I'm hoping this yarn will be the motivator for me to get out the DPNs and learn to make a pair of socks, regardless of the simplicity of the pattern.
Needless to say, I highly recommend a stop at KnitPurl when you're in Portland. And if you're looking at the Shi Bui Knits sock yarn online or at your LYS, it's worth buying.
After the great experience at KnitPurl, I went back to Powell's bookstore to wait for the shuttle. I popped into the gigantic store which stretches more than a city block. I perused the craft book section but didn't find anything I needed. I also checked for a new release, Dark Banquet: Blood and the Curious Lives of Blood-Feeding Creatures by Bill Schutt. Dr. Schutt was one of my favorite professors in college and since I loved his classes so much, I'm anticipating his book to be just as entertaining and informative. Sadly, I didn't find it at Powell's (but I did order my copy from Amazon when I got home). And yes, this is a shameless plug for his book. But I really do think it will be a great read! :)
I'm trying to convince Sean that we should use our frequent flyer miles to make a trip out to Portland. Not only are there more yarn stores to visit, but there are also numerous vineyards around the Portland area that I'd like to visit. I also think he'd enjoy the vibe of the city and the other things to see and do - just so you know the suggestion isn't a completely selfish one.
I will leave you with one of my favorite photos from my trip. This has to be one of the funniest street signs I've ever encountered. Enjoy!