This past Sunday, my friend Harriet and I spent the entire day visiting yarn stores in Portland. It was great to be out as two adults with no children in tow and no husbands shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot by the door. We could fondle the yarn as long as we wanted, pore over pattern books, and generally take our own sweet time without any guilt. Here's where we went:
The Naked Sheep Knit Shop
This was our first stop of the day, and since it was fairly early for a Sunday, we were pleasantly surprised to find several people, including one apparently knowledgeable gentleman, knitting in comfy chairs at the front of the shop. It was a small store, but it held a lot and was very bright inside. The selection was quite good, with a large variety of yarns I'd never seen before, all arranged neatly in bins and a few baskets. The prices were reasonable and they had several binders of patterns. I got a sock pattern and some Fixation yarn, which is 98.3% cotton and 1.7% elastic. It should make for some very stretchy and comfortable socks.
Mabel's Cafe and Knittery.
Our second stop was a funky, homey sort of shop. Although advertised as a cafe as well as yarn shop, we were a bit disappointed to find that Mabel's only offered coffee and a limited danish selection. Of the stores we visited, this one had the smallest selection of yarn, but they still had some interesting varieties. I got a vibrant skein of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn in Lorikeet which I think will be enough to make a pair of socks for myself as well as both Emma and Kate. I also got two MinnowKnits patterns, one to make a dress for Kate and one for a sweet t-shirt for both girls.
The Yarn Garden was a revelation. It was a sprawling store stuffed with yarn in room after room. We were both overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of yarn and felt a little giddy with the beauty of it all. Like Mabel's, the Yarn Garden offers drinks (coffee, tea, italian soda) and baked goods (cupcakes, cookies, bagels, crumpets), though their selection was considerably larger. We had a brief snack to fortify ourselves before venturing into the extensive shelves of yarn. If you're looking for a particular yarn in the Portland area, Yarn Garden is almost sure to have it. I found some Noro Lily, a 70% cotton, 30% silk blend that I'd been looking for and bought a skein to test swatch for a shawl. Yarn Garden also had an entire room devoted to books, patterns, needles, and other tools. With a large table in the center of the room, it's easy to sit down and look through patterns for hours here.