Texas Knitting in Portland

If you’re a knitter in a warm climate, like me, you always look forward to visiting someplace that’s colder. Not only does it mean you’ll get a break from the heat, but more importantly it means there will be lots of new yarn shops to visit. Such was the case for me these past two weeks while visiting Portland, OR, to see my five months pregnant daughter and her husband.

Mt Hood
Mt Hood! Always a great sight just before we land.

Though I only got to visit one yarn shop this time around, it was one I’ve had on my radar for a long time: Happy Knits. Such a great shop! I bought three different types of yarn in lovely colors–but it was hard to stop at only three. I can’t wait to start knitting something from those yarns very soon.

Lovely colors of Cascade Yarns from Happy Knits.
Lovely colors of Cascade Yarns from Happy Knits.

Portland is known for its soggy, cold autumns, but I must have brought my Texas skies with me because it only rained one day and sleeted another. Most days were cloudless but cold, and I kept hearing from everyone there, “It isn’t usually like this here this time of year.” I didn’t expect it to get as cold as it did–but I think the entire country was unprepared for that cold blast of early winter last week.

Latourell Falls
Three ninjas at Latourell Falls in the Columbia River Gorge.

I talked my daughter into starting a cocoon for the future baby, and then I taught my son’s girlfriend how to knit (this has been a secret desire of mine for years). After loading up on #13 needles and thick yarn, and teaching her the knit (right) stitch to practice on, she got to work and promptly knitted up a lovely, chunky garter stitch scarf for herself. She’s hooked now (though I’m afraid I’ve lost a customer for life).

Nicole's first knitted scarf!
Nicole’s first knitted scarf!

We also had to make an emergency trip for circular needles for my daughter, and inadvertently discovered a local store the size of Alaska: Fabric Depot. Though mostly geared towards seamstresses, with a huge space displaying row after row of beautiful fabrics, they had a good-sized section of yarns, needles, and books. Best of all, the cashier told us it’s a family-owned business and has been there for years. I haven’t sewn in a long time, but Fabric Depot made me want to start again.

Seastacks at Rockaway Beach on the Oregon coast.
Seastacks at Rockaway Beach on the Oregon coast.

It was a whirlwind two weeks. With trips to the Columbia River Gorge, Rockaway and Canon beaches on the coast, a visit to the Tillamook Cheese Factory, the Portland Farmer’s Market downtown, and a Capital Cities concert (their song Safe and Sound became my personal anthem last year when I had ovarian cancer), I stayed busy. I did manage to knit three warm, wool scarves during the trip, so look for them soon in the shop.

Raspberry and Wine Portland Scarves
Raspberry and Wine Portland Scarves

My last few nights in Portland found Dominique, Nicole, and I curled up on the couch, knitting and talking about life and all the things women talk about when they’re alone. It was a lovely reminder of how making things by hand, and passing on the ancient craft of knitting, can bring us even closer together.

safe and sound tshirt
Yes, I am!

***** These photos were all taken with my phone, so please excuse the poor quality!

Snow Knitting

I feel like a true knitter. There’s snow on the ground and I’m knitting. I had to go to New Mexico to find this snow, but I have become legit because of it.

I’ve been knitting for over thirty years. I’ve knit hundreds of things, and even make money selling my pieces. And yet, it takes snow falling from the sky for me to feel legit, kind of like a white Christmas adding authenticity to the holiday.

Snow on pine trees
The view outside my window.

Most of my knitting has been done in Texas, though I learned to knit when I lived in Switzerland. My children were babies, and knitting was something I did to keep them warm. There was a lot of snow knitting in those days.

Until the past few years, and since returning to Texas twenty-odd years ago, knitting was mostly relegated to our short winters. One hundred degree temps and day after day of blazing sunshine are not conducive to knitting with wool. Even worse, the kids slowly became old enough to realize that mom’s bulky hand knits were neither practical nor cool enough to wear around their friends.

But now the kids are grown and they love the things I knit for them. They’ve brought two additional adults into the family to knit for these past few years, and maybe one day there will be babies to keep warm once again.

Everything comes full circle.

The kids

What is it about knitting on a snowy day that adds authenticity to the activity? Is it the same as when I felt I wasn’t a “real” runner until I ran a marathon? Just like running on an overcast day with cool temps and no humidity, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing on a rare snowy day than knitting. For whatever the reason, it makes me feel real.

Knitting. Running. Family. My top three in a nutshell.

With my daughter, Dominique while cross-country skiing–and, yes, I’m wearing one of my scarves!

Quite simply, this is what it’s all about.¬†Surrounded by my family, I knit in front of an open fire. It crackles and spits, and my knitting grows. Outside my window, the snow comes down in a steady rain of beautiful white flakes.

It’s definitely a day meant for knitting.