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!

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It’s Been Awhile

I’ve been busy. Very busy. So busy I pretty much stopped writing for six months.

But I never stopped knitting.

Last year was an incredible year. I got married, was in the best shape of my life, had just come back from a vacation in Utah (one of my top three places on earth) with my son and his girlfriend, and had enough finished knitted items to toy seriously with the idea of starting my own little business.

And then at the end of May I went to the ER. And quickly discovered I had cancer. Ovarian cancer.

I won’t go into detail about that year. I wrote extensively about the experience on my other blog, Mind Margins. After surgery and chemo, I was declared cancer-free by December 2013.

teal-ribbon1

It was an incredible experience. I am so lucky to have caught it early and to have survived. Two friends I made during that time, and the majority of women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer last year (all years, in fact), weren’t so lucky.

Looking back at this past year post-cancer, I suppose I went through a modified version of the stages of grief. During treatment I was nothing but positive. I never, ever thought I wouldn’t survive. Post-chemo, however, was another story. Looking back on what I had gone through, and survived, I initially felt scared. I thought a lot about dying. That turned to anger. Then sadness. Then just plain depression. It didn’t last long, but these past few months I’ve needed a break from all things cancer.

And every time I sat down to write, my fingers wanted to write about having cancer. My brain didn’t.

So I did everything but write–which means I got a lot of knitting done. I started running again. I spent a lot of time just sitting and thinking about what had happened and the things I learned from it. I put things in perspective and reorganized my life.

I grew my hair back.

And I knit. I knit a lot, sometimes for hours and hours. The pieces I’ll be listing soon were all knit during this post-cancer time of my life. It’s a time that’s been filled with family and love, appreciation for life, and learning to remake myself. I hope you enjoy my pieces as much as I enjoyed creating them.

– Angela