My Mom and I were lucky enough to spend four days in what was, for a short time at least, the City of Knitters; Portland during Sock Summit. Please join us for a blog trip, one day at a time, since it was so jam-packed.

Knitters on a Plane

The fun began before we even reached Portland, when Mom noticed a woman in our same row knitting an argyle sock; it turned out to be none other than Sock Summit teacher Lorilee Beltman (far right). That's me with the pink hair, and behind me are Amber and Jumi. The knitter next to me, unfortunately, I didn't get her name, but I do know that she traveled all the way from West Virginia.

Because of the two-hour time difference, we arrived at lunchtime, so had the rest of the day to explore Portland.

Portland's public transportation is legend; one of the guidebooks my mom read recommended not even trying to drive in Portland and relying on the streetcars, rail and buses instead. The Convention Center was in side a generous Free Fare Zone that covered all of downtown as well, so the only time we had to purchase tickets was riding to the airport and back.

My city of Madison has talked about wanting a light rail for literally 25 years, so I was very excited to see one in person:

We toook this one downtown, and as I watched the bridges and many flat-topped buildings go by, it struck me how much oil and gas Portland must be saving compared to, say Milwaukee, a city of similar population where most people rely on cars. It inspired me to see how a group of people making a good decision can have a positive ripple effect on the environment.

Our destination? The famed Portland yarn store Knit/Purl, in the Pearl District, one of Portland's 15 yarn stores. Yes, 15, or even more!

As promised, the store boasted a well-edited collection of high-end yarns, thoughtfully organized by fiber weight. Nobody in Madison has Habu, so I loved feeling the steel-fibered yet ethereal sample garments; they carried a full line of Shibui, plenty of Malabrigo, Tactile Fiber Arts, Abstract Fiber, Alpha-B, and colors of Madelinetosh I'd never seen before.

Nearby, we browsed the famed Powell's City of Books, a whole city block and three floors of new and used volumes and gifts in a warren of different-colored rooms.  Here's my Mom, lifelong book-lover, headed to Powell's.

At first, the exterior lacked the dignity we hoped to see in the world's largest independent bookstore; after we left and walked around the other way, we saw the new Powell's entrance:

That's more like it!

My mom reported that they had every kind of book and gift; since I never got out of the knitting section, we'll take her word for it. The pre-Summit party was going already in the crafting aisle, with knitters craning their necks and leafing through Cookie A's Knit.Sock.Love, Harmony Stitch guides, Rowan collections, Clara Parkes' books, Mochimochi, and even rare Alice Starmores. The Powell's folks had labeled all the available books by Sock Summit teachers, most of which were gone even by Wednesday night.

Tomorrow: the official Sock Summit kickoff!

August 02, 2011 by Knitcircus

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