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Boulevard of Broken Yarn Diets

April 21, 2016

As I mentioned in my last post, I am safely back in the Midwest. My journey to the PNW was amazing and aside from the massive amounts of pollen (it was literally coating cars) and the coyote sighting on my last day. One thing I loved (and hated due to the aforementioned pollen) was the sheer amount of trees.


One day was carved out for a trip to Portland. First and foremost, mad props to my bestie who took on the challenge of navigating the streets of that city. Honestly what is up with the traffic signals there? We saw so many ‘no left turn’ signs, that were on one way streets (going left.) I am not positive, but maybe it is a ploy by the Portlanders to mess with the tourists? The trip turned out to be a tad underwhelming, but it might have had more to do with the heat and the lack of airconditioning than anything else.


The goals for our trip to Portland were modest by most standards.

  1. Visit Powell’s Bookstore
  2. Go to Voodoo Donuts
  3. Find a yarn shop
  4. Survive

Lucky for us we met those goals with relative ease. The whole surviving bit got a little hairy at times, but we managed.


Our first goal was Powell’s. Now I was a major bibliophile in my youth, I am still, but my discretionary income has dwindled. I love the monthly library sale, but have officially ran out of room. Reading was my favorite pass time and yes I have the school activities to prove it. Unfortunately my hometown consisted of a religious bookstore, a mall bookstore and a random few stores that carried books throughout the years. We finally got a Barnes and Noble right around the time I entered high school (and no, I am not that old.) Powell’s held a myth like quality for me, it didn’t help that my in-laws shared their experiences and opinions of the place with me.


When my friend and I made the trek across the sun drenched sidewalk to the crowded entrance I may have been more prepared for a Willy Wonka type experience than most. The reality? Well, to be fair having built something up for so long it was never going to live up to my imagination. I opened the door and was instantly greeted by a wave of heat and body sweat that broke whatever spell I had put in place. Don’t get me wrong the place is pretty neat, aside from five million people being in there. (Only a slight exaggeration.) It does contain a lot of books, which would be great if it was organized better. Sure they split things into categories, but I found the place more confusing than it needed to be. Also I wasn’t impressed with the selection. While there were a lot of used books for sale (and a line of people looking to sell that doubled back on itself twice,) the whole place just made me think of a larger Barnes and Noble/Half-Priced Books combo. I can’t say what I honestly thought the place would be like, but I do know that it was not even close. None the less I found a few things to buy, because come on it’s a book store.


Our next stop was the famous Voodoo Doughnuts. Now this I went into with tempered expectations, although honestly how can you screw up a doughnut? Driving by revealed a line that made me seriously question my desire for the fried pastry. Luckily my buddy was aware of the lesser known second location and we headed over. The line was still long, but it was mostly in the shade. Aside from a gaggle of very rude young teens and an oblivious parental figure (I can’t help but wonder why they all needed to accompany her to the shop when it was obvious she had a list, but what do I know?) we had a relatively hassle free experience.

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 Okay, one voice of complaint here- if you are going to a very busy, very popular location would you not do a minimal amount of research (such as pulling it up on google) which should lead you to understand it is a cash only business? If for some reason you didn’t need to look it up, how in the hell do you miss the fifteen signs that are around the shop (and line) that tell you that they only accept cash? Seriously how does a person wait fifteen minutes in line and still be surprised when they get to the front and find out it’s cash? (Best part, this was after they selected their donuts- also lucky for them they have an ATM on site.) End of rant, thanks for listening.

We got a variety of doughnuts including the namesake and headed out to our last destination, the yarn store.


I knew that this trip to Portland was a rarer experience and as such I decided that it would be worth it to break the cold sheeping/yarn diet I had been on since the beginning of the year. Finding a shop to visit wasn’t easy (there are a ridiculous amount of stores in the Portland area) but I settled on a unique set up known as Yarnia.


Yarnia has been in business for 8+ years now and features, a first for me, cone wound yarn. Now I hear you saying that cone wound yarn isn’t that new, nor is it terribly exciting. I hear you. But, the thing about Yarnia is that it is not just cone wound yarn, it features custom blend cone wound yarn. What does that mean? Well consider it like those custom beer sets you can make at the grocery store, but better-because it’s yarn.


When you enter the store you are greeted with a large wall of cone wound singles. (I mean a large wall.) Your task is to create your own yarn. You pick the color(s) and the fiber(s) and go to the lady in charge, you mention what you want in terms of yardage and she calculates it up and gives you the price. She then takes your singles to a vintage looking machine, with a few twists, turns and a flick of a switch your singles suddenly begin wrapping around your very own cone.


The prices were amazing and although I managed to get out of there with only a little dent in my wallet the variety and options could easily be some knitter’s downfall. So while I may have broken my yarn diet, I did it in  a pretty cool way.


Our day trip to Portland concluded with a ride back and another beautiful view. While the day may have gone differently than I had expected, it still made for an exciting and weird day.

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