Looking back: 2013 souvenir yarns

The ‘turnover’ between one year and the next generally prompts both reviews of the past and resolutions for the future, and the vehicle for today’s reflection is souvenir yarn (and fiber).  I am fortunate to be able to do some traveling, usually for business of one kind or another, and always try to build in some fun time as well, even if it’s only dropping in on a local yarn shop.

2013 was a bonus year, in which I hit both the east coast(ish) and the west coast, plus a drive across part of the great Midwest!

The historic USS Constellation

In Baltimore, besides falling hard for the USS Constellation, touring the submarine and Coast Guard ship in the Inner Harbor and Fort McHenry, I headed over to Lovelyarns in the Hampdens neighborhood.  This is truly a lovely yarn shop.  The staff was friendly, the stock was varied and included locally dyed yarns, and the window decorations were colorful and inventive!  I was there just a few days before the Yarn Market’s spring event in Baltimore, and I knew that the bus tour of area yarn shops included this one… so I was happy to have my chance at the yarn before the crowd descended like a flock of vultures to snap up the choicest skeins.  I ended up with some gorgeous deep green semisolid fingering weight yarn dyed by Neighborhood Fiber Co. and a cone of silvery boucle yarn from the sale bin that I thought might work in my Dreambird shawl.

As it turned out, the boucle was TOO silvery, and would have been overpowering in that project, so I took it with me on my next yarn shop visit to see about donating it for charity knitting.  I checked online, looked at city and bus line maps, and headed out to A Good Yarn in the Fells Point district.  Much to my dismay, I found out on arrival that the shop had closed down!  Well, closed for business, anyway.  When I pushed open the door, I was greeted by a lovely and apologetic lady who explained the situation.  She graciously accepted the boucle, and let me warm up a bit.  She suggested that I might take the water taxi back to a spot near my hotel, and since there was a brisk wind, gave me a hand-knit hat to keep me warmer on the water!  I was disappointed again when no water taxi showed up (it wasn’t exactly high tourist season), but I did see some interesting historic buildings.  And I still have her hat to warm my head AND my heart!

Lesson learned: No matter how recent the information looks in online directories and maps, check for a current website and/or call before heading out to a shop in an unfamiliar place!

Business of another kind took me and my husband on a cross-country drive from Kansas to Bloomington, Illinois.  I didn’t have the opportunity to stop at any yarn shops there, as we were either traveling or busy working during open hours.

Layers of silk 'hankies' (mawata)

Layers of silk ‘hankies’ (aka mawata)

On our way home, we stopped for a day in Fort Madison, Iowa.  My husband is a fountain pen user and collector, and since Fort Madison was home to the Shaeffer Pen Company for many years, we thought we’d break the trip and look around.  There is a small but fascinating Shaeffer Pen Museum in the historic downtown, and just down the block was Pendemonium, a unique pen collector’s shop.

After browsing, visiting, and a little buying, we went to lunch at the Ivy Bake Shoppe, a charming cafe and bakery.  On my way to the restroom, I glanced down the hallway and saw – gasp – yarn!!  I quickly ducked in to Artisans Next Door to investigate, and found a shop filled with local crafts, including some yarn and dyed silk hankies.  I came away with a small package of the silk, feeling that the trip was now complete.

Some of the silk, ready to spin

Some of the silk, ready to spin, sitting atop the hankies

One of these days, I’ll write about spinning and knitting with these silk hankies.


Powell's Books - the knitting section!

Powell’s Books – and this is just the knitting section!

Portland, Oregon may just be the yarn shop capital of the United States!  During our stay in Portland itself, I managed to make it to three yarn shops and one fabulous bookstore, Powell’s City of Books.  “City” is right – if you get to visit, be sure to pick up a map so you can find your way around!

I visited Dublin Bay and Pearl Fiber Arts on one evening, then Knit Purl on another foray across the river.  Time and space doesn’t allow me to write much about these here, but suffice it to say that I met some lovely people, petted some gorgeous yarns, and came away with two skeins of sock yarn, a set of Karbonz double pointed needles (to replace some sadly lost at a conference), and a few other little goodies.


Obviously snapped on the run!

Obviously snapped on the run!



By the end of the year, I had a completed pair of souvenir “Oregon Coast Rainbow” socks, from one of those skeins, inspired by this picture taken from the road.


Oregon Coast Rainbow socks

Oregon Coast Rainbow socks







The other Portland yarn, Madeline Tosh Merino Light, is destined to be a pair of gloves… maybe for next winter.

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One Response to Looking back: 2013 souvenir yarns

  1. Mary says:

    I love reading your blog. Would you be able to help with a spinning problem? I am brand new to spinning. Having trouble with the wool being taken up onto the bobbin. It spins and spins and twists but doesn’t move onto the bobbin. Any suggestions? I have looked at videos on line and can’t see what I am doing different. I have an old Country Craftsman wheel and am using Merlino wool. Thanks, Mary

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