Friday, October 02, 2009

We Now Pause for Location Identification

From where I'm sitting I can see a skyline, and the skyline includes the Sears Tower,* and I can hear the mayor's staff weeping softly,** so this must be Chicago. Which means I must have come back from somewhere and paused on the way to somewhere else. Which means I must stop dithering and write an entry before it's time to pack the suitcase again.

Travel Snapshots

Harry caught you up on the middle portion of the tour of Washington State (thanks, Harry) and here's the finale: Paradise Fibers in Spokane.

Spokane and Seattle are in the same state, but you wouldn't know it to look at them. To get from one to the other takes about four hours by car. And if you begin in Seattle, as I did, it's shocking to pass the through vibrantly green, rain-soaked mountains and find this waiting for you on the other side.

Road to Spokane

And I thought the two halves of my brain were a study in contrasts.

Paradise Fibers was ready for me.

Paradise Fibers

I, on the other hand, wasn't quite ready for Paradise Fibers. Sure, they told me it would be...different. But I did not listen. And I was shocked.

In case you haven't been, here are some distinguishing characteristics that make the place Not Quite Your Usual LYS:
  • Shares street frontage in a warehouse building with a porn shop;
  • Sort of looks from the outside like a used auto parts dealership;
  • Has one (1) female employee, the rest (including the owner) being (cute) (straight) males;
  • Has enough square footage for the spinning wheels and looms to be in separate rooms;
  • Has a sound studio and a race car garage tucked into odd corners;
  • Served chicken kebabs to the students in both of my classes;
  • Combines excellent, friendly service and an encyclopedic selection with a cool factor that is off the charts.
Travis and Sara, who run the joint, are a trip.

Paradise Fibers

After teaching two full-to-the-brim sessions of my lace class to exuberant and often far-traveled students (including one from New Mexico and a whole pack from Idaho), I was plumb tuckered out. But these two are so engaging–every bit as cool as the shop they run–that I had to sit and up and chat with them for a while before drifting off to sleep in my beautiful room at the fabulous Montvale Hotel, which I am told once functioned as a whorehouse. Kids, it don't get no better than that.

Yup. I used the words "cool" and "fabulous" to describe a trip to Spokane. If you haven't been there, go see for yourself.

And I'm just back from another trip to the Pacific Northwest–to Knit-Purl, in Portland. (Jet lag now! Ask me how!) But the write-up is giving me a headache because I've been threatened by the locals with grievous bodily harm if I tell you how every good thing you've heard about Portland is true, even the things you would swear couldn't possibly be true. So I have to find some way of telling you what I did in Portland and showing you photos, and not making you want to drop everything and hire a moving truck.

Eastward, Ho!

In the meantime, here's a heads-up on another trip coming soon: Delaware. I'm going to be doing two events on October 10 at Stitches With Style in Newark. There will be a brunch in the morning at 9 am, followed by the "Introduction to Lace" class at 11:30 am. Both require that you please sign up, which you can do by calling (302) 453-8130. So do come, won't you?

Widdle Biddy Kiddie Hat Korner

Remember when I translated the antique baby hood pattern for Knitty and used a grumpy five-day-old model for the photographs, and a contingent from the Society for Mandatory Infantile Lighthearted Expressions (SMILE) marched on Chicago and pelted my front door with Cabbage Patch Dolls and Precious Moments figurines?

Well, the baby has grown, as I am told they do. Aside from the occasional bout of melancholia, she seems admirably even-tempered and free of permanent scarring from the ordeal.

Smile Baby

I promised her parents a baby hat*** as compensation for her services. The hat is complete and awaiting delivery. Knitting it was a snap. Choosing a pattern was not. I waffled like a Belgian with a full jug of batter until I saw the Wayna Picchu Earflap Hat from bluegirl knits. And then I knew I'd found it.

Wayna Picchu

Another compulsive piece of knitting, much like the Oliver sock. I think I worked it in three hours. Had me from the get-go, it did. And there's a grown-up version that may wind up on my head this winter.

The yarn? More of that Nordique from Véronik Avery, in oatmeal and chalk blue. (Shut up. I can stop knitting with Veronik's yarn any time I want to. I just don't want to.)

Wayna Picchu

I don't know why, but I'm in love with the tone-on-tone thing lately. I keep swatching with colorways that are so subtle in their variations they're almost, but not quite, monochrome. I have no idea where I'm going with it, of course–but since when has that ever stopped me?
*Yes, they changed the name. No, I don't care.
**You just know that when he gets back from Copenhagen, the beatings will begin. Good luck, Rio.
***We in the word biz call this "irony."


Carrie said...

That baby is just getting cuter and cuter! And I Love her new hat.

Harriet said...

I'm with you - it'll always be the Sears Tower to me!

How sweet is that baby and that hat is gorgeous. Can't wait to see the version for you.

kmkat said...

They changed the name of the Sears Tower? WTF? You probably didn't know this, but they changed the name of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome to the Mall of America park. Sheesh.

Nice hat, though ;-)

Victoria said...

Love that hat, totally adorable. I like the really subtle, almost-not-there contrast. The baby's pretty cute too.

Diane said...

It's not the Sears tower?!?! Clearly, someone needs to change the name back from whatever it is.

Nice hat, neat and not pastel (light colored, yes, but definitely not the typical baby colors).

Sandy said...

Yes, as an ex Chicagoan and a now Portland-ite area person...People! Listen up! It rains all the time here! You'd hate it! Franklin knows not of what he speaks when it comes to Portland! Stay where you are people! There's nothing to see here!

(There. That should work.)

livnletlrn said...

heh heh...just this afternoon, I was telling my son that I needed a model for the baby hat I just finished, before mailing it off to my friend and her new daughter. He said I should "borrow a baby." I then told him about the baby you "borrowed" a while back and the resulting photos. My description, of course, couldn't do it justice, so I was planning to pull up the pics to show my son and here's an updated -- happier -- pic of the same baby!

Meanwhile, I found a cooperative model for the hat I made. If you're so inclined, see today's blog post at .

anne marie in philly said...


I will be in NY state that weekend, so I will miss you, my dear friend.

but I hope that others in the PA/NJ/DE area will welcome you with open arms and tastykakes.

Anonymous said...

I think it's funny that an Air Force brat like you never saw the Northwest. My bf was based in Spokane's Fairchild AFB all his four years (before we met). Never been there myself, but I do know that eastern Wash is desert, just like eastern Oregon and all of Nevada.
But I never heard that anything about Spokane was cool! Now I'll know where to head if ever I get there. Great news, thanks for sharing!
-- Gretchen

sarah / knot another hat said...

Way to go Franklin - still a little bummed that you came out west and didn't come visit Nichole and I (bluegirl and knotanotherhat), but there's always next time! Love the Wayna Picchu!

bkat said...

Too bad you didn't continue on east to north Idaho. Coeur d'Alene, less than 1 hour east of Spokane has a too die for lake, mountains, green, and even a floating green on its prestigious resort golf course, to say nothing of the fabulous LYS, CdA Yarn & Fiber. Shucks, we have four major spinning associations in the immediate area. Hurry back to our neck of the Pacific-Northwest woods!

Joan said...

I just made my first visit to Stitches in Style from PA to DE. As soon as I walked in, my eyes popped out on stalks. You will really enjoy this place. It's gorgeous and has everything not to mention the wonderful people who work there. I'm not sure if I can make it so soon after a four day vacation but I might try.

Geek Knitter said...

I hear they get big like that if ya feeds 'em regular. Amazing.

Crossing the Cascade Range really is like going to another country, isn't it?

Patricia said...

Paradise Fibers is a trip- made my first visit there in July.The porn shop is the landmark. That's how I knew I had arrived. The folks there are very kind, and did not nudge me out even though I lost track of time and stayed a bit past closing.

I live in E WA, 70 miles south of Spokane. Plenty of rain on this side of the state- not deserty at all. I like the wide open spaces better than the closed-in forests!

Please come back- I couldn't make it to Spokane this time!

Yvonne said...

I'm so glad you finally made it out to the Pacific Northwest, Franklin! Seriously wish I could have been in your class, but had sheeple responsibilities at home. By any chance, did you get to OFFF?

Joyce said...

I, too, am suffering with tone on tone obsession. All of the stripy sock yarn has move to the back of the yarn closet. Must be the season.

Andrea said...


Alwen said...

I thought the baby was perfect the first time.

I just found some of the oldest surviving knitting and the first tatting I ever did. Both in DMC variegated pastels.

What am I knitting? Variegated laceweight.

I can quit anytime I want to.

Shannon said...

Oregon is a beautiful state. I'm a Californian and I love to visit there. Oregonians aren't very nice to Californians, but they love taking our money.

EricaLynn said...

I would just like to put it out there that before Uncle Sam sent me to Washington DC, that was my local yarn shop. I miss them...

Gail said...

Thank you for the baby update, she's beautiful!
So is the hat. This tone-on-tone thing could be contagious.
It was good to hear from you!

Lynn said...

On the muted-variegateds? Oh yeah. And I am a clown-barf kind of woman. But last night at Whirled Fibers (Duncanville, TX, and no I don't own stock in the shop) I fell in love with Elsebeth Lavold's Hempathy in #23 Fauve. For a doll sweater. Two of my children have dragged me kicking and screaming into the world of Asian Ball Jointed Dolls, and I have a redhead on layaway who wants a sweater out of that yarn, to go with the necktie skirt I am making her.

When the knitter is ready, the yarn appears???

Jess said...

Funny to read the comments... people fighting over what's the COOLEST part of the PNW. I personally have lived all over WA, and ID so I think they're both cool. :)

Paradise Fibers rules. As do Sara and Travis! I'm pretty sure no other yarn shop can boast such a location. I hope you will come back! I was scheduled to come but was in the end unable to make it to your class. Good to hear you had such a fun experience... hopefully it woos you back!

Sahar said...

On the subject of baby hats...your niece is in need of a new one for fall. The lion hat should still be in operation, but a young lady of her standing needs options. And mommy is up to her eyeballs in sequins and beads, so she's wondering if Uncle Franklin can help out...

Tiggywinkle Knits said...

You have no idea how bummed out I was to not go to OFFF this year; especially when I see pics of my knit sibs with you in the PDX Knit Bloggers tent! When you blog about it (and you will, won't you?), just be sure to tell them it was the only day this year that the sun came out and it didn't rain. Of course, you probably want to leave out the part about Delores and the llamas in the back of the barn . . . .

Cindy said...

So glad to have a brief chance to meet you at OFFF and snap a few pics. Too bad Dolores was preoccupied somewhere down by the barns. :)

What will really keep people from packing the moving van right now is the unemployment. If you don't already have a job in Portland, you will be hard-pressed to find one -- unless you can make ends meet by flipping burgers or delivering papers or something.

Oh, and I moved here from California in '89 and have always found folks to be very welcoming. Those who move here and gripe about the weather, the slower pace, or don't learn to pronounce street/landmark/city names correctly, though, can easily run into lots of disapproving looks.

Hope you get a chance to visit us again sometime. If I hadn't been working in a competing LYS on Monday night, I would have been at Knit-Purl to get pics of you admiring Rachel's shawl. :)

Keep Portland Weird!

Judy in Indiana said...

I am so happy to see updayes from you again. Thanks for sharing, as usual. As for Spokane, I never knew. seattle is lovely. I wrongly thought the rest of the state looked the same.

Linda said...

You've spurred me to read books by Zimmerman; appreciate the history of pattern development; try new methods in knitting and now, apart from flaunting the travelogue (sniff), you point me to...a hat trove. Sir, I am poorhouse-bound for trying to imitate you, palely.

Ali P said...

Chalk Blue and Peony are two of my most favourite of Veronik's colours. My 3rd is Aurora. They just bliss me out... weird too because I am not much for pastels but I do love me some neutrality so that must be it.
Will we Montreal travelers be seeing you at Rhinebeck this year?

mildawg said...

The photos are fabulous. Thank you for telling us about your trip.

tinebeest said...

Belgians, when holding a jug of batter, will not waffle. They will, instead, very decisively pour the batter on the waffle iron/maker to make a huge pile of waffles to decimate. I know, I iz Belgian, and have wielded a jug of batter before ;-)

Glad to hear the baby is turning out to be a well-balanced human being :-D, nice hat, too!

kate said...

It took me two tries to find Paradise Fibers when I was in Spokane: the porn shop totally threw me off the trail. Luckily the woman at the visitor's center was a weaver, so she was able to give me precise directions when I gave up searching and had to ask.

Amber in Albuquerque said...

Dang! That Paradise Fibers sounds like my kind of place...almost enough to make me go to Spokane...where I have in-laws (shudder).

SandyH said...

Love the yarn for the baby's hat. I looked up the yarn and I see a color called chalk and a color called oatmeal. So, now I'm confused. Did you knit with both colors?

Mindy said...

Hmmm, I'm going to Spokane this weekend for my brother's possibly disastrous wedding. I think a tour of Paradise Fibers may be just what is needed!

bindi said...

When I first saw the picture, I knew immediately where it was. It's a beautiful shot of the bridge at Vantage. I grew up in that area and put a lot of waterski time right there on that part of the river. It's just sun and sagebrush. Further up river is the Gorge at George. I'm so glad you we're able to see both sides of our beautiful state.

MonicaPDX said...

(It's hard to type when one is giggling because one's word verification is "coota.")

Ok, I've got to get to Paradise Fibers somehow! It's obviously a magnificent shop, and the photo made me all nostalgic for the drive up to NE Washington where my parents built a log cabin home. As others have said, glad you got to see both sides. Maybe the next time you get to OR, you can go to our East Side and see some cinder cones! Oh, and back up to WA to see Dry Falls, which is unreal. (Look it up on Wikipedia. Definitely click the pic for big. You will be amazed.)

I can hardly wait for the Portland report. Even though, alas, it was pouring rain - sideways - every single moment but for the brief times you were caught on camera at OFFF. ;)

bluegirl said...

Thanks for the shout out Franklin! I am so pleased that you had fun knitting the Wayna Picchu and that your model has something warm now.

Sorry we missed you in the Gorge! Sarah and I really wished you had stopped by and had a visit in Hood River.

You better call us next time, bub!

Olive Knitting said...

I thought you might have fun with the idea that the tallest building in your city is now called the "big willy".

Great hat.

Movie Knits said...

Loooove the hat and how beautiful is the yarn? I didn't know Veronik Avery made yarn too?!

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