Grab another cup of coffee and have a seat! Day two was a whirlwind. We started early, leaving around 8am to head south, to Portland, Oregon, which was about a three hour trip, sort of like me driving from where I live outside NYC, down to Baltimore for the day. (Which would never occur to me to do, silly me…)
On the way we picked up another weaving buddy, Joy Winther. OK, I’m not the jealous sort, but not only is Joy’s property situated in a spectacular setting, with a gorgeous view of the Columbia River, but her studio gave me a serious case of studio envy. Usually when you enter a weaver’s studio, the loom is the focal point. It is really big, and hard to make inconspicuous. It took me a minute to even find the looms the studio was so large and spacious. Oh for that kind of floor space. I’m guessing I’ll have to take some pictures of my studio at some point, so you can all see what I’m talking about!
Anyway, in Joy’s studio, the looms were tucked between the columns and you could actually walk around them.
So we set out from Joy’s home in southern Washington State, and hit our first stop in Portland, Oregon, Ruthie’s Weaving Studio.
I’ve never seen anything quite like this. Ruthie’s Weaving studio is a warehouse looking space, filled with so many looms my head spun. Apparently anyone can rent a loom, by paying a monthly tuition, there is always an instructor on the premises when the studio is open, and you can come in, learn to weave, and be part of a community of other weavers, sort of like stopping by the gym after work, except much more creative. And you don’t have to worry about who is looking at your thighs! Most of the looms in the studio are Bergman looms, a brand I’d never heard of, manufactured in the Pacific northwest, so they rarely made it to the east coast, but Melody gave us a demo of how it folded up to slip through a door, that would be the loom in the front.
A quick lunch at the Original Taco House, a Portland favorite, we headed off to fabric heaven. First stop, the Mill End Store, which they claim has more fabric than anyone else in America.
OK, I’ve never seen anything quite like this. And oddly enough, there was so much to look at I was overwhelmed and I didn’t come home with anything. The remnants were very picked over, and nothing jumped into my hands and said take me home. But just being around that much fabric made me long to get into my studio and make stuff.
Across the highway, we hit the Pendleton Woolen Mill Store. I’ve been to the Pendleton Woolen Mill, in Pendleton, OR, one of my top ten fiber adventure experiences in my life, but there are outlet stores scattered around the country, and this one was in a brand new space. When I visited the actual mill, back in 2003, I remember finding a bin of zippers, for a quarter each, and stocked up. Funny, but last month, I was just thinking that my zipper stash was getting low, and I wish I could revisit the mill again. Well wouldn’t you know, back in the corner of the store were bins of 9 inch invisible zippers and I just scooped up a handful. And they had little bundles of wool in pretty colors for needle felting, well they just jumped in my basket as well.
Next stop was The Fabric Depot. Now I must say that it is incredibly unfair that you have two behemoth fabric warehouse type places within 10 miles of each other in the same city. The Fabric Depot claims to be the largest fabric store in the nation. OK, so I live near NYC, the fashion capital of the world, but that’s different. You’d think they could spread the wealth a little?
I loved the Fabric Depot, and spent a little more time there. The remant section had some beautiful fabrics, but there was no indication of fiber content, you had no idea what you were looking at. I asked about that, and they told me they never put the fiber content on the remnants. That makes it tough if you are looking for things to dye. They’d probably have me escorted out of the store if I whipped out my matches and tweezers for burn testing.
While we were there, the infamous Outdoor sale was happening, they haul all kinds of notions and fabrics and trims out to a tent and that alone would take up a city block. I found a beautiful decorator fabric for $5./yard that I think would work for reupholstering a rocker I have that is fraying and in sore need of tender loving care. I’ll take a photo of the fabric with the rocker when I get home. And there was a sale on thread and notions, so I picked up some things I was low on in the studio, like black thread.
Next stop, Powells Books. OMG.
This was a veritable city of books. They hand you a map when you walk in. Again, this was overload. So we headed right to the Orange room, and the weaving/fiber/fashion book section. I didn’t find used copies of anything on my list, but did order Marion Powell’s Thousand Patterns in 4,6, 8 Harness Shadow Weaves book, to have shipped to NJ. I knew they had it in one of their stores for $12.95. The book was apparently in one of the other stores a mere 20 minutes away. Was this completely unfair or what? Not only does Portland have more fabric than anywhere else in America, but more books as well.
Our last stop was for Margaritas and some Mexican food (I know, we did Mexican food for lunch too), at the Santa Fe Taqueria.
I had the ceviche, and it was excellent, along with a fish taco. And of course, a pitcher of Margaritas!
We headed home to Seattle, watching the sun set on our excellent adventure. The three hour trip was long, but Robyn and I never ran out of things to chatter about. This was an important trip for me, Robyn helped me sort out and rethink new directions for my work and my teaching, and my head is sort of spinning. With a summer of conference teaching starting in a couple of weeks, I ‘ll have to wait until fall to begin implementing any of my ideas, but that’s OK. So much to weave, sew, felt, design and blog about, so little time…
Tonight I head back to NJ, and tomorrow, a guild workshop with Kerr Grabowski, stay tuned…