Thursday, April 24, 2008


Contemplating spring in mid-April and heading westwardly one would think the horizon might hold a glimpse of warmth otherwise unknown in New England but such was not the case while visiting Seattle last week! Record low temperatures and HAIL afflicted those of us in the Emerald City while at home in New England glorious sunny days forced people inside only long enough to grab their shorts and sandals!

Spring color was in evidence at Pike Place Market just a few short blocks from my son's apartment. Along with the fish throwing, funky garb and street musicians, radiant bouquets brought the hope of sunshine and warmth in their glowing colors. Combined artfully at the stalls and wrapped in humble brown paper each upturned countenance charmed and cajoled until snapped up and danced out into the street by a fortunate soul with vision. A holiday atmosphere prevails every day of the week in the marketplace, one of my favorite spots in Seattle, and I was cheered in spite of the chill.

Ferries, as I learned many years ago, offer a transition, literally, from one world to another and the ride to Bainbridge Island is a perfect lookinglass to adventures there. After the 35 minute boat glide and a short walk to the village center my imagination was rewarded with the delightful reality of Churchmouse Yarn and Teas. This beguiling shop has been on my list of places to visit for years and it did not disappoint! Kit and all the smiling staff were ever-so-gracious and welcoming. Bustling with patrons and softly glowing with all things dear to the needleworker, the hand-dyed specialty yarns and stunning samples steal your heart and fill your senses. With the addition of tea and needlepoint....truly the shop makes one wish the island fantasy could last forever.

The Blackbird right near Churchmouse was the destination for lunch. YUM. What a hopping place! Cindy from Foxglove Fiberarts met me there and we talked wool and dyeing while souping it up. Cindy's kindly countenance and warm spirit were much appreciated and talking technically about wool, well, it's what we do. Always new product, new practices to discuss and I feel I have found a new best friend.

Next was Jennifer at Esther's Fabrics, again nearby, across the street and down only half a block. Hip fabrics and a creative atmosphere RULE at Esther's. Jennifer, I am told, is the new owner and with a nod to tradition has the place stuffed with quilting fabrics and also the latest trends. I picked up some of Moda's (Barbara Brackman) William Morris fabric. So pleased to find such an old friend on the fabric shelf and my head is gone imagining usage. Her other fabrics include vintage types, elegance and funky strutting. Jennifer also has felting supplies and other materials for creative pursuits including an array of marvelous trims and vintage finds.

Priority: Return to Bainbridge Island! Hopping the ferry back to the mainland was a difficult thing to do because of the magnetic pull. Pike Place created a diversion prior to heading up the hill once more.

On Thursday I borrowed the car and took a little drive to Renton. There I found Skacel and the largest stock of knitting needles I had ever seen. Oh, those Addi Turbos! More smiling faces and I was treated to not only Karin's grace and hospitality but was fortunate to meet her parents as well. Felting was the topic and again, technique was thoroughly picked apart, expanded and circularly fluffed. Their Artfelt Paper has so many applications. Nothing but fun.
We have here Fontelle and the Gang! Great Yarns in Everett was a short drive north along Lake Washington. The shop from the outside, a muddy brown color, belies the explosion of color that smacks you upon entry! Fontelle Jones and her crew are bursting with exuberance just like the riotous yarn, projects and buttons on display. Chatter and creativity reign in this fiber oasis and I felt I had landed in a private yarn studio managed by long lost cousins! The urge was to set up camp and just keep knitting. I found tiny HiyaHiya needles on Fontelle's needle wall that just had to go home with me. They are 9" long circulars with mini bamboo points. Perfect for airplane knitting and they help my sock projects fly while on the ground too!

Friday brought me two unxpected appoint-ments in Seattle's Queen Anne district. First, a stop at one of the most wonderful fabric shops I have ever visited, Nancy's Sewing Basket, oh-my-gosh. I LOVE the ribbon room! Beautiful fabrics of all descriptions and a happy and helpful staff are definitely the right combination. Tamara gave me insight to the shops workings and I had no problem finding velvet leaves, ribbon of the double-faced variety and some classy closures to stuff in my bag. For inspiration, none other than Candace Kling's magical book, The Artful Ribbon which now permanently resides on my bookshelf, full of divine color and memories of my visit, too.

Crossing the street plops one at the steps to the front door of Hilltop Yarns. Again, cheerful faces and charming attitudes from Anne and Soheila. The building itself is a wonderful structure, having recovered recently from fire damage, and lovely yarn was in evidence on the built-in shelves, the window seats and even in the sink! Dark wood everywhere gives the impression of a solid and knowledgeable approach to the fiber world. So different from the bright white of Churchmouse but every bit as captivating. So little time, so many wonderful shops!

Priority: Return to Seattle. The date for my return trip to Seattle is a mystery at this moment but I await the time in eager anticipation! A smile creeps up and my imagination whirls when I think of it, the connections made and the exciting times to be had 'next time'!! And I am told that the weather did indeed warm, once I had flown!