February 21, 2011


My hometown's all over the news these days.  There's the IFC TV show, Portlandia (if you don't have cable, you can catch some clips on youtube; it's hilarious), a new NBC sitcom that's set there, called Perfect Couples (which has become a guilty pleasure; check it out on cable on demand) and then last week, NPR aired a story the gist of which was this: Portland's unemployment rate is usually 1% higher than the national average and salaries are 20% lower than in Seattle, but (young) people keep moving there anyway because it's so awesome.  And there are biracial guys who work at food carts and play in metal bands.  Again: it's awesome.

I was home for a week earlier this month for a sad occasion, so I was kind of off and blue much of the time, but I did find it warming to be back in Portland again.  The city has changed a lot since I moved away in 1989 (!!), but some things have remained comfortingly the same, like Oaks Park, the amusement park and roller rink where I used to skate to Van Halen, Billy Squire, AC/DC and Ratt.  The park itself was rather rinky dink, as evidenced by the photo, but the skating was always good.

One afternoon in need of a diversion I drove my rented Toyota Yaris over to Burnisde Street in search of a shop owner who is a friend of a friend, just to say hi.  While looking for the FoaF, something in a window of a store called Haunt caught my eye:

Hand knits!  Like I said, I had some time to kill, so I went in and poked my nose around a bit.  The woman working was talking to a friend/customer and since the boutique is small, I couldn't help but overhear their conversation.  The customer was asking about a book that the shop owner had written, if she was going to do another, yadda yadda, and it clicked!  The shop owner was Laura Irwin, the author of Boutique Knits.  After the customer left, I overcame my aversion to intruding on one's privacy and asked her if she was, in fact, Laura Irwin.  She was quite surprised and so friendly.  She said something  to the effect that not many people know of her book, to which I replied "EVERYONE, I know who knits knows it," then admitted that this is probably a small percentage of the general population, however.  Then we chatted about crafting and the smallness of the knitting world. 

I maxed out on dorkiness when I asked if I could take a picture of her (since I'd missed out on my chance when I saw Ysolda Teague walking across the Brooklyn Bridge a few summers ago).  She graciously agreed.  

Cute, right?  The dress Laura's wearing is in keeping with the vibe of the store: modern, feminine with a touch of industrialism.  Because I was focusing on knits, I didn't take pics of the pretty tops, earrings, capelets and shrugs they carry.  Wouldn't have done them justice, anyway, as I'm not a stylist.  But Haunt stocks really lovely items and if you're in the Portland area, I highly recommend stopping in, and if you're not, Laura and her partners also maintain an Etsy shop called Haunt Studio.  Convenient, no?
Another thing that made me happy when I was in Portland was getting the chance to see this dollface:

One of the early members of the Fort Greene/Clinton Hill Knit and Crochet Group, she moved back west a little over two years ago.  She's thriving out there, which is wonderful.  Making and selling a lot of art (on Etsy at her store Little Canoe), being outdoorsey, living the good life, which in Portland, includes eating good food.  In addition to my favorite pie place, Random Order Coffeehouse & Bakery, she turned me on to this spot here:

The Potato Champion is one of Portland's many, many amazing food carts.  This one is located in a "pod" (cluster of food carts) across from the Burgerville on 12th and Hawthorne.  I had a hard time deciding between the Belgian style fries, poutine, chili cheese fries and PB&J fries, but I opted for the exotic sounding poutine.  It's a crazy delicious concoction of French Canadian origin that combines french fries, cheese curds and gravy. Yummy peasant food - right up my alley.  The poutine was hard to believe delicious, and as I sat in one of the pod's picnic tables enjoying my snack, I felt really happy and lucky, and also a little nostalgic for my childhood in hippie, progressive, green, coffee-drinking, beer brewing, laid-back Portland.


Erin Joy said... Best Blogger Tips

Honestly, I wouldn't want to live anywhere else! Nice that you got to see B while you were here!

littlebirdbigcity said... Best Blogger Tips

it was so fantastic and wonderful seeing you! can't wait until i get to come out east. and also super excited you made it to potato champion. one down, hundreds more to go! next time we'll have to knock off a couple more.

Arianwen said... Best Blogger Tips

Found your blog coz I am oggling the Martha Cowl on Rav and you are one of the few who have blogged about it. Planning on making it up as I can't get the pattern. Love the photos of Haunt!!!!