The best part of our day trip to Portland and our main goal was to visit Knit Purl (in the Pearl district!) and Josephine's Dry Goods.
Knit Purl is an amazing yarn and fiber store that has an incredible array of sumptuous fibers. It is very comfortable with cushy chairs, wonderfully helpful clerks and lots of books and patterns. Often there are people sitting and knitting and getting help as needed. An interesting fiber blend that was new to me is Seacell, a seaweed deriviative. There is a wool (70%) and Seacell (30%) blend in sock weight and a silk (70%) and Seacell (30%) blend in laceweight. There was also a blend with fique, a plant fiber from the Agavaceae family, closely related to agave and pineapple. This is an amazing fiber that was used extensively by pre-columbians to make rope, clothing, baskets and hammocks and has been "rediscovered." It is very strong and feels similar to hemp or linen. There was a silk and stainless steel blend, too.
I had to hold in my own hand a 100% Pashmina. This is the softest yarn ever, but at $55.50 for a 50 gram skein you'd have to knit up something really special! For more exotics they also carry bison yarn and qikiuk yarn. In the end Cerise settled on a nice bright red merino wool blend to make a shawl. I went to Josephine's Dry Goods mainly for their wall of buttons! But they also carry some splendid fine fabrics that you won't find in any chain store. Linens, wools, silks... unique patterns and if you ever were to tackle making a wedding dress that is the place to go. They are very helpful and are always working on projects so you can see patterns come to life. And they sell their samples, two of which I bought last time we visited. I stuck with the button wall and selected several buttons while Cerise chose a very cute cotton print to make a blouse and a pattern. Go to their facebook page to see some of their finished products. I LOVE the Vogue skirt in houndstooth wool.
Look for Part 3: Shops in Lake Oswego and Nordstrom's (is not so much for us)