I about peed my pants when I saw the speaker/guest list for the 2009 Sock Summit. I feel so fortunate to live here in Portland, proud in fact that we’re hosting this event. Last night at knit night we were discussing how many yarn stores there were in PDX: Twenty four-last count. Eileen mentioned that we had the highest number of yarn stores per capita and the only other city that could compare was Minneapolis St. Paul. Someone else mentioned that folks who want to study and prep for opening a yarn shop often come to Portland to “do their homework.”
I attended a conference here in downtown Portland earlier this week and met one very excited knitter who was just dyeing (ooops….) dying to get into her rental car and start her yarn crawl. I sent her a Google map of all the yarn stores I could think of. Too bad, I didn’t know about Judy Becker’s Google Map.. And what’s the best thing about purchasing at Portland Yarn Stores? Shopping is TAX FREE! Needless to say, I think she and her friends have probably dropped a pretty coin into our local economy.
It’s funny but as we were talking I pulled out my crochet project to share, and I think a colleague of hers walked up to us as we were yammering about yarn and such, I think he was confused by the fact that I pulled out a piece of craft to share at a e-learning tech conference. Ah, the befuddlement of those who don’t ‘get’ our craft.
I’ve often thought that Portland and Oregon as a whole should sponsor some sort of “Craft Tourism.” I believe that Portlanders truly have that DIY spirit. I know so many people in this town who are devoted to their craft. I’ve met many people who tinker and are involved with producing their own products. They’re just not satisfied with the consumer fodder that’s put out before them. The love to customize, adapt, re-mix and re-work anything from sweater patterns to beer. Even though we have one of the fastest growing unemployement rates in the country, I have faith that many of the people of this town are resourceful and innovative enough to reinvent their purpose and livelihoods.