Thursday, August 28, 2008

In Praise of the Used Bookstore

Used bookstores are one of my greatest pleasures, both at home and on vacation. I have spent more hours (and dollars) than I can remember at the Half Price Books I used to live near, with my buddy La Chica poring over the stacks, finding prizes and laughing over the general weirdness that has been published.

I use this topic for this post because used bookstores figured prominently during my recent trip to Washington State. Any trip up north along I5 means a stop in Portland Oregon to Powell's City of Books. This place is without question the most amazing bookstore I have ever been in. It's HUGE, taking up multiple buildings. My first move in any bookstore, new or used, is to make a beeline for the crafts section-- specifically the knitting book shelves. A place like Powells gives me a chance to get a real look at book content rather than searching the web for pictures and reviews that other people post. This trip was decent, but not as profitable as in the past. There were many things that were new, not so much used and not so much that was old-new, meaning books that have been out for a while. The cookbooks were good, though, but I got caught in a scam that I had never encountered before. I saw a cook book called 'The Spice Routes' by Carolyn and Chris Caldicott, and when I flipped through it, it had some really interesting recipes. It was also on sale, so I added it to my stack to buy. After Hubby and I head out north towards Seattle, I flipped through my new treasures while he drove. Closer perusal of my new cookbook made me realize that some rotten nimrod had done a switch and put a DIFFERENT cookbook in the Spice Routes dust jacket. Pooh! Still the cookbook I did have was pretty neat-- 'The Gourmet Prescription' by Deborah Friedson Chud. I called Powells and, bless them, their nice manager credited me the difference for the book I had, found my wanted book, and mailed it to me for free shipping and 20% off. Now, that's service! Yay Powells! I will, however, be checking the front page of books more carefully in the future. Anyone need a Spice Routes dust jacket? I have one to spare...

This trip didn't afford time to take a trip to Port Townsend, Washington and William James Bookseller, which is one of my very favorite used bookstores ever ever ever. Much disappointment until a trip to Bellingham and Henderson Books. Oh MAN, what a place! William James just got bumped to second best. Henderson Books has the single best selection of used knitting books I have ever seen, and I was a very very bad rabbit. People knit in Washington. They knit in California, too, but every tiny town in Washington seems to have some sort of fiber underground like nothing I have ever seen before and the net result is that used bookstores are often plump with goodies others have off-loaded.

So for all you yarnies out there, check out Henderson Books and add a side of Powells if you have the time. The fiber result of my recent vacation was a deep gouge into my Amazon wishlist due to finding some lovely knitting books. Got some great cookbooks, too, but that is for another post.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

On our way to Washington..slowly

The time has come for a real vacation. Hubby and I leave tomorrow ridiculously early for a trip north to Whidbey Island and all the delights it has to offer. We are driving, so that means a rest stop in Portland at Powell's Books. I have the take-along knitting picked out. and my (empty) suitcase is on the bed. And I have a migraine.

The joys of vacation! I look forward to trips well in advance and enjoy them when I am there. So why is the week leading up to the trip such an utter misery? I am seriously stressed right now. But why? Throw some junk into a suitcase and hit the road--how hard is that? The cats and bird are accounted for and reliable babysitters are lined up. The house is even reasonably clean to avoid wretched embarassment of outsiders seeing it. So what am I doing? Blogging, surfing and poring over my Ravelry site.

I am growing ever more addicted to Ravelry. I finally started a queue and have been madly jotting down ideas and transferring over my various wants. The whole process is too much fun and this vacation stuff is pulling me away from it. Who knows, though? The Coupeville Arts Center is this weekend and there are a lot of handspinners on Whidbey--better go get packed!

Friday, August 1, 2008

"I can quit anytime...!"

My husband met me at work today and as we walked home together, we chatted. About half way home he casually said "You got a package of yarn in the mail today." Like a lead balloon those words thunked out. Yep. I bought more yarn. After promising Hubby to discuss purchases beforehand, I bought more yarn. After my recent post about stash organization, I bought more yarn. Even after the patient question from my pal La Chica about the blue lace creation I was supposed to be knitting her (for the last 5 years, actually), I bought more yarn. I can rationalize anything. I really can. As my husband said today, "Well, if it's for a project you are doing and you really NEED it, it's fine." Did I NEED this yarn? No. Do I 'need' it? Yes. Really I do. I don't have a stash habit. Honest.

It's for the Modern Quilt Wrap posted on Knitting Daily a few months back. I loved the wrap in the colorway just as it was in the picture from the moment I saw it. I downloaded the pattern right away. I have also been scoping Rowan Kidsilk haze online looking for bargains. I found out recently that one of the colors has been discontinued. Just like that. Supplies of the color 'Swish' #578 are dwindling at best. So I pounced. I found Swish and in a fit of panic found a decent price and bought the rest of the needed colors. I have my Quilt Wrap yarn in my hot little hand.

Here's the thing: there is always something cool out there. Moreover, patterns and yarns are ephemeral. That pattern you are dying to make will eventually go away. But here's the rub: if you don't have the yarn yet and don't make the item right away, will you still be dying for it when you have time to make it? Maybe the answer is yes, maybe it isn't. I have a hugely elusive pattern kitted up for a Jade Starmore sweater 'Medieval Tapestry' in the original yarns. I got it years ago when it was actually affordable. I wanted it bad at the time I bought it. Really bad. It has been bouncing around in my stash unknitted for eons. I was, however, committed enough to it that I did a swatch and have kept all the yarn faithfully together through three moves. When I got it out recently looking for a project to start, I realised that my tastes have changed quite a bit over the last few years and it is not so 'me' as it once was. It is still a stunning sweater, though, and it would be criminal in so many ways to repurpose the yarn for something else--like using a priceless ming vase to hold a bouquet of cheap supermarket flowers. I will hang onto the Starmore yarn for now, but it has given me pause. I guess I'd better start the Modern Quilt Wrap now. Or at least just after I finish La Chica's sweater!