Delicious knitting discoveries in Anchorage

Even before the start of Yarn Expo III, sponsored by the Alaska State Yarn Council, author Donna Druchunas and I happened across amazing knitting to enjoy. I’d be posting links if I could remember the HTML code (I can remember about half of it) or if Typepad’s “forgot your password?” link had sent my a reminder of how to get into my online account.

We started at a place we knew about: Oomingmak Musk Ox Producers’ Co-operative, which we visited twice yesterday. It’s one of the primary subjects of Donna’s new book, Arctic Lace. Located in a tiny, older building surrounded by multi-story parking garages and high-rise hotels, the co-op doesn’t look crowded or overwhelmed by its neighbors because it is the only structure within a whole city block. There’s a lot of blank space around it—enough that you can walk back a distance and appreciate the murals painted on all four sides. (I have photos; I am just technically not proficient enough yet to post them!)

Inside, the Oomingmak shop is extremely orderly and full of neatly displayed and tucked-away qiviut hats, nachaqs, scarves, stoles, and other hand-knitted treasures. There are also postcards and notecards and mugs and jewelry relating to Alaska and musk oxen, the source of qiviut fiber. Plus friendly folks, busy but not hurried. A nice place just to be for a while. You could spend a few hours just reading the interesting information posted on the walls.

Later in the day, among the shops on the ground level of Hotel Captain Cook, where Yarn Expo is based, we found Siobhan’s, an oasis of boutique-type knitwear from Europe. The intarsia floral-decorated socks came from France. The indigo-dyed natural-fiber sweaters came from a company called Blue Willi’s (Denmark). And then . . . Solveig Hisdal’s line of sweaters, hats, scarves, blankets, wrist-warmers, and other items. Have you discovered Hisdal’s book, Poetry in Stitches? Ahhhh! These aren’t impulse purchases. Exquisite. Timeless. Gorgeous.

After that, while wandering the streets of downtown Anchorage looking for a map and a cup of tea, we came across a shop called One People: One World. We knew that it presents qiviut items by Colleen White, of Palmer, Alaska. While looking for her work, we came across Russian shawls in the Orenburg style and in many colors (we couldn’t be sure exactly what they were because the labels were in Cyrillic writing) and Peruvian objects, including a hat, some dolls, and an intricate little bag. I do have photos. I just need to figure out how to post them. As we were admiring the shawls in particular, the shop’s owner pointed out woven natural silks from Madagascar.

We never got the tea. The textiles were too distracting.

Many of the textiles we found were not obvious. This makes me wonder what else is out there for us to discover in the shops of Anchorage. These extraordinary finds appeared with little effort in a relatively short time of casual browsing (admittedly, we are both good knitting-spotters).

But I haven’t found such a density of wonderful, inspiring knitting to
admire during trips to New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.