Eugene Weekly : Gift Guide : 11.25.2009


Eugene Weekly‘s Gift Guide 2009:

Tak a Cup o’ Kindness Tippling under the tree 

The Art of Holiday Shopping Campus museums make the season bright

Beyond Water Pipes Alterna gifts from the “pipe & tobacco” shops

Won’t You Light My Bike Tonight? Seasonal cycling gifts

Purl It Together The joys of fuzzy yarn shops

Plantin’ in the Rain Winter supplies to brighten a gardener’s heart

First Time’s A Charm Two artists take on the Holiday Market

Annex of Art DIVA delights in new holiday space


Purl It Together
The joys of fuzzy yarn shops
by Katie Wilson

After an Oregon City meth addict broke my passenger-side car window and stole my knitting needles, a half-made scarf and an extra ball of yarn, I gave up on knitting. 

My logic was similar to: if God intended us to fly, he would have given us wings. Thus, if I were supposed to knit, I would have knitting needles instead of index fingers. 

Knit Shop
Soft Horizons

While I’m still rabidly bitter about the whole event, I can once again appreciate knitting, mostly because knitting-related paraphernalia will make for killer gifts this holiday season. 

I don’t know if it’s a requirement that all yarn shops are cozy, crowded rabbit warrens, but in Eugene it seems to be the way These Things are done. Soft Horizons Fibre at 412 E. 13 Ave and the Knit Shop at 2811 Oak St. are bursting with yarn and knitting-related products — floor to ceiling packed as tight as it all will go. 

You can’t not touch things. This is what I adore about yarn shops. You are allowed (if not actually held at gun point and forced) to touch the merchandise: soft pillow piles of angora yarn that make you want to fall asleep and never (ever) leave, whorled crochet hooks that look more like chess pieces than yarn implements, hundreds of different yarns, each with their own peculiar feel. It’s crack cocaine for your fingers.

Soft Horizons carries handspun yarn from the Ozarks made out of mohair locks — $26.95 a skein. It’s like knitting with dreadlocks minus the human hair, human scalp and general human nastiness. 

If you have a knitter in the family, SHF will make it easy for you to find a gift. Around this time of year, the store publishes a newsletter with gift ideas broken down by subject. 

“Good holidays gifts: what people crave, but don’t usually indulge themselves in,” said owner Mona Rummel. 

Such indulgences include hand knotted, made-up-of-20-different-yarns skeins; handcrafted yarns; “Absolutely Fabulous Throw Kits” of animal and vegetable fibers; all that good stuff. Or perhaps you could sign someone up for one of the many classes Soft Horizons offers. At the very least, buy someone a felted animal ornament, $15-$20, no knitting required.

Across town at the Knit Shop, they’ve got something every knitter needs: fabric/fiber wash for $3-$11. 

For shoppers on a budget, Miriam Pike, who works at the Knit Shop, says stitch markers ($10-$11) are always a good idea as are Thergonomic Hand-Aids ($15.50), for knitters with constant or recurring wrist pains.

“I have a co-worker who swears by these,” she said. “They’re tight and provide warmth.”

My favorite item at the Knit Shop had to be the yarn made from yak down. Yaks! What’s not to love? If a skein of that showed up in my stocking this December, you can bet I’d pick up the knitting needles again.

Prices at both shops tend to be higher than the non-knitter might expect, but it’s the holiday season. Would you sooner buy a “fun size” packet of peanuts or bake a pie to shout out to someone how amazing they are?

While we’re being honest, the perfect gift is really just discovering a way to herd the people you love inside a yarn shop — blanket them in all the happy, warm fiber-ness.