For Wintertime in Portland

comments: 203


PATTERN: Springtime in Hollis by Teresa Cole
YARN: Elsebeth Lavold Favorite Wool in Flaming Red

It's certainly not as "bad" as winter in most of the rest of the country right now (snow, snow, snow in every state except Florida — wow), but winter in Portland, Oregon, comes with its own challenges, I think. Since there is generally no snow, it seems extra dark because it's muddy: Without the whiteness of snow, the light has nothing to reflect off of, and the mud and wet pavement seems to absorb what limpy little light there is. Mud and rain outside make it quite dark inside the houses and buildings. There is green grass, in a way, sort of a weird grayish-green. But the sky is often really dark, and it's a solid sort of gray, and can hang very low and too close. It can feel rather . . . like you're in a sink of cold, dirty dishwater (says Andy, when I just asked him to describe it). Yup. Like that.

People respond to winter so differently, really. Some people will tell you that winters in Portland are easy. Relative to the frequent blizzard conditions of my childhood, that seems true. Ish. I grew up in Chicago and went to college in western Illinois, where snow plows and salted sidewalks and shoveling out (and skating ponds) were ubiquitous and routine. When Andy and I moved to Montana in 1994 I didn't own a car, and walked every day through miles of snowy streets, or through the woods, or down the path along the Clark-Fork River. One night, when Andy and I had just started living together in our little studio apartment in Missoula, we got in a fight about chocolate sauce. I can't remember the details, but I know there was a jar of chocolate sauce heating in a pan of furiously boiling water on the stove when I walked out the back door. I walked in the dark down to the river path — basically, the woods. It was incredibly quiet. As I got to the river it started to snow in huge, floating flakes. It was the first snow of the season. It was so, so beautiful. I was too mad and stupid to go back and get Andy. I cried because I was so mad and stupid and lonely. I've never forgotten that feeling — that no-chocolate-sauce loneliness, those falling flakes lit by streetlights on my cold walk home, the shame of my lonely self-righteousness burning my cheeks.

Lesson learned: Go back and get him.

When we moved to Portland, I have to admit that I honestly did not realize that it doesn't snow here. "Wait, we moved here, but it doesn't snow here?" "Yup." "Wait, but there's a pine tree [pointing desperately] right there. It doesn't snow here?" "Nope." I still feel like it's all just some big misunderstanding. It snows here, in town, but only very rarely, and when it happens it's a Big Deal. Portlanders will tell you, "Oh, but you can just go to the mountain if you want snow!" So we do that when we can, yes. But somehow I never stop missing snow here. Right here. Snow in the yard, on the sidewalk, in the birdbath. Snow on the woodpile and the porch. Snow on the street and the stairs. Snow in the city. I try not to long. Instead, we keep the fireplace going, we get a big stack of mystery novels to read, we have way too many cable channels, we go to movies, we sit in bookstores and drink really good coffee, we drink really good coffee almost every other place you can imagine, we make big pots of hot soup, (we do have really good bread here in Portland, too), we get good rain gear and keep it right by the front door, we get to the mountain when we can, we wear wool, and we knit (things the color of curried sweet potatoes and glowing embers and winterberries) like machines. This is the Winter in Portland sweater.




I am not a huge fan of winter but I do like the 'Winter in Portland' sweater, gorgeous!! :)
Vivienne x

You keep outdoing yourself Alicia. I saw this on Ravelry and it just took my breath away. Beautiful!

i miss winter in portland. though always, always, i want snow. i have always lived in the nw, so snow has always been a special occasion, a Big Deal, an ARCTIC BLAST. my last baby was born in the ARCTIC BLAST of 2008 and there is nothing like watching the snow fall to make labor feel not so bad.
pretty sweater. It almost makes me want to learn to knit.

I can feel it all. Doesn't snow here much so the enduring white on the ground in Ga. this week seemed so cheerful. I'll treasure how bright everything looked when we go back to normal.

Here it's not gray, it's brown. Everything is brown. But then, I can't complain too much. There's something about wet winter woods that I adore.

Gray and red is a very becoming combination. :)

The sweater is so pretty. I think it's one of the best you have made so far. Will really brighten up any wee one that will wear it. I didn't use to like winters very much until I got older. The hot summers get to me now. I have been doing alot of walking in the snow lately and see how it sparkles and drifts in lazy clumps off the trees and I have learned to love it. The world seems so quiet after a snow and makes one feel their the only one on earth.

lovely! i love this color on little kids.

Gorgeous sweater! I am in Kansas City, but have lived in Iceland (navy brat), and have fond memories of tons of snow on that far away island way up north. Oh, and the DARK winters, ugh.

I'm reaching new levels of jealousy. This is stunning. I wish that I could knit better and I would love to make a replica. Just lovely.

michele (maryland) says: January 14, 2011 at 10:11 AM

What a beautiful sweater. I can not wait to see your new daughter wearing all her wonderful clothes.

Oh and the buttons are perfect!

Okay, this one knocked me out! LOVE it, LOVE it, LOVE it!! (and the writing that goes with it, always great!)

Love, love love this one! (loved the warm mushroomy one with these buttons too,) As a NW girl myself, I agree with the solutions of soup, candles, fire, and lots of knitting!
Works for me!

Chris in pdx says: January 14, 2011 at 10:31 AM

OK. That is gorgeous. The color is insane and that pattern is a fave on Ravelry. This may be too familiar, but dang girl, you are a knitting machine.

Such a lovely sweater! The buttons add a touch of spring. I love it.

Oh my goodness these baby clothes posts of yours make me want to try one more time for a baby girl and learn how to knit and then make a promise to myself that my baby girl will wear nothing store bought for at least three years!! All impossible things I'm afraid, but at least I do have snow which I love, for a couple of months.

Angela Marry says: January 14, 2011 at 10:41 AM

Ohhhhhhhhhhh this is devine! I love all of the layette of baby clothes you have been making this last little while, but this is my very favourite. I have my fingers crossed you'll have someone to wear them really soon.

I can just practically see your baby in that - it's too precious.

wow! this little sweater is so so a tulip, a red tulip in spring snow.

This is the best thing I have ever seen. As Anne would say, it "thrills me to my fingertips." Brava!

I'm only in my 4th year here, but I'm still not used to the dreary Portland winters. Somehow without the variety of snow and slush and dry cold, the winter seems even longer. But the crafting keeps me busy, too!

Oh my. Oh my stinkin gosh. Love, LOVE that sweet sweater.

I feel the same way about snow here in Vancouver BC. It never stays long enough when it does fall and we don't drive so we can't get up to the mountains.

That sweater makes me wish I was a knitter/ crocheter I'd make one for me, one for my Peanut and one for the soon to be Bean

Muddy. For some reason I forget about the mud in the winter! Everyone remembers the rain--how could one forget? But I'm always caught off-guard by the mud. Careful steps, all winter long.

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at