by: RITA A. LEONARD - Lesley and David Bracken have opened Yarntastic! Fiber Arts at 6802 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue, just north of the Bybee Boulevard intersection.Westmoreland boasts a new yarn shop. “Yarntastic! Fiber Arts” has settled in at 6802 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue, in the former home of “Haggis McBaggis” – next to the Moreland Theater. Owners Lesley and David Bracken tell THE BEE that they carry scores of fine and specialty-dyed yarns, as well as how-to books, patterns, and accessories. The shop is a colorful and comfortable resource for those who knit and crochet, and is also a place to meet fellow fiber artists and learn how to handle knotty problems. After a career as a software technician, Lesley finds fiber arts a relaxing and welcome change. She reports that she loves sharing ideas with others, and she started once-a-week craft nights at the shop in August.

“We’re planning to offer classes here in the fall,” adds David, who has a background in art and photography. The duo is eager for suggestions for products and classes, and hopes to interest fiber artists of all ages.

Lesley says she learned how to knit and crochet as a child, but didn’t pursue her passion until she was in her 20's. “I’m a voracious knitter now. I find free-form and interpretive knitting projects the most satisfying and fun to do,” she smiles, displaying a knitted fish she just completed.

In addition to creating colorful mittens, hats, and toys, Lesley has also participated in a public art installation -- a knitted coral reef that is displayed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.

“I’ve attended fiber arts schools and conferences to study color theory, hand-dyeing, drop spindling, advanced knitting techniques, felting, and fiber studies,” reports Lesley. She has experimented using wool from such diverse animals as sheep, buffalo, reindeer, and sheepdogs – and has knitted with plant fibers of nettle, hemp, and bamboo. “We’re starting out here with favorite ‘workhorse’ yarns, but we are actively widening our selection of hand-dyed and locally produced yarns,” chimes in David. “More supplies are coming in, and we hope to address local needs.”

As for what’s in the new store’s inventory, “We’re excited to be the first Portland shop to carry Nerd Girl and Cat Mountain yarns, in addition to other local and regional favorites,” says Lesley. “We already stock well-known brands like Cascade, Dream in Color, Rowan, Mirasol, Frog Tree, Brown Sheep, and more. Currently we carry yarns from bulky weight to finger- and lace-weight. We also carry knitting and crochet needles, and various other accessories.”

They also display soaps from the Sellwood Soap Company. “This is an ideal laundry soap for washing wools,” explains Leslie.

The shop is open Tuesday-Friday 11am-7pm, Saturdays 10-6, and Sundays noon to 4. Call the store at 971/302-7137, or use e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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