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There’s no bad time of year to visit the Olympic Peninsula of Washington in the Pacific Northwest. Sure, with a rain-prone climate, it can be drizzly and foggy. You might not see the majestic snow-capped mountains just over there, there, and there.

It won’t matter, I promise, if you’re here for a Knitter’s Weekend. 

Port Townsend

On day one, from Seattle’s urban waterfront we took a ferry heading toward the northeast corner of the Olympic Peninsula in the Salish Sea. Two hours later we arrived at historic Port Townsend—a seacoast town with period architecture and striking mountain views (if the weather is clear). Local style is a handknit wool hat on every head.  

There are so many things to do beginning here in the National Historic Landmark downtown. Port Townsend  boomed in the 1800s when it was a rowdy shipping port hoping to be the final stop for the transcontinental railroad. The tracks ended short but not before speculators built ornate storefront buildings and homes. 

Now Port Townsend is a sea-loving town with a population that clearly appreciates the arts, craft, natural materials, and the environment. Start the weekend strolling Water Street and intersecting blocks. One end is anchored by the marina and the Northwest Maritime Center. If the season is right, sign up for a whale watching boat, or a boat tour of the harbor.

The wooden boat shop is craft in action. Further down the street are small businesses selling local artwork,  galleries, books, gifts. There’s a fabric shop, a bead store, and two local yarn stores. 

Bazaar Girls Yarn Shop is well stocked and welcomingly spacious, in a house. Diva Yarn & Trim is snugged up to the jewel box bead store. Who resists mono color displays of yarn, trim, and textiles? (And if you buy fun trim, what do you do with it? Tell me in the comments, please!) 

There are plenty of places to eat, drink and hang out. At Better Living Through Coffee (best name around) we loved the waterfront view, and the cups dripped just for us in a clever in-counter filter set up. One misty morning there we spotted a woman knitting, a chess game, two artists sharing their sketchbooks, and a small drawing group—it’s easy to fit in.  

The Palace Hotel, on Water Street is a Victorian treat, with big rooms, lots of gathering spaces, and all the bling and texture of optimistic west coast boom.  

The natural world, just down the road

Tiny stone architecture at the Eaglemount Rockery

Leaving Port Townsend on day two, I couldn’t resist a roadside attraction with a killer view at the Eaglemount Rockery.  

The Olympic Peninsula is dominated by Olympic National Park. Roads around the north edge and south from Port Angeles provide access to rainforest, scenic views, trails and old growth forest.

Every shade of green in the rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula

For a Northeasterner like me, used to deciduous trees, the phenomenon of nurse logs and the riot of green on green on green is psychedelic.

My stops are many, including Lake Crescent and the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, featuring one of the world’s longest natural sand spits out into the ocean. The trail down to the beach offers viewing platforms with benches, making for a great spot to sit and  knit—and if you’re lucky, to spy the occasional orca whale and harbor seal. 

Wherever you wander, include a visit to Fort Worden Historical State Park, on the edge of Port Townsend. This army base, circa 1900, overlooking the sea never saw military action. Now it’s a gem for the public with officers’ housing and barracks repurposed for hospitality and the arts. Check links for creative workshops, yoga classes  and concerts. Culture aside, we liked climbing around the cement artillery bunkers covered in anti-graffiti paint with open stairways to climb, and tunnels and lookouts to explore. The park offers hiking trails and beachfront as well.

Circling back toward Seattle

We got day three off to a good start with homemade cinnamon buns while eavesdropping on the locals at the mom-and-pop Courtyard Café.

Detail of hand-carved columns at the Suquamish Museum

Our first stop is the Suquamish Museum in Suquamish, the winter home to Chief Seattle. Suquamish means “the people of the clear salt water.”  The collections make tribal history come alive. Handcrafted exhibits feature spinning, weaving, and carving. And the gift shop is delightful—full of gifts and striking jewelry by indigenous designers and artists from the region. 

Continuing south we crossed the Agate Passage to the town of  Bainbridge Island. There is an upscale suburban feel here, no surprise, as the 25-minute ferry ride to Seattle makes it an appealing island commuter ’burb.   

There are two local yarn shops to explore within blocks of the ferry: La Mercerie and The Lamb & Kid. Having fallen hard for The Lamb & Kid Dimond Laine yarns at a festival last year, I was happy to find myself at the welcoming mothership. It’s an unusual yarn shop—large, with all dark spruce/charcoal walls and good lighting so the brilliantly dyed skeins pop. Displays of multiple heads with hat samples nod at the local accessory of choice. 

My souvenir Shiftalong Hat by Andrea Mowry in Spincycle Dyed in the Wool and the Lamb & Kid Elmer Tweed

And one final tip: The ferry ride to  Seattle is especially lovely if you can time it to dusk, as the skyline and Space Needle glow against the sky—and if you’re very lucky, the mist clears for mountain views. 

More Resources

Special thanks to my dear friends Dorothy Orzel and Paul Ray, an artist and a native, who knew exactly where to take me.  


Note: Each piece in our series A Knitter’s Weekend is written by a knitter with a personal point of view. If you have additional places or information you’d like to share, please leave a comment. And here’s how to save this article in your MDK account

About The Author

With a degree in photojournalism from the University of Minnesota, Gale Zucker has made a career of capturing the humanity and humor in the people and places that are her subjects.


  • Find Port Townsend on your map. This is a drool worthy vacation trip. I live here in the Pac NW and rarely get away; I think I’ll plan for the few days we may expect it to be scorching hot here in Seattle. The ferry ride alone is worth it!

  • We visited Port Townshend in 2008 and thought it was the nearest thing to perfect we’d seen. We’ve lived in several countries over the years and are happily retired in a small village in UK but in my next life I will have a yarn shop in Port Townshend – or failing that Cabot Cove.

  • Thanks for a lovely weekend trip this morning! Since you asked, I do sometimes buy interesting or unusual trim, which I like to use for steeked cardigans or for a sewing project that calls for “just a little something”, even if it’s on the inside. As a finishing touch either in knitting or sewing, I find that the trim can make all the difference!

  • Wow! Thanks for the tour. I’ve never been to the PNW and am totally missing out!

  • No ‘h’ in Port Townsend though ….

    • Fixed!

  • Reading this was a happy trip down memory lane. We lived in Seattle from 2015-2018. Hopping the Ferry for a trip to the Olympic Peninsula was a favorite quick get away. Loved Port Townsend and the LYS there. (Have some of the yarn still in my stash). There was a great ice cream store there at the time. Lake Crescent is beautiful. We’d continue down to Iron Spring and stay in one of their very dog friendly cottages on the beach. Bainbridge Island is so pretty. If you stroll around you might find a labyrinth in the woods. Once back in Seattle look for So Much Yarn, in Pikes Market. Great selection and friendly folks. If you go after July 4 you have a good chance of beautiful weather.

    • Love So Much Yarn!

  • Addendum: hate to be so wordy but I’m wondering about using some of the trim in ROOSIMINE KNITTING.

  • Fun trim can be the centerpiece of a table runner…great, quick hostess gift…

  • Great recommendations! But it only scratches the surface of the available yarn shopping if you have trekked all the way to the PNW. Don’t miss Tolt, Acorn Street, Tricoter and the other yarn shops in the Seattle area. And it is worth the drive to head to Spincycle in Bellingham and a host of small but great stores in Victoria and Vancouver BC.

    • AND – don’t forget the little gem in Ballard – The Tea Cozy.

    • I do miss Tolt! My first introduction to Icelandic wool was in Tolt. Have to say that the Puget Sound LYS is one of the best in the country- 20 shops on the tour this year (May 17 -23). Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend this year; work.

  • Great article on a special town..I’d love to know the name of the pattern for the two-colored blue fingerless mitts that you see when you first open Gale’s website….

  • This story and your lovely photos are balm to my Covid weary eyes! How I would love to go! Thank you for the inspiration!❤️

  • The “mothership”. I love it. Thank you, Gayle! Travel became even better once I started knitting…I once used about a four-inch length of gorgeous 1.5 inch wide embroidered ribbon to make a “handle” for a toy chest lid that was annoying to open by merely grasping the underside of the lid. I folded it in half to make a loop, basted the ends together, then super-glued them to the middle of the underside of the lid. No one else really knew about it (since children just take such things for granted, not focusing on them), so it was my little secret giving me joy for decades, even after my little one flew the coop and I used the chest for storage.. Chloe

  • Sorry to extend My wordiness but I’ve found if you are not Clear, all matter of disasters can ensue. I hope it is obvious that I meant the middle of the EDGE of the length of the lid so the loop extends just beyond. Chloe (again. sigh).

  • Gale….yes, that’s it! Thanks for responding.

  • Thank you for the mental escape!!

  • Thank you for the re-visit to Port Townsend. I grew up in Port Angeles (about an hour and 15 minutes west of PT). I have since moved to South Dakota. This story makes me want to make vacation plans for July or August to go back to the PNW. First to see family and friends, then to re-visit place that I have visited before. Also, there are many yarn shops that have opened since I was last there and want to visit.

  • Your post was wonderful and the photos truly beautiful. Thank you for an excellent start to my day.

  • P.S. If you really want a show, ride any of the ferry’s across the Puget Sound on the 10 pm run on the evening of July 4th. The fireworks show’s are outstanding. You can see fireworks in a 360 degree view.

  • Ah, Pt Townsend… sooo nice, a trip into the past and into nature… in the town: no chain outlets for coffee or burgers. As far as I remember also no neon or huge signage… The time has stopped. Enjoy this place set on a high hill surrounded by water, wild beaches and green nature… How spectacular! Simply the best of the American NorthWest!
    BTW – thank you for the great photos too!

  • If you visit the Olympic Peninsula before May 15 and love all things fiber, stop by the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center to savor the exhibit by the Peninsula Fiber Artists called “What’s For Lunch”. The building and setting themselves are a delight. The exhibit inside is thoughtful with touches of humor, and the submissions expertly executed.

  • When is the next one of these? I have family on Bainbridge and could be easily convinced , , ,

  • Knitting combined with my favorite place on this planet. Thank you for the wonderful discussion of all the treasures that can be found on the Olympic Peninsula. So many great memories.

  • Wow. I live in the PNW and drop by PT often, and have to say you did a great job with this review! There is was too much wonderfulness here for one essay, but yours did very well at capturing it.

  • What a lovely tribute to PT!! Our knitting group used to do retreats there at Fort Worden twice a year. It’s the perfect place to get away from it all and spend time with friends. My mom lives just up the road in Port Angeles so I find myself on the Olympic Peninsula all the time and it is truly beautiful!

  • Oh Gale, this makes me want to leave immediately!!

  • A weekend is not nearly enough to explore the Olympic Peninsula. We lived in Aberdeen for 5 years and still did not see everything. We recently went back for a week and visited old favorites, Cape Flattery and Ruby Beach and found new ones like Sol Duc Falls. Come in May for the LYS Tour and explore Puget Sound.

  • I saw your instructions on how to save an article, but there’s no bookmark image where your instructions say it should be. What should I do now to save the article?

    • Log in first! Then the bookmark will magically appear.

  • You left out wonderful Port Gamble, another site of the booming logging industry and home to the superb Artful Ewe yarn shop and delicious Butcher and Baker.

  • Thank you for the inspiration. I am planning to visit a friend on Bainbridge Island next year. I will be wearing one of those Spincycle/Lamb and Kid hats.

    I am guessing you substitute the Lamb and Kid for one of the Spincycle colors.

    • Yea that’s exactly what I did I used Elmer Tweed (worsted weight ,although I think fingering would have wired well) for the ribbing and the blips ,and the Spincycle dyed in the wool for the main color .

  • Lovely article thank you! I can’t wait to go back to Seattle. A few years ago my husband and I took a wonderful cruise to Alaska, when we arrived back in Seattle we spent a few days exploring the area we enjoyed it so much. We were lucky enough to be able to take the ferry boat to Port Orchard and visit Debbie Macomber’s lovely yarn shop and her tea shop also.

  • Oh, how lovely. That wee stone house, then the verdant rainforest… I hope to make a trip to that area one day…

  • I live in Sequim and of course love Port Townsend and the whole Olympic Peninsula. Too bad that Churchmouse Yarns closed their store in Bainbridge, it’s was arguably the most beautiful store i’ve ever seen. They still have an online store so guess that’ll have to do.

    • Somehow I missed the notice that Churchmouse closed–sad to hear it! My son lived on Bainbridge Island 2006-2007 and when I visited, he was pleased to introduce me to Churchmouse. I had never before seen most of the yarns they had and did some very happy shopping. It was a lovely place with people to match. And their teas! I can recommend the online store, but it’s no substitute for what was.

  • Oh my! This spot sounds so lovely!
    I want to go.

  • As a fly fisher, I’ve always wanted to visit the Sage HQ on Bainbridge Island, to thank the lovely folks who made my various fishing rods that give me so much enjoyment. As a longtime knitter and crafter, your article has given me even more reasons to visit the area!

  • I think it is time for me to visit friends on Whidbey Island. This would be a great adventure for us.

  • Lovely article!! Would love to go sometime.
    It was not clear to me if it was all doable on foot or bicycle?

    • You can definitely do Port Townsend and Fort Worden by foot or bicycle –it would be impossible to do it all in a weekend without a car or ride service.

  • This takes me back to a road trip where on our way back from Port Townsend to catch the ferry at Port Angeles we found a lovely LYS in Sequim, aptly named The Local Yarn Store. Thanks for the article.

  • Your visit to Port Angeles is not complete until you visit The Emporium, a treasure chest of fiber things new and vintage.

  • What ferry goes from Seattle to Port Townsend??????

    • OMG! I believe you can’t ! I thought I had a few years ago and I didn’t check — True confession, on this trip I took the Coupevillle Ferry after driving around Whidbey Island. Thank you for pointing out this glaring mistake .

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