Pre-Hallowe'en news

Just wanted to share some of the great projects that we got to appreciate last week at the Fall Show & Share. Thanks so much to all who participated.
Among these pictures, the aqua lace sweater has a removable collar making it a perfect piece to wear all year; isn't that clever?
The bowl of fruit was a big hit; both the bowl and the 4 pieces of fruit were needle felted.
Lace was a big hit this time with 5 projects of intricate lace using fine laceweight yarns and several patterns that included lace stitches.
A special announcement of an amazing event happening this week!
Those of you who come to Thursday night Knit & Chat at the WOOL-TYME Kingston store may have met Jay Serdula who is our only male participant, and who's jokes are much anticipated. Jay is planning and training to swim Lake Ontario next summer and to spur on the United Way Campaign among his co-workers at RMC, Jay promised to swim "Navy Bay" if a certain amount was raised in pledges. Well we heard today that the swim is on for Friday, NOVEMBER 2nd - that's right, swimming in Lake Ontario, in November. What some people will do for a fundraiser!
Anyone interested in cheering Jay on should be at Fort Henry about 11:45 on Friday morning and the swim is scheduled to take place at noon. Way to go Jay!
There is so much for every knitter on the internet and here is an idea that came to me this morning from KnitNet's Tips, Tricks and Trade secrets. This is a weekly e-newsletter which usually features an unusually useful tip for knitters from each of the beginner, intermediate and expert skill levels. I make a point of reading all 3 of the tips each week as I often find some really great little idea that I had never thought of before. The following is the best reason/way to get a "dreaded" swatch knitted that I have ever heard of:

Swatch Secret
"I am like most knitters: reluctant to knit a swatch because I am impatient with the time it takes and, as it happens, just lazy. I am also like most knitters in that I have a stash that keeps growing no matter how fast I knit.
Recently, however, I developed a new mindset: I love knitting; swatching is actually just knitting.
When I get new yarn for a new project, I am eager to use it but I know that I can't possibly start another project until I finish some I am currently working on. So I just take out one of those luscious balls of my new yarn acquisition and make the swatch.
I get to enjoy the feel of it and see the beauty of the yarn as it is knitted. This satisfies my impatience to get started with the new while the old still sits glaring at me to pick it up and get busy. I also get a swatch made well in advance. "
— Mary Enck, Santa Monica CA
Now isn't that a great way to deal with our addiction in a very creative and useful manner.
1. Buy yarn.
2. Play with yarn using recommended needles in stocking stitch. Enjoy knitting with new yarn.
3. Discover that you have actually made a swatch while enjoying said new yarn. Eureka!
To receive the KnitNet tips regularly at your email visit www.knitnet.com It's a great on line knitting magazine that is certainly worth a look.


I'm too tired to think or work, so I'll write. (Now doesn't that make sense?)

Actually it does make sense for me. For all of you who like to put your feet up at the end of the day and spend some time with your favourite knitting project, you'll understand that that's how I feel about writing. This is fun and relaxing, to give myself a chance to play on the internet to find interesting things that can be passed along to you. One of the things that I found was the above picture of a "Biker Sheep" at http://www.funny.co.uk/stuff/art_175-3989-Biker-Sheep.html . Really, take a second to link to the full picture. It's just too much. I figure that anything in the world that gives us a little giggle is worth the few seconds of a cyberspace visit.

Furthermore, I was interested to find the following facts about wool that I had never heard before- and I thought that I heard them all:

Wool Facts

-One pound of wool can be spun into 20 miles of yarn.
-A perfectly preserved woolen sock was found buried in silt on the banks of a river in England. The sock is estimated to be 1,000 years old.

and this one which I did know:
-Wool being used for the first time is called "Virgin Wool".

but it reminded me of one of the most unexpectedly pleasant parts of being at the store is in meeting the partners of some of our customers who patiently come with their wives when they are shopping at WOOL-TYME Kingston. Usually we're talking about older gentlemen whose wives aren't able to get around as well anymore and so they will often set himself down at our table with the newspaper or a book and amuse themselves. But on occasion, with the wife happily checking out all the new yarns, I get a chance to chat with these guys and it's usually a delightful visit. One day one of them, who happened to be a retired Anglican minister, arrived and came right up to the counter with the air of a kid just busting to tell you something. What he was so proud of was the following joke:
Q: Where does virgin wool come from?
A: From the sheep who can run the fastest. (Think about it. It's pretty cute.)

And of course, because you can find absolutely everything on the internet, the following is a link to a whole list of careers in wool in Australia. http://www.woolinnovation.com.au/Student_information/Careers_with_wool/page__2162.aspxNow
Now excuse me...I certainly understand that a huge percentage of the world's wool production goes to be processed into thread for weaving fabric but could there not have been even the slightest of nods to the knitting industry??? Don't they knit in Australia?

By the way, for those of you who were wondering, this is a " jillaroo" from Australia. Looks like a fun job!


What will be happening at the store over the next couple of weeks.

What a great time this is with so many activities lined up over the next few weeks.
First of all, I want to apologize to those of you who don't live close enough to take part in our classes and activities. I hear from so many people who wish that they could be part of the scene but that's one of the drawbacks of the internet: although it brings us so much closer together, it also makes us realize that there are many fun things out there that we are missing out on too.

That being said, one of our customers who moved to Quebec about a year ago is planning a trip to Kingston with her new crafting buddies next weekend to take part in the 6th Annual Fall Show and Share. For those of you who are in the Kingston area, I urge you to take advantage of the fact that you are our neighbours and get your favourite (or latest, or greatest, or sweetest) knitting/crochet/felting/hooking project and bring it into the store before next Monday, Oct. 22nd. (If it's on a hanger, it's even better.)

This lovely little sweater is the first of the projects that has been dropped of. We will be putting the projects on display for the week and will be hosting the reception for all customers and participants next Saturday Oct. 27th from 1-4pm. What a great opportunity to see how much we all enjoy our crafting and to connect with others who have the same passions.

Another reminder: there are still a few spots in Andrea Graham's Needle Felting workshop on Sat. Nov. 3rd. (Link to the information by clicking on the November schedule of activities above.)

Just to clear up a bit of confusion, we've had a few customers who were thinking that this felting class had more to do with "fulling" or knitting a piece from pure wool yarn then shrinking it in the washer to provide a more resilient fabric for bags and slippers, etc. What Andrea actually does is teaches the technique of needle felting which is the matting of wool fibres using needles to create 3D forms and beautiful effects to embellish almost any material. http://www.andrea-graham.com/

We are so priveleged to have such an artist in our midst and to be able to take advantage of the creativity that she shares in her classes. Please call the store 613-384-3951 to sign up.
Finally, although those of you who are in the Kingston area are the ones who get in on a lot of the fun that our cyber-space buddies might miss out on, you are also the ones that we need to call on for help. And WOOL-TYME Kingston has a nice but persistent problem.

As many of you know, we are the area coordinators for PROJECT LINUS, an organization that distributes hand made blankets to children who are going through a stressful time in their lives. They are dropped off at shelters, Almost Home, the Children's Aid, the Native Friendship Centre and many other locations as well. All of our customers have been so generous in bringing in blanket donations and we have developed this very real problem that we are needing to process more blankets each month than ever before.

What I'm looking for is someone who could donate about an hour or two every couple of weeks to pick up a bag of blankets to which they will sew on labels identifying the blanket as being from Project Linus, measure, fold and tie the blankets and return them to the store where someone will drop them off to our recipient agencies. It's a nice little volunteer job that requires a car for pick ups, a bit of space for measuring and basic sewing skills. If any one is interested, please contact me at the store at 613-384-3951. Thanks a million.


What's going on at the store.

It's been great to see so many people who had taken a bit of a leave from their knitting while the weather was warm and the gardens and activities were occupying them.

We've had some great new products arrive at the store recently that I wanted to let you now about. First is our second batch of Vogue Knitting Magazine's 25th Anniversary issue. The first batch was sold out almost immediately. It's a great magazine, giving us the opportunity to laugh at ourselves a bit for the looks that we've tried to achieve in our knitting over the past 25 years. Get yours soon as they don't last long. It's a a very interesting read for any knitter.

About twice a year, we get a visit from Jack, the needlepoint canvas guy. He arrives with coffee and a Tim Horton's treat and we always get a chance to catch up on each other's lives. (His youngest daughter is getting married in a couple of weeks. Pretty proud papa.) Anyway, Jack always leaves behind a great selection of needlepoint canvasses so for those who enjoy needlepoint, come on in and see what there is. There are some really beautiful pieces.

For those of you who have always been intrigued by these canvasses that we display on our walls, and have wondered how they are worked, the time has come for you to check out our new schedule of winter events as in January, we will be having a free demo that will give you the gist of how it works and will show you how easy it is to work these canvasses.
A complete list will be available in the next couple of days on this site, but paper copies are available at the store now.
NOW THAT'S A SOCK! This is the first time that we have had 6ply sock yarn in the store and it's been a big hit. Obviously you don't have to make knee high socks with it; I think that they are just trying to play on the fact the yarn is a bit bigger than the traditional 4ply self-striping yarn that we're all used to. This yarn is just the thing for those who wear socks in sandals, (summer and winter?) in sneakers, in skates or light hiking boots or just to give you a bit more warmth and a faster knitted sock.
Finally, thanks a million to all of you who filled out our customer survey. You can't imagine how helpful it is for us to know what you like and what maybe isn't so important to you -- what we should focus on and what should we let go of. And by the way, CONGRATS to Janice Van Dijk, the winner of the $100. gift certificate. I'm sure that she'll put it to good use.


Finishing projects

Unlike the majority of knitters, I don't really mind finishing projects. Because I get to do it so often for customers, I guess I've had more experience than the average knitter and know what to worry about and what to ignore as it will probably fix itself in the blocking.

Those of you who saw me at the Sheep Dog trials in August will be pleased to see that I finished the sideways jacket that was so difficult to explain when I was only 7" up the first sleeve. I love the colours and how it drapes.

When we were on holidays in the maritimes, there was a lot of knitting time in the car. I got to start a sweater in alpaca for my husband for Christmas (ha, ha...considering I've also had requests for an afghan and a felted yoga mat bag. Can you imagine how big that sucker is going to have to be before I felt it? That's a lot of knitting.) Anyway, the problem with knitting with alpaca in a small car with 3 other people is that there is a lot of "fluff" that flies around. No one commented, but I did feel that I had to wipe down the dash every 20 minutes or so. To keep the "fluff" under control some of the time, I had also brought my Feather and Fan scarf that I was making of Topsy Farms premium lace weight wool which I had dyed with raspberry lemonade Kool-Aid. (Again, who knew that raspberries were such a lovely aqua colour.) I believe that there was a picture of it on an earlier posting of this blog when it was only about 2" long. Well, here it is. Completed, cast off, washed and blocked. I still love the softly mottled aqua colour.

It must be a time of the year when we are encouraged to finish up some of the UFO's (unfinished objects) before we get into some serious holiday gift knitting. Just this morning, Jane who works at the store came in wearing her latest creation: A jacket of Manos Del Uruguay, sporting our new Incomparable Buttons. It's stunning.

But yesterday, I saw the finished version of the mother of all knitting projects (no pun intended...read on). An unbelievable dedicated mother of the bride took on the knitting of her daughter's wedding dress. (By the way, the wedding is taking place today - congrats to the happy couple). The body of the dress was a lovely blending of lace weight mohair and a lovely silky looking DK yarn. The skirt was knit entirely in Stocking stitch of the lace weight mohair by itself on quite large needles. I was concerned that it might be a bit see-through with the open texture. I needn't have worried. When the mother brought in the finished dress we saw that there was so much ruffling in the skirt that it layered beautifully and apparently flows like a train.

To achieve this ruffling, the pattern called for many regular increases. The final increase round brought the total number of stitches to 10,000 per round. I kid you not! I was interested about the time requirement to knit 10,000 stitches so when I got home, I tested myself at a sensible rhythm and could sustain about 25sts per minute, considering moving stitches along, pulling yarn etc. At that rate, a single round would take approximately 6 hours and 40 minutes. Now is that not a story of unbelievable maternal love and dedication.

By the way, I hear that the dress fits beautifully and is loved. We've been promised a picture and hope to share it with you.


Back from Cheticamp, Nova Scotia

This is the demonstration area at the "Co-op Artisanale" in Cape Breton where I spent most of last Saturday with a couple of local "hookeuses" (as they are called in French) who taught me some of the finer points of traditional Cheticamp rug hooking, including different ways that they use colour and shading in their flowers and different techniques for filling in the background of these beautiful pieces. I might have had time to accomplish more if we hadn't spent so much time trying to identify which branch of the Aucoin family that my mother was from ( la fille a Arthur, a Eusebe, a Eustade) and who my father's great grandmother was related to. I believe that they should just give it up and accept the fact that all Cape Breton Acadians are related on one if not both sides of their families.

The difference between regular traditional rug hooking and the style from Cape Breton Island is that they use fine yarns and hook a loop in each hole of their backing, creating beautiful images of great detail, texture and beauty. Yet it technically isn't any more difficult to do than the primitive or "fabric strip" type of rug hooking, just a bit more detailed. Consequently, it lends itself beautifully to smaller pieces: wall hangings, table runners, bags, glasses cases, etc.

Anyway, back to the store tomorrow and it will be great to get back to see everyone.

Just a fun bit of trivia from the world of the internet: while I was away, I received a great note from a woman in Gatwick, England requesting permission to use some of the patterns from our companion WOOL-TYME KINGSTON FREE PATTERN site (link at right) to use to make products for sale with her home-spun wool. I am always so excited to see how the internet has played such a great role in making the lives of knitters and crafters much richer by introducing them to other people, ideas and services all over the world. What an honour to have my designs seen "across the pond."