A Dream Road Trip

A couple of weeks ago, a fellow "hooker" who meets with us on Wednesday nights at the store sent me a link to a beautiful website by a woman who was hooking exclusively with 3ply yarns, approximately the same type of hooking that I've been doing.
It was lovely to see the beautiful traditional designs that Margaret Arraj of Mill River Rugs was producing. I happened to notice in a corner of my brain that she lived somewhere in Massachusetts. I stored that info away in case I might have the chance someday to do a road trip and visit her studio, as well as several other tempting locations that I pass regularly on the Mass Pike on my semi regular trips to Boston to visit family.
To my wonder and amazement, a whole pile of details fell into place just days later and the opportunity arose for me to make the dream trip! I couldn't believe my good fortune -- I immediately emailed Margaret and was welcomed last Monday, Aug. 17th so warmly to her beautiful home studio on the gentle banks of a lovely... (you guessed it) river by a mill.
Please link www.millriverrugs.com/gallery.html to see for yourself Margaret's exquisite work.

The wonderful thing for both of us was that we were like long lost hooking sisters reunited, as rug hookers who use yarn are a rare breed indeed with the major exception of Cheticamp rug hooking from Cape Breton - but that yarn is extremely fine, not like our style at all.

For me, hooking with yarn only makes sense as I have enough yarn at my disposal to hook a rug roughly the size of a small European country in every imaginable colour. Better yet, hooking with yarn is ridiculously easy and still maintains a sturdy durability and gorgeous surface texture. Margaret and I spent a lovely hour or two exchanging ideas, resources and I came away inspired to run away to a cabin on a mountain with my burlap, hooks and ...oops. I guess if I run away to said cabin I wouldn't have the yarn to hook with. Besides I would desperately miss my family, and my knitting, and the store, and the folks there, and the newsletter, and... Oh well, I'll just have to be like the rest of the world and settle for revelling in my passion when I get the time to squeeze it in between the other lovely distractions of life.

Speaking of my yarn life: Margaret also put me on the road to 2 great yarn stores in the vicinity of Northampton MA. (just 15 min. north on I-91, off the Mass Pike if you're in the area.)

The first was Northampton Wools, a terrific shop right in the very centre of a most lovely town. It's actually 2 shops, one with fashion and adult natural fibres, the other one focusing more on baby and kids styles. Great idea. Linda Daniels, the owner, has been in business at that location for over 20 years. She was very sweet and I was glad to be able to share ideas with another fellow traveler on the yarn store journey.

In a completely different vein, just down the street from Linda's shops is Webs Yarn Store. This is some big operation: to put it into context: on a Monday in August (not exactly prime knitting season), they had at least a dozen staff people working diligently and there was still a bit of a line up at the cash.
But for those of you whose only experience with yarn SUPERstores is Romni Wool in Toronto, you wouldn't believe this place: immaculate, everything beautifully displayed, more samples on display than we've had in our store in the past 5 years, and very friendly and helpful service to boot. I was surprised to see on their blog that the store is owned by a couple: Kathy and Steve. Let me tell you, these folks know their business, and that business is making people feel good about their knitting, spinning and weaving.
It's always a good idea to get out from behind the cash and from in front of the computer and see a bit of what the rest of the world is doing. It's like giving your brain an invigorating spa experience.



Learn to crochet a simple border around your knitted pieces or finish an afghan with a lovely edging.

Teacher: Janette Atwell
When: Sat. Sept 19th, 1-4pm
COST: $35. Includes all materials.

2 dates to choose from!!
Our most popular class. Learn the basics of 4 needle sock knitting and how to adapt any pattern to fit any foot...all in a day.

Teacher: Anne Woodall
When: Sat. Sept 26th OR Sat. Dec. 12th 10am-2pm
Cost: $45. Includes all materials.

What an opportunity to learn the fine nuances of this beautiful craft, combining the use of cut fabrics, spun wool and fleece in a time honoured tradition.

Teacher: Rhonda Kellett
When: Sat. Oct. 3rd, 1-4pm
Cost: $45 for the class and $45 material cost.

A demonstration of professional techniques to finish hooked rug pieces.

Teacher: Rhonda Kellett
When: Sat. Oct 24th, 1-4pm
Cost: $45. Materials not necessary for this demonstration.

Modular knitting is fun, adaptable to many types of knitting projects and easy to learn. Pick up all the tips and tricks while creating a scarf of glorious self striping yarns.

Teacher: Deb White
When: Sat. Oct. 17th 1-4pm
Cost: $35. for class and $20 for materials.

EASY LACE - Feather and Fan
Introduce yourself to this beautiful traditional yet easiest of lace patterns - for scarves, shawls, afghans, baby blankets, sweaters, bags etc.

Teacher: Anne Woodall
When: Sat. Oct. 31st 1-4pm
Cost: $45. Includes basic materials.

We are proud to feature Andrea Graham, renowned felt artist, who will demonstrate different techniques of felt making as art.
Andrea Graham will show how to create one of a kind, handmade felt from unspun wool fibre using ancient nomadic feltmaking techniques! She will discuss incorporating other fibres and fabrics, using resists and also demonstrate needle felting techniques and other options to embellish finished handmade felt projects.
Check out her website http://www.andrea-graham.com/

When: Sat. Nov 7th, 1-4pm
Cost: $45.

The simplest way to discover the wonder of spinning fibres is with a drop spindle. Try your hand at this age old craft.
Teacher: Kim Parkinson
When: Sat. Nov. 14th 1-4pm
Cost: $45 for the class. $10 material cost.

Learn the basics of knitting mittens for the whole family on 2 needles and/or 4 needles. Options for fingerless gloves and "convertible mitts will also be presented.
Teacher: Anne Woodall
When Sat. Nov. 21st, 10am to 2pm
Cost: $45. Includes all materials.

Here it is: your opportunity to learn all there is to know about the magic mattress stitch, which easily and quickly seams your knitted pieces together...invisibly. Just in time to finish your Christmas knitting projects with a professional touch.

Teacher: Anne Woodall
When: Sat. Dec. 5th 1-4pm
Cost $45. Material list handout available upon registration.


Who knew that Roller Derby was still around???

A couple of weeks ago I discovered this knitting book on the New Arrivals table at the local library. (By the way, this is a plug for all of the local libraries who carry an amazing range of Knitting and other craft books. Right On!)
I was shocked to learn that Roller Derby is alive and well in the western world, and that many of the participating "roller girls" are avid knitters!

Toni Carr, alias Joan of Dark, has combined her 2 loves to come up with Knockdown Knits, this most creative (if not 100% practical for the rest of us) book that includes chapters with titles such as: The Injury List (armpit cushions for crutches, Frozen Peas for Bruised Knees=ice pack cover - shown above, a Booty Pillow, etc); Skating in Style (Slinky Leg/Arm Socks, Broken Arm Sweater, Belly Warmer, If You've Got it, Flaunt it Skirt, etc); Ref's Gear (Smile and Wave Ref Mittens); and lots more.

Toni has also included some great Roller Derby facts: The "sport" was actually invented by Leo Seltzer in 1935. It began as a marathon race, until he realized that what the crowd really loved were the fights and falls that happened between all the skaters. The focus is now on those most prized moments of connection and is reflected in the names of the girls to whom J of D introduces us: Blazin Ace, Shadi Layne, Lilly Whip, Sin Lizzie, Slammy Faye, and so on.

Although many of the projects are real groaners in how they make us wince at their uses, Toni/J of D is also incredibly creative as shown in the arm warmer with an attached drink holder known as Dill and Brownie's Beer Saver.

I love to have an opportunity to discover aspects of our world that I would not have thought would come across my path. This was one fun hour I spent getting to know a bit more about J of D and her buddies and their world of Roller Derby.
Check it out! (and I mean that literally: get to the library and check out some of the knitting books that they have on offer.)


The joys of a Blogger

Last week I spent 7 blessed days (thanks to the only so-so weather at the cottage) with my nose in one book or another. I had brought 3 books, the 1969 Time magazine retrospective and 7 Canadian Geographic magazines, not to mention the 200 page NY Times Crossword puzzle book.

By Tuesday afternoon I was going a little stir crazy so I made the big trip into the nearest city (pop. 9 000) and found myself in WalMart where I had to check out the books. I picked up a copy of the latest hit to be made into a Hollywood movie: Julie and Julia. This memoir takes us through a year in the life of Julie Powell who, approaching the age of 30, decides that it's important to make some kind of a statement with her life and thereby chooses to prepare all 500+ recipes from the Julia Child "Mastering the Art of French Cooking - vol 1" within 365 days.

This amazing challenge may or may not have died a premature death but for Julie's introduction to the world of blogging. Having announced to the on-line world that she was taking on this challenge, she seemed incapable of backing out of the proposition.

(I'm including the pictures above left to show the magic that Hollywood can perform. Turning Amy Adams (bottom left) into Julie Powell was no challenge at all. But Meryl Streep into Julia Child!!?? -
I believe that Meryl deserves some kind of Oscar for Character Jumping: sexy mother in Mama Mia, staunch and terrifying Mother Superior in Doubt, and now 6'2" Julia Child. Amazing! And all in the space of a year.)
Okay, so what does this fun little romp through my reading preferences have to do with knitting??? Well actually, not much. Except that having read all of the Yarn Harlot's books, I was amazed at the similarities between Stephanie's view of the world in relation to Julie's: they both have a wonderful ability to maintain a tremendous sense of self discipline while being able to pull back and laugh at themselves and what they see as their foibles. And they are both VERY FUNNY ladies (although be warned: Julie is a self proclaimed "sailor mouth". This is not a PG13 book for language.)
I too, have had some fun with my on-line relationships lately. Lynne from the North of England is a regular receiver of our monthly e-newsletter and very kindly emailed me this weekend to let me know how much she appreciated receiving it, having been directed to the site by her Canadian cousin. I love it. How fun.