Rearranging

Over the long weekend we completely rearranged the store. If you have been here before, you won’t recognize it!

Isn’t it funny how when you imagine rearranging,

it all seems so straightforward and seamless in your mind?

And then you get started. Because the stuff is all switching places, you have to move a bunch of things to make some space to move the other things into before you can then move the first stuff to where it’s supposed to go.

Yup, then that perfect plan you have imagined in your mind’s eye? Well it turns out that the laws of physics prevent that from existing without employing some sort of inter-dimensional parallel universe… well at least that’s what happens to me. My step-son and I spent well over an hour trying to arrange the thread cabinets before we finally abandoned the original vision and put them somewhere completely different.

My sewing department was so cramped that it was frustrating and stressful to work. We now have a large area where my many industrial sewing machines have room for me to work comfortably. I didn’t realize how cramped it really was until after the move. It’s such a relief now that it’s basically done. It will take a while just to get used to the new work flow. I’m sure I’ll be tweaking it for a while to make it nice and efficient.

The yarn and notions displays are a bit more compact, but still roomy enough that several people can be browsing without being in each others’ way. The new area made it a lot easier to group all the craft supplies together; the knitting tools; the crochet tools and the yarn as well. It’s actually easier to find what you’re looking for now. I’m still hoping to come up with a better way to display the patterns.

We set up a separate table for me to work at so that the old cutting table is available all the time for cutting yard-goods for customers. We also have an incoming counter for doing up work orders for jobs and a separate check-out counter for handling sales and out-going work. Best of all, Irene and I are no longer tripping over each other. YAY!

Of course, it wasn’t actually on my radar to do all that on the long weekend. I was expecting to be sewing; I’m a little behind with that now. We definitely needed the entire long weekend to manage it. Even with me, my sweetheart and his grown son we had to put in very long days to have it mostly done in time to open on Tuesday. Then, on Tuesday I was vacuuming and dusting and cleaning in general for most of the day. Wednesday I figured I earned a day off. I left Irene in charge and took a day away. And now I just need to get the sewing caught up, which I hope I can do over the weekend.

Isn’t it amazing how much chaos you have to wade through to create order? But it’s so worth it!

Lacy Twigs Dishcloth

Ta-dah! I have a pattern for you today.

The Lacy Twigs Dishcloth includes a 4-row lace pattern repeat. It results in lacy columns that reminded me of woven twigs or climbing ivy. On either side of the lace columns are stockinette (stocking stitch) columns. It has enough going on to make it fun to watch it develop; but it’s still easy.

There are a couple things to pay attention to in this pattern.

I have you starting the pattern immediately after the cast-on. Most often you would either knit or purl a row first. I did this purposely so you can see how that affects the outcome. I think it’s pretty. (Besides, I was getting bored of the seed stitch border routine.) Knitting the first row of any project can be a little troublesome, even when you are just knitting it or purling it. It’s tricky to knit into the cast on stitches. Don’t get discouraged if you feel frustrated establishing the first row. Yes, it does kind of suck. But once you get that done, you’ll be fine.

Be patient and just take your time with it.

Rather than knitting or purling the first stitch in each row, you will be slipping them. This gives a different look to the edge of the work. On the right side rows you simply slip the first stitch as if you were going to knit. On the wrong side, with the yarn to the back, you slip the first stitch purlwise. Easy squeezy!

The decreases this time include K2tog-TBL (knit two together through the back loop). This awesome and easy little stitch results in a left leaning decrease without doing a SSK (slip, slip knit) or a SKP (slip, knit pass). It is a perfect compliment to the K2Tog (knit 2 together) on the mirror side of the pattern repeat. It lays nicely and looks sharp.

I included a wee chart with only the lace pattern repeat. Once you get your foundation done (your first 4-row pattern repeat), you will be able to see easily how those stockinette stitch columns sit between the lace. You won’t need the full chart to follow along once you have that in place. However, I did include the full chart so that you can have an overview of the entire project.

Remember that the symbols have 2 meanings:

  • one for the right side of the work;
  • one for the wrong side of the work.

This will likely only potentially confuse you on your foundation rows. Once you see the pattern develop you will be able to tell what you need to do on the wrong side rows at a glance. (Yes, honest, you will. 🙂 )

I hope you have fun with this project. I have some ideas for some other fast and easy projects that I want to create patterns for over the summer. I can’t promise that they will appear predictably regular or anything. My life is pretty full these days and I do have to sleep and eat from time to time. LOL 😀 My hope is to offer some projects that would make quick but nice and useful gifts. I want them to be interesting and fun to make without making your head hurt. Sound like a plan?

And hey, feel free to leave me a comment if you’d like. (Well, as long as it’s a nice comment.)

Oh, and

Happy Victoria Day weekend

to my fellow British Columbians! And for everybody else:

happy long weekend

of whatever sort it is wherever you are. Cheers!

And here is the pattern!

Happy Mothers’ Day

Our relationships with our moms can be complicated. Whether we are close with our mom or whether we find it really difficult to see eye to eye with her, she’s still Mom. I love my mom and in spite of the many deeply challenging aspects of my relationship with her, I have a deep regard for her struggle to do the best she could with what she had and who she was. Being human is messy in spite of our best intentions. So today, I thought I’d share a treasured memory of my mom in honour of Mothers’ Day.

Mom was a very creative person. She sewed and knitted, gardened and along with all the other “mom” things she had to do, she ran a business with Dad. She had rheumatoid arthritis in her hands and every morning she would sit in her rocker-recliner in the corner of the dining room and knit. It got the circulation going in her hands so that she could function. For many years, she knitted commissioned garments for people in the community. She sewed and was a brilliant cook as well. She made many items including jams and jellies that she sold for years at the Salmon Arm Farmers’ Market. She was one of their founding members and was proud to have been the very first to purchase a membership: Receipt #001.

Our family was exceptionally hard-working. We grew up with a very strong work ethic, always looking for how we could improve on what we had done before. We were instilled with a love of discovery, creativity, invention and took pride in our achievements. We loved a challenge, even if we didn’t know how we were going to meet it.

I remember a particular commission piece that my mother took on. A customer brought her a picture from a knitting magazine of a sweater that looked like a landscape painting straight out of the Louvre. It had an astounding 28 colours of yarn in it. Mom warned the customer that this was going to cost a pretty penny; when they agreed to her price, she couldn’t resist the challenge.

She organized her balls of coloured yarn in mason jars; one jar per colour. The array was quite spectacular. (Pity the person who bumped into any one of those jars, though!) For this project she moved from her recliner to the couch. That was a lot of jars! As she switched colours, she would deftly move the jars, like a dance, to keep the strands from tangling. It was a fascinating, sometimes terrifying process to witness. On the days when it went smoothly, we could quietly sit and watch her work. On the days when it wasn’t, it was better to be out in the barn! It took a very long time for her to finish the sweater. The landscape wrapped around the entire sweater and continued on the sleeves. It was DK yarn and the sweater was for a large man. The amount of work was phenomenal.

I remember one night in particular that I went to kiss her goodnight. She looked up from her knitting and I realized that she was crying. I asked her what was wrong. She sighed and said that she wasn’t sure she was a good enough knitter to finish the sweater. She sniffed and then said,

“I have so much invested in it now that I can’t turn back.”

I hugged her and kissed her and told her that I knew she could do it. I told her that I hoped one day I could be half the knitter that she was. She smiled and kissed me and sent me off to bed.

When she finally finished the sweater, she was relieved and proud and yet still pointed out every flaw that she saw (and she saw plenty). They didn’t look like flaws to me. I was so proud of her and I told her so. I told her that I thought she was a super-hero,

a bonafide Wonder Woman!

She gave me a strange look and shook her head and told me, “Don’t tell anyone how many mistakes I made.” She lamented that no amount of money could pay for the amount of work, care and concentration that went into that sweater. I asked her whether she regretted taking it on. She sighed heavily and said that now it was done, she was glad she did it. But she would never do another one like that again.

That sweater inspired me. Watching my mom plugging away at what must have seemed like an insurmountable task impacted me deeply. Sometimes when I feel like there isn’t enough of me to get through what I have to do I remember my mother quietly knitting into the night, tears of self-doubt on her cheeks, persevering. I remember the finished sweater. I take a deep breath, shake off the self-doubt and carry on.

Thanks Mom.

Spring Knitting

The sun is out, the sky is clear and a gorgeous blue. I can hear the swallows calling each other. There is a gentle breeze and if you stand in the sunshine, it feels gloriously warm. (Of course this is Revelstoke, so all that could change by the time I finish writing my blog.) When winter finally says good-bye for real and the days are consistently warm my appetite for knitting changes. It also has some real competition now that I can be out in my garden enjoying the warmer weather.

The types of yarn that attract me change when the weather gets warm. Instead of reaching for wool and acrylic blends I find myself reaching for bamboo, cotton, linen and blends that incorporate these fibres. The chunky and bulky yarns don’t appeal to me quite so much now and I find myself looking for 4-ply and DK yarns instead. That’s not to say I give up wool altogether; after all sock yarn is 4-ply, that’s light enough to work on when it’s warm outside. Although if I’m inclined to knit cotton socks, now would be the time. That having been said,

any time of year is a good time to knit socks as far as I’m concerned.

I find myself thinking about light and breezy patterns for summery garments and coverups, crafty things like bags and doll dresses, tea cozies or lacy things. With winter (in our Mountain resort town) being my really busy season both for sewing and for the yarn shop, I often find myself feeling a bit like the end of April and beginning of May exist so that I can recover from the intensity of the winter season. I still have to work and the sewing never actually stops, but it usually lightens up and I can slow down enough to realize that I’m tired. My sweetheart can tell where I am on the exhaustion scale by what and how I knit. When I don’t pick up my knitting at all, I should just go to bed… and he doesn’t hesitate to tell me so. I’ve had a whole week of not picking up my knitting at all. I had good intentions of making up a pattern this week but clearly, that didn’t happen. LOL And it’s all good. I’ve always been one to push myself hard and sometimes I just need to back off and chill. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking about knitting. Bob says that if I ever stop thinking about knitting, he’ll have to rush me to the hospital to find out what’s wrong with me. 😛

I have some lovely summery yarns in my store and I thought I’d show you them and see if I can offer some springtime inspiration. I’d love it if you would leave a comment below to suggest things that you like to knit or crochet during the warmer seasons. I am looking for some inspiration too. 🙂 I’ve been scanning ravelry.com looking for a summer shawl pattern that will work well with the Diamond Luxury Tropicalia yarn. It’s so pretty with the hint of shine from the viscose.

Anne crochet cotton

Anne Crochet Cotton: 100% Cotton; 27S X 30R on 3 – 3.5mm needles

Mulberry silk

Diamond Luxury Mulberry Silk 50% Alpaca, 25% Mulberry Silk, 25% Linen; 22S x 28R on 4mm needles

Pima colori cotton

Diamond Luxury Pima Lino Colori Cotton: 60% Pima Cotton, 40% Linen; Laceweight

Diamond Luxury summertime

Diamond Luxury Summertime: 55% Cotton, 45% Acrylic; 20S x 28R on 4 to 4.5mm needles

Diamond Luxury tropicalia

Diamond Luxury Tropicalia: 55% Cotton, 45% Viscose; 22-24S x 26 – 30R on 4mm needles

Knitca cotton

Knitca Cotton: 100% Cotton; 21S X 5R on 4mm needles

wavy cotton

Knitca Wavy: 100% Cotton; 16S X 18R on 4mm needles

Solo Cotone sock yarn

Lana Grossa Solo Cotone; 37S X 29R on 3 – 3.5mm needles

Nako Fiore

Nako Fiore: 25% Linen, 35% Cotton, 40% Bamboo; 25S X 35R on 3 – 3.5mm needles

Nako solare

Nako Solare: 100% Cotton; 25S x 37R on 2.5 – 3.5mm needles

Nova plus cotton cool

Nova Plus Cotton Cool: 100% Cotton; 18S X 24R on 4.5mm needles

Sirdar Baby Bamboo

Sirdar Baby Bamboo: 80% Bamboo, 20% Wool; 22S X 28R on 4mm needles

Supersock stretch cotton

Supersocke Cotton Stretch Uni: 41% Wool, 39% Cotton, 13% Polyamide, 7% Polyester; 30S x 42R on 2.5 – 3mm needles

There are a lot of other yarns available to satisfy all our spring and summer knitting desires. I hope this little sampling serves to inspire you. Happy Knitting!

A Thimble Glossary

A thimble is a device used to protect your finger as you push a needle through fabric while hand stitching. Surprisingly, there are actually quite a number of different thimble styles available. Everyone has their own preference as to which finger or which part of their finger they use to operate a thimble. As a result, the many thimble types take these preferences into consideration to give sewing enthusiasts the most comfortable option possible.

Classic Thimble

Most people are familiar with the classic thimble. It looks like a little cup made of metal (steel or brass) or plastic with small dimples that grab the end of the needle and prevent it from slipping as you push it through the fabric. It is worn on the finger tip. Some only have dimples on the top, others have them on the sides as well. Some have a convex top some have concave tops. Many quilters prefer a variation of this classic thimble that has slots as well as dimples. It is a little better at preventing slipping.

regular thimble

Open Sided Thimble

Topen sided thimblehe open sided thimble is worn at the finger tip but is used only in one direction.

Soft Comfort Thimble

soft comfort thimblePrym makes a hybrid of the above two styles. It is made of a soft and pliable material that is still strong. They call it the “soft comfort thimble”. It is quite similar to the open sided thimble.

Ring Thimble

Ring thimbles are worn around the finger as the name suggests. They come in a couple different styles: classic and with a plate. The classic style is a simple ring with dimples. The ring with a plate has a separate dimpled plate which is typically worn so that the plate rests on the hand at the base of the finger. These are adjustable.

Leather Thimble

Leather thimbles are available in a couple styles too. The simple classic style that fits over the top of the finger allows you to push the needle with the top of the finger or the side. My personal favourite is the coin thimble. This is a leather thimble, often worn on the thumb with a small dimpled metal “coin” in the side. I have had mine for over 20 years and it is still going strong after hand stitching many quilts.

Thermal Thimble

thermal thimblesAnd last but not least, a thimble for a slightly different purpose, the thermal thimble is intended to protect your finger and thumb as you press fabrics. They allow you to run your finger or thumb along the edge of your fabric immediately after you apply a hot iron. It’s always better to not cook your finger when you are sewing!

Others

There are a number of companies that make thimbles and in my experience they all stand up quite nicely.

  • Clover,
  • Dritz,
  • Prym,
  • Singer, and
  • Tailorform

(in alphabetical order) are some of the most common brands.

They range in price from a few dollars to $20 each depending on the type.

Most styles come in various sizes to accommodate the best fit for everyone. Thankfully, most of them are inexpensive, so it doesn’t hurt if you need to try a few to find the one that’s just right. You will know you have found the right thimble for you when you forget that you have it on. It should become an extension of your finger or hand.

Whether you use a thimble or not, I wish you happy sewing.

Happy Easter

With Easter weekend upon us I found myself reminiscing. My two Omas lived in Germany; one near Hanover and the other in Neu-Ulm. When I was a little girl, the way we distinguished between them was that one knitted and the other crocheted. Each of them actually did both, but they each had their preference.

Leading up to Easter, we could always expect a parcel from each of them. 

  • One would include colourful crocheted dresses made up of what I called the “birthday cake stitch” 
  • and the other a knitted sweater or cardigan.

 Each would also contain some candies and other little trinkets that were not available in Canada. Besides the anticipation of simply opening the parcels, I remember feeling breathless as I waited to see what my Easter dress would look like.

To me, as a young girl, the fact that both Omas always got my size right was nothing less than magical. I honestly believed they had supernatural powers that allowed them to always send something perfect for each of the five of us kids. In hindsight, my mother obviously talked to them and told them what we would like and what our sizes were. When I would gush to mommy about how amazing it was, she would just smile. 

Never once did she unravel that mystery. 

I’m so glad that she didn’t.

I remember a tiny change purse that looked like a lady bug, Maoam chewy candies in a great big Costco sized bag (these would be doled out throughout the whole year). Pastel coloured candy-covered chocolates and Nürnberger Lebkuchen. But mostly it was about the dresses for me. My mother knitted every day from the time I can remember until the day Alzheimer’s took it from her. She had arthritis in her hands and that hour of knitting first thing in the morning was how she kept her hands from seizing up. 

I knew how long it took to make a garment out of balls of yarn. I knew how much work it was. 

Even though I rarely got to see my Omas in person, I knew without a doubt that they loved me. Only someone who really loved me would put that much time into making something out of yarn in my favourite colours, just for me.

And now, I carry on that tradition. I show my love for my family through my knitting. And they know how long it takes; and they know that only someone who really loves them would put that much time into making something out of yarn just for them.

I wish you all magic, joy and love.