Let’s Get Worsted, in Kettle Valley!

This year, I finally felt ready to hunt for local hand-dyed yarns and patterns to sell in my store. I believe strongly in supporting local small business whenever possible. Now that I have built up my inventory of staple yarns I really wanted to offer something a bit more luxurious. I had a small selection of hand-dyed yarns in solid colours, but I wanted something with really interesting colourways. I found it.

Black Cat Custom Yarn is located in Chilliwack, BC (Canada).

I was excited to have the opportunity to meet the owners this fall and to see and feel their yarns in person. A customer told me about them and I was not disappointed. I brought in a modest selection of two weights of Black Cat yarn. It has been a hit.

I have already placed another order and they are dying it now. Once it arrives it will expand the selection to 17 colourways of “Let’s Get Worsted” and 15 colourways of “Everyday Sock”. The price point is typical of hand dyed yarn.

I recently made up a project using the “Damsel” colourway of  Black Cat’s “Let’s Get Worsted”. The pattern was the Kettle Valley Shawl from Knox Mountain Knit Company out of Kelowna, BC.

So first of all, I should have done a gauge check. I didn’t and my gauge was a bit soft. I ended up using three and a half skeins rather than the three that the pattern called for. That was definitely on me. I’m confident that it could be done with three if the gauge is matched.

The Pattern: Kettle Valley Shawl by Knox Mountain Knit Co.

knox-mountain-knit-coKnox Mountain Knit Co. patterns are inspired by landmarks of the Okanagan Valley in the interior of British Columbia, Canada. I love that each has a short write-up describing what inspired the pattern. They are beautifully printed on sturdy paper and priced reasonably. They all come with a Ravelry code that allows you to have both the hard copy and a Ravelry download to access on your devices. I now have hard copies of all their designs for sale in my store. (The patterns are displayed in two binders; if you’re in the store ask me where to find them. You can also view them on Ravelry.) The photographs are beautiful. They offer sets (hats, mittens and cowls) that are sold separately but made to coordinate. This is a wonderful option if you are making gifts… especially for those individuals whose birthdays land near Christmas.

The instructions were clear and easy to follow. I loved the twisted stitch method used. The first few times I did it, I had to check the instructions but once I comprehended what was happening and why it worked, I was off to the races. It’s a nice big shawl without being so large as to feel like a blanket. It was my first worsted weight shawl and I had my doubts because I like lace shawls and I love to knit with sock weight yarn. I think I may have been converted. Yes, by the final row I was knitting 357 stitches. However, I finished this, knitting leisurely in front of the TV in the evenings over the course of 10 days. I didn’t even knit every evening. It is made up of sections that when viewed as a whole mimic the trestles of the historic Kettle Valley Railway in the vicinity of Kelowna, British Columbia. I found that with each section, it took very little time to get a sense of the pattern so I could just knit away without checking the reference. That’s how I like it! I’m delighted with the outcome and so is the person who received it as a gift.

The Yarn: Black Cat Custom Yarn; Damsel; weight “Let’s Get Worsted”

This yarn was an absolute pleasure to knit. It was soft and smooth. The stitch definition is fantastic. All the effort I put into creating those trestles stood out and made the pattern proud. It reminds me of Malabrigo yarn. Sometimes when I make a larger project I get a little bored of looking at the yarn by the end of the project. Not with this yarn! There is just no getting bored of this yarn. The colourways are so fun and the names are nerdy and sometimes a bit cheeky. It definitely has personality. I washed it with Eucalan and blocked it. I thought it was soft before I washed it. Washing it softened it even more. I sat there squishing it between my hands and against my face for ages! I guess you figured out that I highly recommend this yarn.

Because it is dyed to order, it takes some time from when I order it until it arrives. That’s probably the only real drawback to this yarn. Once I get a sense of how much and how frequently I need to reorder, that will be less of an issue.

I encourage you to take the time to check out Black Cat Custom Yarn and Knox Mountain Knit Co. Both of these small BC businesses offer a high quality product for a reasonable price. If you want to make a special gift for someone you care about, I recommend combining the two for something truly memorable.

Happy Knitting!

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The Shop Cat

Last July, we had a fierce storm.

My husband came home from work and after commenting on the intensity of the rain and wind, he mentioned that he felt as if a ghost had slipped past him on his way in the door. Then he laughed and chalked it up to the crazy weather.

Later that night, he went down to the garage and heard a meow. He called me; when I got there, he had a cardboard box set up with some small pieces of beef jerky in it.

“There’s a cat in here.”He told me quietly. “I think it’s gone behind that stuff at the wall.”

We put a plate with more tempting morsels at one end of the hiding place. After a time, we decided to leave and give the critter a chance to relax.

We went out to see a movie that night. When we came back, we found him in a different hiding place. I reached in with my buttery fingers and he began licking them. I coaxed him out of the hiding place and then I sat down on the floor. He climbed into my lap and purred as he continued to lick the salty butter off my fingers.

“He’s too nice to not belong to someone. Better try and track down his family.”

My husband was right. This fluffy black cat was gentle and sweet tempered. So I spent the next few weeks doing everything I could think of to try and track down his family. But it got us nowhere.

No one came forward.

 

After enough time had passed and I was confident no one would claim him I made an appointment with the vet and arranged for his shots and neutering. When it was time to pick him up, I could hear him meowing a conversation with the clinic staff members. This cat was good at making friends!

We live above my store. At first, the thought of having a cat in the store, around all that yarn was kind of frightening. But the poor little fellow was so distraught being alone all day that his meowing was breaking my heart! We figured it would be worth giving him a chance in the store. I set up a basket for him on my work table. He claimed it before I even finished putting the blanket in. It wasn’t long before we had a cat tower set up for him at the back of the store so he had a spot from which he could see everything.

We called him Ricasso (we are big Forged in Fire fans). He has become a fixture in the store.

He recognizes the regulars and their children.

He even anticipates some of the children; he waits inside the door for them when he hears them get out of their car. When they come in, he escorts them to the play area and sometimes keeps them company while they play. He’ll greet some of the littler children and then make a subtle exit when he has had as much of their attention as he wants. He is always gentle with the little ones. He figured out how to open the door into the exit air-lock. He goes in and out of the air-lock as he pleases and spends a lot of time watching the parking lot through the glass exit doors. He happily greets customers… unless he’s sleeping, that is.

ricasso-sleeping

And Ricasso knows what time it is.

He comes to work with me in the morning and when it’s time for my lunch break, he blatantly interrupts my work to make certain that I know it’s time to stop. When it’s time for my husband to get home, he watches for him and enthusiastically greets him when he comes in. And if I’m late locking up, Ricasso doesn’t hesitate to chastise me for it. He meows loudly and twitches his ears until I close shop.

If I’m having a tough day, he places himself where I have no choice but to interact with him and does what he can to cheer me up.

He has definitely made himself part of the family.

I never imagined I would want or have a shop cat. Now, thanks to Ricasso, I can’t imagine my store without him.