Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Never say Never

Remember how I said there was a lot going on, well I didn't really tell you everything.

Earlier this year we became an Ashford Dealer, weaving looms and spinning supplies.  We have a couple of looms but avoided the Spinning Wheels as The Black Lamb in Port Hope is better equipped to teach spinning. 

During the summer we had someone come into the shop with a spinning wheel. Helen, who is a spinner, checked it over and decided that it needed some work and we sent him off to another shop for better information.  It made me think about Spinning?

You see I have a lot of people in my circle of friends who spin and they all invited me to learn.  I would always say that knitting is weird enough and why would I make yarn when there is so much beautiful yarn available.  I was determined to not have another craft in my home!

Maybe I was having a week moment but one day out of nowhere an Ashford spinning wheel was made available to me, the person selling it just used it a few times and found it beyond her needs. Not wanting to miss out again and knowing that if I didn't want it anymore I could easily use it as a store prop, lend it out or sell it on.

The biggest issue I had now was admitting to all those who thought I would enjoy spinning that I was even considering it. How could I learn without telling anyone I needed a lesson or seven!  A quick call to Laurie at the Black Lamb and we spent a Monday morning together, talking shop and she gave me a quick lesson.

Then I practiced, watched videos and read a bunch of books and magazines.   The wheel came with a bit of fibre and I played with most of it! I have learned a lot, my hands and feet work well together and the more I practice the easier it gets.

I met my friends as they were Demonstating spinning at Orono Fair, one even said:

'You could learn how to do this you know!'

My response:

'I am sure a could!'

I have new words in my vocabulary: drafting, forward short draft, carded bats vs roving, worsted spun and woolen spun, bobbins, flyers....

A few of my lumpy skeins:

Now I find myself wanting to attempt new fibres and see how they perform.  I may never become very good, but I do like the fact that if someone comes into the shop looking for spinning fibre then I have at least a small bit of knowledge to be able to help with choices.

This weekend was Thanksgiving and "The Girl" was home.  The internet was down and our television reception is down to just a few channels.  I taught her how to card some wool and I spun it into a very lumpy skein.  Coming home is like visiting a Pioneer Village! 

Other then a few people not many know about this, so keep it a secret?

So never say never!  Your brain is always wanting to learn new things, sometimes they aren't easy at first but as muscle memory comes into play before you know it you are doing everything without too much trouble!

See You Soon!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

And then the well went dry!

Wow! It's Thanksgiving weekend.  I can't believe that we have gone through 2016.  Its been eventful at our home, not horrible events just a lot going on.

'The Farmer' had surgery in April, which went well but we would head out early 2 times a week to go to see his physiotherapist. He could go on his own after 6 weeks, but it was just as easy to drop him off and do a few groceries and pick him up. (It wasn't so great when he booked a few on a Monday morning, my day off!) 

We had one little vacation, which got shortened when I popped a rib in my back, sending us home early and I spent a week visiting our Chiropractor to sort this out.  (It was as painful as childbirth!)  Every other opportunity to get away was spent dealing with something happening at home, day trips to find equipment, following big equipment when it moved from farm to farm. 

The weather was a huge factor as crops suffered through the worst drought conditions we have ever seen.  They did produce it's just that everything was early and ready all at once.  Farmers in the area struggled to get enough hay to feed animals, we were fortunate to have had enough to sell to some, we could have sold much more if we had it.

The Farm also does Custom Work, they head off with the big equipment and fill silos, and fill bags with hay and corn.  This year they had many more jobs as feed was scarce and some farmers faced cutting corn early as hay was not available. 

Then one well went dry and this week the main well for the barn and the farm house is completely dry!  Finding enough water daily to feed and clean the cows and the milking system is taking up much of everyone's time.

It's hard to describe why they choose this profession!  When I questioned my 60 plus Farmer why he would take on another custom job his response was:

'If I don't do it John's cows won't have feed this winter!'  

If we don't do it who will?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Give a dog a bone!

Last year 'The Boy' was home for the summer for the first time in 3 years, 'The Farmer' and I were on holidays and during  a conversation home he asked:

'Could I get a dog?' (Our beloved Jasper had left us 2 years earlier and this was the first time he noticed how empty our house was without a pet.) 

'If you clean your room?' I joked.

By the time we got home the room was tidied and the puppy was chosen.

'The Boy' and 'The Puppy' went off to school in September. They come home on weekends and we enjoy their company. We agree to look after The Puppy when  it's required.  Last week we had him for a few days while 'The Boy' worked. 

Let's just say that a Labrador Puppy is busy! The only thing that keeps him busy is by throwing things or a bone!  Last Monday I needed to get some things done so off I went to see Jim at Welcome Feeds. A bag of treats and a bone were purchased.  It kept the puppy occupied most of the day.

Knitters (those who crochet, quilt, embroider, paint) are kind of like Puppies, we need to keep entertained and busy. Give us a great ball of our favourite yarn and we can be occupied for hours.

First there is going onto Ravelry or diving into our patterns to find the right project,  Then we get to find a comfy place to sit and off we go. Sometimes we can take our 'bone' with us as we sit and wait.  It's funny how people we comment thatwe must be very patient as to be able to knit. But really we knit because if really aren't patient at all, without something to keep us occupied would be fidgety, distracted and perhaps a bit of a pest!

The cooler air is beginning to remind us that we live in Canada. Not only will we need those woolly things we also will be looking for ways to fill those long evenings stuck inside our warm homes!

The shop is filling up with all sorts of treats to keep everyone occupied!

See you soon!

Sunday, September 4, 2016


Can I ask you a silly, stupid, simple question?

Asking questions is a good thing.  If you don't know how to do something the only way to find out how is to ask.

When my children were small I remember someone telling me that at about 5 years old a child will ask you what seems like 100 questions a day.
We get a lot of interesting questions at the shop. 

Here are some, with the answers:

What is DK?

DK or double knitting is a thickness of yarn that when knit with the correct needles will give you 22 stitches to 10 centimeters. (That is where it is designed to be at its best for wear and texture and drape). You don't have to knit it double or do anything different it's just the name.  Just like fingering, sport, Aran, worsted, chunky!  

Circular needles? Does that mean you can only use them to work around? 

Until someone come ups with a better term, circular needles are designed to help you work your knitting into a tube. They really are just 2 needles joined by a flexible cord. You can work back and forth to create very wide flat pieces.  Knit to the end of your row, then switch the needles into opposite hands and start back in the other direction.  This keeps the weight of the knitted fabric off your hands and into your lap.

The pattern calls for a 29 inch needle mine is 32 inches can I use it?  

As long as the needle diameter is the same, a 4 mm for example, a 32 inch is only 3 inches longer than the pattern calls for. Unless you are making something that is less than 32 inches around then it would work fine.  If you are making a blanket then the 32 will just give you more room for your work.

I have been knitting a lot now my neck, arm, shoulder, hands or elbow hurts?

Even a simple task like knitting or crochet can create repetitive strain injuries! Be mindful of your posture and give yourself time to recover.

What is Blocking?

Blocking is setting the shape of the garment.  Not everything requires blocking.  Natural fibres respond to blocking beautifully as it remembers that shape, acrylics and other man made fibres not so much. 

Lace shawls and garments require blocking to help define the fabric and smooth out the stitches.
Blocking garments before sewing together makes seaming easier.  It also gives you the opportunity to check your work.  Measuring each piece to the sizes given in your pattern. 

To block a wool garment:  Soak for at least 10 minutes in cool/warm water with a little SOAK or Eucalan.  (No rinsing required)  Drain the water and gently squeeze out as much moisture as you can.  Find your thickest towel, lay your damp project on it and gently roll it up.  At this point I usually stand on the roll (take your socks off first) and let the towel absorb the moisture.  Find a nice flat surface.  (Those play mats for kids that link together like puzzle pieces work perfectly) Pin into shape.  Sometime you have to smoosh the garment slightly smaller as some fibres grow when wet, but will dry to the original shape if pushed into it. 

Blocking a lace shawl requires the same prep but you can watch your creation evolve when you pull the garment open and allow the stitches to lock together.  (don't get over ambitious you don't want to break the fibers.)

For acrylics and blends you could get away just rolling the pieces in a damp towel and then once they have absorbed some of the moisture smooth the pieces into shape and pin if needed.

I do wash anything that has been dragged around for a while, especially baby garments.  Wash using the directions on the label (I always wash on Delicate and cold for all hand knit items!)  Lay flat to dry or in the case of super wash wool tumble on low heat for a few minutes.  Dryers are horrible places for fabrics, the heat and the friction will cause added wear to your garments.  When you think of how the previous generations could keep baby clothes looking so new is that everything was hand washed and dried on the line. 

The oddest question I have been asked: 

How do I make the scarf not so long?

Really, I did not laugh (out loud) but if you don't know or understand then you don't.  So please ask questions all the time.  (I can answer most about knitting anything else not so much!)

See you Soon!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

How to Handwash your 'Babies'

Whenever I 'warn' you about the fact that some yarn requires hand washing I get the same look, that OMG I can't possibly do that look! (Well some of you anyway)

Bear with me as I try to compare hand washing a garment to giving a Baby a bath!

Step 1:

Fill the appropriate tub with warmish water and a few bubbles! (Eucalan or Soak for Garments, Baby Bubbles for Babies!) Bubbles make the water slippery and helps to remove soil, you may want to avoid too many bubbles for Babies as babies wiggle and are slippery when wet!

Step 2:

Remove extra bits of decoration (pins and brooches from garments, clothing from Babies)

Step 3:

Place Baby/Garment in tub, swish around a bit to get wet.

Step 4: This one is the important one!
For garment, totally immerse in water and walk away for 20 minutes! Easy!
For Baby, be sure to keep baby upright and watch like a hawk, do don't leave the room or turn your back on them, gently wash all parts by hand with love and care!

Step 5: After the appropriate amount of time remove Baby/Garment from tub and wrap gently in a towel removing all excess water, do not wring or twist!

Step 6:
 For Garment: Find a nice flat place, with good air circulation and away from small pets!  Smooth carefully into shape, making sure measurements are close to finished garment, stretching to block open, squishing to achieve correct size.

For Baby:  Dress baby in new clothes, snuggle till Baby is tired and place in safe place for a Nap!

Allow both to rest until ready to Play or Wear again!

Well that was Fun!

Enjoy your Babies while they are Babies (because that stage doesn't last very long) If you wash and look after your handmade garments they will be with you a very long time!

See you soon!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Knitting Helps!

It's been a hectic summer, I really don't know where time has gone?

'The Farmer' is busy with work and we have been going early into 'town' 2 days a week for his physio appointments. It's easier if we go in together and I drop him off and do a couple of errands and then pick him up on the way home. 'The Boy' is at school and comes home when he can to help, he brings his 'Buddy' a black lab puppy home too! 

This has been the driest summer for us! I have lived on this property for 30 some years and never has there been so little rain on our crops. We were very happy to see some rain this past Monday morning, But even our little watercourse that feeds Soper Creek is still dry! When there are many acres of crop on the line our lively hood is at risk. We are lucky in that we have multiple sources of income but this may be a lean year for crop income.  So that is a bit of a worry! 

We have had some sad days too! A long time friend and the person responsible for letting me know about the location for the shop died suddenly a couple of weeks ago. We miss her! Then this past week one of the original sales representatives to the shop also passed away. I had not seen or talked to her for the past few years but we always meant to get together for lunch. She was such a lovely person and we had a genuine connection. It's sad knowing that the possibility of 'lunch' with Susan will not happen.

To process these things I knit! It puts my emotions somewhere and helps me process the stress!

Sometimes however the knitting is creating its own stress.  I have been quietly working on a huge lace weight project. I am down to the border which goes all the way around this 60 inch shawl.  There are 20 rows to the border repeat and in that repeat there are 40 beads! It takes 40 minutes to do a repeat, I can only do 2 repeats and my brain is 'on fire'.  There were 52 repeats to go around and I am down to 28.  I am persevering and am determined to finish this before September!

Hope your summer is filled with fun events and happy knitting!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Simple baby cardigan part 2

A while back I introduced you to a simple reliable easy pattern for a Baby sized sweater.  Then we did an impromptu KAL 

These are the results:

Mary was easily convinced to make a sample for the shop, she managed to make the sleeves match! 
The yarn is Sirdar's Crofter Snuggly, a self striping yarn that is super soft and washable.

Susan used the same yarn. This was finished just in time as the baby girl was born the morning she finished sewing on the buttons!

Helen chose a yarn from the sale bin, a discontinued Sirdar Cotton Blend.  She closed up the eyelet holes and added a stripe to the garter stitch details.

Susan finished this just in time for a friend to purchase it from her, some times you don't need to be the knitter of a hand knit garment. 

I played a bit with some Cascade 220 Superwash handpaints and a coordinating solid. Also closing up the eyelet holes to create a more 'boyish' garment.

We may try a few more Knit-a-longs and before you know it you have gifts ready to give!

See you soon!