Tuesday, November 12, 2019

There's Something About Stripes...

NORO Silk Garden
Photo: NORO website
For the last several years, yarn that's been "space dyed" -- that is, dyed with spaces between colour runs that are either a different colour or are left white -- has been very popular with yarn-crafters.  Sometimes the yarns are created by hand-painting them, and sometimes the dye 'recipe' is carefully planned and the dyeing method and equipment calibrated to create a specific pattern, from clear-cut stripes, to jacquard or Fair Isle imitations, to slightly blurred tonal effects.

One of the pioneer creators of  "self-striping" yarn is Eisaku Noro, whose unique methods are still in practice -- and from whom other yarn makers were inspired to travel down the same colourful rabbit hole.

Pattern: First Fair Isle Anything
Designer: Irene Ramalho
Yarn: Katia "Darling" (coloured)
and Patons Kroy Sock (black)
However they're made or by whom, these yarns hold a fascination for yarn-crafters.  They provide an endless source of  "what next?" to those knitting or crocheting otherwise plain garments, like socks or mitts or hats.  They inject interesting colour combinations into projects that use solid colours -- especially black -- in contrast.  And they make us want to keep on working on the given project long after fatigue or boredom might have set in, long after we should be somewhere else, and/or long after bed-time.  "Just one more row!  I want to see how this turns out!"  😊

As a dedicated sock knitter, I simply love knitting socks with yarn that creates stripes or patterns.  I use a variation of the Sock Recipe from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Kniting Rules, and I never fail to be entertained.

Here are some examples:

Yarn: Online Supersocke 6-fach Arizona Color
Pattern: A Good Sock Recipe - Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Yarn: Lana Grossa Meilenweit Tirol
Pattern: A Good Sock Recipe - Stephanie P-M

Trekking Socks
Pattern: EJ Slayton for Brown Sheep Company, Inc.

See what I mean?  Such fun!  And with the changes you make -- in number of stitches, in knitting style -- in the round versus back-and-forth for the heel flap, and turning the heel and shaping the toe -- the effect of the dye run or painted sections changes.

You never know what to expect!  This year, I'm knitting socks for my kids for Christmas (yet again).  I've selected yarn from Ancient Arts called "Reinvent" (because it includes pretty much everything but the kitchen sink) -- from their "Meow" and "Woof" line, honouring animals.  My son has two "tuxedo" cats (black and white) and my daughter, a Maine Coon.  I started with the socks for my son, casting on 72 stitches per my usual for his feet, and using my favourite 2.75 mm (US 2 +/-) needles.


First off, what resulted was...zebra stripes!  

And...they were ginormous. (That is, totally huge!)

For the second sock, I down-sized to 64 stitches...and this is the result:

Ah-h-h-h-h...much better -- and more like a "tuxedo" cat!  What a difference reducing the number of stitches can make with this sort of yarn!  And look again at that second sock.  D'you see the heel flap and gusset area around the ankle?  See how different it is from the rest of the sock?  That occurs, of course, because in that area the stitches are divided up for the heel flap, and then picked up and knit again for the gusset and then around and down the foot -- till you get to the decreases at the toe, where the colour pattern changes again.

Any wonder that self-striping or patterning yarn is such a delight to work with?!

That's why this week -- for our Super Special Sale -- we're offering you a sport/light DK weight striping yarn that would make beautiful items for Christmas giving:

from Louisa Harding

80% wool
20% silk
50 grams = 250 metres (273 yards)

Regular Price: $14.00

Sale Price: $3.50

Now...with that fibre content, this yarn is not recommended for socks!  But in the short-term, it would make wonderful fingerless mittens, like these ones I made a couple of years ago:

Yarn: Amitola - Colour #109 ("Salsa")
Pattern: Shepherd's Fingerless Mittens
Designer: Brenda Dayne

Or...this cool cowl -- made with one ball (!) from a pattern (a free Ravelry download) aptly entitled "Present".  

Some of our Knit Night "regulars" have been contemplating making the "Alaska" hat designed by Camille Descoteaux -- and at least one Ravelry member has done just that -- using Amitola as the background and white for the contrast colour (353 metres, or one-and-a-half balls).

If you have a longer-term project in mind, you could use Amitola in more than one colour-way to make a very cool cowl -- "The Shift" designed by Andrea Mowry...or perhaps a shawl...such as "Waves of Color", adding contrast yarn to recreate the popular (but challenging!) "Butterfly" or "Papillon" pattern.

Whatever you choose to create -- from the simple to the complex -- we're certain you'll be challenged, delighted, entertained and perhaps even enthralled by the results.  Happy striping!

Oh ... and Passport to Christmas starts today!
Make sure to pick yours up so you can enter to win up to $1500 in Lacombe Bucks!

See you in the shop!

**Written by Margaret, who's quickly re-knitting that first sock to match the second, and loving every stripey minute of it!

Monday, November 4, 2019

Cloudy days ahead call for colour!!

Saturday was the "Day of the Dead", the last of three days of celebration. "On October 31, All Hallows Eve, the children make a children's altar to invite the angelitos (spirits of dead children) to come back for a visit. November 1 is All Saints Day, and the adult spirits will come to visit. November 2 is All Souls Day, when families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves and tombs of their relatives. The three-day fiesta is filled with marigolds, the flowers of the dead; muertos (the bread of the dead); sugar skulls; cardboard skeletons; tissue paper decorations; fruit and nuts; incense, and other traditional foods and decorations." Frances Ann Day, Latina and Latino Voices in Literature

Think Colour, bright, interesting colour! For me working with colour on dull/grey days is a gift, as were my ancestors! We sit around the table during many meals a tell stories of our parents, grandparents, and others. Many of these stories, my grandchildren are now familiar with. Canadians tend not to gather and decorate our cemeteries, other than for Remembrance Day. 

My father served during WW 2. He did not discuss much about the action he saw, but did tell stories of some of the interesting things he experienced. One family favourite: August 1943 - his Canadian battalion was sent to Kiska Island, part of the Aleutian Islands. They found food abandoned on the tables. The Canadian forces learned the Japanese had left about 2 weeks  ahead of the Canadians landing - under the cover of fog. Dad's battalion was stationed there for a number of months. 

Canadian forces were camped in 10 man bell tents - similar to the ones in the MASH movie. It was snowing heavily one evening when they all retired. In the morning - the tent my father was in was the only one which they were able to open the door. When Dad et al had hung their door, they hung it to open inwards as opposed to the others which had all been hung to open outward. Check out MASH movie trailers, the doors opened outward so you could evacuate quickly - except after a heavy snowfall. 

So the men in my father's tent had to shovel the other tents out! In 1943, they had very different cold weather gear than we have today. Personally, I would not volunteer to spend a winter in a canvas tent! One more reason to respect the service of our veterans. 

The poppy campaign is in full swing in Lacombe! Please stop and pick up your poppy before Remembrance Day. Just in case you are interested in something other than a poppy - check out the Royal Canadian Legion Poppy store website. There are a number of Legion approved poppy items i.e. permanent beaded poppies, ceramic jewellery and canvas totes. 

So many of the family treasures were hand crafted by family members. Photos are so special. A suggestion for others; please identify the people in your old photos, if possible with a date. We have a very special hand-made photo album from the late 1800's and no one alive today knows who the people in the photos are. The pics were all studio photos, so we will keep looking. 

Hand crafted Christmas gifts are so very special and often treasured for several generations. The Crafty Lady has a wide selection of interesting yarns for Christmas gifts. We just received some very interesting new sock yarns, come in and grab a ball, as they are rolling out the door. 

This week's 75% off special is in very limited quantity, but a beautiful yarn for a quick cowl, scarf, toque or fingerless gloves. 


Big Bamboo 
40 m/50 g
50% Bamboo viscose/30% acrylic/20% wool
Reg. $8.00
75% OFF


 We look forward to inviting you to browse, feel our yarn and tell a story or two.

Posted by Anne, happily crocheting a new project!!

Monday, October 28, 2019

Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble...

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Creator: Toby Ord, 2003
October 31 -- a Thursday this year -- is also Hallowe'en.  It's a spirited celebration (😉) believed to have begun with the Celts about 2,000 years ago.  They referred to this time of year as Samhain -- marking the end of the harvest season and the arrival of the darkest months of the year.  As the typical Celtic day began at sunset, this festival was observed from sundown October 31 through to sundown on November 1.

When Christianity arrived in the Celtic lands (Ireland, Scotland, England), the celebration of "All Hallows Day" and the Eve thereof became the first of a three-day event known as Allhallowtide, which consists of Hallowe'en, All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls Day (Nov. 2).

Traditions for the festival(s) have changed over the centuries, but trick-or-treating; playing pranks (the "trick" if there's no "treat"); dressing in costume; and carving pumpkins and/or squash and lighting them inside (originally to provide light for the good spirits to find their way into Celtic homes, and to keep away the evil ones) persist.

The colours of orange and black dominate.  Orange is a harvest colour -- it occurs when the leaves of deciduous trees change from green to various shades of red, gold, yellow and brown, and when pumpkins and other gourds and/or squash are ready for picking.  Then there's that glorious full harvest moon hanging about in the sky...

As for black, well -- it's the colour of night, and the nights are getting longer this time of year.  And of course it's ever so much more fun to play tricks on and frighten others if you can wear black when running around after dark!

Why wait till Thursday to get your orange-and-black on?  Yarn-wise, that's what we're offering you this week for our

Super Spooktacular Sale

From our Store's Sale Section
Black and/or Orange Yarns

Previously 25% off

75% OFF

Assorted Yarns, Assorted Prices

One example?  

 Ushya from Mirasol Yarns
Colour: "Orange Blossom"

100 Grams = 104 metres (114 yards)
2 - 2.5 stitches per 1" on a 10 mm needle/hook
Chainette Construction
98% Merino wool
2% Nylon

It's the perfect thing, because it's so quick to knit up into a toque or cowl 
to keep your little goblin or ghoul cozy on Hallowe'en Night!

9 a.m. - 9 p.m. 
Thursday, October 31, 2019
Customers who arrive in the shop
wearing a Hallowe'en costume
will get 10% off anything they purchase!

And now a wee traditional Scottish prayer for the safety of our staff, family, friends and customers this Hallowe'en...

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

See you in the Shop!*

*Written by Margaret, who prefers to mark Hallowe'en by hiding in her studio till all the ghoulies, ghosties and beasties have gone home!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Hug and Snuggle? With whom? Under?

Does this qualify as snuggle? or strangle?
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I was allowed to snuggle and play with young-people from 6 to 17! I was impressed - all of them - boys and girls allowed hugs AND conversation. The older ones did not even carry their phones in their hands as we visited!! i am not sure the cat in this meme would agree snuggling is a great idea, but it is the thought that counts, right?

Family does not have to be related by birth or marriage, my children and I have "adopted" parents and grandparents over the years. When you live next door to a wonderful senior, whose family are overseas or in the Maritimes, can you leave them home alone when you are celebrating bounty of the season? They joined us at the table for seasonal celebrations. We called them "Orphan suppers" or "adopted family." Great memories!

When I was growing up in a smaller Alberta community, we knew all the neighbours for a couple of blocks around - whether they had children or not. We were probably the last generation to be raised by a community.

Community is much more than the neighbour next door, or the people you meet every week at the grocery store. Eclectic trivia: women in Canada did not have the right to vote until 1928 in most of the country, 1940 in Quebec and indigenous people were not granted the right to vote until 1960 - men or women. I find it really sad to note, they could fight in both the first and second world wars, but could not vote.

So, Please "Get out and vote!" I will not advise you on how to vote, but please do vote.

I love to create things for people to snuggle in/under. I have just finished sewing together the new blanket for our first girl great-grandchild! (picture to come soon)

My first crochet project is finished and delivered. My thanks to customers, friends and family as I learned so much. I may become addicted to crochet. I am really pleased with the finished gift.

This is a silk blend, so light and very warm!! I hope she will snuggle under it over the coming winter months. It is light enough to throw over your shoulders and sit in the garden on a cool evening.

Crochet is a very different muscle skill, so I am learning I can do some of one and some of the other and get more done - with less arthritis pain!!

Last week at Knit Night, we learned parents are no longer allowed to put their child into the car seat with their snowsuit on. So warm, breathable, washable blankets will be high on request lists from new parents, whether knit/crochet or quilted. Hone your skills, there is a need for everything you can do.

This week's 75% Off Sale is a perfect yarn to craft into smaller blankets quickly, or warm little sweaters, and is very washable and wears really well.

Snuggly 4ply
50g/226 m
55% nylon, 45% acrylic
Reg. $8.00
75% Off

Posted by Anne, who continues to walk and knit - while the weather holds. I know snuggle weather is coming!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A Little Look at Lace

Did you know that the word 'lace' -- as a noun -- originated in the early thirteenth century?  It's derived from the the Old French word laz, meaning "a net, noose, string, tie, ribbon or snare" according to etymonline.com.  The word encompassed material used for nooses, fishing lines, nets, and cords used to fasten clothing such as corsets or shoes.

In the fifteen hundreds, though, the term 'lace' began to be associated with the sort of thing we think of today: a decorative fabric usually made from fine thread -- anything from gold to silk, linen and cotton...and eventually, wool.  😊

There are several types of lace, classified by the techniques used to make them: needle lace, cut-work, bobbin lace, embroidered lace, tape lace, tatted lace -- and the favourite of our yarn customers: crocheted or knitted lace.

Shown at right: knitted lace on the needles.  Pattern: "Rhea Stole" from Valley Yarns; yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts lace weight super-wash wool.
Source: Wikipedia Commons.

My colleague, Anne, just finished crocheting her first lace shawl -- a gift for a friend in a lovely green silk yarn.

Me?  I'm currently knitting a lacy pattern in a pair of socks -- the "Hummingbird Socks" designed by Sandi Rosener and published in The Knitter's Book of Socks. While I'm enjoying the project -- and I'm well into the leg section of the second sock -- when Anne mentioned in her last post that she doesn't recommend knitting or crocheting lace while walking...well...she's right!  I can carry on a rather stilted conversation while working on this pattern, but it's not recommended!

You may be thinking to yourself now, "Oh dear!  I haven't a hope of mastering lace if it's that difficult!"

I can't vouch for crocheted lace -- because I don't crochet -- but I can tell you that knitted lace doesn't have to be as complicated as the Rhea Stole (above) or those Hummingbird Socks.  No indeed!

After all, knitting is only loops, involving two stitches: knit and purl.  Then...how do we get lace out of that?  With a 'yarn over'.  That makes a hole.  It also makes an extra stitch -- which is handily taken care of by a "k 2 tog" (knit 2 together) or an "ssk" (slip, slip knit -- as in, slip 1 stitch; slip another stitch; knit the two together).  That's all there is to it.

Easy?  Yes...BUT...

It's recommended you have a bit of experience "reading" your knitting before you try knitting lace.  That way, you can figure out if you missed a yarn over, or forgot a "k 2 tog" or dropped a stitch.  (Check out this series by Brooklyn Tweed on reading your work; it'll help when you can't drop in to The Shop for one-on-one assistance!)

Speaking of dropped stitches...Sometimes in lace knitting, a pattern is so complex that it's hard to pick up a dropped stitch.  This is made even more difficult if you're using a slippery yarn (like silk) or fuzzy yarn (like mohair).  The solution?  Inserting a "life line", which is a line of waste yarn placed in a spot in your knitting that 'rescues' your work when you've made an error.  Here's a quick video that shows you how to install a 'proactive' life line in a complex pattern involving lace and cables:

Learning to read your knitting, knowing that lace involves adding only yarn-overs and knitting decreases (k 2 tog and ssk) to your skill set, and installing a life line will make your first lace knitting project a happier experience.

That said, if you're Absolutely Terrified, rest assured that we -- Anne, Margaret and Lori-The-Crafty-Lady-Herself -- can help you with a private lesson.  Just call the shop at 403-782-7238 to book a time.  The cost is $15 per hour ($5 per 20 minutes) and worth every penny to help you fall in love with your lace knitting -- or crochet!

To help get you started, this week we're offering this lovely yarn as our Super Special Sale:

Ella Rae Lace Merino DK

100 grams = 276 metres (302 yards)
100% Merino Wool - 3-ply
Machine wash on gentle cycle;
dry flat (don't dry clean!)

Regular Price: $26.00 per skein

Sale Price: $6.50!!

Two skeins will make this lovely shawl with a simple lace pattern:

Designer: mahila designs - on Ravelry

Prefer to crochet?

You could try this version of the "Moonlit Waters" Shawl...

Read through this post and still don't want to try lace?
This yarn is versatile...you can check out other projects HERE on Ravelry!

There are plenty of options -- and as the weather continues to turn colder, it's time to get those needles and hooks in action!

On another note...this post comes right after the celebration of Thanksgiving here in Canada.  Anne, Margaret and Lori-The-Crafty-Lady-Herself want to say "thank you" for over 25 years of support for our business, for your friendship and your feedback -- helping us to serve you better.  

It's a blessing to share our passion for yarn and stitch and beads and thread with you.

We wouldn't be here without you!  Thanks so much!

See you in The Shop!

*Written by Margaret, who loves to knit lace!

Monday, October 7, 2019

A little haze?

My husband and I have a rescue dog, Sophie, who walks with me along the beach at Gull Lake, while I knit. Yes, you can do basic knitting, while walking and talking.

Walking in the fall is such a wonderful time of the year - I know we do not have the colours they have in the Maritime or Eastern Canada. We do have wonderful vistas, colours and incredible skies. The geese are starting to gather on the lake. When they start honking as they gather to go to the fields to feed, this upsets Sophie! She barks and barks - bad training or the nature of a Cocker Spaniel?  So far all of our neighbours are very understanding - they, too, have a dog or two.

This blanket is a great example of knitting and walking - all the squares were completed while the dogs and I were out walking. I did run out of colours, so as a dementia blanket this worked really well. The patients really appreciate the textures of the two yarns and the colours. It is really light, while being warm and washable.

I do not recommend colour work or lace work. My crochet skills do not yet allow me to walk and crochet - I am working on it.

It is still warm enough to walk and knit - at least until tomorrow, when it may not be. We will(?) have warmer weather before the snow stays for winter.

This is a wonderful time to start thinking of quick gifts to work on for stocking stuffers or gifts for Christmas. I know, everyone groans when I say this, but with our family, if I do not start now, I will not be completed on time.

There are so many wonderful yarns to use to make gifts for loved ones in the store, with more arriving soon.

The Crafty Lady has added a number of patterns to the sale section. These are patterns for discontinued yarns, or yarns we can no longer get. They are really great patterns, but they are now at 25% off - come in and browse. There are patterns for toys, sweaters for all ages, home accessories, hats, scarves, etc. Come in and browse.

Speaking of sales - this week's special 75% off yarn - would be great for a quick, soft toque or pair of fingerless gloves. This yarn has a little bit of haze adding to its appeal.

Luxury Soft DK
51% nylon, 25% wool, 24% acrylic
Reg. $5.00
75% off 

Buy it all and have a very inexpensive, beautiful gift!

Written by Anne, as I enjoy my stash yarns for gifting this year! (All purchased in store)

Monday, September 30, 2019

T'is the Season

Hi, it's Lori, The Crafty Lady
Yup sorry, you get me today.

September is a busy season here at the store: prepping for Creativ Festival in Edmonton and Calgary, bringing in extra staff for the Prairie Fibre Festival at the LMC the Saturday between the big shows. Everybody's working, some are getting run down, and with all the mixed up schedules the blog is late and written by yours truly. ;)

September is also the month when all the students are back at school and our routines seem to get back to normal. Hmm, snow this early shouldn't be normal, but this is Alberta and I won't put anything past her when it comes to weather. But, I also won't complain about the snow. It reminds people that handmade gifts take time and time is running out.

This week's sale is magical yarn because it can be used two different ways. It can be a super bulky (i.e. warm) multicoloured masculine scarf or a frilly feminine scarf. I've also seen it used as trims on purses and little girls' skirts.  So, he-e-e-ere's Frilly!

Regular $10.00
this week only $2.50!
written by Lori, happy TCL owner who's looking forward to seeing all the crafters who just realized how little time is left! ;)