Monday, March 23, 2020

And the people stayed home.

I've been seeing this posted in many different ways on Facebook and it is a good reminder for people to slow down and just start to live again. I also was fortunate enough to be able to read this below.

Remember when we used to say, "I wish I had time to ....."?
Time for action my friends.
So let's share what we are doing that we never had time for before ...
I will start doing mine tomorrow!
- Corinne Nowoczin (a wise woman I just happen to be related to)

She's right, you know. Now is a great time to hit that To Do List with fervour. I personally am getting around to finishing my Christmas 2019 projects when I'm not fulfilling orders from the online store, working on the website, the warehouse, or the RV. Two are done (shown in part below) and I have three more to go.


If you're like me and leave Christmas presents until it is (almost) too late, now is a great time to start. I know you have patterns and yarns and buttons, etc. that have just been waiting patiently in your stash hoping to be used sooner rather than later.

We're probably going to have a lot of babies born before the end of the year and they're all going to need blankets and sweaters and hats. What a great way to use up those finer weight yarns.

For those bits and bobs that you just can't bring yourself to throw out, making Temperature Blankets is an option but most people say they get too big if you do a full year size. So do a Vegas Blanket instead. I used to be able to find all sorts of images and patterns for these until Temperature Blankets became popular. Now, nothing. So here's the gist of it. It can be either knit or crocheted. It uses up stash at an amazing rate and the pattern changes every single row so you don't have to memorize a pattern.
VEGAS BLANKET

Ingredients
One die and one coin
Six different colours or colourways of yarn (numbered 1 through 6)
(use a favourite afghan pattern to determine how much yarn you will need)
Needle or hook the proper size for your yarn

Knit Recipe 

Again, gleaning information from a favourite afghan pattern, leaving a 6" tail, cast on your preferred number of stitches with yarn colour of your choosing. Cut yarn leaving a 6" tail. These tails will form a fringe so make sure you are casting on enough stitches for the full length of your afghan.

Next row: Roll your die to determine which colour to use
Flip your coin to determine which stitch to use.
Heads = knit     Tails = purl
(or whatever variation you want to use)

Continue in this manner, remembering to leave 6" tails for fringe, until your afghan is your preferred size or until you run out of yarn. You can always add more fringe the traditional way if you have just a smidge more yarn to use up.

Crochet Recipe

Again, from a favourite afghan pattern, leaving a 6" tail, chain your preferred number of stitches with yarn colour of your choosing. Cut yarn leaving a 6" tail. These tails will form a fringe so make sure you are chaining enough stitches for the full length of your afghan.

Next row: Roll your die to determine which colour to use
Flip your coin to determine which stitch to use.
Heads = single crochet     Tails = double crochet
(or whatever variation you want to use)

Continue in this manner, remembering to leave 6" tails for fringe, until your afghan is your preferred size or until you run out of yarn. You can always add more fringe the traditional way if you have just a smidge more yarn to use up.

Even though this is a random pattern, the results are always gorgeous.

Hope this free pattern helps to keep you sane through your self imposed isolation and I want to see all your finished projects on my Facebook page.

If you get really adventurous, you could use one of these. 😁
written by Lori, happy TCL owner, who has a cat that never sits on my lap, has a cat sleeping on my lap while I work at the computer.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Serendipity or just good timing?

ser en dip i ty
(noun)

the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way

Or as I like to describe it - a happy accident. 

Way back in November when I made the hard decision to close the brick and mortar store, I never thought I would be looking back on that day and thinking, "Wow! Sure glad I did that when I did!" Who knew we were going to be inundated with a pandemic? Who knew people were going to be hoarding toilet paper? TOILET PAPER!!! I don't know about you but if I am forced to self quarantine for a minimum two weeks, I'm hoarding food and yarn, NOT toilet paper!

Food and yarn are two of the most important things to have on hand if I have to hunker down with Mom and Myles (the cat) for an indeterminate amount of time. Mom is an avid gardener so we have canned and frozen food to get us through virtually anything and, while we don't stockpile as a habit, since Mom and I recently became roomies, we have two households' worth of dry goods that we are still trying to make our way through before they go stale. We also have three freezers full of food. Yes, I said three freezers. Don't judge. One is full of homemade pies just waiting to be baked from frozen. And if we run out of cat food, we can cook some of our meat without onions or garlic and Myles will never want to go back to canned. And I must have had a premonition of this outbreak because I DID stockpile coffee just recently. I thought it was so I could always have some on hand in the warehouse but who knows?

Honestly, one thing I do know is that it will be years before I run out of yarn. If things shut down to the point that I am unable to even go to the post office to ship out online orders, I can use my personal stash as well as the store yarn to play with the floor loom and knitting machines I have inherited over the years that are housed in the warehouse so that I can start selling finished goods once all this silliness is past. They don't call knitting a post-apocalyptic life skill for nuthin'. 😜

*edit* Since writing this blog two days ago, things have changed in the province of Alberta and we are choosing to be homebodies, only going out when necessary. That also means knit night has been cancelled indefinitely. I don't think I'm smart enough to be able to take credit for this being a case of good timing. At this particular point in time, I am all for calling my decision serendipitous.

written by Lori, cautious TCL owner, who was going to use this blog as a warehouse update but got sidetracked so here are a couple photos.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Progress, I think ...

This past Saturday, exactly a week after locking up the brick and mortar for the last time, ALL the yarn has found its permanent home in the warehouse. If you don't look at all the boxes of non-yarn craft supplies around the perimeter of the room, it looks quite impressive (if I may say so myself).

Mom and I have been working 9 to 5 daily filling bins, loading pegboard, watching two bins - at different times - collapse, rebuilding sturdier bins, filling them again, and finally, success. I even managed to find space for one of my small Ikea sofa beds that you may have seen in our knitting area so that I have a place to design more of my out-of-the-box patterns. I may even finish the pair of Lorigami Socks my 91 year old aunt commissioned back in September (when she was only 90).

Before the snowfall this weekend, I was even hopeful that I would be able to get into the motorhome and start tearing apart the kitchen counter to make space for the yarn, etc in the pop up store. Yeah, that's not gonna happen as soon as I'd hoped. But that's okay. I still have buttons and tapestry yarn and floss and beads to hang on the pegboard. That should keep us busy for the better part of a week. Maybe then I will even have pictures for you to help you appreciate all the work I've been doing now that I've 'retired'.

It still boggles my mind how many people think changing from a retail storefront to an online retail business means I've retired. With the brick and mortar, I had days off. With the online store, my phone rings every day because people want to check if I still have something before going onto the computer to order it. Or they want to pick something up rather than order it through the computer because they don't want to pay the shipping. When I politely tell them that they can both check availability and choose pickup on the website that's when I realize that they still want the personal touch - which I happily give them. Having said that, don't expect happy cheery greetings if you call at 3am. You will be waking up three people (one of them furry) and none of us wear our happy pants at that time of the day. Where you absolutely will receive the happy cheery greetings is in the pop up store when I finally have it up and running.

Speaking of... I made my first foray into researching markets for the pop up store. It was a bust. The venue is still in the planning stages but the cost was formidable. The smallest space was over $1300/month with a three year minimum contract and the booth was expected to be manned every Saturday and Sunday from 9-5 year round. That doesn't work for me for so many reasons, but most importantly, I am a church musician and I can't be there every Sunday. Besides, I would not be making use of the motorhome, so, no go. Next.

written by Lori, happy TCL owner who has not slept in a single day since closing the brick and mortar and is looking forward to the Farmer's Market days when the first venue starts in the afternoon.

Monday, March 2, 2020

K.P. Interchangeable Needles, what's not to Lykke?

Please note the following blog is based on my experience and percentages used are more arbitrary than being an exact quantity.

When I was first introduced to Knitter's Pride interchangeable needles, I was blown away!
The birch needle is SO smooth because it is resin infused instead of just varnished. It quickly became my needle of choice. I later learned that, at first, any needles with the initials K.P. were all made in the same factory in India. So, in Europe they have KnitPro,
and here in North America, we have Knitter's Pride and KnitPicks. That means two things - the quality of the needle is the same and, more importantly (to me), they all play together!


Later on, KnitPicks decided that since they sold directly to their customers instead of wholesaling through retailers, they would move their production to China to lower the cost of said production. Still the same process but now on different machines. Here's where the arbitrary numbers come in. If you know anything about factory defect percentages, it is more common to have defective materials produced on a Friday than on, say, a Tuesday because the focus on Tuesday is work. The focus on Friday is 'how long before quitting time? I have a date I need to get ready for!' There are still quality checks going on, but if something slips through, its usually Friday.

So - nothing is always perfect. So for the number of Knitter's Pride items I had returned because of defects, I give them a 99% fit rate. In other words, 99% of the time the cord and tip of an interchangeable needle will work together. Similarly, I give KnitPicks a 95% fit rate. 95% is still an excellent fit rate, its just if we tried to put Knitter's Pride and KnitPicks together and there was a problem the fault always fell to the KnitPicks.

For those of you who have been paying attention to stock in the store, you're asking "So why carry KnitPicks instead of Knitter's Pride?" I'll tell you. The supplier I had for my Knitter's Pride needles was into some unethical business practices so I dropped them like a hot potato. For future reference, the company from which I have been ordering KnitPicks is now carrying Knitter's Pride and I will slowly be phasing out the KnitPicks in favour of Knitter's Pride because you can order KnitPicks needles directly from KnitPicks.

Enter Lykke.

When my sales rep mentioned that she had these amazing new interchangeable needles to show me, I shut her down. Don't need another one. Already have two K.P. needles and ChiaoGoo needles. I don't have room on my wall for another brand. But they're really lovely , she says. I counter, unless they play with one of the brands I already have... She whispers, I'm not supposed to tell you this, but they're made in the same factory as Knitter's Pride needles. I'm sold and, to date, they maintain a 99% fit rate.

If you haven't felt any of these needles yet, I will do my best to always have a project on the go in the pop up store so that you can fondle the beautiful wood.

written by Lori TCL owner who absolutely loves her Knitter's Pride needle set, her KnitPicks needle set and her Lykke needle set. Don't judge me! 😉

Monday, February 24, 2020

New Yarns!

Since you are no longer able to come into the store to oo and ah over the new yarns, I thought I would showcase them for you here this week.

First up is our offering from Gathering Yarn. If you're wondering why you've never heard of this company, it is because they are relatively new to the yarn wholesale market and, lucky me, I know the couple who founded the company 😊. They sell both imported Italian yarn and Canadian (B.C.) yarn and it is all lovely to handle.

They have some yarns that have their own permanent label, such as Haynes Creek, and then they have the 'The Harvest Is Here' series which is further divided into three levels.

The first level is just 'The Harvest Is Here' and it includes yarns that may only start with one colourway but there is a good chance that more colourways are coming later on down the line.

The second level is 'Stock Lot/Mill Ends' and they either come in the natural colour ready to be dyed or they are pre-dyed by an amazing anonymous dyer who does lovely work. As the name suggests, they are mill ends and therefore will not be duplicated.

The third level is 'One Shot Series' and these are the yarns you want to gobble up fast! They are all milled in Italy and dyed either there or in B.C. by the aforementioned colour artist.

Under 'The Harvest Is Here' we have Speckles, Mira, Alicante, SoftValencia, and Valencia Chunky

Under 'Stock Lot/Mill Ends' we have Luxury Hand Dyed Sock Variety, The Basics Sock, Merino Chunky, and Elena

Under 'One Shot Series' we have Cannellino, Merino Blend, Savoiardo, Buzz Big, and Rosmarino.

I can't do all the work for you, so make sure to click on the links to view all the colours and specs on each of the yarns. FYI - if you order the mill ends, be sure to specify in the notes, which colourway you want as they are not separated by colour.

Our second offering is from a more familiar name, Estelle Yarns. If you remember the Comfort Wolle Gala 200 (one ball makes a shawl or poncho), Gala 50 is a smaller put up that is great for a matching hat or cowl. Estelle Magic Shawl will do all the work for you to create the shawl pattern shown with each colour. and, last but not least, Superba Susu is a fun and interesting sock yarn.

Because the current website is still not the most user-friendly platform, I hope you appreciate that I gave you a preview of how it works via the links above. If you want to know prices or if you choose to order from those links, please sign in/up. I finally figured out why some orders are pickup only. Not all items have their weight and dimensions filled in. The above items do, so they are ready to ship, not just pickup.

Enjoy the browse and have a great week!

written by Lori, happy TCL owner, who is slowly getting her warehouse in order with a LOT of help from Muriel.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Ferrets and Bulldogs

A big thank you to all those that have trusted in my ferreting skills. I have had a number of online orders since shutting down the brick and mortar store and I have managed to fulfill each and every one without having a single product on a shelf yet! And I applaud your bulldog tenacity because I know how difficult the online store is and I am working diligently to get the new improved version up and running.

A quick note for ordering online - I'm not sure why, because I have gone over my settings with a fine toothed comb, but the store seems to be set for pickup only, therefore you will have trouble when trying to get the page to accept your address. I'm working on it and those of you who have persevered either already have, or soon will have, your product in your hot little hands.

If you are local or were unaware of the changes and came unsuccessfully to go shopping, you will notice that the downtown location is looking pretty empty.  We only have a few more loads to take out and some signage to remove, then it will be as official as it gets. I have had some people ask if that makes me sad and I have to say no. Will I miss the randomness by which customers come to shop in a B&M store? Yes, but it will be replaced by the regular rhythm of the familiar faces that show up whenever I pop up in their town or city, so all is good.

Now back to work figuring out where everything is going to go so I don't have to pretend to be a ferret for much longer. ;)
Enjoy your week,
Lori

Monday, February 10, 2020

Renovations and Revitalization

So for those of you who thought that closing the brick and mortar location meant lazy days and fun times, let me give you a glimpse of what transitioning from B&M to online / pop up looks like.
This photo was taken Monday morning when Mom and I got to work. All last week was spent doing inventory and packing everything up into boxes or bags. Thanks Margaret and Anne for all your hard work. Monday to Friday last week Mom helped with the inventory as well as helped me dismantle as much as we could and transport products and display items to their respective homes. By the end of today (Monday) all the shelving and pegboard was off the walls. Thanks Terry for doing all the hard work there.

I still have plenty of work to do on the online store and rv renovation as well but I decided I need to take some ME time too. For those of you who have known me a long time, you know that I love to sing. I haven’t been doing much of that for the past few years because the choir I was in had relaxed the ‘no scents’ rule. Sadly, ya can’t sing if ya can’t breathe so I retired for a while. 

Then, out of the blue, I received an invitation to join the Madrigal Singers and U of A Concert Choir as an alumnus to celebrate Len Ratzlaff’s 40th anniversary with the university’s music department. Practices started the Monday following the closure of the B&M. I figured if I’m starting a new chapter in my life, I might as well make it a good one. You have no idea how good it feels to get back into a routine that you left behind 20+ years ago. Well, maybe you do. I just know I feel revitalized and all my old good (singing) habits are returning and I can still sightread music well enough to fool people into thinking I have perfect pitch. 😁

If you are interested in knowing more about the concert at the end of March, please leave a comment on the blog or the FB page and I’ll send you more information. In the meantime have a listen to this preview (not the choir I’m singing with). U of A Haydn project

Now I’m off to bed cos those kitchen cupboards aren’t going to remove themselves from the walls in the morning.

Written by Lori, TCL owner who sometimes feels like a slave to her passions :)