Monday, September 17, 2018

A Touch of Class



Back in the early sixties when I was coming into my teens, a single strand of pearls was considered to add just the right touch of class to a young lady's outfit -- be it a simple dress, a skirt and blouse or a skirt and twin-set.



Cultured pearls made a strand affordable, and I received one as a birthday gift at eleven or twelve.  I still have it, though I admit I've not worn it in years.  In fact, I've rarely seen anyone -- outside royalty -- wearing pearls these days.

Still, that hasn't stopped me from wishing I had a really good pair of pearl earrings -- and I've been heartened by the fact that at least some in the world of fashion have featured pearls with their offerings in 2018.  At the turn of last year, Selene Oliva's article in  Vogue Magazine featured pearls in her forecast of '2018 Jewelry trends', opining that "Pearls are universally flattering. They bring light to the face and look great with any outfit."




Vogue Knitting's Fall edition, just out on the news stands, touts the return of a bit of 'glitter' to knitted garments -- sequins, beads, a hint of metallic yarns.

Should the idea of that level of "bling" be a bit...ummm...over the top for you, you can still achieve the 'glow' of pearls next to your face, their soft shimmering in a shawl or sweater.  

That's what we're offering you this  week for our Super Special 75% Off Sale:






Sirdar

Snuggly Pearls DK

Regular Price: $8.50

Sale Price: $2.13

But...but...but... (I hear you saying), the pattern support is all for babies!!  That may be true, Gentle Readers, but as folks who are creative with yarn, we know we can use a pretty yarn in double-knit (#3) weight for other things, don't we?


Pattern: "Etched Rio Wrap"
Designed by Blue Sky Alpacas

The colours on offer are a buttery cream, and a snowy white -- both ideal for framing the face with a lacy cowl, or warming heads and hands with toppers and gloves that provide a dressy accent to a plain winter coat.  

We'll leave you -- with a bit of musical inspiration -- to think of the possibilities, and see you in the shop this week!  


Glenn Miller - "A String of Pearls" 







* Written by Margaret, the TCL employee whose name means 'pearl'.  Go figure!

Monday, September 10, 2018

No such thing as a stupid question . . .


The question came up at Knit Night last week: "Am I crazy
to have started buying and working on Christmas gifts?"

According to Wikipedia: There are no stupid questions
Carl Sagan, in his work The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark said: "There are naive questions, tedious questions, ill-phrased questions, questions put after inadequate self-criticism. But every question is a cry to understand the world. There is no such thing as a dumb question".
A woman, recounting a story about an old man who used to answer all her "stupid questions", explained "Chica, if you ask a question it makes you look stupid for 5 minutes – but if you don't ask – you stay stupid for fifty years, so always ask questions in your life".
A 1970 Dear Abby column in The Milwaukee Sentinel said: "There is no such thing as a stupid question if it's sincere. Better to ask and risk appearing stupid than to continue on your ignorant way and make a stupid mistake.
Colin Powell says: "there is no such thing as a stupid question, only stupid answers". Presentation Skills That Will Take You to the Top says within the business world, the adage holds true. The book adds "a question might be uninformed, tangential, or seemingly irrelevant, but, whether the presenter perceives it to be stupid or not, every audience member has every right to ask any sort of question".

I was not aware there are as many variations of this question. Again, according to Wikipedia, this is a popular phase with a long history.

To answer the question, yes - some the Knit Nighters are in the process of and/or have started buying gifts; some have not started. Those who have started shared their top 3 reasons for starting now: budget concerns, time and choice/selection being the next top reason.

I have put in a meat order with our local butcher for some of our festive food, does this count? I am still working on last year's Christmas sweater for my daughter. I have completed two small gifts, with many more requests on the list than I will be able to achieve this year. Part of my excuse is my selfish goal of learning to crochet.

I am currently working on a crocheted cowl. I figure out one row and need help on the next one. Finish that one, and need help for the next. I can complete the stitches, but learning to read and work a pattern is more challenging than I had anticipated. If  I am repeating myself, I am sorry. In my naive mind, I thought - I can read a knitting pattern, how hard can this be? Well, let me assure you, I have a lot more respect for people who easily read a crochet pattern and understand it the first time. AND thank goodness for knowledgeable people around me who are willing to walk very slowly beside me.

So, The Crafty Lady is trying to make life a little easier for many of us, with her weekly 75% off sale. This week we are featuring a bright, scrumptiously textured and easy to work with yarn.







Sirdar

Snuggly Jolly

51% Bamboo, 37% acrylic, 12% nylon

50 g/165m
Reg. $7.50

75% Off

                $1.88



Posted by Anne, jolly TCL employee who is making progress on her crochet skills and Christmas to do list









Saturday, September 1, 2018

Oh to be Again in Scotland

I write this with a 'wee dram' at my elbow and a wee tear in my eye, remembering how, almost a year ago now, I travelled once more to Scotland, a place that's as beautiful and dear to me as these Canadian prairies...and, in some places indeed, they bear close resemblance to each other.

View of one croft from another, Isle of Skye
(an island in of the Inner Hebrides
 -- nowhere near Fair Isle!)
On that trip, our tour visited a croft on the Isle of Skye, where I saw both Hebridean sheep (black) and Cheviot sheep (white), got to spin some of the latter 'in the grease' (i.e., right off the shorn fleece), and (of course!) bought some of that yarn to bring home.

But the Yarn Story I'm writing this week is about a 'wee isle' in Scotland that I've not (yet) visited:  Fair Isle.  It is "wee" indeed -- just under 3 square miles in area, with a population of somewhere between 55 and 60.  It's located between the Orkney Isles and the Shetland Isles, well north of the mainland of Scotland.

And it's the home of a tradition of stranded knitting with origins that are somewhat uncertain, origins that include Moorish and Viking influences.  These arose in natural colours -- cream, black, brown -- based on the wool from the sheep raised there, and were augmented with colours from natural dyes: yellow from amphibious bistort (also known as water longweed, water smartweed or willow grass), reds from madder combined with a type of local lichen called Korkallett, and blues from indigo that was likely bartered for with ocean-faring traders.

Pattern of unknown origin!
The designs created and still used today in genuine Fair Isle knitting require only two yarns to be used at one time, and on average, only four colours altogether in a garment, in blocks of pattern that are not repeated.

As with all stranded knitting, the process is much easier knit in the round, so that the tension of the  'floats' -- yarn carried across the back of the garment -- is easier to control.

What if you can't knit -- or don't want to knit -- in the round?  Or want an easier, quicker way to achieve the Fair Isle 'effect', whether working in the round or knit flat?

There are yarns that have been dyed with colour repeats designed to mimic Fair Isle.  Many have been created for sock yarns, and others are in heavier weights, for other garments -- and we offer you one of those this week:



Crofter
Baby Fair Isle Effect

Sirdar
50 grams = 164 metres (179 yards)
55% Nylon
45% Acrylic

Regular Price: $8.50
75% off Sale: $2.13

Machine-washable and easy for new parents to care for, this yarn creates cute and pretty patterns all on its own, for delightful wee sweaters, booties, hats and even blankets.
Photo: sirdar.co.uk

Check out our stock of patterns when you make your purchase -- and if you need a lesson in knitting in the round, catch Lori and me at the Creativ Festival West in either Edmonton -- September 7 and  8 -- or Calgary -- September 21 and 22 -- where we'll be teaching you how to use both circular and double-pointed needles to do just that!  See you soon!

I leave you with a wee poem, read first in Fair Isle/Shetland dialect and then in English, by the late Scots poet -- who hailed from Fair Isle -- Lise SinclairYou can read along and listen to it here.


*Written by Margaret, who loves to do stranded knitting, especially if it's in the Fair Isle tradition.


Monday, August 27, 2018

It's time . . .



It is time - The Crafty Lady is busy planning for the CreativFestival Shows in Edmonton and Calgary next month. Lori and Margaret will be teaching courses on working with two circular needles, magic loop and with double points. Drop in and see them!! For more information on the shows, please visit: www.creativfestival.ca












It is time - for you to hurry in to our new location and lay claim to yarns for your fall, winter and Christmas projects. Historically, The Crafty Lady booth at both shows sells a quantity of our yarns - great for the store, but sometimes we may not be able to provide the same dye lot or colour if/when you run short. 

It is time - for back to school! In my experience (while I had younger children) September is an even more expensive month than December - so we now offer "layaway". Do your planning and "pay as you knit".

It is time - for me to learn how to read and complete a crochet project - from a pattern! I have crocheted for several years, i.e. edging for knit squares to join a blanket together while creating texture. I know how to crochet water balloons (5 balls of chenille later I have proof). So, with the help of my friends, I am going to tackle a patterned project.

With The Crafty Lady's permission, we will post the finished project here

I digress. It is time to learn a new skill as your children return to a very structured life at school (a new skill other than driving 3 kids to 3 different places at the same time).

It is time - for rain and harvesting! It is time to pickle, can, jam, freeze, eat and harvest all of the bounty of our spring plantings.

It is time - for any number of projects. It is time - for . . . fill in the blank with your own personal goals and/or projects.

It is also time for our new 75% Off Sale - and this week's feature is a perennial favourite and one of the best selling yarns in the Debbie Bliss line; a blend of extrafine merino and cashmere.

Baby Cashmerino Tonals
by Debbie Bliss
125 m/50g
55% wool, 33% acrylic, 12% cashmere
Reg. $12.00

75% OFF
$3.00


Written by Anne, happy TCL employee who does not wear a watch - to the ongoing frustration of my husband who has a very accurate brain-clock. 






Monday, August 20, 2018

Where Do You Begin?

Do you start your yarn project with an idea, a request from someone, or a specific pattern in mind?

Some of us design our own patterns (like The Crafty Lady herself), or take those of others and alter them...and others simply 'wing it'.  Some rely on a combination of those sources.

Me?  I can resize a pattern, yes, but by and large, I'm a "pattern knitter and a recipe cook".  I don't 'wing it' in either of these areas -- at least, not if I want a garment that fits or a food dish that tastes good!

So...if you aren't your own pattern designer, whether for knitting or crochet, this week we have a Super Special Sale just for you!

We're including not one, not two, but three pattern sources:


Patons




Bernat


and...

Kertzer



Assorted Titles
(not exactly as shown)

Assorted Prices
Regular Price Range: $3.00 - $5.00

Sale Price: 75% OFF Marked Price

Get set for more fun with your fall and winter knitting!

This is the opportune time to collect patterns for your favourite yarn craft, and your favourite pattern genres, from baby-wear to home decor -- or to acquire a booklet with patterns and techniques you've never tried before.

Stop by and see the selection; we look forward to helping you make your choices -- and to choose the yarn you need to make your project happen!



*Written by Margaret, who can create original art with fabric -- but when it comes to her knitting, needs a pattern!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Process...or Product?


I'm a sock-knitter.  That is, I like to use light-weight yarns and make things (socks, mainly -- but also shawls and hats) that take some time.  It's the process as much as (or maybe more than) the product that I enjoy.

I also like to make most of these things for other people.  Currently, I've 3 pair of socks and two shawls for me that are half finished, while I'm barrelling ahead on socks and a sweater that will be Christmas gifts this year.

Christmas gifts...in August?

Well, yes.  As my TCL colleague Anne pointed out last week, for yarn-crafters, Christmas often begins in July -- or August.  Especially if you have something large (shawl, sweater) in mind for Someone Special.

But -- and there's almost always a 'BUT' -- sometimes Life gets in the way, and we can't finish the Grand Project we planned.  OR someone new is added to the gift list.  OR you need something quickly for the last-minute gift exchange at work, or...or...or...

That's when process (especially knitting, which generally goes more slowly than crochet!) is overtaken by product.

And lest you find yourself in that predicament right now, or want to plan ahead to have something last-minute ready later, this week our Super Special Sale offering has three (count 'em!) options just for you!

First up, for those who want the option of Process and Product in one neat package:


 Creativ

Regia Yarns
100 grams = 366 metres (400 yards)
75% Wool
25% Nylon

Regular Price: $20.00
75% off Sale: $5.00

What's so neat about Creativ?  Each package is a 'sock blank' that's been dyed in a tonal fashion.  This means that you can enjoy Process by opening the end, unravelling it and knitting a pair of socks off the blank!

OR you can throw Process out the window in favour of Product, and simply wrap it up as a finished scarf!

Next, we offer you this bit of fun, for those who love the sweet life:



Dolce Vita

SMC Select
100 grams = 5 metres (6 yards)
95% wool
5% polyester

Regular Price: $15.00
75% off Sale: $3.75

Yes, there are instructions on the label to turn this novelty yarn into a funky scarf  -- but there's also a way to knit it with needles or your fingers (!) to turn it into a smooth product.

The Crafty Lady, Lori herself, has been playing with this,  Using just a few stitches on her needles, and she came up with...

A snake!  😉

Or a hot pad...

Seriously, though, that's simply because she used very few stitches in stockinette, so the edges curled on their own.  If you were to make it wider, and add a garter or seed stitch to the edges, you'd have a nice, flat piece of knitting suitable for a scarf, or when seamed at the ends, a cowl.  

Think of the possibilities!  Process and Product!

Last but not least, we offer this...for those who really want to minimize Process in favour of Product:



Hurray!

Berroco Yarns
70 grams = 6 metres (7 yards)
44% Acrylic
32% Nylon
20% Mohair (Goat)
4% Wool

Regular Price: $25.00
75% off Sale: $6.25


All you have to do with this package is braid the three pre-knit pieces together, attach the pom-poms, et voila!  Instant scarf!

OR -- believe it or not -- you can unwind each pre-knit piece (much like you would the Creativ sock blank, described above) and make it into something lovely, as this inspired Ravelry knitter did!

So...Process or Product?  Pick your favourite practice, pick your favourite yarn package -- and enjoy!

*Written by Margaret, happy TCL staffer who savours the knitting process, and enjoys the products that result!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Christmas in July/August - A Moronic Marketing Gimmick? Or Creative Concept?

This is a question where there is not a "Right" answer as people can discuss this for years to come. 

On the Marketing side: 
     - you are encouraged to spread your spending out over several months
     - it is great for the retailers 
On the Creative side:
     - crafters have time to plan and budget (both $$ and time) prior to the special event
     - great excuse for a special/additional family get together, possibly in a different location or based around a different activity

According to Wikipedia; the first reference was in an 1892 French opera and translated into English in 1894. In the story, a group of children rehearse a Christmas song in July, to which a character responds: "When you sing Christmas in July, you rush the season." 

In 1935, the National Recreation Association's journal described what a Christmas in July was like a a girl's camp, writing that "all mystery and wonder surrounded this event." The term was given national attention with the release of the Hollywood comedy Christmas in July in 1940. In the story, a man is fooled into believing he has won $25,000 in an advertising slogan contest. He buys present for family, friends, and neighbours, and proposes marriage to his girlfriend. Wikipedia does not have the conclusion of this story, so you will have to watch it for yourself. 

In 1942, Calvary Baptist, Washington, D.C. celebration Christmas in July with carols and the sermon "Christmas Presents in July" complete with a Christmas tree covered with donations. The pastor explained the service was designed to give ample time for the distribution of the Christmas gifts to missions worldwide. It became an annual event. 

The U.S. Post Office, U.S. Army and Navy, in 1942 and in conjunction with the advertising and greeting card industries launched a campaign to promote an early Christmas mailing campaign for service men and women overseas during W. W. II. 

If you suggest Christmas is a season of special religious expression, I would totally agree with you. I believe is a a special time to remember the lessons Christ taught us, such as to celebrate life, music, food, to share, and the list goes on. Maybe we need reminding there is always a reason to celebrate, and something to celebrate. 

Celebrating family is a great reason to get-together any time. 

Feeling prepared and organized, and within budget is an even better reason to celebrate. In the time-honoured tradition of crafters, we would like to assist with your creativity, planning and gift giving with this week's 75% Off Sale is a wonderfully soft blend of acrylic, wool, bamboo, and alpaca. It is a subtly variegated yarn 

London
Premier Yarns
64% Acrylic, 12% Rayon, 12% Alpaca, 12% Wool
3.5oz/100g
166yd/152m
Reg. $ 8.00
75% Sale
$2.00


Written by Anne, happy TCL employee who needs to get started on my Christmas projects