Monday, September 26, 2016

And You Thought You Knew Us

This is really really true!
The ladies at the Crafty Lady are a creative bunch, and not just as knitters.

Lori our esteemed leader and grand poobah not only designs her own knitted and crocheted designs which you can buy in the store or on Ravelry, but she also plays the piano and organ for her church, sings in a choir in Red Deer, and creates Renaissance costumes. And she can do that all at the same time while talking to her cat Myles on the phone.

Margaret is a textile artist. She makes art quilts which get to travel around the world to more places than she has been. They've sipped wine in Paris under the Eiffel tower, had tea outside of Big Ben in England, and walked on the great wall of China while she is still at home in central Alberta. She's been showcased in numerous shows and is currently preparing for an installation here in Lacombe based around her Mark on the Body. This is pretty exciting for her and I'll write more about that as the opening gets closer. She is also part of a trio that sings in her church during Sunday services. She too has her cat Pookie who gives her good grounding lest she gets carried away by how great an artist she is.

But this post is about me. Well, not really. Sort of.

I'm a professional published writer/novelist, and an amateur actor, director and public speaker. I have no cat because I had a bunch of people instead and don't want a cat calling me on the phone meowing at me to come home. I'm working on two different productions which looked easy on paper but involves a fair bit more juggling than I'm capable of. Especially if I have to be at two rehearsals in two different cities at the same time. By the way, I can juggle three evenly weighted and sized balls but not for long. It's amused the kids when I pick up three oranges or apples and proceed to throw fruit around the room. Not the most efficient way of making fruit salad, but a good deal more fun.

Anyway, one project has proven dear to my heart. It tells four stories of five Red Deer refugees in story, dance, music, art and film. I co-wrote and directed one of the stories and I'm acting in another and I even recruited my dancer daughter to perform because that's what proud mamas do.

I have had a wonderful opportunity to meet other creative artists and most importantly to hear the varied stories of these five people who come from four different countries at four different times in recent history. This show is about a child soldier from Africa, a rug weaver and father from Afghanistan, a young girl from Croatia, and a mother and daughter from Uruguay. The production has also recently added an aboriginal woman telling her story of being a refugee in her own country and the horrors that the Canadian government has perpetrated on the native people. All of these people are actively involved in telling their own stories.

My own father was a refugee. When he was a child he escaped the Soviet Union and found a home in Finland. When he grew up he immigrated to Canada. So I connect to these people not as having experienced the same things, but as the child of a man who suffered great atrocities from his home country and had to run.

It's been a whirlwind of trying to integrate various media into each story and it has taxed my directing abilities. I am capable of directing actors, but I've been asked to make technical decisions about things I know nothing about. Kind of like being a mom.

But that's what the creative process is. It's about trying new things, being willing to fail - sometimes in front of others, learning new skills, and meeting interesting people. Stretching ourselves and our abilities can be painful and exhausting, but overall even if we fail at the project, we haven't failed if we've learned something along the way. And if we succeed then we are more capable and more willing to go to the next step. True failure comes in not trying.

So the next time you look at a pattern and wonder if you can do it, give it a try anyway. What's the worst that could happen? Really, seriously. We're talking about yarn here which can be undone and used for something else - like tying up your children (if you tell them you're playing cops and robbers they'll think it's fun). Nothing bad happens unless you turn your knitting needles into weapons. No yarn devils come and torment you with your yarn. Your yarn doesn't suddenly come to life, twine itself up your body and choke you to death. Your mother-in-law will not taunt you about that failure unless you've told her. So jump right into that multi-colored, multi-cabled, and lacy adult onesie. It will be okay.

Oh, before I forget. Come see the show. It's free! How often do you get to see free theater? Saturday, October 1 7:00 pm at the Welikoklad Theater in Downtown Red Deer (that's the old movie theater). That's this Saturday folks!

None of this has led into the yarn sale this week. I usually tie it in. Okay, here it is. Take advantage of the twilight. Enjoy the moments after your hectic day to put your feet up and relax, look at the stars, cuddle a loved one, put aside your worries. If you've had a creative day then you can put it aside. If you haven't then this is the time to dream and create. Now is the chance to balance yourself, to eat good food, wear comfortable clothes, knit, or do another favorite hobby, and embrace the part of yourself that you don't show to your work world. Now if I could only follow that advice I would remember to take my medication.


61% acrylic, 25% nylon, 9% polyester, 5% metallic
59 y/54 m/100 g Super Bulky (6)

Free one ball pattern on ball band. More free
patterns online.

Regular Price: $5.70
Sale Price: $1.42

Posted by Anna Maria Junus (happy employee who has been so busy that the phrase "whirling dervish" comes to mind although I have no idea what a dervish is and if it can be turned into the verb "dervishing")

Monday, September 19, 2016

Froggit Strikes Again

You know when you start a new ball of yarn and you want to pull from the center, only sometimes when you do you end up with a huge yarn barf, so you roll your eyes, sigh, and untangle it before you begin. 

I had one in the middle. Right in the middle of a sock I was working on. A fake fair isle second sock which meant that if I cut it I would have to unwind a lot of yarn to get to another end so that my socks would match.

And this barf was nasty. I swear that Froggit, Rippit and Gurr snuck inside that ball and had a wild drunken party using my yarn like silly string. And they waited until I had already started that sock. If you have no idea who Froggit, Rippit and Gurr are, you can read about them here. When You Need a Hero 

Of course, Captain Knit Wit and his crew were nowhere to be found to save the day.

I could have been finished that sock days ago. But nope. I spent that time unraveling the evil that had been inflicted on my yarn. It was worse than untangling Christmas lights.

It's certainly not the first time that I've been sidetracked or completely defeated. I already wrote about Dr. Who stealing my sweater. You can read about that here. Dr. Who Stole My Sweater Now before someone points out that Dr. Who is not his name, I want to point out that if I just said "The Doctor" many wouldn't know if I meant Marcus Welby, George Clooney, or McDreamy.

There was also that time when I was working on a lovely cabled sweater and my three year old daughter found my embroidery scissors and decided to turn it into artistic lace. A few years later she did it again to a cross stitch picture I was working on, and a cross stitch afghan. The cross stitch afghan was saved by an embroidered heart which I had to repeat in various places throughout the afghan. That child did live to adulthood and is married now. I have put a curse on her that she will have a child that will do something similar to her. Hey it worked before.  One of my other daughters has kids who drew on walls. Heh, heh, heh. 

So I would love to know what kind of mishaps you have had while creating your marvelous wonders. Please post them here and we can all commiserate with each other.

This week's sale is a yarn that includes a pattern using only 1 ball! Think quick to make Christmas presents. Now's the time to stock up. Where else can you get materials to make a gift at this price? Sure, they could call you cheap, but they will never know.


67% Acrylic, 16% Polyester, 11% Wool, 6% Nylon
129 y/ 118 m/ 100g Chunky (5)

Free pattern on ball band

Regular Price: $7.10
Sale Price: $1.78

Posted by Anna Maria Junus (happy employee who loves logic problems but no so much when they're presented in the form of tangled and knotted yarn).

Monday, September 12, 2016

When Summer Ends and the Season of Knitting Returns

It isn't the kids going off to school, the color changing leaves, the cooler weather, pumpkin spice everything, or a date on the calendar that announces the end of summer.

Nope. It's none of these things.

The end of summer happens when Summer Drink Days are over at McDonalds.

This is what happens when you go through
self-imposed summer knitting withdrawal
and you return to knitting in the fall.
For the entire summer you could get an iced coffee or a fountain drink for a dollar. But no more.

It makes me sad.

I was sitting in the drive through waiting for my full priced iced coffee and my pumpkin spice muffin when I realized, they put boulders along the boundaries to prevent cars from driving away. I was trapped! If a fire breathing dragon, a monsoon or a psycho driver on a murder spree suddenly came along, I wouldn't be able to get out of the way.

One more thing to worry about.

I've been binge watching Supernatural while I knit. It's a show where often people and monsters get impaled on things with help from demons or two demon fighting pretty boys who are not young enough to be my sons so it's okay if I drool. The other day I was alone in the store, and I was putting up rows and rows of straight metal hooks we use to hang skeins of yarn and I couldn't help looking over my shoulder to be sure that some supernatural being wasn't going to impale me by somehow making it look like an accident - like tripping over a basket and falling into the wall.

I think about these things.

I actually like autumn. I like colored leaves, pumpkin spice everything and sweater weather. I just don't like the evil specter of winter hanging over it.

Apparently someone's mother was so happy that school was
back in session that she made a sweater for the bus.
One nice thing about autumn is that knitting starts to become respectable again. People think you don't understand the meaning of life if you knit in the summer, because summer is for gardening, swimming, and sleeping outside on the hard ground while spending money to pretend to be a homeless person.

But in autumn people admire that finely stitched sweater, those neon socks, that cozy hat and scarf set, the lace shawl, the practical dishcloths and even that weird mermaid blanket that everyone is doing even though it means if there's a fire you'll get up, get tangled in your tail and sprawl flat on your face while everything burns around you. (Note: in spite of what you have heard, mermaid blankets do not automatically improve your swimming abilities on dry land).

Of course you don't have to tell them you've been working on those exquisite creations all summer. They don't have to know that the full length intarsia cape didn't spring up over night and is imbued with blood, sweat, tears and a few choice swear words.

To bring in the fall we have a sale on lovely autumn yarn. There's enough here for sweaters, scarves, hats, mermaid tails, and even a supernatural hex bag because you just never know when a monster might want to impale you on a sharp object in your home or at work.

Yes, I think about these things. Now I'm sharing with you.

Araucania Quillay
57% superwash wool, 43% acrylic
194y/177m, aran (4)

Regular Price: $13.00
Sale Price: $3.25

Posted by Anna Maria Junus (happy employee who wishes that dollar days could be all year long, that winter didn't have to hang menacingly around,  and that the pretty boys from Supernatural could supernaturally climb out from the TV into my living room and spend time with me. Yes, I think about these things.).

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Your Monday Morning Workout With Party to Follow

We're going to be at the Creative Stitches Show in Edmonton this week!

Everybody put your arms up in the air and say Yayyyyy!

Now, I will admit that the name "Creative Stitches" has me a bit puzzled.

Why? You ask.

Because half of the show is scrapbookers.

I've done scrapbooking. I don't recall stitching anything. There was lots of cutting and gluing and stickers and punches and writing, but no stitching.

Now, knitting, crocheting, sewing, quilting and all kinds of needlework require stitches. Even surgical procedures require stitches. But if someone could explain to me how scrapbooking fits in with stitching...well then I am authorized to give you a bottle of fragrant SOAK - a mild soap perfect for your delicate silks and your wild woolies. (Hold up bottle next to face and smile so everyone can see the label. Now wave hand underneath product). See Lori can't handle fragrance anything and she won't even let me open the bottles to smell them even though I love fragrances. So she tortures me by saying "you can't smell them but you can give them away - just not to yourself."

While Lori and Margaret are at the Creative Stitches show, the store is still open and I am here.

Everybody put your arms up in the air and say "Yayyyy!"

You now have two, count that two, places on two weekends to buy from us.

Everybody put up your arms and say "Yayyyy!"

Okay, now that you've been good and done your workout, come to the shows or the store, and tell us that you read the blog and we'll all do the hokey pokey together. Frankly I am giggling at the thought of Lori, Margaret and Lori's mom Muriel, doing the hokey pokey in the middle of the Creative Stitches Show. Hey, the scrapbookers are at the Creative Stitches Show making a lot of noise and having a lot of fun and they don't even stitch anything. Why can't we?

So don't let me down. I want to see pictures of the gang at the shows doing the hokey pokey.

Everybody party. Put your arms up in the air and say "Yayyy!"

This week's sale is very soft and cuddly and fuzzy. And yes, you can shout Yayyy for that too.

75% OFF

Berroco Kodiak
61% Baby Alpaca, 24% Nylon,15% Merino Wool

Regular Price: $19.00
Sale Price: $4.75

Posted by Anna Maria Junus (happy employee who doesn't want to do the hokey pokey all by herself while fragrant yarn soap languishes)