Monday, October 19, 2020

When the S___ Hits the ______

 What happens to you when the snow first makes its appearance in the fall?

I mean, I know we all - as crafters - take it as a signal that if we haven't got our Christmas presents started, we'd better get our butts in gear! But, you as a person. What does it do to you?

A Facebook friend posted this survey on what type of animal you are based on your sleep patterns and, most of the time, I'm a wolf. Since the snow hit the ground though, I've turned into a bear. Not the bear from the survey though. The kind that hibernates.

Don't get me wrong. I've been getting plenty of stuff done. But because the days are dull and the sun is setting so early and the lazy swirl of a light snowfall just make me want to curl up under a cozy blanket and sleep, getting stuff done takes a lot of effort.

Even Mom, the resident energizer bunny, had a 3 hour nap after church this Sunday! She's actually looking forward to having enough of the white stuff on the ground to go out and shovel just so she has something to do! This could be a lo-ong winter.

Luckily, I do have a lot of projects lined up for the winter months, most of which require me to leave the house and, most of which will make shopping with The Crafty Lady even easier. It was pointed out to me this week that 8 skeins of floss were going to cost over $200 in shipping to be mailed to the north end of Lacombe so I have to have a long 'chat' with my online store program because it obviously hasn't been 'listening' to my instructions. I think comparatively it will be much easier to renovate the rv but both things need to happen so I won't be hibernating even though the desire will be there.

Hopefully, you will be able to enjoy the power dips the gentle snowfalls cause and also power through all the projects that need to be completed before it too late.

written by Lori, snoozy TCL owner, who just needs to resist the urge to sleep all day. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

Lazy Days and Mondays

 Not the exact lyrics of The Carpenters song but I hope you sang it just the same. 😃

For all my Canadian readers (if I have non-Canadian readers, let me know) Happy Thanksgiving! Mom and I will be having a quiet Thanksgiving meal with three of our cohorts followed by a not so quiet card game as per normal when we get together. Except for the extra food prep, it really will be a lazy day.

I find I have a lot to be thankful for this year but what stands out for me most is that, even with COVID doing its best to mess with the way we do things, I still have what matters most in my life. I have my home, my family, my friends, my livelihood, ... we've merely adapted to make things work.

So much occurs online now.

Church and Bible study were online and, if the second wave gets out of control, it can revert to online.

Knit night is online. We joke that the side benefit to Zoom knit night is that since we don't have to worry about driving home we can drink whatever beverage we choose.

If you are unable to spend time with family and friends in person today, find a way to join them virtually, even if only for a few minutes. It will be good for your soul. And, yes, the phone counts!

written by Lori, soon-to-be-overstuffed TCL owner, who wishes you all a wonderful Thanksgiving day, however you choose to celebrate.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Where Does the Time Go?

 Is it odd that I was only one day into my 'online only' winter schedule and I completely lost track of time? Even Mom and Myles were thrown off by the fact that I was around the house more. Myles usually gets his treats 4-4:30pm-ish when I get home from the pop up location at LPAC and he was begging for them when Mom and I got back into the house at 11:30am after reinforcing a wonky shelving unit in the warehouse on Thursday.

Friday morning was spent prepping for my winter series of classes at LPAC before presenting the classes at a meeting in the afternoon. The remainder of the day was spent knitting demos for those classes. Mom swore up and down that it felt like Saturday all day and she was right. It DID feel like Saturday, which made Saturday feel like Sunday except that we didn't go to church. And because I played for both church services on 'actual' Sunday, it felt like I had already put the RV into hibernation for over a week and it had only been four days!

So, other than constantly checking the date on my phone or my Fitbit, I've decided to keep track of my days in a different way. Mom and I are going to Bible study on Monday evenings and, until classes start, there is Virtual Knit Night on Thursday evenings. Even though I know I have directionally weak tendons in my wrist making it difficult to play three games in a row, I'm joining my mom and brother in the senior - yes I said senior - bowling league on Thursdays. If that isn't enough to keep my days straight, I will have to add more non-work activities to my list.

Speaking of classes and work, I will be posting the upcoming class schedule as soon as it is finalized with the LPAC administration. All classes will be designated experienced beginner - you only need to know how to knit and purl. One class will require basic crochet knowledge as well. I will be teaching you everything else you need to know. Because of physical distancing requirements, class sizes are limited so register early!

written by Lori, time-lagged TCL owner, who can't wait to get onto a 'real' schedule asap!

Monday, September 28, 2020

Hybrid Socks?

 During the inaugural summer of The Crafty Lady's pop up store, I knew it would be a little slow until customers found me in my new digs so (as I've mentioned before) I brought my sock knitting machine along to keep me occupied in the slow times. I still haven't experimented with the ribber but I have been making a lot of tubular sock blanks. Some of them have been with yarn I have for sale (so customers can see what the yarn looks like worked up) and some have been with my stash yarn. I alternate between store and stash yarn because I want to have one long continuous tube so I don't have to start a fresh tube from scratch - it can get messy.

But what can you do with a tube of sock yarn, you ask?

First and foremost, if you are working with a self patterning yarn, you can find all the places where the manufacturers joined new yarn ends in the most inappropriate places before you knit your actual sock. And if it isn't a self patterning yarn, it will help you find all the slubs and other imperfections that may affect the wearer's comfort. Who wants a knot in the middle of your arch?

Second, if you know that you usually use 80% of your 100g ball to make a pair of socks, you can use the information above to determine where to stop and start your two socks so that they are either identical or fraternal twins without wasting a boatload of yarn. You can now work straight from the tube and knit (or crochet) your favourite pattern without hesitation. It doesn't even have to be a sock! It could be mitts or gloves!

Third, you can make hybrid socks (machine and hand knit) using afterthought toes and heels. This method requires a little math but nothing too hard. For instance, I have been using a pointy looking afterthought toe/heel on these tubes that are ~2" long that decrease 4 stitches every two rounds until I reach 16 stitches (total 776 sts). Since the sock machine has 60 hooks, that is ~13 rounds of knitting (total 780 sts). I count back 15 rows (14 if there is a meter-ish long tail) from the raw edge - yes, it's raw. I'm not going to waste my time casting off something I'm just going to rip back! - use a fine (2.25mm) circular needle to run a lifeline, then frog down to the lifeline, making a nice neat little ball in the process. Knit your toe using this little ball of yarn. With my personal gauge, I use a 3mm needle to match the gauge of the machine. Others may need to go down a size or two.

Your heel can be made exactly the same way. Make sure to get an exact measurement of your toe length. Multiply it by 2 and subtract that number from the total desired length of your sock. For example, my foot is 9" long. With my gauge, my 21 row toe is 2" long. 2"x 2 = 4". 9"- 4" = 5" So, 5" from the base of my toe (or 7" from the tip of the toe) is where I run two 30 stitch lifelines centered directly below the toe shaping with one row between them.

Snip the center stitch between the two lifelines and pull back to both edges to reveal 30 live stitches on both lifeline needles. Join your yarn and repeat the toe shaping for the heel.

But where do I get the yarn for the heel? Two possibilities - use a contrasting yarn, or decide how long you want your leg to be and cut your yarn 14-15 rows beyond that and use the yarn for the heel. For my most recent pairs (see final photo), I ended up snipping 23 rows above the top of my leg ribbing because I wanted to start at a full colour repeat.

If you want a plain vanilla sock, decide how much ribbing you want, run a lifeline at the lowest part of the ribbing, and pull back until you have live stitches on the needle(s). When you reach two rows fewer than what you pulled back, cast off. If you have a particular pattern in mind, pull back enough rows to accommodate the number of pattern repeats you would like and finish your sock.

Is this easier than starting your socks from scratch? That all depends on you. All I know is that I can cone and crank two balls of sock yarn in a half hour and I can make two pairs of short socks from one of them for Mom and me in less than a week using this method.

Sadly, I have to admit that there is one drawback to this method. The knitting machine is a left-handed knitter. That means there will be a tiny, mostly imperceptible, hole on one side of the toe since you will be essentially changing directions at that point. In my experience, wrap and turns are more noticeable and don't help.

If there is interest, I would gladly make this 'pattern' a class for this upcoming fall/winter season. Comment below (or on the Facebook post) if you would be interested.

written by Lori, happy TCL owner, who has been making good use of her downtime.

Monday, September 21, 2020

All Good Things ...

 Shorter days. Smoky skies. Second wave. These are all things that are playing a part in my decision to put the first pop up season to bed until the spring of 2021. The last day will most likely be September 30 but don't let that make you sad. Instead, let that news spur you on to get your last 'yarn squeeze' squeezed in.

I am working on class ideas for the upcoming months, all of which will be held (indoors this time) at LPAC. I am thinking of reprising some of the classes I have held at past Creativ Festivals and Creative Stitches shows but expanding them so that you actually have time to do homework between techniques learned. That should easily fill 10 hours but if you have requests, any and all suggestions are welcome!

I apologize for the brevity of this blog installment. I usually write the blog Sunday evening and yesterday (Sunday) Mom and I spent the entire day with her sister to celebrate her 92nd birthday. The sun was down before we even left Camrose and I only had a few minutes this morning to get this much written before publication time.

So - get in some live shopping these next few days before its all virtual shopping again and stay tuned for class times in the near future.

written by Lori, happy TCL owner, who enjoyed the weekend with family.

Monday, September 14, 2020

 Due to the increase in customer traffic (YAY!) I am asking that you call with an approximate ETA before coming to shop in the pop up store. Tuesday this past week, I literally had people waiting in line to enter the store. This is great when the weather is nice. You can breathe the fresh air, listen to the birds, and just generally relax before coming in and petting the yarn. However, I know the reason for the uptick in traffic is due to the chill in the air, and that means you would have to sit in your vehicle which, while still do-able, isn’t anywhere near as much fun. And if you show up without an appointment, you may be greeted by this sign at the door. 

Also, because this is the time of year the Farmer’s Markets start shutting down for the season, I may be able to convince LPAC to let me use their parking lot on Saturdays as well until the weather puts a stop to the pop up store. Stay tuned for an update on that. Ideally, you will find me there for the first time on Saturday, September 19 (as stated in last week’s blog) so that Fibre Fest shoppers can take advantage of my proximity to the LMC. I’m still working on a non-hand-drawn map that shows just how close and easy it will be to travel between the two.

Something new this past week - I finally got the DMC Tapestry yarn out of their packing boxes and they now reside in the RV, and wouldn’t you know, I had a call for them the very morning they moved in! The floss will be accompanying them in the overcab storage as early as this Monday. I will also be bringing the very little bit of cross stitch product that is left in the store. It’s hard when all your suppliers retire or change product offerings at the same time. What you see will be what you get - some of it will even be ON SALE! You'll have to come in to find out what.

written by Lori, efficient TCL owner, who is squeezing more and more into the RV every time she turns around.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Procrastination Station

 Procrastination Station is actually the name of a real coffee shop at the University of Massachusetts. No matter. It's almost always where I can be found - no matter where I am. Just ask any of my former staff / co-workers. They'll gladly dish on how I am the most proficient procrastinator they've ever met ;)

That being said, some warehouse organizing had to be put on hold when I found a permanent seasonal spot for the pop up store. The DMC floss has found a permanent home in the warehouse and I was merely waiting for the winter months before I started working on homes for the DMC Tapestry wool and all the pattern books. This past week I discovered that having my inventory online (or at least on the computer) has pushed my plans ahead by a month or three. I am so-o fortunate that it is Labour Day weekend and I have one extra day to work on a project I can no longer procrastinate on.

I mentioned a blog or two ago that I was thinking of, and then finally did, purchase an amazing storage solution from Ikea. It was originally meant for yarn but then I discovered that I could conveniently keep all my DMC in the pop up store without taking up valuable display space. I'm not a fan of Pinterest but I succumbed to its siren call when I realized it would probably be the best place to search other people's storage solutions for floss and tapestry wool. Envelopes. Paper envelopes. They are malleable and exactly the right size for the container and will accommodate a full box worth of floss. Again, this was meant to be a winter project. Turned out to be my Labour Day weekend project and by the end of Monday, all the Tapestry wool will be in its new home and the customer order will be filled and ready to pick up Tuesday.

This is two full days of work and I will probably fill two more storage cases before I'm done Monday night. You can see the almost full case in the bottom photo with a mostly empty case to its right and a full box waiting to be organized further back on the coffee table.

When it is the floss' turn, it won't take up nearly as much space - I hope.

On an entirely different topic, the Prairie Fibre Festival will be taking place at the Lacombe Memorial Centre Saturday, September 19. They are only allowing one pop up store and Under the Elm had already renewed their space from last year. Since I was still in my brick and mortar space last year, customers were just able to walk down the street to shop at my store so I didn't bother with a booth. Guess what? The walk is the same distance to the new pop up location! And - the parking is even better considering I am in a parking lot! Physical distancing rules will be in effect so I'm praying for great weather so you won't mind hanging out while other customers are in the store.

written by Lori, frustrated TCL owner, who was going to post a Google map complete with a directional route between the LMC and the LPAC building but it doesn't understand parking lots as destinations so forget that.