Monday, May 30, 2016

Retreats Are All the Ragge!

I just went on a stitching retreat hosted by another store which I won't name because it wasn't our store. We stitched, we ate fabulous food, there was a famous designer teaching a class, there were manicures and massages, and there was a mini store.

I love retreats. It's been a long time since I've been on one because as a single mom with little kids, it just was not on the list of things that had to get done. There's other priorities, like rent and food and tantrum control. But now the kids are all grown and I can go and play sometimes and have a life of my own instead of living through my children.

For those who don't know, a retreat is a group of people with an interest or job that ties them together. They go to a place where they can gather, sleep and eat, play games, do trust exercises or other challenges -whatever their leaders decide they need, and get to know each other or make new friends. It's time away from demands, family, and jobs. It's a mini vacation without anyone asking if they're there yet.

There are retreats for stitchers, knitters, quilters, scrapbookers, writers, business people, women, church groups,  you name it, there's a retreat for it. I would bet there's retreat for Trekkies who play Lord of the Rings with light sabers during the Renaissance.

There are retreats in the middle of cities, out in the country, on cruise liners and traveling through places in Europe. One day there will be retreats on space ships travelling to Saturn to view the pretty colors.

I would love to go on a European tour or a cruise line retreat sometime, but in the meantime I'll satisfy myself with going to one close to home - although we did have one lady there from Florida. How she got her stitching gear on a plane I have no idea.

Stitchers take up a lot of space. Gone are the days when a lady sat with a hoop and a little basket. Now there are huge needlework stands, specialty lamps, magnifiers, electronic notepads for patterns, comfy chairs that fold up, (emphasis on comfy), and footstools that hold stash. They each bring their living rooms or studios.

Quilters and scrapbookers need at least as much space and even more. Knitters on the other hand, need a seat, their knitting bag, a cup of coffee, lots of chocolate, and that's it.

We've talked about hosting a knitting retreat. But none of us want to organize it. We just want to go on it. Only it's hard for all of us to go on retreat because someone has to mind the store.

We talk about it and don't do anything.

So I thought I would ask everyone out there, what's your idea of the perfect knitting retreat? By the way, this is also a test to see if anyone actually reads the blog or if you all just scroll down to the sale info. Are you a scroller, or a reader?

75% OFF

70% superwash wool, 30% polyamid
50g/80m aran weight

Regular Price: $6.00
Sale Price: $1.50

Posted by Anna Maria Junus (happy employee who thinks retreats are a real treat.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Dr. Who Stole My Sweater

I have had seven babies.

Pick your eyeballs up off the floor. Yes, seven. And I had them the hard way. One at a time with no drugs. If I had been smart I would have had them all at once, got a reality show and been on Dancing With the Stars.

They're all grown up now - except for the teenager I have at home. I have been living with teenagers for the past twenty years. And I currently have six grandchildren - and that's from only two of my kids so I'm looking at maybe a few dozen more. Okay, maybe not that many, but still...

I decided when they started coming not to make special baby things.


I do have a reason, two in fact.

1. There's going to be too darn many of them to ever hope of keeping up. I couldn't do it for my own kids. Someone is going to be left out and someone is going to have their feelings hurt and then there will be pouting and crying and accusations that I love someone else better. And that will be from the grown ups.

2. I don't want to foist something on someone that they don't want or don't like.

"Here, I specially picked out the yarn for you and I spent hours searching through patterns and weeks and weeks out of my life making it. I hope you like it."

And they'll look at it and plaster a fake grin on their face, "This is great. I love it. Honest." And then it will be thrown in a deep dark part of the closet and hurriedly dragged out whenever I came over so that my feelings don't get hurt.

I don't want to do that to someone.

So I would prefer to only make things for people who specifically ask for them, who pick out the pattern and the yarn.

Only that hasn't worked out either. The teenager picked out a pattern and the yarn and I diligently went to work on the two color mosaic pattern and got the body finished and began on the sleeves, only to have the body disappear completely!

It has been a mystery around here trying to figure out where it went to. It's not at home, or in the store, or in my car, and those are the only places it's been. When it disappeared I even checked the pathways from my car to the store, and all the dumpsters and garbage bins in case someone picked it up and said "this is UGLY" and trashed it.

It wasn't ugly but you never know.

It just magically disappeared into some black hole somewhere and is currently being worn by Dr. Who* or someone and is going on adventures leaving me here at home.

That's just not fair.

So now when people ask about it I say, "let's just say it never existed" because it's too traumatic and I haven't got the heart to start over. I keep hoping the teenager will forget about it too.

My oldest graduated from the U of A and asked for a blanket in her school colors. Have I started it yet? Nope. I don't even have the yarn even though I have enough yarn to make blankets to go around the world, and up to Saturn, but none in those colors. There's other yarns that call and scream out to me instead. and so - squirrel.

Maybe I secretly hope that no one will ask me to make them something because then I'll have to make things I don't want to. And besides, why should I make things for Dr. Who* to steal, leaving me behind in my boring life while my creations travel through time and space.

But I know there are lots of you out there who love to make things for others, and do so successfully, especially the babies that come into your life.

There is a point to all of this, and I'm getting there.

Last week I warned you.

We are getting rid of a couple of our lines for good which means several things.

1. You get great deals on those yarns while we're clearing them out. Now's the time to stock up!

2. If you absolutely have to have those particular brands, you'll have to go to the big box stores or buy them online.

3. We will have room for other yarns that you can't pick up that easily. Beautiful yarns. Yarns that will make you not want to go to the big box stores. And really, that's what the independent craft stores are all about. Providing you with knowledgeable service and with things that you can't just pick up at Ceiling-Mart or Mikes. Plus we're way more fun.

Our Bernat line is almost gone. Almost. We have one yarn left and this is what's on our deep discount for you.


Bernat Baby Coordinates 
71.2% Acrylic, 25.6 % Rayon, 3.2% Nylon
DK (3)

Regular Price: $6.50
Sale Price: $1.43

If you want any, you'll have to get down to the store now, because I don't think that at this price it will last long. All it takes is one woman to get in here and wipe out the whole thing. And believe me, she won't hesitate. 

Posted by Anna Maria Junus (happy employee who thinks that baby yarn is fine for non-babies too and isn't impressed with Dr. Who right now).
* Dear Whovians, please read "The Doctor" - edited by Lori, the resident Whovian ;)

Monday, May 16, 2016

Say Goodbye

As some of you know, we are eliminating Bernat, Patons, Sugar & Cream, and Phentex from our inventory.

Now calm down. Don't panic. It's really not that bad.

These are yarns that although they have been good for us, they can also be found easily through the big box stores, small craft stores, and directly from the distributor. Well, except maybe the Phentex. But I'm sure you can still find Phentex somewhere. That stuff will outlast a nuclear war. And we are on the search for a substitute.

We want to offer you yarns that you can't pick up that easily. Yarns that make you swoon. Make note; Remind Lori to get smelling salts.

It happens that yarns hit the chopping block, even the swooney ones in amazing colors. There's a lot of different reasons why either companies or stores discontinue making or selling a yarn. We don't like to see beautiful yarns die, but you get the advantage of this since you can pick them up at sale prices. Besides, by getting rid of the old, we make way for the new.

And although we would love to carry every yarn in the world, we just don't have the storage for that. I don't think the entire city of Lacombe has the storage for it.

So even our large store has to be choosy.

Bernat Super Value hit our chopping block and we no longer have any of it.

Like I said. Calm down, don't panic.

We did bring in beautiful acrylic yarns in a wide range of colors. You can't get these yarns at the big box stores.  So yes, you can still make your afghans!

This week we have a steal of a deal with a Bernat yarn. If you think that crochet thread is only for doilies and tatted collars, think again.

Look at the patterns in this book that we have!

To Wear

Lace Knit Shawl (3 balls)

Openwork Tunic (3-4 balls)

Pineapple Lace Shawl (3 balls)

Patterned Hexagons Bag (4 balls)
Frilly Cropped Vest (2-4 balls) 

For Home
Shell Stitch Curtain Panel (3+1+1 balls)

Patchwork Pillows (3+3 balls)

Alfresco Place Mat (1+1+1 balls)

 And what is this magic yarn that does all these things with so little at a now magic price?


Bernat Handicrafter Crochet Thread
100% Acrylic, Lace Weight size 5

Regular Price: $3.60
Sale Price: $.90

That's right. Ninety cents. Which means you can make the lightweight easy care Openwork Tunic for 4 bucks!

But that can't be right, Anna. You can't make a top of any kind for 4 bucks!

Oh, but you can, when you get this yarn at this price.

Posted by Anna Maria Junus (happy employee who knows that you can knit with crochet thread. Yep, yep, you can!)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Possible Spies and Military Leaders

I tried looking up James C. Brett to find out more information about the company.

There isn't any. This company has a beautiful website showing off  its yarns and patterns, yet any information about the company itself is a closely guarded secret.

We know it's based in Britain, and has its yarns milled in Turkey which seems to be the hot spot for yarn mills. Almost everyone goes to Turkey to have their yarns done. They must serve champagne and hors d'ouevres there while people relax by the pool. 

I guess I'll have to research turkey yarns sometime. 

We also know that the company started in the 1980's and that James C. Brett is a real person. But as far as knowing who the real James C. Brett is - that is a mystery. He's not even in Wikipedia. Undercover agent maybe? Royalty using an assumed name? Time traveler? We have no idea.

Sirdar on the other hand, freely admits who they are. They are another British company who also has their yarns done in Turkey. The company began in 1880 by the Harrop Brothers - and that explains why we have some beautiful yarn called Harrap Tweed. Tom and Henry started small using pure wool in their spinning company. It was Tom's son Fred who renamed the company in 1934. The name Sirdar comes from Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener who was the British Sirdar of the Egyptian Army. Sirdar is another name for "guy who tells people what to do and they do it".  Some people would say he was a leader. So you see, Sirdar claimed the title "Leader" in the yarn industry.

This is the same Lord Kitchener who created the Kitchener Stitch because he was concerned about the seam in soldiers socks.

So you can praise him or curse him depending on how you like the Kitchener Stitch.

And I bet you didn't know that a fierce military leader was also a knitter and designer. Tell that to the men in your life who think that knitting is too girly for them.

See, they can vanquish their foes in the day, crush beer cans with their teeth for dinner, and then spend the evening knitting socks and lace doilies.

Of course, you can do that too.

For this week, we've selected three different yarns all that have only one color left because we couldn't offer you just one yarn and only one color. Where's the choice there?


James C. Brett Passion
70% Acrylic, 30% Wool
Chunky (5)

Regular Price:$11.00
Sale Price: $2.75

Sirdar Connemara
51% Wool, 49% Acrylic
Chunky (5)

Regular Price: $7.00
Sale Price: $1.75

Sirdar Squiggle
51% Wool, 49% Acrylic
Super Chunky (6)

Regular Price: $7.00
Sale Price: $1.75

 Posted by Anna Maria Junus - happy employee who has images of turkey yarn in my head. Anybody ever sheared a turkey?

Monday, May 2, 2016

Ooo La La

I love lace.

There is an art to lace with its beautiful repeat patterns that echo nature, and use symbolism, often to tell a story.

Remember those lace doilies and antimacassars your grandmother had around her home?

Hold it. You don’t know what an antimacassar is? No, it’s not about being against macassars – and that is not what it sounds like.

It was those bits of lace women would put on the arms and headrests of chairs to protect them and make them last longer. Back then men wore a lot of weird greasy stuff in their hair, because I guess they thought it was sexy for a woman to run her fingers through his hair and then use it to butter his bread. Antimacassars kept the back of the chair clean, although it did a rough job on that lace she so carefully made. On the arms it helped with the wear and tear of the fabric. Back then they didn’t change out their furniture every five years. There’s couches out there that have lasted like a hundred years, probably because they didn’t let their kids on it. So they weren’t like us, throwing everything out. Things were built to last, and even the doilies and anti-things did too.

People don’t use them anymore. Nor do they use real doilies either. Doilies just don’t fit into busy lives where we don’t even bother putting tea in teapots anymore. And even if you did use them you’ve got an instant reputation of being a fussy old cat lady, even if you’re not old and don’t own a cat. You might not even be a lady.

Doilies just aren’t in.

Or are they?

Actually, those beautiful doily patterns – and even if you don’t want doilies around your home you have to admit the patterns are beautiful – can be re-purposed
Shawls are huge right now. And they’re not just for fussy old cat ladies. Those old patterns make beautiful shawls. Shawls are fun to make too. One size fits all. Any yarn will do. And it’s a large area to play around with stitch combinations and colors. Shawl patterns are running amuck on ravelry and the rest of the internet, (isn’t that a fun word – amuck? It makes me think of that witch movie where Carol Kane jumps up and down saying “amuck, amuck, amuck”, and now both of us have forgotten what I’m writing about). Meanwhile, designers are getting inspiration from faraway lands famous for their shawls, such as Estonia and Ireland where entire families knitted exquisitely complex shawls while they cooked, cleaned, herded sheep, built barns, and shod horses. I don’t know how they did this. I keep looking for pictures of eight armed people but haven’t found them yet.

A shawl is the most important thing you can take on your travels besides toilet paper. Carry one in the bag that you take everywhere. It serves as a skirt at the beach, a sweater on a cool summer evening, a blanket for a nap, and a head covering for those times when you enter religious edifices that require women to cover their heads and shoulders. With a couple of knots it’s a market bag, or it can be a sun shade, or tuck it around your neck and under your coat for a scarf when it gets cold.

Shawls can be made from ethereal cobweb lace thread that fits through a wedding ring to great big bulky ropes of yarn. They make lovely gifts for the bride, or as reminder to the recipient that they are loved and you are thinking about them. You can incorporate hoods and pockets, and a few well-placed stitches will even make sleeves.

But lace isn’t limited to shawls and doilies and those anti things. Think curtains where you can let the light in but keep your privacy. Tablecloths – which are just great big doilies - table runners, bedspreads, gloves and trims can all be made using lace techniques.

Forget about coloring mandalas. You can actually make mandalas. Or try cable and lace patterns on a scarf. You can make tiny flowers and turn them into earrings, pins, necklaces and hair accessories that no one else will have and everyone will ask about.

So this week’s special is all about…arm knitting with great big bulky yarn.

No it’s not. I wouldn’t do that to you. Get you drooling all over lace and then do a switcheroo.

It is about lace weight yarn. Two specifically.

Noro Kirameki
60% Rayon, 25% Nylon, 10% Wool, 5% Cashmere
50g/495 yds/453 m

Regular Price: $13.00
Sale Price: $3.25

I made a lace scarf with one ball of this yarn for the store which caused all the bright colors to leave us. However we do have one color left. Number 4 is a soft pink shading into greens and browns. Lori says it reminds her of a rose garden. Definitely more subdued than the in your face vibrant colors, but lovely all the same.
Regia Lace
71% Wool, 29% Nylon
100g/656 yds/600 m

Regular Price: $16.00
Sale Price: $4.00

We have two colors of this one, and it comes with a free pattern that you can download from the internet.

And if you want to learn more about lace, there’s some sites on the internet. Piecework magazine, which I highly recommend for history buffs, often does great articles on lace making. Nancy Bush also has books on it, and there are tons of other books about lace. And by tons, I mean you could gather them up and they would weigh tons.

P.S. Not only can you make lace with crochet and knitting techniques, but we also carry tatting shuttles and a hairpin lace loom.

Posted by Anna Maria Junus – who thinks in her head she can accomplish a lot more lace making than she actually can – unless she lived several hundred years which would just add more lace patterns and yarns to her stash.