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 :)

Monday, February 3, 2020

... and a New Life Has Begun

I know, I know, its a CATS reference that was used two weeks ago and the movie is getting unceremoniously panned, but don't let that deter you from reading this blog. You might let the fact that it is now being written by The Crafty Lady herself make you lose interest but I will do my best to keep you informed and entertained.😉

As of February 1, 2020 The Crafty Lady is no longer a brick and mortar store.

Before you start rending your garments, gnashing your teeth, and covering yourself in ashes, please note that the online store (www.craftylady.ca) still exists and is in the middle of getting a much needed, user-friendly upgrade.

But we need to pet the yarn!





Be patient. The pop up store should be on the road in time for Farmer's Market season and it will be travelling throughout Central Alberta. Judging by the inventory I currently have, and plan on keeping as regular stock, you will probably be seeing different stock every week over an 8 week period. The eighth week will probably be a sale trip - so, anything that was 25% off in the brick and mortar, or that has been discontinued since the beginning of 2020 - you get the picture.

If you clicked the link above, you will have seen a search bar and not much else (unless you are reading this lo-ong after it was published and the new website is up and running). I promise you that the new, improved website will be much easier to navigate and it will have an option to PICK UP. Why am I telling you this now? If you know that I will be coming to your town and you missed the opportunity to purchase the yarn while it was there - you petted it, you hummed and hawed - and you can't wait for the next time it comes around, you can choose PICK UP when you complete your online order and it will be in the mobile store just waiting for you to pick it up, prepaid! How's that for service?

Now I have to get back to inventorying and boxing up the product, stripping the walls of shelving and pegboard, arranging the warehouse, reconfiguring the kitchen in my RV, updating the website ... I am so thankful that Margaret, Anne and Mom are more than happy to be helping with the final steps of putting the brick and mortar to bed. I could never do this on my own. Fact is, I could never have done any of this without my customers, so THANK YOU! to each and every one of you, and see you on the road in the future.

Oh! and make sure to like The Crafty Lady on Facebook! It will most likely be updated on a more regular basis than this blog will. You saw my to do list.

written by Lori, TCL owner who is eager to get started on the new life I've begun!

Monday, January 27, 2020

You Don't Know What You've Got 'Til It's Gone...

This week marks the last week of the 'brick and mortar' version of The Crafty Lady.  The doors will close February 1 at 6 p.m., and a new chapter in the business' history will begin -- just two weeks shy of 26 years with a store-front location.

Why do you think so many small, independent businesses shut their doors and either close completely or go the online route?

There are probably as many answers to that question as there are small, independent business-owners.  It's a complex issue, and rarely is there only one reason.  But here are some factors...

  • The owner wants to retire and no one will buy the business because...
    • It takes capital to fund a business that has built up good will in a community;
    • It takes courage to take a long-running existing business and put your own stamp on it as a new owner;
    • It takes courage to continue to compete against Big Box Stores selling similar merchandise more cheaply; and
    • A small business is a 24/7/365 (or 366!) commitment.  However much it might be your passion, it will also be your life;
  • The business is in a rented premises -- and doing very well -- so when the shop's lease is coming up for renewal, the landlord just might spike the rent to skim off as much of the business' profits for him/herself; 
  • The economy of a given community/province/country ebbs and flows...and however robust the planning or the capitalization, it becomes a real challenge to keep brick-and-mortar going if customers aren't buying, while costs are rising -- for heat, electricity, inventory and the like; and/or
  • The advent of the Internet and the boom in online shopping over the last 10+ years means that while people might enjoy the ambiance, the service and the quality of products in a local shop, more and more drop in for a "fix" and then shop somewhere else where -- with free shipping offered over "X" amount spent -- they can get something similar for less.
One or some or all of these reasons factor in to the closing of a physical store-front occupied by a small, independent business.

So...the owner puts the inventory on sale so there is less to pack up and move -- whether to a warehouse for an online operation, or to a "shop on wheels" that books space on a 'pop up' basis that changes from week to week or month to month.

People flock to the store then to stock up before the closing date -- and because of the discounts available.

They commiserate; they're sorry to see the business shut its doors; they'll miss the business' presence in the community...they wonder what the staff will do now that they are out of work.

They've suddenly begun to realize what they had...and what they'll lose when it's gone.  

Even though The Crafty Lady will continue in a new format -- online and through mobile 'pop-up' locations; even though she'll continue to carry beautiful, good-quality yarns at reasonable prices and there'll be opportunities to touch and feel the products, to get advice, and even -- eventually -- to book a private lesson or two; even though Knit Night will continue to provide a social time on an RSVP basis at the home Lori shares with her mother (the Very Supportive and Indefatigable Muriel)...

  • There won't be a permanent location where you can drop in to chat, browse, fondle yarn, be entranced by colour and variety, pick up notions and embroidery and beading and mending supplies, find just the right buttons for that new little sweater you've made.
  • There won't be a permanent location with at least two knowledgeable and informative staff members to advise on yarn quantities, weights, colours and patterns; or on fabric and floss for embroidery projects; or on dyeing or mending those jeans or that torn sweater or jacket or home decor item...and...
  • The face of the community changes whenever a small, independent business closes its permanent location. 

One of The Crafty Lady's longest-running community services 
has been the shop's in-take of donated yarn which is used by
volunteers to make blankets for Blankets for Canada.  The ideal yarn is a worsted weight (an American #4) made of acrylic which is easily cared for and relatively soft.  Yarn of different weights and fibre content isn't turned away, though.  Instead volunteers have taken it for baby blankets, hats, mitts, scarves and prayer shawls.  

The Shop's Queen of the Blankets is Minke, a woman well up in years who crochets (or on occasion, knits) delightfully colourful blankets that have been distributed either by Blankets for Canada, or by the shop, to half-way houses, fire victims (think: Fort McMurray a few years ago), homeless shelters and the like.  Why is Minke the Queen?  She's just brought us her 600th and 601st finished blankets!!

The Crafty Lady hopes to continue collecting donated yarn and sharing it with Minke and others as part of this service to Lacombe and area...so stay tuned for information on how and where to donate!

While change is inevitable, while changes in technology and economies contribute a great deal to the future of any business, large or small, when -- in the words of Joni Mitchell -- "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot...Don't it always seem to go, you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone?"



Final Brick & Mortar Week!
Discounts from 5% to 25%
on yarn, roving, 
notions, patterns,
needles, hooks,
embroidery supplies,
beads
and all general craft items!


and
updates on THIS BLOG
for information 
on the
Opening of the Online Shop
and the locations of the 
Shop on Wheels.


And for one last time...this week... at 5006 - 50 Avenue, Lacombe, Alberta

THANKS to all our faithful customers...

See you in the shop!





*Written by Margaret, soon-to-be-former TCL employee...who will miss TCL -- and who knows very well what she had, though it will be gone.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Today "will be a memory too And a new day will begin"

Yesterday I went into my drawer of clean tea towels and only half looking pulled one out from the middle of the stack. It was the first project I completed - an embroidered tea cup on an old flour sack. Note: I was 6!

I believe there are many of our younger crafters who do not remember working on old flour sacks, or what I am even talking about. To be honest, I am not sure my three sons would recognize the tea towel for what it is. 

To Albertans who lived through the depression, as did my parents, you recycled everything until if fell apart. One of my father's favourite axioms was: If it was not broken - do not fix. 

The truck my first serious boyfriend owned was held together with bubble gum and chicken wire. Imagine what your mechanic would say today if you even suggested you had temporarily patched your vehicle with bubble gum, chicken wire or old pantyhose (an suggested fix for a broken fan belt). 

About 50 years ago a shower gift was a pretty tea cup or a 2 tea towels. If they were hand embroidered tea towels they were a wedding gift. I still have the copy of Mrs. Beeton's cookbook which was a wedding present to my grandparents. This was first printed in 1861 - my version was 1902. 

I have used this book many times. One of my favourite recipes is for parsnip soup - a really great hearty soup on cold winter meals. There are two versions - one with curry and one with mustard. The mustard version is recommended to help clear chest congestion. The current price of store bought parsnips almost makes it impossible to make, and I no longer have a garden. This may have to change. 

The amount of information on cooking, cuts of meat, how to separate an egg, clean house; tip - start at the top and work down is amazing. Electric vacuums were not even suggested in my copy. Dust the ceiling lights, then the walls, work down and finish with the floor. You will not just be rearranging the dust, will be able to get rid of most of it - this was one of the first things I learned from my grandmother. 


I did not know the value of the skills I was learning. I have initialled pillowcases from my mother's hope chest, similar to these (right) and I was lucky enough to be able to teach my daughter some of my skills. 

The blue ones were my Christmas gift, and ones I believe my grandchildren will appreciate. 


When my husband was first married in 1965, his wedding present was a down-feather quilt. I was the lucky recipient of that quilt when we got married in 1998. Until the material fell apart that was a treasure to curl up under on a cold night - like last week. 

Gardening, knitting, sewing, woodworking, reading, painting, writing, cooking, repairing things - as The Crafty Lady says - are skills that will see us through the next Zombie Apocalypse. Note: the list is not limited to the above. When our technology no longer exists - historical/creative skills will survive. 

Tomorrow will always come, as do changes. The Crafty Lady IS up and running on-line. The current website is not really user friendly, so Lori is working on making it more friendly. The phone number will not change - and you can reach her by messaging on Facebook or e-mail.

Small business in Alberta is seriously at risk! We had four people in last week complaining of how many businesses have closed in downtown Red Deer. Others were commenting on how Camrose Main Street is just starting to come back. 

The evolution of business is continuing. 

The current Crafty Lady plan is that by spring/summer Lori will have renovated her motor-home and will be out and about at Farmer's Markets, Music in the Park, and any other venue she can reach or will be allowed to attend. 

Both Margaret and I are really supportive of the changes Lori has decided to make, and hope you will continue to shop with her. The words to Memory from the hit musical Cats, I feel are appropriate:

Midnight
Not a sound from the pavement
Has the moon lost her memory
She is smiling alone
In the lamplight
The withered leaves collect at my feet
And the wind begins to moan
Memory
All alone in the moonlight
I can smile happy your days (I can dream of the old days)
Life was beautiful then
I remember the time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again
Every street lamp seems to beat
A fatalistic warning
Someone mutters and the street lamp gutters
And soon it will be morning
Daylight
I must wait for the sunrise
I must think of a new life
And I mustn't give in
When the dawn comes
Tonight will be a memory too
And a new day will begin-


Written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Lyrics adapted by Trevor Nunn


As this will be my last blog, from the brick and mortar store, I Thank You - our customers for everything you have taught me, for all of your kind words over the years and the hugs/tears/laughter we have shared. 

I am Wishing Lori all the best! May we share our memory and may The Crafty Lady's dream continue 'And a new day will begin'. 



Written by Anne, treasuring my memories! Looking to see the new dawning of creativity and many successes for Lori. 

Monday, January 13, 2020

A Family Collaberation

When we first started building the original street level home of The Crafty Lady on 50th Street (Main Street), there were a number of glitches along the way, the first of which was my father being laid up in the hospital with paracarditis.

As a retired building construction teacher at the high school in town, retired building supervisor at many construction sites throughout the province and an all round handy man, having to stay in the hospital in order to keep his position in line for surgery seemed worse than the number of blockages that needed to be fixed. He wanted to get his hands dirty and supervise the build. Between us visiting daily to keep him apprised of the progress and our self-proclaimed superintendent, Mr. Gimbel, keeping the workers on their toes, we kept him from going crazy (pictured below with my brother Ron who was keeping things going at Home Hardware)

even when the owner of the neighbouring building came rushing over to tell us that by digging the basement, his basement wall was crumbling! So much for the proposed ceramics and stained glass I had planned on bringing in.

Then, while we were building a new building, the town was beautifying the street with trees. While the building was under tarps. They were planting a tree. Directly in front of the door. Smack dab in the middle of the entrance to the store. The tree got moved.

Thankfully, there were no other glitches. Dad got released from the hospital and the second he got the green light from his doctor, he was back up on the scaffolding installing a dropped ceiling.

Months later, we held our Grand Opening with the help of then Mayor Judy Gordon and Peter Bouwsema, the architect who brought my vision to life.

Then there was the move to the current location. Thanks to well timed road construction of Highway 12 (the road people call Main Street), Mom and I were able to wheel all the stock around the corner. The girls kept the store at 5009 running smoothly, calling or texting for Mom or me to run stock back over to sell, while we arranged the store so that it would be ready by July 1. We only had one hour without debit / credit card sales during that whole time. The hardest part of the whole move was convincing people that we were literally around the corner!

Even now, moving everything from the store to the warehouse - yes, we've already started - I could not do it without the collaboration of Mom, Margaret and Anne. Mom is soon going to be 86 years old and she can still keep up to me! In fact, she can sometimes play me out. :) I'm fairly certain she will be supervising (read: getting her hands dirty) when I start remodeling the RV to accommodate all the yarn I will be selling come spring. I expect I will also have a travelling companion and shelf restocker once the store is on the road.

Until then, there's still lots of product at 25% off that we would love for you to buy so that we don't have to haul it to the warehouse. 😉

written by Lori, happy TCL owner who knows the real work is still ahead.

Monday, January 6, 2020

A Stash of Memories

Does this happen to you?

Every year around this time I get a case of "startitis" -- an "infection" of "gotta make this -- and this -- and this -- and this! NOW!"  I find myself cruising Ravelry for ideas, patterns and groups that have set up challenges for the New Year.

As I confessed on my personal blog a day or so ago, it  hit me when I was roaming around YouTube, clicking on video podcasts from yarn shops.  The first one I looked up was at the recommendation of a customer who was in the Shop last week.  She and her daughter were joining a Mystery Knit-Along (MKAL) originating with the gals at Cozy Up Knits out of Grande Prairie (Alberta, not Texas; you can tell because of the "e" in "Grande" 😊) 

I went on to explain that one of the symptoms of startitis is that not only do you have to start multiple new projects, but also you find yourself compelled to work on each one all at once.  Having a 20-to-30-minute video to enjoy while you work makes it easier to do this -- especially if you have a series of video 'casts lined up that you've never seen, so you can watch them one after the other.  You simply spend one video's worth of time working on one project; when that 'cast ends, you switch projects!  You have an opportunity to get up and stretch -- get more coffee or a glass of water or whatever -- and move to The Next New Thing. 

I ended up starting two projects from scratch using yarn from my stash -- my pre-Crafty Lady stash -- but while I was searching for the right New Things to make to satisfy my cravings, I unearthed something else as well:  memories.

Yes, a stash might sit for a long time in your home -- in drawers, cupboards, tote bags, baskets, wherever.  It might even gather dust (or at least, pet hair!)  But when you dig out a ball or two of yarn and take a bit of time to think about where and when you acquired it, or from what project it's left over, you also release something else: memories.

What triggered my thoughts for this post?  I was digging through my sock yarns when I stumbled over a partial ball of bright yellow and another in deep navy, with the 'Regia' label still attached.

Ah yes... Now I remember...

I moved out of Calgary to the tiny hamlet of Mirror near the end of September 2008.  Some time not long thereafter, I explored the towns nearest me.  By happenstance, Mirror is located almost equidistant between Lacombe in the west and Stettler in the East.  Stettler is my go-to town for my artwork -- framing and mats etc. It also has a quilt shop that has furnished me with batting and fabric from time to time.  However, Lacombe is my favourite of the two -- having a bit more 'character' in its buildings and shops, a larger library, a good quilt shop, a couple of very good coffee shops, the church where I worship regularly, the lovely parkland around Cranna Lake that makes for pleasant walks...and of course, The Crafty Lady.
Pattern: Highland Schottische Kilt Hose
Designer: Nancy Bush 

I don't remember exactly when I found the Shop, but my Ravelry records show that in the fall of 2010, I made a major purchase of sock yarn.  Sometime earlier that year, I'd met a fellow who was a piper in the local pipe band.  He had a mass of lovely black yarn that he wanted made into kilt hose, and commissioned me to do so.  

He was so pleased with them that he asked me if I'd make a pair to match the tartan in his kilt, which was navy, red, yellow and dark green.

The socks would have to be argyles, and I'd need to order the yarn. Oh boy.  Off to The Crafty Lady I went, with an aged pattern in hand -- a book that had once belonged to my mother.  The pattern I chose was the one on the left below: "Highlander".





I needed solid colours as mentioned above, with the dark green as the main colour, navy and red for the diamonds, and a clear yellow for the lines that threaded through the diamonds.  The Crafty Lady had nothing at all in the shop -- but Lori was willing to order up the yarn for me.  I didn't have a pressing deadline, so I agreed.  

Only last week did Lori reveal that she hadn't carried that brand of yarn -- Regia -- in the shop as a matter of course.  Blessedly, I used a great deal of it -- but the last of it didn't sell until long after I'd made the hose, and had begun to work part-time for her in the Shop!

Argyle socks are knit flat, in part, and seamed down the back; the 'in the round' portion comes with heel and foot.  I'd never knit socks flat before.  In fact, I'd never knit any argyle pattern before.  Being paid to do this, I jumped in with both feet.

Luckily, the risk to learn and to try paid off, and my client got his argyle kilt hose in early 2011.  


Pattern: "Highlander"
Source: Patons #37 - Hand Knit Socks from Beehive

Despite their size, I still had lots of the navy, red and yellow left over.  Fortunately, the pattern book was full of other fun multi-coloured socks...so I made him another pair, free of charge.  These too were knit flat, at least part of the way.  When I gave them to him, I told him that a) he'd already paid for the yarn and b) he was the only fellow I knew who'd wear them!



Pattern: Double Check Socks
Source: Patons #37 -- Hand Knit Socks 
from Beehive

Some of you might think these projects would put me off knitting socks for a very long time -- but no.  I still make several pair a year.  Just don't ask me to make anything in argyle any time soon! 😉

Not only will I continue to make socks, I'll continue to add to my sock yarn stash even as I work hard to whittle away at "old" inventory.  And yes, the Crafty Lady will still be my go-to place for sock yarn -- even as I click and order rather than visit the Shop in brick and mortar.

Transition time continues -- with everything in the Shop on sale at a minimum of 5% off, and a max of 25% off.  This includes the perfect needles and yarn you'll need for socks -- from double-points to circular "shorties" and ones you can "magic loop".

There's still time to book a "how to" lesson for sock-making...or for just beginning to knit or crochet.

And there are four more in-Shop Knit Nights before the door closes.  Do drop down to say hello, check out our sales, have a chat, and sit and knit or crochet a bit.   Add to your stash of memories while you visit...and take them home with your yarn.


See you in the Shop!


*Written by Margaret, happy TCL employee and customer...who'd rather knit socks than just about anything else.  Just, please, no argyles!