Monday, May 25, 2020

Did I Jinx It?

Last week I said I would attend Knit Night from my deck if the rain held off. As I am writing this Saturday morning, it is still spitting out, even though it was supposed to stop yesterday. Did someone take my decision to actually venture out onto the deck as a challenge to see how long I could be kept inside? Along with everyone else?

Doesn't matter. Mom's garden is in and is relishing all the moisture. It hasn't been a torrential downpour trying to invade the garage space again. And when I venture out to the warehouse, my hoodie is enough to protect me. I will only actually complain if I hear a downpour pummelling the warehouse roof when all I have is said hoodie and I need to go back to the house for some reason.

Quick jaunts out to the RV have been productive. I solved the cab access issue for the most part. The center bins now rest on a cabinet on wheels that fits the walkway like it was custom made. (see video below)

The existing lights may be enough but I would rather deal in overkill so that the yarn is shown of in its best light (Sorry, not sorry). Thanks to the virus, I have plenty of time to work out the details.

I have also had time to work on some fine details in the online shop. Every day it is getting easier for you to find what you need. You still won't find mask elastic. Don't know what the holdup is there with my supplier but it is what it is.

I was thinking of trying something a little different to let you know what is available online. Who of you would be interested in a Feature of the Week in this blog? Please comment below or on the Facebook page so I can get a feel for the demand for such a feature.

written by Lori, mentally wterlogged TCL owner, who is looking forward to the days (next week) that I can whine about how hot it is ;)

Monday, May 18, 2020

Progress

I've been getting a lot of calls from customers this past week asking if the store is open again now that non-essential businesses have been given the go ahead providing physical distancing / sanitation protocols are in place. It has been fun listening to the surprise in their voices when I tell them the business was never closed. I guess not everyone knew I had taken the store online in February, even though the advertising was everywhere for three months. Regardless, sales are steadily increasing and I may have to get the RV ready sooner rather than later because some Farmer's Markets are indicating opening dates sometime in June.

Speaking of the pop up store, the kitchen counter is still jutting out into the walkway. I don't feel comfortable removing the propane stove without professional help so it will remain there for a couple more weeks. The display area, on the other hand, is starting to shape up. I'm waffling between blocking the access to the cab with cubes for yarn (giving me 33 cubes or 51.56 cubic feet of space) or - as seen below - creating saloon style pegboard doors for needles, hooks, and other yarn notions (6 cubes or 9.375 cubic feet less) so that it looks like a wall during 'store hours' but still allows me to stay indoors to access the cab, especially during inclement weather.
Let me know what you think.

On the home front, Mom spent Friday and Saturday planting her garden. Even though it wasn't in by her usual deadline, she is so grateful to have it done by the long weekend. She can relax now knowing that, God willing, the freezers should be full this fall and all the canning will be lining our cold room walls and the pantries of a few blessed recipients.

One of those individuals is Mom's 91 year old sister who insisted I reintroduce her to knitting this winter. She wanted a scarf and I told her basic garter stitch makes the best beginner scarf because it is mindless knitting that keeps your fingers busy. She sent the yarn back to me this past week 'because the yarn was splitty' and 'don't laugh at my mistakes' and 'please make me something out of the yarn if you can'. Since I've been trying to do some mindless knitting of my own since finishing my OSS, I chose to knit her a cowl. In entrelac  (which is mindless knitting for me). It looks like a clown collar. So I have changed my mind to a One Row Lace pattern similar to this pattern on Ravelry. I can even work this one at Zoom Knit Night. And, if it doesn't rain Thursday night and the bugs stay away, I might even take my iPad out to the deck for Knit Night. We'll see!

Until next week, make good use of the beautiful weather, be productive indoors when it isn't as beautiful outdoors, and stay safe out there.

written by Lori happy TCL owner, who can see a light at the end of the tunnel and knows it's not a train. πŸ˜‰

Monday, May 11, 2020

Normal-ish - a Word I'm Hearing More Often These Days


As I write the blog today, Mom is out preparing her garden for planting when it is dry enough and our lawns are being mowed by the best husband-wife team in the area. Myles, the cat, is sitting on my lap - a new thing since Covid-19 has changed our daily routine - but a welcome change because it means we get to spend more quality time together. My mind may be elsewhere but I've become a master of one-handed typing, which Myles appreciates.

This past Sunday we came home from drive through communion to a freshly tilled garden. Mom was so thrilled because she was sure she was not going to make the May 9 deadline that she has adhered to for at least 5 decades to get her garden in. Then it rained - hard - for a day. She couldn't even bring herself to do any baking. But when we saw dry hills in the garden late Tuesday afternoon, she got all her seeds ready for today, Wednesday.

If you read the previous two paragraphs carefully, you will have noticed some pre-Covid and post-Covid juxtaposition: our previous normal mixed with our current normal. I hesitate to call it the new normal because drive through communion is not how I want to permanently go forward in my church life. This will change.

Other things are changing on a daily / weekly / monthly basis. Businesses, once closed, are re-opening. Some with more restrictions than others, all meant to keep us happy and safe. Other businesses have followed in my footsteps by going strictly online. As you know, even that isn't the new normal for me, simply the current normal. I look forward to the day when the social distancing rules are relaxed enough to have more than one person at a time able to shop in the RV. Right now, there isn't anywhere in the RV that one person isn't within 2m of someone else and there's still the issue of everybody wanting to squish the yarn, whether or not they end up purchasing it. Have you ever tried to disinfect yarn without destroying it? So my normal-ish remains strictly online.

One part of my life that has changed and may become the new normal is connecting with people through platforms like Zoom. Even though I think it is a temporary thing for the Knit Night crew that lives in the area, now that it is an option, I think our outlying community (from Edmonton and Nfld up to this point) may continue to join us Thursday nights just because they can.

So for those of you who are mourning the loss of their old normal, don't despair. Some of the new normal will be an improvement over the old. I found this story the other day that helps sum up my outlook to all this change.

Me: Hey God.
God: Hello.....
Me: I'm falling apart. Can you put me back together?
God: I would rather not.
Me: Why?
God: Because you aren't a puzzle.
Me: What about all of the pieces of my life that are falling down onto the ground?
God: Let them stay there for a while. They fell off for a reason. Take some time and decide if you need any of those pieces back.
Me: You don't understand! I'm breaking down!
God: No - you don't understand. You are breaking through. What you are feeling are just growing pains. You are shedding the things and the people in your life that are holding you back. You aren't falling apart. You are falling into place. Relax. Take some deep breaths and allow those things you don't need anymore to fall off of you. Quit holding onto the pieces that don't fit you anymore. Let them fall off. Let them go.
Me: Once I start doing that, what will be left of me?
God: Only the very best pieces of you.
Me: I'm scared of changing.
God: I keep telling you - YOU AREN'T CHANGING!! YOU ARE BECOMING!
Me: Becoming who?
God: Becoming who I created you to be! A person of light and love and charity and hope and courage and joy and mercy and grace and compassion. I made you for more than the shallow pieces you have decided to adorn yourself with that you cling to with such greed and fear. Let those things fall off of you. I love you! Don't change! ... Become! Become! Become who I made you to be. I'm going to keep telling you this until you remember it.
Me: There goes another piece.
God: Yep. Let it be.
Me: So ... I'm not broken?
God: Of course Not! - but you are breaking like the dawn. It's a new day. Become!!!
~Author John Roedel



p.s. I finished my One Seam Sweater. I love it but I will be making another. This time a medium.


written by Lori, content owner of TCL, who is more than happy to 'become' through all this normal-ish

Monday, May 4, 2020

Ordering Online Just Got Easier!

I spent most of Monday fighting with my current website, craftylady.ca, but it was so worth it! Your payment method is less likely to be turned down AND you can finally find products through TABS!

Yes! You heard right! There are tabs at the top of the page and they have drop down menus! More and more items are finding their proper homes in the webstore and I have discovered how to group them more efficiently for you to navigate with ease. It's still not as nice as the website that was supposed to replace it but it sure beats the hassle most of you have had to deal with up until now. In fact, I am seriously considering keeping this one because it means a whole lot less work for me.

And because I have been concentrating on the website, I do not have a finished photo of my One Seam Sweater  - because it isn't finished. Silver lining? It's now too warm to wear the sweater anyway. That means the weather is now perfect to split my time between the website and the RV (all while taking care of my amazing customers) so stay tuned for updates on both.

written by Lori, busy owner of TCL, who is refreshingly energized by all the work that lays ahead.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Pop Up Update

Well, the snow is almost all gone and the flood from a week ago was a one-off (we hope!). This has given me a chance to focus on the RV renovations!

The first job was to put the battery back into the front end so that I could move the motorhome into a more convenient location so I hooked it up to the battery charger in the morning and installed it later that afternoon. Success πŸ‘until the next day when I checked to see if the battery was still charged πŸ‘Žso I boosted it and let it run for the prescribed minimum 10 minutes (according to Google). That must have been one of the true things on Google because it is still going strong πŸ‘.

The next task was to remove the jutty-outy part of the kitchen counter - the part that makes it impossible to get from one end of the RV to the other if someone has opened the fridge. I took all kinds of pictures and videos of the inside of the cabinet so that I knew where all the anchor points were for the countertop; where the (currently inert) electrical bits were so that I could uninstall the bits that are housed on the side wall to be removed; and where the water and propane lines were so I didn't damage them as they are NOT currently 'inert'.
I figured I could get a lot of the preliminary work done before calling in help for those tasks. I found all the right sized bits for my power drill and my manual screwdriver and got to work.

The TV, DVD player and outlets (GFI, 12 volt and cable) all came out without a fight. Okay - that ONE screw in the TV stand has refused to let go of the TV but that didn't stop me from removing the TV stand from the already tiny countertop.

I discovered that the manufacturers used a Kreg jig for joining which makes for a beautiful finish but meant I had to use my manual screwdriver because the plumbing was in the way of my power tool. Good thing I play the piano (strong fingers, hands and arms) and used to teach junior high (patience of Job) because it took a while to get all the screws out of the front face of the offending peninsula. (Haha. You thought I didn't know what the jutty-outy thing was called, didn't you πŸ˜‰)

Nothing moved. I mean nothing. All the screws that were hiding in their angled hidey-holes had been removed and the countertop and face were solidly held together. Turns out they used brad nails, screws AND glue! I've decided that it is a good thing that most of the Farmer's Markets are not getting the go ahead this year - the exceptions being the ones that are going online - and that social distancing will not be possible in the RV. It is going to take all summer just to renovate!

So glad so many of my customers (including some new ones) followed me online. This social distancing is great for introverts like me but not so good for businesses like mine where the customers want - no, NEED -  to 'pet the squishies'. So for now, I will persevere with the renos, keep filling orders, continue entering data into the improved website so one day you can actually enjoy the experience of ordering from www.craftylady.ca/, and plan for the Pop Up season next summer.


Oh! Some show and tell!


After Mom inherited the original Adult One Seam Sweater, I finally got around to making my very own One Seam Sweater using Caron Cakes (yes, I used contraband yarn again). It will be finished later this evening (Monday) but here it is with just the bottom halves of the sleeves to finish. 😁 I started it less than a week ago!!!
 written by Lori, grateful TCL owner, who loves having all this extra time right now to do the things she HAS to do as well as the things she LOVES to do.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Does This Mean Spring Is Finally Here?

So. Have I ever told you that my mother is amazing?

At 86 years young, she was out at the warehouse with me for the better part of Friday soaking up her portion of the flood with the 2 gallon shop vac while I was manning (womanning?) the 10 gallon shop vac, all in an effort to keep the yarn and everything else in the warehouse dry.

See those sandbags there? She continued sucking up water while I made two trips to pick them up. Don't worry. We may refer to her as Mighty Mouse but I was the one who was slinging the sandbags around.

After almost seven hours straight of hard labour, we finally stemmed the flow of the garden runoff enough to go in and have supper.

A big shout out to a couple of the town staff for coming to remove the ice buildup on the back alley that was trying to keep pace with the garden runoff.

Needless to say, we were exhausted by the end of the day and I still managed to fill a number of orders after supper.

We managed to recuperate over the weekend and by Sunday evening the garden was a soggy mess with no snow in sight and the sandbags kept the water at bay. Yay!

On Saturday, it occurred to me (and one of 'the faithful') that we were missing Knit Night. She has been taking courses via Zoom and I had just had my own first experience with Zoom earlier in the week. What if we had a virtual knit night? We could still have conversation and camaraderie. We could still show off our WIPs and FOs. And because none of us would have to drive home afterwards, we wouldn't have to limit our refreshments to coffee or tea. πŸ˜‰

So let's see how many of you read to the very end of the blog today.
If you would like to participate in a virtual Knit Night on Thursday evenings between 6 and 9pm, leave an affirmative comment.
If you don't want to/can't participate for any reason, say so. I still want to know if you read this far.

Written by Lori, thankful TCL owner, who has a dry floor thanks in part to my very own Mighty Mouse. Love you Mom.


Monday, April 13, 2020

A Happy Snowy Easter to Everyone!


HAPPY EASTER!

I finished a few projects that I've been meaning to get to -
all the previous Christmas/birthday gifts are done and these arm covers for the couch and chair, (of which I made two different variations so I wouldn't get bored)!

They are actually a much darker taupe so the fact that they look this light grey means the sun is out! YAY!!

As you can see, Easter week was quiet for us due to the stay at home orders.
We kept in contact with friends and family through the internet and phone. Because Mom is so-o impressed with all the zoom choirs and orchestras that have been showcased on TV,
I will teach her how to at least use Facetime before this is done so that she can see that her sister in assisted living really is okay. Baby steps. πŸ˜‰

I am still rearranging the warehouse. Almost everything is in its new home and I am still filling and delivering a few orders every day. When I am finally happy with the way the warehouse looks, I will post a video so that you can see that the store is still a going concern. And that has to happen soon because, when the snow goes away, I have to start on the motorhome / pop-up store!

I'm not sure how many Farmer's Markets will be running this summer, and for those that do, they will probably be cutting back on the numbers of vendors to allow for the physical distancing protocols. The silver lining is that I will have more time to get the motorhome exactly the way I want it.


So ... in the time that it took me to write this blog, this happened.


< On the back deck, you can see how much snow was left before it started up again.
< In the front yard, the trees have kept the new snow on the road. And just look at the 'fog' in front of the trees. Really coming down!

Remember, it was sunny when I took those first pictures.














But not to worry, I have faith that Mom will have her garden in before May 9th as she always does so snow all you want, Mother Nature, Spring is already here. Just gotta let it show up.

written by Lori, happy TCL owner who can't wait for all the greenery we should have had for Easter.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Bring Me Basics

I was approached by Lacombe Online to take part in BringMeBasics, a new venture designed to keep everyone happy while shopping local during our 'down time'. None of us really want to spend this time spring cleaning, do we? So why not learn a new skill? I have different jewelry making projects as well as knit or crochet accessories at this time. Prices include everything you need to make your projects, except basics like tape, safety pins or scissors. If you need those, hop on over to www.craftylady.ca and I will do my best to hook you up with what you need.

Even without BringMeBasics, it is wonderful to know that I have enough loyal customers trying to keep themselves sane that my online / phone / email sales, and therefore deliveries, have kept me busy (lots of hand sanitizer!) You know, I didn't think I'd be selling skeins of DMC floss any more so I was just going to leave them in boxes until I had the yarn exactly where I wanted it. Nope. Guess what was in high demand this week. Really high demand! I have decided that I will probably keep it as regular stock after my suppliers have once again been deemed necessary businesses and I can reorder. Elastic was also in high demand this week because of all the people making masks. Yay!!!!! Sadly, I am now completely out of the sizes that work and cannot bring more in until my suppliers are deemed essential businesses again.

On a personal note, I have still been finding time to play with yarn. I am especially pleased to announce that a pair of Lorigami Socks that I started way back in September(!) were finished on Wednesday and sent out Friday. The intended recipient has been waiting patiently but I think she will still be surprised when they end up on her doorstep.

The third of the late Christmas presents is now complete and I have decided that they will be birthday presents instead. That means plenty of time to finish the last one.

I have also been working on a crochet project at my mom's request - covers for the arms of the couch. Thankfully she is happy with my pattern choice because I can work on them while we watch the Scotties and Brier that we taped and never had time to watch. (And, no, you can't spoil it. We already know who won.)

Most importantly, stay safe, stay busy and enjoy the time you have at home.

(Side note: the link to the Lorigami Socksabove states that you will receive a paper copy if you purchase it from this website. I can email a digital copy if you prefer. The new webstore will have digital copies - another reason I am making the switch.)

Monday, March 30, 2020

Creativity and baking

So ... who else has been baking up a storm?

We're all creative people here, and we all know that being creative is what keeps us sane.

I was at the post office last week and ran into a retired businessman I know who said he had been trying to convince the man who had bought his business to close during the stay-at-home order because he knows the business is not essential. I said I was at the post office because I was delivering sanity to a customer so I know mine is an essential business. He agreed because his wife is one of us. He knows  the consequences of NOT having something to do to relieve the stress, especially right now.

But even with all the lovely yarn I am surrounded by on a daily basis, there are times I just can't knit or crochet another stitch. Sacrilege, I know!
So Mom and I have been scouring the internet (me) and hard copy books (Mom) for new recipes - mostly breads - that can be made with or without yeast (it was hard to find the first couple of outings to the grocery store) and with or without a bread maker (we have two). We have determined that the bread maker is great for making the dough but it just doesn't make a nice loaf for sandwiches so we throw it into a regular bread pan and into the oven it goes.

We've made regular white bread, coconut flour bread which is more like a pound cake, (if we'd had crushed pineapples to throw over top, they would have made it taste like a Pina Colada cake! Next time πŸ˜‹) and Irish soda bread so far. We even tried these peanut butter chocolate chip cookies! Sadly, they didn't last long ;) Because of that, we're trying to stay away from the sweet baked treats but when the banana is too ripe even for me and the sour cream is past due, you gotta make a banana loaf and a mahogany cake - and pop them in the freezer immediately! Okay Mom and I shared one piece to make sure it was okay before gifting some to one brother and my mom's 'other daughter'.

So glad I am getting some work done on the rv (sorry, no pictures yet) or I would be needing to buy a new wardrobe after this social isolation thing we're doing.

I don't normally ask for feedback, questions, etc on this blog, but since I no longer get to see everyone at the store, I would love to see what projects you're working on or have finished, or even some of the baking you've been experimenting with just to keep your hands busy. So, please leave your comments below and I will leave you with one more 'recipe' I am going to try next time I can't find yeast. Use this yeast 2:1 compared to regular yeast.

written by Lori, happy TCL owner, who obviously won the recipe race since I have links for all the recipes πŸ˜‰

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! πŸ˜‰

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.πŸ˜‰

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.