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Monday, August 25, 2008

Our Amazing Knitters

Some of our favourite and most rewarding times in the store are when we see the finished projects of our talented students and customers. Here is a sampling of the recent accomplishments - all beautifully and skillfully knit.
Ann knit this lovely afghan as a wedding gift. Most of the squares were from the Great North American Aran afghan book. The picture doesn't do justice to the intricate cables and detailed travelling stitches. She is now working on a smaller version as a baby gift
Julia used Handmaiden Sea Silk to knit her delicate "Swallowtail" lace shawl. It is a work of art and a garment that will bring out compliments whenever it is worn. She finished it so quickly in just a few weeks. It's hard to put down the needles when each row adds to the beautiful details.

One of Jackie's summer projects, in Needful's "Kelly", was knit in lace from side to side. It will be sure to keep her fashionably cool in the final hot days of summer.

Mary Joe used Madil's 100% bamboo to knit her perfectly draped shawl. It is incredibly soft and will coordinate with all her fall outfits. She is a "graduate" of Gabriela's lace class and has mastered the techniques so well.

Lisa was eager to take up knitting again after years away from the craft. She has a special reason to be excited with a new family addition expected in January. She picked up the yarn one afternoon and a couple of hours later had the first special hat made for the little one. She came back to show us and couldn't wait to get started on her next project. We're looking forward to seeing the wardrobe grow as the due date gets closer.

Once again, well done to each and every knitter. Remember, we do take joy in seeing your finished projects. It is always rewarding to see the yarn come back as a lovingly knit creation.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Fall Yarn Fantasies

Almost every day more new fall yarn arrives at the store. Our storage room is completely packed with the boxes containing the beautiful fibres. Beth has even been coming into the store on her week off to try to arrange some of it on the shelves. Here is a selection of a few of the first arrivals.

This is "Soy Soft" from Dye-Version, a hand painted fingering weight yarn made from 100% soybean.
Also from Dye-Version is this 100% Bamboo fingering weight yarn. The lustre and colours need to be seen - I just keep wanting to hold the skeins and dream.......

We have added another 20 colours to our wall of Cascade 220 yarn. Many of the additions are in the "Heathers" with such richness in the tones.

Gabriela knit this lacy top from "Australian Merino Lame". The yarn has a metallic thread running through it that accents the festive colours. It will be perfect for the holiday celebrations (I'm referring to Christmas - many of our knitters have started their gift knitting already).

We estimate that in about a week we'll have the store transformed into a showcase for our new yarn lines. I'll keep the camera flashing - but if you have the chance, these yarns need to be seen and held to be fully appreciated. Let the visions of fall knitting begin!


Friday, August 8, 2008

Score: Knitting:2, Painting:1

My three day get-away / knitting marathon at the cottage was just what I needed. It gave me a chance to do some serious knitting and to recharge my personal batteries. Sierra (my black lab) kept me company and made sure that I didn't spend my entire time nestled in a Muskoka chair with my knitting.
She loves her walks on the beach and will play fetch as long as anyone will keep throwing the stick into the lake.
Armed with three full knitting bags, the plan was to complete several knitting projects in three days of uninterrupted knitting (yes I have already admitted to being a little too much of an optimist). I'd still have my sunset walks on the beach an a few swims to cool down.

By the end of day one, I had knit a square for the Great American Afghan in "Button Stitch" and completed the second sock of the pair in Aracunia's Ranco (the 1st one is on display in the store).

By the end of day two, there was another afghan square (very obviously needing blocking - I never thought of bringing styrofoam and T-pins to the cottage) this time in a bullion stitch. It was a completely new stitch for me, in which you wrap your yarn around the base of a stitch 10 times. It results in a very dimensional stitch that composed the flowers on the square. One of the pleasures of knitting this afghan is that you are continually learning new stitches and techniques.

If I could keep up this rate of knitting, the afghan would be complete in a week - only six squares to go.

The sunset on day three was spectacular. Unfortunately, I had become quite distracted through the day. Our cottage is constructed with wooden facings, the deck is wood, the outdoor furniture is wood and our window frames are --- wood. With the extreme winds and storms that come in off the lake in late fall and winter, all the wood needs plenty of maintenance (translation - painting). This needs to be done every four years and we just cycle through doing one area each summer. I just couldn't ignore the peeling paint on the window frames anymore and it was obviously its turn for a new coat of paint. I actually don't mind painting - its the preparation that is the problem. You scrape and brush off the loose paint, think you're done and start on the endless cycle of finding more peeling pieces and next thing you know you're down to bare wood. I had checked to make sure that I had plenty of external paint to do the job. It didn't register with me that I would also need primer until I was staring at the stark natural wood surface and of course we didn't have any. What should be a simple trip to the paint store is an adventure at the cottage. It's a good hike to the boat, cross the river to the marina, drive 20 km to the closest hardware store, buy the paint .... decide that I needed the nutrition of an icecream cone before retracing my steps... and two hours later start painting. The fresh paint on the window frames looks great and I managed to cast on another square and knit the first few rows before ending my mini knitting holiday. Final score: Knitting 2 and Painting 1!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Optimistic Knitter

It looks like I will actually finally spend a few days in a row at the cottage this week. It is truly my favourite place to be, the only time that I can completely relax. I'll be driving there while everyone else is coming home from their holiday weekend get away. It's going to be just me and Sierra (our black lab) and my knitting bags - no husband, children, cat or responsibilities this trip.
Like all dedicated knitters, I pack my knitting first when I am planning a vacation. I may be a little bit optimistic about the amount of knitting that I hope to accomplish - 3 days away and 3 knitting bags! My plan is to complete a few projects so that I can be guilt-free as I sample the new fall yarns when I return.
My biggest challenge is The Great American Afghan; with only 8 squares to go. It has been a fun project and a delight to knit in Cascade 220. I've been knitting along with my students in class, where we learn the various techniques used in the afghan. Every one of the twenty-five squares uses a different technique, so there is no chance to get bored. It's just time to get back to my true love of sweater knitting. The fall patterns have started to arrive in the store and I already have about 6 that I'd like to indulge in and coupled with the new fall yarns - priceless!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Fall Yarn Preview

We don't often allow customers to see our storage area at the store, but I thought I'd give you a little peek at some of the delights that we have hiding behind the closed door at the back of our store. We have been clearing our summer yarns to make room for our fall collection. It has started to arrive and Beth will begin stocking our shelves this week. Here is a little preview of the selection of new yarns.
These bags are full of even more colours of Cascade 220, our most popular worsted weight yarn that is perfect for sweaters, afghans and felting projects. This fall we will be adding the superwash version of the Cascade 220 line.

These boxes are from Fleece Artist, Westminster Fibers and Dye-Version. They hold all new yarns for us including some super soft soy, bamboo, and the start of our Rowan collection.

On the right are more yarns waiting to join the new displays including a special "ecology" line and a release of sock yarns in colour combinations designed by Kaffe Fassett.

Although few of us are eager to hurry the arrival of autumn days, it is exciting to get a head start on the season with knitting. It is enough to motivate us to finish up the last of our summer tops and sweaters so that we can sample the delightful array of fall fibres.


Friday, August 1, 2008

Therapy Dog Checks out the Benefits of Knitting

We know that knitting can provide great therapy. It is relaxing (usually - when the pattern is working out well), and can melt away the stresses of the day. It has been proven to lower blood pressure and gives the same benefits as a yoga workout.

This week we had the pleasure of a visit by a therapy dog (and her owner) at our store. Gracie is a 6 year old Bermington terrier from England. Doesn't she remind you of a lamb? As many customers like to do, she was stopping in at Serenity Knits on her way home from work - always a good way to unwind after a busy day. As a therapy dog, it is Gracie's job to bring a smile to patients, helping them to relax and have a time of social interaction. In many ways, he can provide the benefits of knitting to those who are unable to join in the activity due to physical and health limitations. What a valuable service! We applaud the efforts provided by therapy dogs and their dedicated trainers.