Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Creative Christmas Projects

The hours of late night knitting to finish our Christmas gift projects are now behind us. The sight the recipient trying on the completed garment and breaking into a grateful smile is the reward that makes all of those hours of knitting so worthwhile.

During the four days of our Boxing Day Sale, Beth and I had the fun of seeing many of these lovely gifts.

Erika's talented mother made her this cute hat and sweater set. She is one of the best-dressed young ladies to visit the store; always wearing a lovely knit outfit.

This is the first sweater that Lisa has knit. She was part of "My First Sweater" class that ran in the fall. You can't see the proportions here, but it is a tiny sweater that is a gift for her soon to be born son (about 2 weeks from now and we can't wait for an introduction). Lisa also knit him a little hat that will keep him snugly on his way home from the hospital.

We first met Ruffles in the springtime as an "bundle of love" little puppy. Her mom, Pat, picked out some colourful Noro yarn to make her a sweater for walks in the cold when she grew to be a "big girl". What a perfect result! She is so proud of her coat of many colours and is sure to be toasty warm on her outings.

Yes, I did finish my one and only knitted gift this year. I was working on the toe of the second sock for my Dad as Steve drove us to London to see him last Sunday (sorry no time for a picture - and they didn't get blocked). I was very realistic with my available knitting time this year and still almost missed the deadline. My dad has enjoyed his hand knit socks since I first started knitting them for him over thirty years ago. He knows the effort and love that goes into each stitch and is happy to show them off whenever he has the chance.

What really impressed me was the planning of many of our customers in the days right after Christmas. Many were thinking about next year's gifts and were stocking up on yarn so that they could get an early start on their knitting. I admire that type of organization and fore site! Several of you even had lists! You are truly an inspiration for the rest of us. That is the type of attitude that can make Christmas knitting so enjoyable and really takes the pressure off when the holidays arrive next year. Just knit one gift a month and by next Christmas most of your gift list is solved. That even sounds like a good possibility for a New Year's resolution.

Posted by Karen

Monday, December 15, 2008

Karen's Disney Vacation Knitting

Beth and I have often commented on what a fine line it is between work and play when you own a yarn store. We absolutely love what we're doing and knitting is play for us - but often we are knitting store or class samples - for work. You can see that it is often difficult to differentiate between whether the fun is working or playing.
Last week was completely play for me! My husband, Steve took me on a week long escape to Florida. We stayed at a resort at Epcot Center, which is part of Disney World in Orlando. This was the first time that we had gone there without the kids. We missed them, but did enjoy the chance to just do what we wanted, which of course included some knitting time for me.
I'd knit by the pool, while my husband checked his emails and conducted business. This was a great setting for his office for a week and I never have any complaints about his need to work when I have my knitting.
Disney world is known for its line-ups for whatever you want to see and do. We were there at the so called "slowest time of the year" and I was still glad that I had my "waiting socks" always with me tucked in the Go-Knits bag. Steve would pull out his Blackberry to check messages while I happily knit away. We must have looked like a couple with a huge communication problem, but were we ever efficient.By grabbing snippets of knitting time throughout the day, I had managed to knit almost an entire sock in the week. It's my only Christmas knitting project for this year. The socks are for my father who really does appreciate the effort and even proudly shows off other pairs that I have knit for him. He has size 13 feet, so enjoys the custom knit size factor.
After the fireworks displays at night, or other times when I had room to spread out, I would work away on a new store sample. I am making a vest-like capelet in Manos del Uruguay using one of their new patterns called "Tucson" from booklet #9. Hopefully it will be ready for viewing in the early new year.
My favourite adventure was "The Living Seas" featuring Nemo and his friends. One of my other major interests outside of knitting is swimming. Nemo represents a philosophy that I hope to carry on for years to come. Over and over he repeats "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...."; a perfect attitude of determination, both in the pool and in other aspects of life.
Substitute the words "Just keep knitting, just keep knitting...." and you'll have the motivation to finish up your Christmas knitting. Who could imagine that a little clown fish with a broken fin could have so much influence.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Scarf Knitting

Karen is away on a much deserved vacation, leaving me with a few tasks that are usually hers. This is not normally much of a problem - I have been on my own in the store many times. But this time, I have been left to do a blog entry. This is my maiden voyage into the world of blogging. It’s actually a little scary. But at least I am talking with you about one of my favourite, familiar knitting projects – SCARVES. Scarf knitting is an often maligned obsession which I passionately defend. I love scarves! Here are a dozen reasons why scarves are wonderful
1. Scarves can be as easy or as complicated as you wish; straight garter stitch or complicated cable. Scarves are perfect for beginner knitters but the right pattern can still challenge the most experienced.

These 2 scarves are samples of a beginner and advanced scarves you could learn in the class on short rows.

2. As a gift, they are perfect. They always fit. A scarf is never too tight. A nice scarf never makes your hips look bigger.

3. They are small, portable projects, good for the car or dragging off to the rink while your child plays hockey.

4. They are a fabulous opportunity to indulge in a luxury yarn that you would never consider spending the price to knit as a sweater.

5. There are hundreds of free patterns on the Internet for just about any style scarf you may want to knit. Or dig out your favourite stitch dictionary and design your own.

This scarf is from a simple Rib Lace Pattern from one of my favourite stitch dictionaries. It has a gentle ripple to it which is accentuated beautifully by the subtle striping found in Nashua Geologie.

6. In February, when winter is dragging your spirits low, a bright colourful scarf brightens everyone’s day. (Fun, bright socks can do the same, but that is for another blog)

7. I love to play around with colour. Scarves really lend themselves to playing with colour, especially with the self-striping yarns.

This simple "Skinny Scarf" was so much fun to knit in two contrasting but complimentary colour ways of Kaffe Fassett self-striping sock yarn. A Kf&b in the first stitch and K2tog at the end of the row sets the stripes on the diagonal and makes it even more interesting.

8. Many scarves knit in a fun chunky, yarn can be completed in an evening when time is in short supply.

This "Skinny Scarf" uses 2 balls of Needful Joy; a self-striping chunky yarn. I knit this scarf in an evening while watching TV.

9. They can be the perfect project for those one or two balls of yarn that have been sitting in your stash forever.

This scarf used up 2 orphan balls of Woolly Stripes. All those colours are from one colourway!

10. If one of the reasons your stash is overflowing is because you also happen to be afflicted with an addiction to sock yarns, many sock yarns are just as much fun in a scarf as they are in socks.

This simple "Yarn Over Wave Scarf" is stunning in Fleece Artist merino 2/6 sock yarn. One skein makes a generous large scarf.

11. They can be an easy way to practice a new technique without the extra complications of shaping.

This scarf is a pattern I developed as a class project for the Short Rows & Lizard Ridge course. You can have fun playing with the vibrant colours of Noro Kureyon as you learn the short row technique used in the Lizard Ridge Afghan.

12. Most scarves when you are finished knitting, you are done; weave in a few ends, you might need to do some blocking but no complicated finishing.

So have some fun, take a break from larger projects and knit a few scarves. Many of the scarves in this blog and others on display in the store come with patterns free with the purchase of yarn. There is still time to knit up a few last minute Christmas Gifts.

Posted by Beth

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cozy Afghans

It's afghan season. With the long hours of darkness and chilly nights, an afghan is perfect for a knitting project that will give you warm results. Many of this season's afghans are knit square by square, so you will never become tired of the same pattern. An afghan can be one of the most appreciated gifts or keep one for yourself to snuggle under while you work on other knitting fun.
Gabriela made this afghan for a class she taught called "Entrelac and Lace". It is based on a pattern in "The Best of Interweave Knits". There is no sewing together at the end of the knitting as squares are picked up during the construction and the border is knit onto the main section. Done in a fine weight yarn, it becomes a lacy shawl. In a heavier yarn, it grows into a delicate afghan. She will be teaching this class again in the new year.

Kris completed her "Great American Afghan" in record time using Cascade 220 yarn. She admits that the squares are a little addictive - you just want to keep knitting to see how the next one will look. She is already halfway through a second afghan in heather greens (for herself this time), using squares from the Tech Square Afghan booklet by Joanne Clark. Kris is an accomplished knitter, but was thrilled at the different techniques that she mastered by working the unique squares.

Ann knit this beautiful heirloom baby afghan (above) for a friend who was expecting her first child. The pattern is from Nicky Epstein's book, "Cover Up", with the "Baby Booties" square as an added touch in Ann's own design. It was made from the incredibly soft SRK "On Your Toes Bamboo" in ivory.

Unbelievably, I have completed knitting my 25 squares for the Great American Afghan. I looked at each square as a mini project and sandwiched the knitting around my larger sweater projects. It was nice to have such a portable piece of knitting that tucked into my Go Knit pouch and followed my everywhere. There were so many new techniques that I picked up while knitting the squares. I always tell my knitting friends that one of the reasons I love knitting so much is that there is always something new to learn. Admittedly, it will likely be the new year before I have a chance to tackle the assembly and border.

We have several afghan classes scheduled for the winter session, starting in January. (Check our website at for class details). Challenge yourself to learn new knitting skills as your cozy afghan grows. Warm winter wishes!

Posted by Karen