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Thursday, December 11, 2014

VOGUEknitting Winter2014/15

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The most recent issue of VOGUEknitting has just arrived and to my delight, it features one of my knitting inspirations, the legendary Barbara Walker. Barbara Walker's stitch dictionaries have inspired many knitters. Even if you are not familiar with Barbara Walker, if you spend much time on Ravelry, you will often see where designers credit a particular stitch they have used to one of her incredible stitch dictionaries.

My favourite of her dictionaries is her book on Mosaic Knitting.
Below, Barbara in one of her fabulous Mosaic creations.
Vogue's Winter 2104/15 has 9 fabulous designs inspired by Barbara Walker stitch motifs. A couple below.
#1 Mosaic Cowl desinged by Kristina McGowan in <em>Alpaca Sox</em> and <em>Pirouette</em> by Classic Elite Yarns.
#8 Mosaic Sampler Pullover designed by Pat Olski
in in <em>Alpakka</em> by Dale Garn/Mango Moon Yarns.
#5 Long Fringed Scarf designed by John Brinegar in <em>Sport Weight</em> by Blue Sky Alpacas.
These designs are much easier than they look, especially when knit using the super easy to understand chart system created by Barbara. Unlike Fair Isle knitting, this is not stranded knitting. You are only knitting with one strand or colour at a time and the patterns are created by slipped stitches.
If you are interested and not sure your skills are up to it, I am offering a class this winter on slip stitch and mosaic knitting.

Slipped Stitch Knitting   (Beth) Three 2 hour Classes $60 plus supplies
Date & Time
Thursday, February 5, 12 & 19    9:30am – 11:30am
Slipped stitch, and a subgroup of this category of knitting stitches mosaic, appear quite similar to fair Isle knitting, but you are only knitting with one colour strand at a time. Stitches are slipped or knit to create the design. Once you understand a few simple basics about slipped mosaic, you will be able to use these designs in a variety of projects. In this class we will practice the techniques by swatching a few patterns you are sure to want to use later. Then really get to it with either the Frieze Cowl or Shawl.
Intermediate. Good basic knitting skills.

Do yourself a favour and explore this unique and versatile knitting technique.


Snow Days

Well, it is official. It may not be the 21st of December, but winter is here.

I know someone who is probably happy.

I have no idea how many pairs of mittens I have knit but this morning, I could not find a single pair of matching mitts. I usually like to blame the cats for events surrounding missing knitting but I don't think it will work this time. One can never have enough mitts.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Jabez Blanket Ministry International

We want to give you an update on a blog we posted last year. Many of our generous customers, drop of their unwanted yarn stash at our shop and we pass it on to a couple of local groups - public school knitting clubs and a local church.
Victory Baptist Church in Newmarket, participates in a charitable organization  - Jabez Blanket Ministry International. Your yarn donations have been used by the church's knitters  and crocheters to create blankets for orphans around the world.  In November we received news from Victory Baptist Church that their completed blanket count stood at 1,198!!!!
First, the previous blog on Jabez Blanket Ministry International.

The Jabez Blanket Ministry is an organization reaching out to help needy Orphans around the world - Orphans living in unimaginable poverty, bearing the marks of loneliness and desperation. To a child who has nothing, these hand-made blankets are a wonderful expression of love, saying to them ....."Someone cares for me." Not only is the recipient touched, but the giver as well. It is the goal of the Jabez Blanket Ministry, to bring comfort, hope and joy to some of the world's most desperately-needy Orphans, showing them that someone cares for them - through:
* lovingly-made woolen Blankets for warmth
* soft, endearing Teddy Bears for comforting hugs
* and needed School Supplies for Learning

Over the last seven years that Serenity Knits has been open, Karen and many of our customers have donated yarn to the wonderful knitters at Victory Baptist Church in Newmarket to knit and crochet blankets for the Jabez Blanket Ministry. Last month, they celebrated the remarkable milestone of BLANKET 1000.
The program coordinator, Faith Crosby, has asked us to Thank All Our Wonderful Customers who have donated yarn.
"Thank you to each one who has helped reach this wonderful milestone - from those who have knitted and crocheted, to those who have helped financially, to those who have purchased backpacks, teddy bears and school supplies - we could never have done this without you.. May God Himself, bless you in HIS own special way. Rejoicing with a grateful heart. Faith Crosby"

So, next time you might be tempted to do a little de-stashing, please remember the Victory Baptist Church Knitters and  Crocheters. We are happy to receive donations on their behalf.
Beth & Karen

In October, the church received an urgent request for blankets and backpacks to be sent to 901 orphans in the Ukraine. In November, the church was able to contribute 40 backpacks, 36 teddy bears , several blankets  and $200 to help with the postage. It is hoped this shipment will arrive in time for Christmas.

So again, program organizer Faith Crosby, asked we pass on their appreciation for your donations. Please keep this worthwhile organization in mind if you have unused yarns you wold be happy to donate. Just drop them off at Serenity Knits and Karen will deliver them to her church.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014


I have a couple of days off to try to get a bit more organized for Christmas. Do you remember when you were a kid and Christmas seemed to take forever to arrive? And you had no idea how much work was involved in getting ready? As I head off to the mall today, I remember with great delight  Stephanie Pearl-McPhee describing her experience getting ready for Christmas. The following is part of a post  from a couple of years ago.

From June 2011:
Do you follow the Yarn Harlot? I think Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, a.k.a. the Yarn Harlot, is one of the funniest people I have ever known. ( I use the word "know" rather loosely here. I have never met Stephanie, but have read all her books multiple times and regularly read her blog, so I feel like I know her.) I heard her speak once. By the end of the evening, my cheeks were aching from laughing so much. My favourite of her books is "Yarn Harlot, the secret life of a knitter" (A great gift for any knitter if you need a gift idea)

I am particularly amused by a chapter titled simply "IT". Let me quote part of the opening paragraph:
"Once again, it's Christmastime. How can I be completely blindsided by a holiday that happens on the same day each year is absolutely beyond me. You'd swear they only announce the date for Christmas in November and I have maybe three weeks to cope with the news. Once again I am nowhere near ready....."

The first time I read that, I laughed out loud, that is so me. So when I read it again the other night, I said to myself : "Not this year. You are going to start early!!!!"

Before I move on, if you are a knitter and do no not know the Yarn Harlot, do yourself a favour. This is her blog address; .
Visit it and see what she is up to. She also has seven best selling books.

Back to avoiding "IT" (not to ruin the story, but "IT" is the crazy state of mind and circumstances the overambitious knitter finds them self in, when it is almost Christmas, and all those hand knit gifts you had carefully planned and depended upon having to give away by December 25th are not finished). .

Any way, for a change, I am in pretty good shape this year, just 2 hats, a cowl and one pair of socks to finish. I think I will make it. How are you doing??


PS I will let you know if I see any great bargains at the mall.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Open House Recipes

Every year we get requests for the same three recipes so I have re-posted an old recipe blog from 2009. ENJOY!!! 

Serenity Knits celebrated its 7th Annual Christmas Open House this past Saturday, November 17th. All the treats were well received but we had repeated recipe requests for three in particular. So here they are!!

Karen’s Chocolate Christmas cake

3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 250 g pkg Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup candied cherries, cut into quarters
1 cup candied mixed fruit
1 tsp almond extract

Melt chocolate chips in microwave oven (medium setting, stirring often) or in top of double boiler over hot water. Add softened cream cheese, stirring until well blended and no visible streaks of cream cheese remain. Stir in candied fruit, cherries and almond extract. Add marshmallows last, stirring gently. Press batter (thick) into a waxed paper lined loaf (approximately 4 x 8 inch) pan or 8 x 8 inch cake pan (if you prefer squares). Chill well before slicing into slices or squares. Store covered in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

Leslie's Cheese Dip

1 lb shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 medium white onion, finely diced
2 cups Hellmans Mayo (full fat, not lite & only Hellmans)
Mix well. Place in oven proof container. Bake at 350 until top is brown. Serve with crackers or bread.
Note: This dip can be made in advance, stored in frig and reheated by stove or microwave to serve.

Sugar Plums: From “Victorian Christmas Crafts”by Barbara Bruno

Sugar Plums are an ancient treat probably originating in the Middle East where whole figs were transformed into the original glace fruit by long and repeated simmering in sugary syrup. Victorians, always ready to guild the lily, added nuts, orange rind, a variety of dried fruits and brandy, to create the “Sugar Plum visions dancing in heads” in the Victorian Christmas poem, the Night Before Christmas.
3 pounds of dried mixed figs, dates, raisins & currants
1 ½ pounds of blanched almonds
½ pound unsalted shelled pistachio nuts
½ pound of crystallized ginger
finely grated rind of 2 oranges
2-3 tbsps brandy (or orange juice if you prefer)
white granulated sugar

Method:Finely chop and mix all ingredients except brandy and sugar. Use a food processor or grinder because you want the ingredients to be well chopped/ground. Add 2-3 tablespoons of brandy to help make the mixture stick together. If you would prefer not to use brandy, use the juice of one of the oranges instead. Mix WELL. Form the mixture by hand into small balls, approximately a tablespoon at a time. Roll them in sugar. Store the Sugar Plums in a covered container. It is best to let them meld for a few days but they can be served right away. They will keep for several weeks in a covered container.

We are glad you enjoyed our Christmas treats and are pleased to share these recipes with you.

Beth & Karen

Friday, October 31, 2014

Yarn Harlot

 I totally had a moment this morning. If you are not aware of , aka, the Yarn Harlot, do yourself a big favour and check out her blog

And read any or all of her books.

The Amazing Thing About the Way It Goes: Stories of Tidiness, Self-Esteem and Other Things I gave Up On
All Wound Up: The Yarn Harlot Writes for a Spin
Free-Range Knitter: The Yarn Harlot Writes Again
Things I Learned From Knitting Whether I Wanted To or Not
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off The Yarn Harlot's Guide to the Land of Knitting
Knitting Rules! The Yarn Harlot's Bag of Knitting Tricks
Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter
At Knit's End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much
Knitlit Too edited by Linda Roghaar and Molly Wolf
I have read all her books, some multiple times but her first,  Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter,
holds a special pace in my heart. Stephanie is laugh-out-loud funny.
I have been home sick for several days. Do yourself a favour, if you have not yet had your flu shot, get one. This morning I was working on a pair of socks. I knit on Addi 12" circulars, switching to dp's for the heel and toe. I had reached the heel and set aside a couple of dp's to knit the heel flap. I had knit the requisite number of stitches of onto a dp and put them aside to get a cup of tea. When I came back, my second dp was no where to be found. Although the remaining 3 of the set   of 5 were sitting on the coffee table, I became obsessed with finding the missing dp I just set aside. I moved couch pillows. I looked under the couch. I emptied the knitting bag that was on the floor by the couch where I had been knitting. I went back to the kitchen to see if it was over by the teapot. I even eyed the cats suspiciously. They steal yarn, measuring tapes, stitch holders and constantly re-arrange my patterns and magazines, maybe needle thieving had just been added to the list. I finally gave up. It would turn up eventually, hopefully before I needed it for the toe. By this time, I had wasted so much energy and time looking for the missing needle I had run out of time. I needed to get showered and dressed. My son was driving me to pick up my car at the garage. Getting ready to hit the shower, I pulled my hair back into a  ponytail to get my shower cap on - Missing dp stuck behind my right ear.
Happy Knitting

Friday, October 24, 2014

New magazines

Some great new magazines have just arrived

Knit Simple Magazine

I had a quick look through the Vogue Holiday issue and came across something very interesting.
Knitting in Alaska
Here is the link for details. I am not familiar with all the instructors but I love Cat Bordhi 
I am very tempted. Anyone else interested??
Happy Knitting

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Opal Sweet and Spicy 2 - 1 x 8 100g Balls

Just arrived, the new


We could not decide which ones we liked the best, so we ordered them all.

Opal Sweet and Spicy 2- shade 8610 Watermelon

Opal Sweet and Spicy 2- shade 8611 Peppercorns

Opal Sweet and Spicy 2- shade 8612 Honey

Opal Sweet and Spicy 2 shade 8613 Sprinkles

Opal Sweet and Spicy 2 shade 8614 Grapes

Opal Sweet and Spicy 2 shade 8615 Red Cabbage
Red Cabbage

Opal Sweet and Spicy 2 shade 8616 Chilli

Opal Sweet and Spicy 2 shade 8617 Lolly Pops

Sock knitting does not get much better.

Happy knitting

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Marian Cowl - Quick, Inexpensive & Really Nice

Cowls continue to be an extremely popular accessory.  Ravelry has a little over 17,000 cowl designs. While searching for  a cowl to knit a store sample in Big Softie, I found Marian. It is shorter/narrower, I'm not sure which descriptive is correct, of the very popular Gap-tastic. The original Marion by Jane Richmond is knit in a super bulky yarn (knit at around  6 sts over 4 inches) on a 15mm circular. Link Below.
Marian in the original super bulky from Ravelry.
With a bit of simple math, I adjusted the pattern to use Big Softie (9sts over 4 inches) on a 10mm. Lots of Ravelers have done the same thing. We currently have 6 colours of Big Softie, 3 solid and 3 of their new tweed look. Big Softie is well named. It is a deliciously soft wool/acrylic blend- machine washable but dry flat.

 On a 10mm needle with an adjusted cast on increase to 55 sts, the resulting cowl has a 23 inches circumference for a comfortable single wrap style of wear.

I couldn't resist the feline model post below. I love Ravelers who use their pets as models.

Marian is a simple, reversible seed stitch design easily accomplishable by even a beginner. The pattern has an interesting option to purposely place a twist in your cast on round. Yes, purposely put in that twist all circular knits warn you to avoid. I have always wondered about this technique and decided to try it. I like it. Works very well with this simple design.
My store sample was finished in a couple of hours (and I am a slow knitter) and used 2 balls of Big Softie. At $5.50 a ball, total cost $12.43 with taxes, it makes a very quick, inexpensive project - perfect for yourself or gift knitting. Christmas is just a little over two months away!!!
Happy Knitting

Wednesday, October 15, 2014




If you have not experienced the beauty of Zauberball self-striping yarn, you really need to treat yourself to a ball.
A large back-order of Zauberball arrived yesterday. Zauberball comes from Germany. Our wonderful Canadian distributor, Dennis from Wool & Wicker. tries very hard to keep us in good supply but Zauberball has become increasingly popular and is often sold out. We carry three varieties of Zauberball -

the original Zauberball sock yarn

a few colours below

zauberball1564.jpg zauberball1508.jpg

Zauberball is a self-striping yarn with very long, gradual colour transitions. It started out as a sock yarn which is great fun to use to knit just a basic vanilla sock.

Designers very quickly discovered it's versatility and you will find hundreds of gorgeous designs posted on Ravelry. One of my favs is WINDWARD
Windward has multiple changes  in  knitting direction and Zauberball  highlights it beautifully.

Zauberball Crazy
also a sock yarn, self striping with a marled effect
Stash Buster Baby Hat - pattern Fee with yarn purchase at the store, fits a new born and knit with just a few grams, left over from a pair of socks.

Whats Your Point Scarf
Pattern FREE on Skacel Website - link below
I could not resist sharing this post of Hitchhiker knit in Zauberball.
I love Ravellers who use their pets for post models.
Zauberball Starke 6
also a sock yarn but a heavier DK weight
One of our favourite projects for Starke 6 is the fabulous
Pattern for purchase on Ravelry
If you dislike ordering on line, Serenity Knits has been approved as a retailer for Ravelry patterns so you can now purchase through us
Karen starts a class on these beautiful mitts this Saturday and there are still a couple of spaces.
Fiddlehead Mittens (Fair Isle Knitting)   (Karen) Three 2 hr classes
$55.00 + supplies
Date & Time
Saturday afternoons, October 18, 25, November 1,
1:00 P.M. – 3:30 P.M
Fair Isle knitting provides a colourful, warm, double thick layer
of knitted fabric. Combined with the popular Fiddlehead mitten
pattern, you have the perfect winter mittens to keep your hands
cozy. As you perfect your Fair Isle knitting skills, you will also
  learn new skills such as the I-cord cast on, mitten construction
and knitting an attached lining. You may even want to begin
knitting pairs for a start on this year’s Christmas gift list.
Experience with circular knitting (see “An Overview of Circular Knitting” on September 27th if you need to learn this technique)
and basic Fair Isle knitting (see the” Introduction to Stranded
Fair Isle Knitting” workshop on October 4th if you need to learn
 this technique)
We love Zauberball at Serenity Knits, so we have quite a large selection of samples knit in these three yarns.
Happy Knitting