Wednesday, December 31, 2014

WIP Wednesday - Looking forward to 2015 with a Half Moon Scarf

Don't you love these gorgeous purples and pinks and blues in this aptly named Nova wool?

This is a belated WIP Wednesday. I realize that Shelagh and I haven't posted in a while . . . I think because the last few weeks have been busy for the holidays and the beginning of a lot of first anniversaries: the first day we found out Irene's cancer had returned. The day she went into the hospital. The first Christmas without Irene at the table to share dinner. Needless to say, it was a quiet Christmas.

And there will be more firsts as the days of this new year move on. (Don't the days just go so much more quickly as you get older?)

But, one of the my accomplishments in the last few days is organizing my yarn stash and projects! To the point where I was able to start a lovely new project. As you know, way back in November, we ordered some lovely yarns from Serene Fiber Arts. The lovely Amanda is an incredibly talented indie spinner and dyer, and Shelagh and I had fallen in love with her yarns. Nova is the name of the one I loved--and still do now that I'm working with it!

I knew it would be perfect for a scarf, so looked everywhere for a neutral design that would work for a man or a woman. I couldn't find one, so I searched my Stitch Guide and thought I'd try a lovely stitch I'd fallen in love with: Bamboo Rib stitch.  And it is working out so beautifully: this stitch creates a lovely "firm" and flat fabric when knit up. Paired with this yarn, the stitch is pretty without being fussy and sturdy without being severe.

And I've decided to call it the Half Moon scarf. Why? Well, several reasons. First, with a name like Nova (using those interstellar colours), I think of the universe, the heavens.

Next, this bamboo stitch in this Merino wool connotes earthiness.

And finally, the Half Moon pose is a difficult (for me, anyway) balancing and heart opening pose. One balances on one leg, the other extended parallel to the floor (like the yarn over stitch you see). In the pose, one turns the torso / pelvis and raise one arm heavenward, the other reaches to the earth.

Somehow, this yarn, this stitch, together, are the perfect balance. And, as always, it is knit with thoughts of love and good wishes for the wearer. A lovely, lovely way to close out a year of massive change for Shelagh and me and welcome with open hearts the adventures 2015 will bring our way.

Thank you to all our family and friends who have been so supportive this year. Best wishes for joy and happiness to all of you in 2015 and beyond.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

WIP Wednesday - Yoga Socks and Me

This is not a typical Work in Progress posting: this one is special. I have been feeling a bit down the last few weeks and I know One year ago today, I was released from the company I had joined 28 years before. Actually, it was exactly 28 years and 3 months to the day.

Notice I said "released." Yes, I was let go (one of two dozen that week) and, yes, I was surprised. However, I did feel released as I drove home that day. My position hadn't been quite a comfortable fit for a while, and I had been trying to figure out how to fix that. Being released with a (fair) package meant I could now pursue other things.

Of course, I had no idea that three weeks later my youngest sister would enter the hospital having learned her breast cancer had metastasized into her lungs. So whatever sense of release I had was immediately kicked aside and replaced with the worry and pain and joy of spending time with Irene, our sister Shelagh, and her husband Vrej.

When one door closes, another opens, as the saying goes. I was released so I could spend almost every one of Irene's last days with her.

Since Irene's passing, though, I've been trying to regain that sense of release and opportunity I initially felt that November day. That feeling had also been tempered by my time with Irene: I knew I wanted a to live a different life.

One joyous outcome of the three sisters spending time together was our renewed pleasure in knitting. Shelagh and I spent so much time together that a plan was hatched: selling our knitting. We talked about it with Irene, too. (We wrote about it in our first post.) Since then, we have loved every minute of figuring out our business and spending time together.

But something else was pressing on me. Something I had been talking about for a few months before November 2013. Becoming a yoga teacher.

I had a wonderful personal trainer named Kat. She helped me get into shape and she also taught yoga at my gym. Through our many sessions, I grew to love her knowledge, her passion, and her personalized care of me. I knew I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. She told me about her yoga teacher and urged me to contact her. So this summer I did. And I was accepted into the Fall yoga teacher training class.

I have been attending class--and trying to keep up with the reading!--since early October. I love every class: Ruth is an amazing teacher. I am struggling to get back into student mode--I haven't studied in about 30 years! But I am so happy when I am in that class.

So how to thank Kat for helping me, leading me to this next stage? Well, she asked me for some yoga socks, so that's what I am making. Yoga socks are the perfect combination of two things I love to do.

Now this is not easy: I had tried my hand at making yoga socks earlier this year but didn't enjoy making them: 3.25 mm needles are not the size I like. After looking for other patterns, I finally decided to make up my own using 5 mm needles. And they look pretty darn good if I do say so myself. Sure, I know where I purled instead of knitted one stitch. And I should have started decreasing the K2 P2 to K1 P1 over more stitches. So, yes, they are less than perfect.

But so am I.

And the pattern is a work in progress.

But so am I.

However, they are being knit with love and thoughts of blessings for Kat.

And I am working on sending myself love and blessings. But today, I will mourn--and acknowledge my feelings about--that closed door. Tomorrow, I will walk wholeheartedly through the newly opened one.

Monday, November 17, 2014

New and Exciting Yarns!

Well Margaret and I spent a couple of days together last week. We wanted to photograph a few items with  a "winter" themed background. Although we liked what we were doing, the photos didn't turn out like we hoped, so we'll re-take them in the next week or two.

While we were together and checking through our personal FB pages, Margaret and I both saw a posting from a fibre artist we follow in the U.S., Serene Fiber Arts:  she had marked some of her yarns for sale in her Etsy shop! Excited? Yes, we were! Amanda French is the woman behind Serene Fiber Arts; she is an artisan who spins and dyes beautiful yarns using Merino, silk, alpaca and more.  She makes a variety of yarn types: some that are 100% one fibre and others that are blends.  We have loved Amanda's colour-ways for a long time and often thought about how those lovely natural fibres would feel to work with.

Margaret and I have been following Amanda on Instagram and Etsy for almost a year, eyeing and drooling over the absolutely beautiful dyed rovings and spun colour combinations she posts. When we saw she had put some of them up for sale in her Etsy shop, we discussed actually purchasing some. We went through every item listed for sale, checking the yarn content, weight and colours. We wrote down our favourite ones.

Then we went for a walk to mull over the choices. It seemed to be the last warm day before the cold weather arrives and we wanted to enjoy it. We walked into town to my (our) LYS, (Local Yarn Store) Soper Creek Yarn. Margaret and I had a good look at everything, inhaled some yarn air, touching and feeling the yarns (which always gives me chills). I did buy some sale yarn--it is difficult to go there and not buy anything!

By the time we got home, we had cleared our heads and knew we wanted to make a purchase. So, we  went through the yarns again in her shop (check it out at We ordered five different skeins.

So now the waiting now begins. It will be about 2 weeks before we get them. So, Margaret and I are spending that time talking about all our project ideas for each skein. Check back in a few weeks to see what we have decided to make!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

WIP Wednesday - Jamie Crescent Shawlette

I enjoy making shawls but as you know from my post about my first shawl, I have always steered away from shawls that start at the top. There is something about casting on over 200 stitches that usually makes me turn away from a pattern. So when my husband brought me back a few skeins of wool from an Ottawa business trip (yes, he's well trained and he's mine, ladies!), I knew I had to "get over" my aversion because some of the yarns were perfect for a shawl.

One of the skeins he brought me was Baby Boo Lace from Turtlepurl Yarns, which is a 2-ply 80% Merino and 20% Bamboo. It is a lovely gradient of aqua blues to green and suits the name "Wanna Go for a Swim?"--don't you love some of the colour names? This Baby Boo Lace has 875 yards, so I can actually make a couple of small shawls or triangle scarves. And being Merino and bamboo, it's so soft and just eases through your fingers onto the needles.

So I found a pattern that was not an overly large shawl: the Jamie Crescent Shawlette designed by Julie Farmer courtesy of Red Heart, which I found the pattern in Creative Knitting of Spring 2013. It is the Easy Everyday Openwork & Lace pattern.

A couple of starts, a 243-stitch cast-on, and 10-stitch markers later, the cast on row is done and the shawl is under way!

Funny thing is, this pattern does start at the bottom, as most of my favourite shawl patterns do, but because this one is crescent-shaped (rather than a triangle) the wide bottom means I have to cast on a large number of stitches.

Unfortunately, so many projects on the go means something's gotta give. So, birthday knitting, consignment knitting and finishing other smaller projects have taken my time. But I will get to this eventually. I have to because it is sitting in my knitting room looking at me when I am working on other projects! It keeps saying, "What about me?" and making me feel guilty me when I pick up another project!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

WIP Wednesday - Monet's Garden Angora Scarf

This past Saturday, Shelagh and I took the train into Toronto to check out the Creativ Festival. When it first started back in 1988, it was known as the Creative Sewing & Needlework Festival; currently the Festival is held twice a year.

Did we really need to visit the Festival? After all, we had attended the Festival back in April (in Mississauga), picked up yarn at many yarn shops since then, and even had a successful visit to the KW Knitter's Fair just this past September. But this is a family knitting adventure and we're trying to find our place in this vast and welcoming knitting community. We figured this would be a kind of "intelligence-gathering mission" because we didn't really need any yarn.

The festival is home to many types of needle arts, including sewing, quilting, needlework, crochet and, of interest to us, knitting. It's great to visit vendors' booths to check out hand-spun and -dyed yarns as well as shops who sell yarns we don't see it our local yarn shop. We always learn something new while chatting with various vendors and other attendees!

Did we pick up some more yarn? Well . . . yes! Of course! If you knit, you know how hard it is to leave a shop without something! Here is some of what I purchased:

Left is the 100% angora I picked up, I mean, I had to get it because I fell in love with the softness when I first held the skein. Then Shelagh said the colours reminded her of a Monet painting. That sealed it. I purchased two skeins of it and knew I had to make something I'm going to call Monet's Garden.

On the trip home, Shelagh and I wound the two skeins into balls, which led to chuckles from some other women on the train. But, it didn't take us long and I was able to try a couple of different stitches before settling on a very simple moss stitch. I liked this because the purl bumps look like daubs of paint, really highlighting the gorgeous blues in greens you might see in a Monet painting. Here's what I've done so far. What do you think? Does it remind you of a Monet painting?

Friday, October 24, 2014

FO Friday - Peach Melba Scarf

I always have a hard time figuring out what to write about. This has never been one of my strong points. I may have lots to say about knitting but it is putting it down on paper that is not my strong suit. That is Margaret's area of expertise!

I have finished a lovely scarf in a Manos del Uraguay Maxima yarn. I noticed that I have a preference for bright cheerful colours. This colourway is called Peach Melba. It has beautiful deep fuchsia to peach variances. With it being 100% extra fine Merino wool, it is so soft to work with and would be lovely to wear around your neck on a cold dreary day. The colours would be so cheerful in the middle of winter and be a great pick-me-up!

I tried several patterns before I settled on this one. The pattern I chose was from one of the many knitting magazines I have purchased over the last several years. It is in the Creative Knitting magazine, Easy Everyday Openwork & Lace Spring 2013. 8-Hour Shawl designed by Lorna Miser courtesy of Red Heart. The wool didn't have enough yardage to make the shawl so I decided to make it a warm scarf or maybe a cowl. I loved the stitch. It added so much more character to the wool. Now it is done, washed and blocked.

The next step was to figure out if I should leave it as a shorter but thick scarf or to sew the ends together to make it a bigger than average cowl. It measures 41" long by approx. 10" wide. After thinking about it for a few days, I decided to leave it as a scarf. I think it would be better to wrap around your neck instead of pulling it over your head. It would be difficult to double it up as a cowl but easier as a scarf. It could be folded in half and wrapped around your neck once or twice. You can wear the scarf with either side of the stitching showing There really is no wrong side to it!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

WIP Wednesday - Mean Tangerine Infinity or Cowl

You might remember my post "Which comes first, the yarn or the pattern?" posted on October 8. Well, I have begun work on what I think will be a cowl in the gorgeous yarn I purchased at the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter's Fair.

As I mentioned, the yarn is 100% Merino in a gorgeous variegation of oranges that just sing with happiness. After trying two different patterns and not liking either one, I decided to try a test swatch of a stitch I quite liked, called Tweed Stitch.

So, I knit up a test swatch on the needles I'll be using to make this lovely scarf to figure out the gauge and ensure I have adequate yardage to complete the project.

My test swatch sitting atop the photo of this glorious stitch pattern. Isn't it pretty?

I know I've made the right choice because I'm absolutely loving how this stitch is working with my yarn! A perfect balance of interesting stitch and gorgeous yarn.

After I did my test swatch, I figured out number of stitches per inch, tore out the swatch, measured the number of yards, and worked out how long and wide I could make this scarf based on that information.

Who knew I'd need arithmetic after all these years!?!

So now I've cast on the number of stitches I think I'll need and begun knitting what should be an infinity scarf . . . assuming my arithmetic is correct. I'll just have to see how it works out! I'll share soon on an upcoming FO Friday post. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

WIP Wednesday - What to do next?

I don't actually have a work in process right now. And neither does Shelagh. And we don't like it. But I thought this might be interesting to write about: how do we decide what to work on next? 

For me it starts with the yarn. Sometimes I look at my stash--or my sister's stash!--and fall in love with a particular yarn all over again. That rush of excitement when I look at the colour and feel the squooshy texture and I remember why I bought the yarn. I have a couple of cakes of yarn that do that for me and the one I'm looking at right now is "Mean Tangerine," a sport-weight yarn by Waterloo Wools I purchased at the KW Knitter's Fair back in September.

Mean Tangerine is 100% Blue-faced Leicester (BFL) wool yarn in a wonderfully happy variegation of oranges. It's so bright and cheerful--and so unlike my usual preference for blues and greens. When I saw it, I absolutely had to have it. I know I want a pattern that will show off the beautiful shades of orange and I think a simple stitch pattern will do the trick. Oh, and I have 250 yards.

For me, and I think I speak for Shelagh too, the process is falling in love with the yarn and then looking for a pattern that will highlight it. We have been purchasing a lot of artisanal yarns lately, yarns spun and/or dyed by very creative women, and I--we--want to continue that creative vision by choosing exactly the right pattern.

So far I've tried two different scarf patterns, knit about 1-1/2" and simply knew each one wasn't working. Ugh.

I did look for more patterns online and in magazines, but I just couldn't find something I liked. So I started looking through my Stitch Guide. This is a handy and really inspiring little book. It's so inspiring that I sometimes get carried away and start thinking of other yarns when I look at some stitches. And sometimes that isn't good because I feel like I'm cheating on my current project or yarn. Is that weird?

My cake of Mean Tangerine on my Stitch Guide. What you don't see are all the flagged pages for stitches and yarns!

So, I have found a beautiful stitch that I think will show off the various orange colours of this yarn. Next step: test swatch and working out the number of stitches and rows and creating my own pattern. Send your positive vibes my way: I'm hoping third time is the charm!

Friday, October 10, 2014

FO Friday - Colorflo Shawl

This year Shelagh and I visited the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitters' Fair for the first time. This wonderful fair has been organized by the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitters' Guild for over 20 years. The Fair is amazing because it gives knitters a chance to see small-ish vendors, artisan spinners and dyers whose yarns are mostly available online and not in yarn stores (or only in a few stores). It really offered a diverse variety of yarns and all things knitting related. And I have no idea how we hadn't heard of it before!

A few weeks before the the Fair, Shelagh and I checked out the various vendors' websites and prioritized those we wanted to visit. So, when we arrived at the site, we headed straight to the vendors we most wanted to see. And, yes, we did buy from some of them! But we'll save those for later posts. 

After visiting our top priority vendors, we wandered to look at everyone else.

That's when we stumbled on sweaterkits. They had beautiful yarns and yarn/pattern kits. I fell in love with the Mulberry silk cakes: gorgeous colour combinations, so it was difficult to choose one. But I decided on the cake made up of purples and blues. Gorgeous! And the accompanying pattern looked quite straightforward.

I started knitting right away. The silk felt wonderful in my hands and the shawl took shape very quickly.

The cool part about this yarn is that the artisan dyer who created it figured out how to dye 300 yards of yarn in five different colours! The result is that you follow the pattern and don't have to switch skeins for the different colours--which means only two ends to weave in when done. Plus, the following the pattern means it colour blocks naturally.

It was quite thrilling to watch the colours and pattern appear while I knit.

I knit the pattern in about a week. I didn't knit constantly, but I did knit some of it every day. I loved getting to the lace edge part of the pattern, too. Very easy and so pretty in those last colours.

I've blocked it and will be photographing it shortly for selling in our shop. I'm really in love with this one. Oh, who am I kidding? I love everything I knit!

Friday, October 3, 2014

FO Friday: Hooded Scarf

I'm excited to be telling you about this one! A hooded scarf!

I saw the pattern and the yarn in my local yarn store and fell in love. The concept of a hood knit as part of a scarf is brilliant . . . at least I think so. I mean, you can wear this as a scarf but if it's lightly snowing or drizzling rain, pop up the hood and your head is protected. No having to remember a hat or worry about hat-head and flattened hair.

 The yarn is a lovely variegation of some of my favourite colours: purples that range from pink-y mauve to deep wine colours and greens that start at a light, bright green and range up to a lovely olive shade. Mix that with thin strands of charcoal and you've got a lovely mix of autumnal colours.

Aren't these colours gorgeous? Perfect for fall and winter.

This project knit up pretty quickly because it's in garter stitch. I knit both sides of the scarf at once to make it easier to join once I reached the desired length. I did make the hood a little longer than the pattern called for so the hood can be pulled forward further over the forehead if desired.

I love the way this turned out!

From the back: hood up, scarf tail tossed jauntily over one shoulder.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Y-Knot? Visiting Amazing Graze Alpaca Farm

This is the first in our Y-Knot (for Yarn Knot) series exploring different fibres and yarns and everything we are learning as fibre enthusiasts and knitters.

I had been researching alpaca because I have been working with some beautiful yarn made of that fleece and I'm loving how it feels: soft and bouncy. I discovered there are a lot of alpaca farms are here in Canada, including many here in southern Ontario. That's how I stumbled upon Amazing Graze Alpacas in Stirling, Ontario. Shelagh and I had "Liked" their Facebook page, so when farm owner Marj Brady posted about their open house and the weather man said the weekend would be warm and sunny, Shelagh I decided to visit the farm.

So this past Saturday, we headed out. It was gorgeous! A perfect day for a drive; and we took the scenic route along the Trent River. Most of our directions (from an online map) were good, and we only got lost in the centre of Stirling (we don't think County Rd. 14 was clearly marked at the corner 
of the three main roads, at least, that's our story). But we got to the farm and were thrilled to see the beautiful alpacas grazing around the land.

Co-owner Steven told us about their farm. He explained that their animals are sheared once a year and told us about some of the care they give: toenail clipping, teeth checking. He also relieved me of some of my own misconceptions: alpacas are not pack animals, although llamas are. In their native countries they are bred for their fleece because it is much softer than llama (or sheep) fleece.

Marj and Steven appear to be typical of what I've read about alpaca farmers in general. Their respect for and genuine pleasure they get in caring for their alpacas shines through. Check their website ( to learn their alpaca's names and get a sense of their personalities. 

Steven also introduced us to the two young males in a pen: Zodiac and Jupiter. They are so beautiful with lovely big eyes beneath their curly "Beatle cuts," as Shelagh called them.

Zodiac (foreground) and Jupiter calmly survey the visitors.
We knew Amazing Graze alpacas and their fleeces were award winners; but we had no idea just how many and, it appears, how consistently Marj and Steven's alpacas win. Take a look at their ribbon board! And that gorgeous alpaca shawl: so soft.

Award winning alpacas and fleece are turned into these beautiful yarns, felt balls, and other finished products, such as shawls and scarves. Everything is locally produced.

So, why alpaca? How does alpaca fleece compare to wool?  Here are some interesting facts about alpaca fibres:
  • There are two main types of alpacas: Huacaya and Suris. The former is more common and more commonly raised/bred and its fleece is thick and dense, and grows vertically from the body giving it a very woolly appearance. Huacaya's also have a very crimpy fleece and a fine micron (micron = 1/1000 millimeter). The smaller the number, the finer the micron and a fine micron is sought after for luxurious high fashion garments.
Shelagh checks out a beautiful alpaca fleece.

  • Alpacas do not produce the lanolin that sheep do, so processing of the fibres is much easier on the environment. Add that to the fact that alpacas are raised organically to make this a truly eco-friendly fibre. Lack of lanolin also means that people allergic lanolin or sensitive to sheep's wool may comfortably wear alpaca. 
  • Alpaca fibre has good thermal capabilities, so it's perfect for our Canadian (or northern U.S. and northern European) winters.
As they say on the Alpaca Canada website, alpaca fibre is "as soft as cashmere and warmer and stronger than wool." And I have to add that it is a joy to work with if you are a knitter.

Friday, September 26, 2014

FO Friday: The Rebel Scarf

As I was knitting this infinity scarf, tracking my stitches and my rows, I started to think I ought to name it. For several days I sat in the sunshine in my back yard and knit, watching as the design took shape and how the colours merged differently depending on the stitch I used.
I love how the colours reveal themselves: stripes in stockinette stitch and bold blocks in the open-stitch pattern.

One day an old saying popped into my mind: “Blue and green should never be seen.”

“But these colours are beautiful together,” I thought. And that's when the name revealed itself to me: Rebel.

Yes, initially it was the colour combination that made the name seem appropriate. A colour combination that was considered wrong or incongruous at one time; but one I considered to be beautiful. As I continued knitting, repeating the name to myself, I realized this scarf represented me and where I am in my life. And, yes, “rebel” applies, although you may not see that if you were to meet me. I am not a placard carrier; nor am I living on the fringes of civilized society. I don't stand on soapboxes or rant against people, groups, or ideas.

Close-up of the pattern.

But this knitting adventure I am on gives me opportunities to rebel against a lot. By becoming an entrepreneur, I am rebelling against the corporate world that I participated in for over 25 years. By choosing to design a scarf, I am rebelling against an inner voice that tells me I can't. And by sharing what I make and what I think about this adventure experience, I am rebelling against the fear of failure.

This simple scarf, dear reader, represents a key point in my life: the point when I walk away from my past and look to the future. This simple scarf—using colours that aren't supposed to work together, designed by me, and lovingly knit by me—represents the faith I have in myself to live a creative life.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Bridges Infinity Scarf

This is an interesting one, at least to me. I had some leftover yarn I wanted to use in . . . something. It was a fine yarn, meaning that small needles were required if I knit it alone. I don't really like small needles: too finicky. But I love the colours in this yarn: purples, blues, pinks, golds, and grays all spun together with a very fine metallic something that gave it a nice sparkle.

If you look online, you can find all kinds of patterns that are “stashbusters,” which means small projects that will use up the odds and ends a knitter often has once the original project is complete. But this beautiful yarn was way more than a small odds and end piece: there was still quite a bit left.

With all that in mind, I knew I wanted to use it along with another yarn to make something lovely. When I visited one of my favourite yarns shops, I found the perfect yarn: Classic Elite Yarns' Magnolia. On the way home I began imagining exactly what I wanted to created with these two yarns, picturing the finished piece and hoping the warm brown would pair as well as I thought it would. And when I got home, whew! They paired up beautifully! The brown of the solid yarn grounds the sparkly multi-coloured yarn; and the sparkly yarn glams up the brown. Perfect!

I started knitting right away.
Sparkling colours and chestnut "girders."

The pattern—my very simple pattern—is designed to let you see the combined loveliness along with just the brown. The reason? That brown yarn is a luxurious mix of merino and silk and looks like what it is named for: chestnut. As I worked through the pattern, I kept thinking of both the Forth Bridge in Scotland and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. You know those rusted-looking girders? That beautiful, reddish-brown? Well the garter stitch in this pattern, using only the Magnolia, reminds me of the girders that sturdily hold up bridges. And the stocking stitch portion of the scarf makes me think of the sparkling water over which both these bridges span reflecting lights in the dusky darkness.

I'm a little over halfway finished and I'll share the finished version on a FO Friday soon.

Friday, September 19, 2014

My first shawl ever!

It's Finished Object (FO) Friday! So I'd like to share my experience knitting my first shawl ever.

A while ago, I was visiting one of my fairly local yarn stores with my sister Irene. She loved to peruse the yarns and patterns there. As I was leaving, I saw this little bundle of wine-coloured fluff. There were 10 tiny 25-gram balls in the bundle. I managed to feel a little bit of one ball of fluff: it was so soft. Although it was mostly nylon, it also had a bit of silk in it. I had never bought anything with silk in it before, and here was a good amount of yarn marked down. Sold! 

When I got the yarn home I realized two things: first, that I wanted to knit a shawl, although I had never made one before; and second, this bundle of yarn meant I had enough to dive in and make one. So I started looking at patterns. But I discovered most of them required me to start at the top and work my way down. Having never done a shawl before, I found the thought of casting on over 200 stitches very daunting. So I put the yarn aside for a bit . . . until I discovered that there was a yarn store in my own town! It was a five-minute drive away and had been there for a couple of years. I don't know what I had been during that time! So, on one of my visits, I told the store owner about this yarn and about my aversion to huge cast-ons; she suggested the "Bottom Up Birch" pattern.

I went home, found the pattern on Ravelry, and started knitting the shawl that night. Then another discovery: I noticed the yarn had tiny clear sequins! I loved it even more then. After all, a girl has to have some sparkle! The sequins have been so subtly placed that they do not take away from the either the pattern or the yarn.

See what I mean about the sequins not overwhelming the pretty pattern?

I have learned much from knitting this shawl. The main lesson is not to be afraid of lace weight yarn. There are many beautiful lace weight yarns and you usually only need 1 skein for a shawl. And, if you really want to try something new, just try it!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Blue and Emerald Waves Scarf

This scarf is special because it is the result of a vision shared by two sisters. Although I knit the scarf, it was our sister Irene who originally bought this 100% Merino wool yarn by Malabrigo early in 2013. She loved the feel of it as well as the play of colours. She always loved different shades of green, but she really liked how these green colours played against the blue background.

Irene held onto this Malabrigo in her stash while she looked for just right pattern for it. If you knit or crochet, you know what it's like to fall in love with a yarn and then search for a pattern to show it at its best. But late last spring, Irene asked me to make something with it because she just couldn't find anything she liked. Plus, she had taken up crocheting and realized she preferred that over knitting. Although she loved the yarn, she thought something knit would really show it to its best advantage.

As well, Irene was starting to be really tired a lot at the time; we didn't know it then, but her health was actually beginning to decline.

The finished Waves scarf using Malabrigo yarn in Blue & Emerald.

I eventually found the "Waves" pattern and showed it to her: Irene loved it. So, I worked on it as one of my many "works in progress" (or WIPs as knitters call them). I am not sure if I finished it while she was in the hospital, but I do know she did see it mostly done and really liked it.

Had I thought about it more before starting it I would have adapted the pattern to work it lengthwise and not width-wise. This would have really made the wool and pattern combination pop even more than it does now, but I think it is still a perfect pairing of pattern, colour and yarn. And I know Irene thought so too.

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Travel Yarn: Nova Scotia

This is the first in an occasional series about knitting and yarn and travelling.

In September 2013, Shelagh and her husband took our father and step-mother on a trip to Nova Scotia. They flew to Halifax and then rented a car to tour around. Of course, the tour included several days along the beautiful Cabot Trail, ending in the small town of Badeck. 

Before travelling to a new place, I like to research local yarn spinners and dyers as well as local yarn stores. I like to support local small businesses anyplace I visit. 

I discovered a store playfully named Baadeck Yarns, which sold yarn from a Nova Scotia spinner/dyer Fleece Artist. The company was established in 1979 and is still going strong; they sell yarns throughout Canada and the United States.

When I first walked into Baadeck Yarns, I was drawn to a green and purple variegated yarn. The store owner saw my interest and started chatting with me. She told me the colourway was called "Scottish Thistle," which made me love it all the more because of my connection to Scotland: I have family there I've visited several times! She also told me about the yarn maker, Fleece Artist, who creates a variety of different yarns. The one I was drawn to was from the Tosca line and is 96% Merino and 4% nylon, spun and hand dyed into a thick and thin, slubby yarn. The store owner suggested knitting something using a simple stitch to emphasize the texture of the yarn. She suggested a knit2, purl2 variation on seed stitch.

When I got home, I tried the pattern: it's simple but it really does show off the texture of the yarn. And the Tosca is lovely to work with because of the Merino. That's because Merino is a fine wool with a smooth finish. Merino is one of the wools that has what's called "next-to-the-skin" soft, and it's both warm and breathable. Mixing Merino with nylon in the spinning process makes the fine wool slightly stronger and more likely to keep the shape of the final, knitted item. I loved working with it to create a lovely scarf; here's a detail from the finished scarf.

Another Tosca yarn that caught my eye was dyed in a purple/blue colourway called "Lupins." I used the same simple pattern to make another scarf but didn't make it as wide. Again, the yarn was wonderful to work withsoft and strongbut this time in richer colour.

Next time I visit Nova Scotia I want to visit Fleece Artist in Mineville. In fact, I'd love to do a yarn tour of that province!

I did so much yarn shopping at Baadeck Yarns that I now research yarn stores and local fibre artists before travelling anywhere! I know I'll be able to make something special from each journey.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Setting Up Shop: Happy Birthday Irene!

We are so excited to share this announcement: We have opened our Etsy shop! And it's extra special because today is Irene's birthday.

You see, the idea behind Three Sisters Knit was to set up an online shop and sell our items. It seemed liked a great idea: we researched and decided Etsy was the best choice. So, with no other thought than "Let's knit!" in mind, Shelagh and I bought yarn, went to fibre festivals and yarn shops, and knit. We've been knitting up a storm this summer, building stock. Then we realized we have to really dive in, really put our work   ourselves!   out there.

So we've been working extra hard to make our debut today, Irene's birthday.

It is still a work in progress as we find our way around the technical side of this shop, but we have considered the saying "Done is better than perfect" for setting it up.

For our work, however, we aim for as close to perfect as we can get! We hope you'll check out our shop now and again in a few weeks. We'll continue to post new items as we finish them and as the weather changes.

And we hope you find something you'll love.

Feel free to drop us a note an let us know what you think.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Knitting Memories

Three sisters learned to knit at different times in their lives. The youngest, she learned as she went through chemo. And then, when the final battle was underway, the three sisters spent every day together, knitting enough memories for a lifetime.

Two sisters, Shelagh and Margaret, loved getting back into knitting and decided to sell their knitted goods to remember their sister and their mother.