Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Shelagh's Back from Florida!

My sister is back from her three-week trip to Florida with her husband--and I am so excited!

I mean, we still texted and Messengered each other daily, but it's so great having her back and only a 25-minute drive from me! Thank goodness for technology! I think I would have gone crazy if I couldn't have chatted constantly.

And something else cool about technology is that you can scope out local yarn shops at wherever it is you'll be spending time. So, of course, Shelagh did that before she left. And I'm glad she did because she found a very cool yarn shop in Sarasota called Picasso's Moon. Debra is the mastermind designer and dye-queen. Shelagh just raved over her yarns!

Even though Debra wasn't there, her friend and business partner Catherine--aka Rose of Indigo--was and she gave Shelagh the scoop about Debra's work.

Did Shelagh buy any?

Of course!

And, lovely sister that she is, she gave me two skeins! The one above is called "Strawberries & Poppies and is the most-sumptuously soft superwash Merino bulky loveliness. That one I'm saving for myself because it has all my favourite colours in it: ranges of pink from deep raspberry to pastel, oranges, yellows, and hits of green. I'm thinking a lovely, snuggly cowl.

The other is called "Peacock Hues."  Gorgeously green in a variety of shades ranging from off-white to a forest green. I'm so in love with this it's going to take me a while to "see" a pattern for it. In the meantime, I'll just drool over it as I watch Spring bring green back to our neighbourhood parks, lawns, and trees.

I'll try to talk Shelagh into writing an account of her travel knitting--of which she did a lot!--for next week.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Rainy Days and Mondays

The weather this April has affected my creativity. I'm just feeling blah. Very non-committal about my projects.

I know the saying “April showers bring May flowers” and I generally don't mind. But after a not-so-bad winter, this April seems to be playing an April Fools prank: I think we've had worse weather since the end of March—cold, windy, snowy, icy—than we had all Winter! I know for a fact that February was nicer because my birthday is in February and we slept with the window open that night. It was the first time in my over-50 years that I awoke on my birthday to fresh air and birdsong.

All this grumbling is to simply to say that I am far behind on projects that are underway.

If you are a maker, a creative person, you know what that feels like: the unfinished project sitting waiting for you. But all you can feel is . . . blah.

So, I am trying a few things.

  1. A little online Spring cleaning. By that I mean, I am finally catching up on what has become an almost unwieldy inbox. I had subscribed for so many e-mails, I haven't been able to keep up. So I'm putting all the e-mails from the same source together, going through one by one until they are done. Then I'm going to decide if I want to stay on that e-mail list.
  2. Saying “yes” to most invitations. Particularly those that will expand my social circle. Just the other day I went to a friend's birthday party. It was so much fun seeing her and some mutual friends. What's really cool, is she and many of the others are at least twenty years younger than me. I love being around that energy, hearing what they are passionate about. It's really eye opening to discover either something new or something unexpectedly in common.
  3. Thinking about other creative ventures. I think if I try something different creatively, that might give me the spark to continue on with my projects. I participated a tiny bit in an Instagram sketch challenge, where participants draw something every day for a month. I only did about half a dozen, but it was fun and I really felt it gave me a little boost for my other creative projects. Right now I have an idea for another sketch, but this time incorporating a knitted piece I made.

What have you done to bust the blues and get your creative spark back?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Five Things I'm Loving Right Now

Me in Tree Pose last summer after I hurt my arm.

 Shelagh is enjoying warm weather in Florida for a few weeks, so I'm writing this as I prepare for a few days volunteering at The Yoga Show and Conference. This is the biggest yoga show in Canada—seriously, it's crazy big!

This is my second year volunteering and I love it! But I still get the "what if I forget something" anxieties creeping up on me now and then. Never mind that I'll be in a major city and will be able to get anything I want, organizing myself and packing is still fraught with potential crises until I walk out my front door.

What that means is I'm not really focusing on any of my knitting projects or our social media accounts. So, no we haven't dropped off the planet. And no, the changes to Instagram haven't affected our feed. 

So I thought I'd do a quick roundup of what I'm loving right now:

  1. Yoga and meditation – I mean, of course!
  2. Goodreads – Have you checked out this site? I want to read more, and this site lets me (a) list everything I have ever read in my life and continue to add to it; (b) interact with friends who read; and (c) set and track a reading goal for myself every year. This year my goal is 20 books and I'm already at 7 complete and two underway.
  3. Podcasts – I know podcasts have been around for a while, but I really discovered a bunch last summer while I waited for my arm to heal and couldn't knit or do yoga. My favourites (in no particular order) are "Question of the Day" with James Altucher and Stephen Dubner (of Freakonomics fame); "Happier" with Gretchen Rubin (of The Happiness Project); "Magic Lessons" with Elizabeth Gilbert (the focus is on creativity); and recently "The Lively Show."
  4. Video Podcasts – Two of our knitting circle friends have begun a very cool podcast on Youtube called "Dye Another Day." If you are into knitting, are interested in patterns, dying yarn, KALs (knitalongs), then these two smart, funny ladies are worth checking out. You may already know them as The Yarn Enabler and The Cozy Knitter on Facebook or Instagram. If you start from the first (they've done about five or six so far), you will also discover other knitting Youtube podcasters that they follow.
  5. Netflix – Yeah, I'm late to the game here too. My husband and I have begun binge-watching House of Cards when we heard so many good things about the show. What an amazing show!
Do you like some of these same things? Do you have any suggestions for books, podcasts, binge-worthy shows? Let us know below.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Travel Knitting: On the Road to Florida

Shelagh and her husband are enjoying themselves in Florida this week. But last week, she busy getting herself organized. Of course that included figuring out what projects to bring along! 

Variety is the spice of life in knitting too! Here are the travel projects Shelagh brought on the road.

So what might be on her needles? Top left is some variegated blue yarn that Shelagh dyed herself: she likes it so much she is going to make a scarf for herself. The pale pink, aqua and blue yarn in the centre is for a baby booties. The pink yarn at top right is for a baby blanket. The raspberry at the bottom left is a scarf she is making for herself.

And the white ball of yarn at the top right? That is to finish up the bathing suit cover up she began just before she left!

With just the arms and hood to complete, Shelagh crocheted away as they drove from the cool north to the warmer and warmer south.

Blocking in the hotel while in transit.

Shelagh showing off the finished coverup poolside!
And ta da! Done and ready to wear poolside!

Follow us on Instagram over the next couple of weeks: Shelagh will be posting occasionally while she is away.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

And Something We Don't Make!

For the last couple of weeks, I told you about some other things I like to make. But this week I want to tell you about some things I discovered I don't like to make. I'm talking about knitting socks.

Have you ever tried knitting a pair of socks? Many of the women at our Knit Night knit sock: lacy socks, striped socks, cabled socks. They are amazing--both the knitters and the socks, that is!

No heel. No toe. Button added to tell top from bottom.
So Margaret and I decided to give sock knitting a try. We figured the most difficult part of the sock would be turning the heel followed by creating a nice--and comfy!--toe. So we started with yoga socks because they don't require either a toe or a heel. I know, I know: that's the easy way out.

We used DPNs (double pointed needles) because we haven't learned how to use the "magic loop" method. Neither of us mind working with DPNs, but Margaret really doesn't like working with needles smaller than 4mm / US 6. And socks use sock yarn, which is usually 3.25 mm / US 3.

We made them! Check out Margaret's take after finishing them. You can read about it here, but she found it too fiddly. And for such small pieces they seemed to take forever--which is the source of her animosity toward small needles. Plus, when you finally get one sock done, there's one more!

However, we decided to give sock-making another try. This time it was pedicure socks: still no toe, but the chance to create a heel. We followed the Mary Maxim pattern, each of us with the correct yarn: mine in pink and Margaret's in blue. I even took mine on a family vacation to Florida. I managed to get my first sock done before Margaret, so we Skyped and I talked her through turning the heel.

Margaret modelling her pedi socks with matching polish. Note heels not showing!

Neither of us were happy with how our heels turned out. And using DPNs showed a little "laddering" effect in the body of the sock. We have heard this will be reduced in the wash. I guess we'll find out for sure because we decided to keep these socks for ourselves.

What's really great is the Knit Night ladies have different options for heels! Who knew there were choices!?!

But, the combination of time, small needles, DPN "laddering" and multiple heel options has meant we probably won't be making socks any time soon.

What are we missing? Do you think learning Magic Loop would help? We'll have to think about learning it! Maybe that will make a difference!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Happy Birthday to You Sale!

Psst! Today is Shelagh's birthday and I got so excited trying to find the perfect gift for her that I got carried away and I decided to offer you a present! How about Free Shipping on every purchase?

Sshhh! It's a surprise even Shelagh doesn't know about! 

Just head on over to our Etsy shop (click the Etsy icon on the right to connect directly) and peruse to your heart's content. Pick something for yourself or a gift--or something for you and a friend!--then head to the check out. Use code BIRTHDAYSHIP to get free shipping.

Woot! Woot!

That's right! We'll ship your items FOR FREE via standard mail!

But act fast! The sale lasts until Saturday midnight Eastern Time.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

What Else I Make 2

Last week I told you about the baby blankets I've been making for over thirty years. Something I've been making for about five years is a bit unusual: wedding garters!

It was really a bit of a fluke: a girl I was working with was looking for something very specific for her wedding garter. She wanted her garter to be camouflage and lace. I found some pink camouflage fabric and I crocheted the lace edging. Then I personalized it even more by attaching a dog charm and a pink Swarovski crystal heart. She loved it and her husband was surprised when he went to remove the garter during the reception. He loved it! I just wish I'd thought to take a picture of it.
A pink and a blue garter: as individual as the brides they are for.

When two of my sons got married a few years ago, I made each of their brides her own keepsake garter and a throwaway one for the reception. I put so much work into each garter, I thought it would be nice to make two.

Since then, I've made several for friends and others. They are a fun little project to do.

We currently don't offer wedding garters in our Etsy shop, but contact me (Shelagh) if you would like one or a pair for your special day. I will work with you to match to your wedding colors. Contact me at threesistersknit@gmail.com or DM me through the Three Sisters Knit Facebook page.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

What Else I Make

I enjoy knitting or crocheting things for our shop, but I make many other things that don't make it there! Like Margaret mentioned in her post a few weeks ago, creativity is in our DNA.

Something I love making are baby blankets and I've been making them for well over 30 years. I started out making them for friends when they were expecting their babies and continued making them for new friends, co-workers and their family members. I still think they are so much fun to make.

For baby blankets, I like to use a washable yarn: we know that "things" can happen with little ones, so washable is necessary. But so is soft and comfortable for baby's skin.

Soft and squishy Bernat Baby Blanket.
Lately, one of my favourite yarns to use is Bernat Baby Blanket. It is so thick, soft and squishy. It knits or crochets up so quickly I can usually have a blanket done in a couple of days depending on the pattern.

The most-recent blanket I made was for one of my son's friends. He and his wife were expecting their first baby so I made a Hudson's Bay inspired blanket using Caron Simply Soft. Because it was all garter stitch (knit every row), it knit up fairly quickly. I loved it when it was done, but more importantly the new parents loved it! It was a perfect gift for them as they waited until the birth of their child to learn the gender.

How special for a new mother to receive a handmade baby blanket. From being swaddled in it as a newborn to dragging it with them everywhere as a toddler to swaddling their own newborns in it, a handmade blanket is a beautiful gift.

My own three boys each have their own special blankets that their Nannie (our mother) made for them. They are all put away for now, ready for them to use with their own little ones!

We don't offer baby blankets in our shop but if you are interested in one, contact me (Shelagh) at threesistersknit@gmail.com or DM her through the Three Sisters Knit Facebook page. I will work with you to find the ideal pattern and yarn for the new baby.

Baby Hudson's Bay-style blanket: ready to finish the ends.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Creativity, Passion and A Project

Three Sisters Knit Blog; Creativity, Beanie Hat, Etsy
I heart everything about this lilac cable and eyelet hat I'm working on right now!

This month we are blogging about love and creativity. At the beginning of February we wrote that creativity is sparked by passion and, like love, can lead to both frustration and boundless joy. Last week, we wrote that creativity is hardwired into our DNA, kind of a family affair. So today, the day after the world's celebration of love, we offer you some insight into one piece we are creating because sharing* our creations with the world is part of the fun for us! 

I am knitting up a gorgeous cable and eyelet hat—we call it a toque in Canada, but I think our American friends call it a beanie. Last Fall (2015) Shelagh and I ordered yarn from artisan yarn dyer Carla Pelzer of Georgian Bay Fibre Co. What I love about Carla's work is that her colours are inspired by the area she lives, a part of Ontario around Georgian Bay that I'm only familiar with through her yarns. This yarn color, Wakefield Lilac, is based on a tall hedge of lilacs on Wakefield Street in Parry Sound. As Carla describes it, the scent of those lilacs in bloom is a reminder of that summer is on its way.

An old Instagram-filtered photo of our lilac hedge.
As I write this, I look out my office window and see our own barren lilac hedge. It's mid-February and the branches are bare. The wind-chill numbers are in the minus digits. But just looking at the yarn in my hands, with its few specks of white and fewer specks of dark purple, I can recall that scent, those colours, that glorious time in Spring when flowers bring delight and set your heart to burst. And I fall in love with the classic of a cable—like the classic lilac hedge in many Ontario gardens—but enlivened by this non-traditional color.

Honestly, I absolutely LOVE this hat I'm making! As I'm knitting along, I feel my heart bursting open like the lilacs the color is named for. It will look so amazing on someone this spring and I can even picture the woman who will wear it: smart and lively, she loves to wear classics with a twist. And she loves to celebrate spring.

*At least once a month, we'll share stories about a project: it may be something that is in our Etsy shop already, or maybe it is something on our needles now. It may be about the yarn, the yarn artisan, or the pattern.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Creativity, DNA and Curiosity

Three Sisters Knit Blog; Creativity; Knitting: Etsy
Our grandmother, Margaret Paton, dressed for a part in her local theatre.

 Last week we blogged about creativity and how we have discovered that once that spark catches, the winds of curiosity fan the flame to other places. For me, that means knitting and some designing has reminded me of a couple of other passions: photography and drawing. And that has led me to a couple of Instagram photo challenges. All very fun and totally creative!

Where did this start, though? I believe we are all born to create, whether it's a beautiful meal from just a few ingredients, a warm and inviting home to welcome your family and friends, or something you make with your hands. As author Elizabeth Gilbert pointed out while discussing her recent book Big Magic, people have been creating things that serve no purpose but being the result of creativity since . . . well, since we were people. Just look at cave drawings made by early human groups: they created those drawings because they could. No other reason. Drawings didn't provide tools for survival; although perhaps creating these drawings encouraged growth of a new part of the brain? Looked at in this light, perhaps creativity sparked in those early millennia allowed our brains to move beyond reptilian and eventually hard-wire into our DNA.

Where did it start for us, though? It started with our mother's mother, Margaret Paton, who sewed, knit, and acted in her hometown's theatre when she was young. Our curious and gifted mother shared her passion for creating with us, including teaching Shelagh and me to knit. Mum sewed a little as we were growing up, but I know she much preferred knitting and crocheting. After she retired, she took up cross stitch and even tried her hand at quilting. And everything she made by hand was almost always a for someone else. A Fair Isle pullover for me; a quilted Christmas tree skirt for Irene; a crocheted blanket for Shelagh; a knitted cardigan for her grand-niece.

While the key our mother gave us was her curiosity about different creative arts, I think the spark that continues to drive our passion for Three Sisters Knit is sharing our creations with the world. Shelagh and I love figuring out exactly what a specific yarn is calling out to become and then bringing it into the world. And we love seeing what different artisans offer and hearing their stories.

All our hand-knit items have stories: from honoring Irene and our mother to the inspiring artisans who spin and dye unique yarns to travels while creating. Each piece has its own distinct DNA. And all our items are knit with love, creating their own DNA, and we hope you'll find (or request) a piece to become part of YOUR story.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Three Sisters Knit Blog; Creativity; Knitting; Etsy
Margaret's first entry as @threesistersknit for the February sketch challenge on Instagram

Creativity. Is it something you are born with? Or is it something that can be learned?

One of the beautiful results of knitting for others is how much it sparks our own creativity. Shelagh and I look at our skeins of yarn and let our imaginations run. There are times when I feel a bit like Michaelangelo setting the angel free from the marble: I know there is a hat or a scarf in that ball of yarn and I simply need to set it free!

Another amazing side effect is how acting on this impulse fuels curiosity about other creative pursuits. Those of you who follow us on Instagram know that we are participating in a photo challenge put together by another Etsy seller, Lu and Ed. It's definitely a challenge to photograph something specific every day and do it in an interesting way. But that's what forces the creativity, and that makes it exciting!You can see all our posts

In fact, the challenge has provoked something in me because I've decided to participate in a sketch challenge set out by a very talented Etsy seller who is relatively local—BK Inspired. She does amazing pyrography, but her ink doodles are spectacular!

If you're on Instagram and want to see what makers are photographing, check out the info on the #CreativeDaily challenge set out by @lu_and_ed in her blog. If you want to participate in the #febsketchchallenge then check out posts from @mayabki to find out more. It's fun and inspiring to see how makers creatively express themselves with the prompts.

Oh yes, and if you're on Pinterest, check out our board called 2016 #CreativeDaily IG Challenge to see some of the pics we've posted. Or find us @threesistersknit on Instagram to find all of them.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Mid-Winter Sale - January 22 - 24

Enjoy 25% off during our Winter Sale January 22 - 24.

Shelagh and I have spent these last few weeks indoors, hibernating from the now-chilly Canadian winter. Actually, winter hasn't been all that bad in our part of the world this year, thanks to El Niňo. But we have seen some crazy weather all over the world right now!

Are you someone who loves a typical wintry weather? Or do you love El Niňo (yeah, we know it's bad, but . . . ) and a green winter? Either way, we've got you covered—literally! We're putting our gorgeous and stylish hand-knits in our Etsy Shop on sale for 25% off.

It's cold. It's dreary. Valentine's Day is just a few weeks away. So if you are in the mood for something new or want a gift for someone you love, check out our store starting Friday, January 22 and until Sunday, January 24 at midnight.

From our FaceBook page, click on the Shop Now button beside the “Liked” button at the top of the page. Or, go directly to our Etsy shop at www.threesistersknit.etsy.com. Once there, use the code WINTER25 at the checkout and your 25% will be automatically deducted from your total!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Beating Blue Monday

Three Sisters Knit Blog; Blue Monday; Mandala
Colouring or anything creative this time of year will help beat the blues.

Have you heard about Blue Monday? Well a few years ago some group used an algorithm to identify the saddest day of the year for those of us living in the northern hemisphere. And this year, that day is January 18. It is the confluence of cold weather, time between holidays, lack of daylight, and influx of bills.

But Three Sisters Knit is all about the happy! So what are we doing to maintain our happiness levels? Well, I think we spend a lot of time with one another. Although we work from our own homes, we chat online constantly. Occasionally we FaceTime, especially when we want to show each other a yarn or an almost-completed project. I think Shelagh even mentioned the time we video chatted online while she was in Florida so she could show me how to turn a heel on a sock! We are the greatest supporters, sounding boards, and cheerleaders of one another. And fortunately, on the odd occasion we do feel blue, it's at different times.

Of course, we focus on doing what we love—knitting! So we look at patterns, check our stash of gorgeous yarns, and plan what we'll work on next. This year we are working at being focused and organized about implementing out ideas. Oddly, this doesn't take the fun out of our projects: it leaves me really excited to think about all the beautiful things we're about to make. It's as though the passion Shelagh and I—and before that, our mother and Irene—share for our craft burns brighter and stronger. Being focused on our plans actually allows time for our creativity to flourish.

And I think the final activity we do to maintain happiness levels is practising gratitude. This one is actually something I am working on strengthening in my life. I was doing really well there for a while in 2015, but then I kind of got out of the habit of being thankful and I need to get back into the habit. Shelagh and I are following a suggestion from author Elizabeth Gilbert: at the beginning of each year, she—and now we—find a big, empty jar and label it our HAPPINESS JAR. Here's some of what Ms. Gilbert wrote:
Every day, at the end of the day, I write down the happiest moment of my day, and I put it in the jar. . . . There is no simpler or less-demanding spiritual practice in my life than this one—when I literally take note of my gratitude for a moment in my day when things felt good, or I felt lucky, or I merely remembered that I was alive.
It has been almost two weeks and it's amazing how wonderful it is to see all those little pieces of paper filling up our jars! I keep my Mason jar on my desk, so when I'm working online I can look up at my jar and instantly feel thankful—and a little better too.

So what do you do to tackle the January blues?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Happy New Year!

Shelagh and I consider ourselves a very fortunate pair of sisters: not only have we found something we love doing—and love doing together!—we have been incredibly fortunate to be able to share our knitting stories with you through our blog. We had so much fun in 2015 and received great feedback on our posts, we are really looking forward to continuing in 2016.

So what can you expect in the upcoming year? Well, we will
  • Post more consistently: look for our posts on Tuesday mornings.
  • Continue to share stories about some of the items we are making.
  • Add some new ideas into the mix: a little bit about colors and fashion—we are making accessories for stylish women, after all! Perhaps some information about yarn—there are so many options out there, but what does fiber content mean for a garment? And who knows what else may strike our fancy? Maybe some guest bloggers or Q and A posts from other yarn-ophiles.
As always, we look forward to hearing from you, dear reader. We love reading comments. But we'd love to hear if there is something you want to know. Or perhaps there is something you'd like us to knit up—or wonder why we don't knit particular things. Drop us a line!

And of course, knitting and making is very visual, so you can find us posting on Instagram and Pinterest. Just look for @threesistersknit in both platforms and follow us.

For now, Shelagh and I want to wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous 2016. Hold your family and friends close because they are what make this life wonderful.