Monday, 30 June 2008


We decided this morning to take a couple of days and go to camp. We're leaving this evening so I am rushing to get a couple of errands done today and then pack my knitting. I'm taking the hemp ponchette #409 from ,

and a top down sweater I've started for myself out of Briggs & Little sports weight wool (I do love getting back to knitting with wool), and I was going to bring one sock which hasn't seen any progress since the spring but I think these 2 projects are enough. Lots of straight knitting to do on the sweater.

My errands have to do with the next big event around here, Mariposa Folk Festival, coming up next weekend . A merry group of visionaries worked hard this last year trying to start new Arts school around Mariposa. For 2 days before the weekend you could have taken classes in songwriting, photography, creative writing, singing, dancing, printmaking and improv. Did you notice the past tense? It didn't get off the ground. So some more of us have joined the group and I am lending my marketing knowledge, such as it is, and have made up a flyer to advertise for next year 'New in 2009, A Learning us at, we'll keep you informed.' We'll be emailing a newsletter with profiles of teachers and all the info that comes up during the year. Lakehead University has pitched in with classrooms and restaurants will discount meals and there might be an arts tour and who knows what. If you see me at Mariposa on the weekend I'll be there with green flyers because
I have a few.
My short list of people I want to see there: Cheryl Wheeler, Loudon Wainwright III, Sarah Harmer, John Wort Hannam, JP Cormier, Maria Dunn, Holmes Hooke, Taj Mahal, Connie Kaldor and some that sound interesting like the Funky Mamas, Creeking Tree, & the Foggy Hogtown Boys. It's going to be an exciting weekend and it's only Monday - 4 more sleeps.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

What's New

'New' seems to be a theme these days. Our New patterns are on our website . And the Baby V booklet is definitely almost done. One more week of editing and then it goes to the printers. This is where Lynda has to pry the booklet out of my hands (it's not a booklet, it's a computer file but that's not too visual), lock me in the room and take it away, while I agonize about one more little change I would like to make. I could make little changes forever and it would never see the light of day and I would be happy. But no one would be knitting these little darlings so out it's going to go.

The process at the printers takes a little time with proofs and colour proofs and checking that everything ended up on the right page, making any little changes at that stage and THEN it will be on the presses. YES. I know it's a long, long road but it's only been 4 months which for me was too quick. I really need about 6 months. I know, a long time and it only takes a couple days to knit any of these baby sweaters! It's like having a baby, the beginning is fun and the end is exciting but the long 9 months has it's ups and downs. We are in that last month of anticipation: excitement that it's almost ready, worry that nothing will go wrong and wondering how it will be received.
There is even more excitement at my house because these have finally arrived. I am not the only one in my house who has been working on a creative endeavour. My husband, paul, has finished his first CD. They arrived the other day and he is so thrilled.It all started when Steve Earle sang a song at Mariposa about the Donnelly family called 'Justice in Ontario'. Paul was totally pissed off by his bias view and wrote a song in rebuttal. And then... he just couldn't let it go. He started reading more about the tragedy and writing more songs. Eventually he sent out word that he'd like to do some kind of project and was anyone interested. Susan Charters, a storyteller, jumped in (Susan and paul used to play in a local band). In January 2008 they put on 2 house concerts of songs and stories of the murder of the Donnelly family. In Lucan Ontario, February 4, 1880, five members of the family died and their house was burned to the ground. Six members of the Vigilance Committee were brought to trial but during the trial many stories arose of the reign of terror the Donnelly's had led in their community. No one was found guilty. Right or Wrong?This is a 'live' recording of the house concert and I know where you could get a CD or two if you're interested.
- Deb

Thursday, 26 June 2008

something new

I started something new which is not a baby anything. It's not in baby friendly yarn, it's not baby sized, it's not for a book, it might even be for me but I do have someone else in mind for it.
It's Hemp for Knitting's Ponchette( #k409. The hemp is DK weight and the ponchette is knit with large needles, I'm using 4.5mm/US7, and it's flying along.
It's so easy that I cast on last night during our last knitting guild meeting. We went formal for the occasion and had a pot luck at a members house. We sat in her sun room and knit the evening away. There were baby sweaters, socks, a baby afghan, a coat, a couple of shawls and a ponchette being worked on. Our guild is very small about 14 knitters and this is about 1/2 of us here but we have a great time together.
In fact there was always so much talking going on during the meeting that we now meet for dinner first and then go to our shop for the meeting. We generally have a show and tell which takes up most of the time and a short workshop afterwards. Some home made wine made it even better this evening.
We set up our program for next year. Different members have volunteered to attempt to teach us all: spinning with drop spindles (one of our members husband is going to make us some), a new 'knit one below' stitch one of our members test knit for a new XRX book coming out in November, tweed stitch squares from Sally Melville's stash busting book 'Styles' and maybe we'll throw them in a dye pot too, knitting with wire & beads (before christmas so we can all make presents), japanese cording or braiding, twinning (spelt right? - using 2 ends of the ball at once), work on some accreditation samples for the Canadian Guild of Knitters ( - Cynthia, the president, is one of our members), and we're going to get a demo on cutting a lining for a knitted jacket which one of our members does beautifully. It's going to be an exciting year. We're not done yet though. In July I think we're going to Huntsville to do a dyeing workshop with Karen the owner of the Sheepstrings store. So much good stuff to learn and try out. Makes one giddy!

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Top & toes

I had an excellent weekend away and still got some work done. I listened to 2 audio books while I knit and even managed to read two other books too. I was working on hats and socks to match the sweaters in the Baby V booklet. My goal was a hat and sock set done every day which was going great until I ran out of navy yarn. As soon as that happened I sort of lost my momentum but not a bad haul for the weekend.

Friday, 20 June 2008

One more test knit

I have one more Baby V checked and test knit. I wanted to show you some of the details...

Now I am off to camp for the weekend and I'll be knitting socks and hats to go with most of the sweaters. Yes almost finished.

What can I think up to do next. I definitely need a carrot at this time in the proceedings because I'm almost done myself. Time to move on here. I'll be thinking over the weekend and making lists of things to do.


Monday, 16 June 2008

What is she doing?

I have new neighbours and today they got the special treat of watching me try to photograph my own feet. It's harder than it would appear. I have finished a second pair of my Queen's Castle socks in Shelridge Farms Ultra Soft Touch fingering wool ( It's a real pleasure to knit with.
Oops, sort of missed my toes there. But you can see the lace holes a little bit here.
A close up of the star toes. These are knit toe-up and I really like this toe. These socks are a tiny bit too big for me. I usually knit myself a sock with a 7" circumference but these are the regulation 8 inches around.
The 'official pattern photo'. OK have you figured out how I took this one? Yes, I got my husband to do it. I don't bend like that anymore if I ever did. Oh ouch those stones are sharp. Modelling can be painful.
The pattern will be ready this week so if you want to knit a pair order it by name, Queen's Castle Socks, on the website or email Lynda at and ask for it. And when all the patterns are up on the website I'll put their photos up and we'll have an unveiling.
- Deb
P.S. Thanks Samm for your comment and a good idea to put the explanation for non-symmetry in bold because I know people don't read the small print (see last post).

Saturday, 14 June 2008


Here's one of the sweaters which you haven't seen yet. But I have a question about it. My quandary is, wait let me explain first.
When you knit a cardigan top down you have 5 sections to the sweater - 2 Fronts, 2 sleeves, 1 Back. And if you want to work a 2 stitch pattern repeat - K1, P1 - it's important at the front edges next to the buttonbands that the pattern be symmetrical. So you really work P1, repeat [K1, P1] to end, beginning with a purl and ending with a purl. Usually the odd stitch would be in the centre Back. But this becomes a nightmare to write up.
Slightly simplified here it would go like this: Front: work [P1, K1] to marker// Sleeve: work [P1, K1]// Back: work [P1, K1] end with a P1 (Back has an odd no. of sts)// second Sleeve sequence is worked opposite: work [K1, P1]// work Front: work [K1, P1]. OK not bad.
When you look across the sections you had 2 Fronts and 2 sleeves with an even no. of stitches, and 1 Back with an odd no. of stitches. Now if we work an Increase Row, the Sleeves and Back increase by 2 sts each, but the Fronts only increase by 1 stitch. So now we have 2 Fronts with an odd no. of sts, 2 sleeves with even no. of stitches, and the Back with odd no. of sts.
So now the sequence is: Front begins with P1, work [K1, P1]//sleeve work [K1, P1]//Back begins with [K1, P1], ends with K1//sleeve work [P1, K1]//Front work [P1, K1], ends with P1.

Then add in several sizes and some Short Row shaping and it's getting complicated. I'm trying to simplify. So what I did was move the odd stitch from the centre Back to the second Front. I know, I know, now it's not symmetrical. One of the Fronts has 1 more stitch. But look how easy it becomes when the Front, sleeve, Back, & sleeve are all even numbers. Every section is worked [P1, K1], then the second Front begins with [P1, K1] like the other sections and ends with P1 (odd no. sts). Perfect right? Well except for the symmetrical thing. After working an increase row the first Front becomes odd and the second Front is even. So you work: Front begins with P1, work [K1, P1] (0dd no. sts), and then all the other sections are worked [K1, P1], and the second Front will end with a P1 naturally. Lovely.

To tell you the truth the non-symmetrical thing would bug the *&^%* out of me and I would try to do it so it was symmetrical and get into all kinds of trouble and then figure out that maybe the designer was trying to do me a favour and make the whole thing easier for me to work. So I put in this Note: To make the executing the pattern easier both sleeves, the Back and one of the Fronts have an even number of stitches. The other Front will have an odd number of stitches in order to make the pattern come out properly at front bands. This is obviously not a very good explanation but I hope to indicate that it was all done on purpose to make things easier.

It's a lovely sweater to knit and looks great when finished.

My question is am I setting myself up here to get a barrage of questions and should I be packing my bags to leave the country to get away from the ringing of the phone. Symmetry is a big deal and not to be trifled with.

- Deb

Friday, 13 June 2008


I'm in recovery mode from the TNNA show. Lots of talking, smiling, celebrity spotting, and tooting our own horn (which is harder to do than it should be I suppose). But the activity I work at hardest for most of the show weekend is Listening. I have mentioned before that this is an industry show where shop owners can come and place orders, see what's coming up for the fall season and chat with their suppliers. But for 1 hour on Friday evening (before the show opens) the shop owners can buy 1 item from participating vendors. We, as vendors, are given a 6' table and are allowed to sell 2 different new items. It is a frenzy. At the January show we totally bombed. But I learned that if you have the wrong item the shop owners will tell you why it's wrong. We had a kit which was too big a project to knit up and the wrong colour. So this time we had a baby sweater kit with a pattern out of the Baby V booklet - small, and 2 colours, orange or blue - bright. It seemed to work and the shop owners now have a pattern they can knit up before the Baby V booklet hits their shop. They'll be ready to go. It taught be to keep my ears open because these shop owners know of what they speak.

This is what I learned, in no particular order:
1- On the business side of things - There just might be another way to ship with more success over the border - success being a higher likelihood of everything arriving (once again, one box of product did not make it to the show) and we have tried every way we can think of over the years - another vendor is going to send us info, yay. What a relief it would be if it's a reliable system.
2- People are attracted to an orange sweater but may not be interested in buying orange or knitting orange - we sold all the blue sweater kits first and had 1/2 of the orange ones left when the blue were all gone. Very Interesting.
3- Definitely more interest in small projects. No surprise there.
4- Knitting up samples is still a major problem for store owners, they just don't have time to do it - so if you are interested in knitting samples you might approach your local yarn shop and see what kind of a deal they could give you. They might fall all over you.
5- Baby knitting is still big but there are stores where baby knitting is just not happening. Weird eh? News to me. Are there some baby-free zones in the world?
6- Some stores are closing and letting us know, but several owners were moving to larger stores in the coming year. The knitting industry is in flux as usual but larger stores is encouraging. And there are lots of younger owners. Now that is really encouraging. Knitting is going to continue through these wonderfully innovative young people. Hurrah for women entrepreneurs.
7- The world wide web is not going away. It's still a large topic of conversation. The word is 'adapt, or go the way of the dinosaur'. But I think this is difficult for store owners who are used to giving full service and now have knitters walking in with products they have ordered off the web. Does the store owner want to service patterns off the internet, should they be using the web themselves, will knitters still buy patterns in the store when there is so much free stuff they can download? It's interesting times out there and your local store owner is trying to cope with this huge change in how the public is shopping.

As you can see, lots of discussion takes place between suppliers and store owners, between the vendors themselves who are passing on business tips, ideas and information. We have a network of Canadian business woman from across the country which meet at these shows and our discussions are always lively since we all have a slightly different take on the business - designers/importers/yarn suppliers/pattern suppliers/teachers/bloggers/web sales/manufacturers. Well the list could go on since we all do several of these functions in different combinations. Oh, and we might be imbibing a couple of liquid refreshments to lubricate the discussion and blowing off a lot of steam too.

It's a wonderful world, the knitting biz,

Saturday, 7 June 2008

No Rest for the Wicked

First day of the show. Here's Deb working away on the new baby booklet patterns. She never stops! I'm behind the camera, waiting on a store owner who is looking at our patterns.
We had a good day, pre-selling the Baby V booklet, selling our other books, patterns and yarn, meeting with friends in the business, chatting with store owners we've dealt with for some years, meeting new customers and generally catching up on the news.

Lucy Neatby dropped by looking subdued as ever (this is a joke as Lucy sports pink and blue hair and about 67 colours in her outfit); Lily Chin wandered past in her bright green crocheted top and skirt; Deb chatted with Ann Hanson (Deb reads her blog every day) and Stephanie Pearl McPhee ( ); Vicki Square (Knit Kimono published by Interweave Press) rested in our booth so we had a look through her book with her. We had dinner with Robin Melanson (she has a cool new book out "Knitting New Mittens & Gloves: Warm Your Hands in 28 Innovative Ways" and her book signing is on Sunday), Lana from LanaKnits, Hemp for Knitting and her business partner & daughter Melissa amoungst others. OK, enough name dropping!

Deb is knitting another pair of her new socks, Queen's Castle, and I've just taken my shrug (which is turning into a summer top) off the needles to try on. The colour in the picture is off as it's knit in our Cotton Tweed DK in lime, which is a lot brighter and a very pretty green.

And now, it's time for bed.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008


It's alive!! Or live rather!

I've been working with Julia Grunau for a while now getting our patterns ready on her new site Julia, who was our very first EVER sales rep and therefore holds a special spot in our hearts, wanted to have a job somewhat closer to home, and her kids, and came up with the concept of a web site dedicated to downloadable knitting patterns.
Yes, for those of you who cruise the web at 3:00am looking at knitting patterns ... this site is for you! Total instant gratification. No more looking at patterns with lust in your heart and frustration at your finger tips! You can instantly download any or all of the patterns on Julia's site. For a modest fee of course.

For those customers of ours that ask us to send the pattern but please, please, please, could we fax out a copy RIGHT NOW so they can get started?? This site is for you!

For those customers of ours in Japan, Austrialia, New Zealand, England, France, Hong Kong and other far away places, no more waiting weeks and weeks for the pattern to arrive in the (snail) mail.

I think Julia secretly wants to have the of knitting pattern sites ... world domination! She's an ambitious girl!
Clearly there will be patterns from various manufacturers but she's very keen on having lots and lots of independent designers. If you've written some patterns you might want to get in touch with her to see about having your patterns on her site. Julia is also very interested in bringing together knitting patterns from all over the world, patterns from Bolivia and Ethiopia and South America and, and, and ... well, the world is a big place! So, go have a look, do a little shopping ... let me know what you think. Happily a web site is always a "work in progress" so we're all interested in feed-back and suggestions.
Happy shopping!


Monday, 2 June 2008

Shrug #2

So here is the 2nd attempt at a shrug for the movie premiere. I was very pleased as it fit! I used our Cabin Fever Cotton Tweed DK in black, and loosely based the structure on Deb's Basic Aran V-Neck sweater from our "Button Up Your Top Down" book. I used the needles appropriate for me for the aran weight (ie 4.5mm/US7) and, as I'm quite a loose knitter, I ended up with a gauge even slightly more than aran. You can see that it's fairly plain with a stocking stitch body and a 2 x 2 rib for the neckline and cuffs. I didn't have to do any "patternwork" as the texture and flecking of the tweed worked very well. The sleeves are a tiny bit shorter than I was thinking of but I was running out of time!! (I got the shrug done and buttons sewn on 20 minutes before I had to leave to drive to Toronto - that's cutting it fine!)

I also used this as an exercise to try "knitting backwards". This is where you don't purl. When you come to the end of the knit row you DON'T TURN, you just knit backwards across the row. Very cool. Slower of course than purling but it worked! And I was surprised to see how even the gauge was.

Oh, and here's a picture of the "red carpet". : )