Monday, March 20, 2017

Wings of Angels

From the Manos Del Uruguay website....

"Manos del Uruguay is a non-profit social organization which, since 1968, has provided jobs for craftswomen living in Uruguay rural areas...
During 2009, and after a long and exhaustive evaluation process, Manos del Uruguay was accepted as a member of the World Fair Trade Organization, WFTO, which operates in 70 countries and brings together more than 350 organizations, 100% committed to Fair Trade.
This achievement acknowledges Manos del Uruguay mission of eradicating poverty through sustainable economic growth, enabling craftspeople to improve the quality of their craft products, so that, in this way, they can continue their personal development.
We, the craftswomen, are the owners of Manos del Uruguay, and we are part of a non-profit Association, the objective of which is to generate work for rural women, allowing us to stay in our towns, earn our living and develop ourselves as human beings."
So there you go. When you buy Manos yarns you help women support their families in Uruguay in places where they have little opportunity.

Knitters and crocheters like to help people. They are earthly angels who spread socks and scarves around the world, throwing them gleefully out of handcrafted baskets while they sing and pirouette.  . Many of these items hold prayers and love. If artists were to draw yarnies they would need to add wings - knitted, of course, in fair isle patterns, elaborate cables, and assorted textured stitches - to the backs of these people. Halos would turn into elaborate crowns in crocheted lace. Most yarnies would wrinkle up their noses and roll their eyes at this imagery about them, but would have no problem bestowing wings and crowns on other yarnies.

Yarn also likes to be made into useful things. It knows that it is created to be a hat or scarf or a nice cozy sweater to warm someone. Our Wool Classica has been sad because it's been around for so long, just sitting and waiting for someone to take it home and love it and mold it into a thing of useful beauty. 

75% OFF

Manos Del Uruguay Wool Classica
100% Corridale Wool
138 y/126 m/100 g Worsted (5)

Regular Price: $19.00
Sale Price: $4.75

Posted by Anna Maria Junus (happy employee with tattered laughable wings and a broken halo and really wishes she could draw these angels as she envisions them).

Monday, March 13, 2017

Reflections on Reflections

I mentioned before that I'm planning a move. There is a lot of stuff to go through and make decisions on.

I'm not very good at that. There are people who become whirling dervishes and happily fling things into the garbage or giveaway, packing up what little they choose to keep. They can empty an entire house in an hour, dancing and getting a workout with enough energy afterwards to make a six course dinner and a floral bouquet.

I am the kind that will have good intentions. I'll put on some music and even have a timer, promising myself that if I give it a good solid hour with no distractions I can reward myself with a break.

Only I'll come across a journal, a book, or a stack of pictures, and I am off, looking, dreaming, reflecting. Two hours later I haven't gone any further than the book in my hand. That hour of solid organizing and packing can take all day and when I'm done I only have energy for a bowl of cereal.

Unlike creating or making, reflecting requires something that already exists. Sometimes it's hidden away and only requires some light. It might need a mirror to truly see it. Sometimes all it needs is our memories. The baby blanket, the christening outfit, that cardigan that you wore everyday during college, the single mitt that lost its partner, the half finished cabled sweater you were in the process of making for the boyfriend long gone. The things we make today become the reflections we mull over later.

I will eventually get the packing done. Usually I'll begin with good intentions of making time for it, taking my time on it, carefully packing things in an orderly way to make it easier to find later. Those good intentions often turn into last minute scrambles where everything gets flung into boxes and taped up without any organization at all. Clothes, my Kitchen Aid, and yarn could all end up in one box if it gets down to it. That's not what I PLAN to do, but based on my reflections of previous moves, it's what happens.

And while I write this I have the old Supremes song in my head "Reflections of, the way life used to be..."

So here you go, A song stuck in your head and yarn that is reflective.

75% OFF

150 G/75 M/82 Y BULKY (6)

Free pattern on ball band


100 G/90 M/98 Y CHUNKY (5)

Free pattern on ball band


100 G/80 M/88 Y CHUNKY (5)

Free pattern on ball band


We also have a couple of Lumio leaflets for more patterns.

Only $5.00 each!

Posted by Anna Maria Junus (happy employee who really has to stop reflecting so much and start packing more).

Monday, March 6, 2017

In Circle Out, In Circle Out

As I write this (Saturday) I am dealing with anxiety. Anxiety over a move to a place where I currently have no home or job. When is the best time to go out and find a place to live? How do I begin to find work? What if I run out of money? Will I have to live in a cardboard box and fight rats over the scraps behind restaurants?

Anxiety over the actual move. What to throw out, what to keep, when do I rent a truck, what do I do with my stuff? Anxiety over cleaning. I hate cleaning.

Mostly today, I am anxious over a play.

The play I have been directing for the past couple of months opens tonight.

I never feel this anxiety when I'm performing. But I'm not performing. My performance is done. The rest is up to the actors and technical people. I have no more control.

As an actor I have felt the adrenaline rush. I get to go on stage and have fun. I have control over how I will play my part, how I will react, if something goes wrong, I can do something to save it. I can feel the energy from the audience and my fellow actors, and read their reactions and take my bows.

As a director, there's none of that. I can only sit in the audience and watch. If they fall I can't rescue them. If mistakes are made, I can only hope that they'll cover them. If I've directed them one way, they still have the option to do it a different way.  If they are wildly brilliant, it's because they are wildly brilliant. It is all in their hands now. I have no control. I have to completely trust them. I have no reason not to trust them and I do, but it doesn't ease this anxiety to know this. It just is.

It's like parenting. You guide them, direct them, and then let them go, biting your nails and hoping that in spite of mistakes, and there will be mistakes, everything will turn out well anyway. If they are successful it is their success. If they fail it feels like your failure, even if it isn't. It is beyond your control.

There's something soothing about knitting. You are always in control. You choose the yarn, and how much you want to spend. You choose your pattern. You choose your tools.  You decide when to knit and for how long. The repetition of the needles is like meditation. In circle out, in circle out, in circle out. Your knitting gradually grows, taking shape, becoming something more than string. The clicking of the needles create rhythm. There is harmony between you and the yarn and the motions. You begin to understand how the pattern works. In circle out, in circle out. You may be watching TV or listening to music or a podcast. Perhaps you're praying or planning or problem solving as you in circle out, in circle out.

If you make a mistake - and you will, you have options. Do I ignore it and carry on as if it isn't there? Do I decide to like it and repeat it throughout the piece, making it a design element? Do I fix it right here? Is it a quick little fix or major surgery? If it's major surgery can I perform it? Do I unknit it back? Or do I rip it out back to the problem knowing that I risk losing stitches? Do I rip it back all the way to the beginning and start again? Or do I decide to rip it back and abandon the project and use the yarn for something else? Do I just stuff the project in a corner to deal with later or not at all? Or do I do as a friend does, burn it or throw the whole thing out or give it away?

What you decide in the end really doesn't matter. The world is not watching you. The world doesn't care. They haven't paid good money on tickets, babysitters, dinner and gas, got dressed up, and driven in a storm to come watch your work. They probably haven't hired you to do this. Neither your worth as a human being nor your pocket book is based on your knitting abilities. If you fail, that's only between you and no one, because even God has better things to do than worry about whether your lace is perfect and your socks match up.

In a world where we are constantly measured and judged through work, school, community, parenting, relationships, our bodies, athletics, driving, our homes and pretty much everything we do, it's nice to have something where the only judge is us.

In circle out. In circle out. In circle out.

75% OFF

60% Superwash Wool, 40% Acrylic
100 g/200 m DK (3)

Regular Price: $9.00
Sale Price: $2.25

Posted by Anna Maria Junus (happy employee who is in circling out as she deals with anxiety and the fear of the unknown). 

Monday, February 27, 2017

It Was Just My Imagination...Running Away With Me

  1.  (of light or a source of light) shine unsteadily; vary rapidly in brightness.
        "the interior lights flickered and came on"      
  2.  make small, quick movements; flutter rapidly. "her eyelids flickered"
  3.  cause of many sleepless nights from knowing there's something just out of reach  in your mind and if you could remember it you could make millions of dollars and rule the world. "inspiration flickered in and out in her mind often enough not to let her sleep and caused her to kill her husband the following morning when he asked "what's for breakfast"

We've all had flickers. Flickers of intelligence, flickers of hope, flickers of inspiration, the song Flipper going through your head with the word flicker instead and then the realization that Flipper is a dolphin and Flicka is a horse who is your friend but they are not remotely alike although Flipper was a friend too, so I guess they are alike.

Flickers of inspiration are elusive. Here and gone. Brilliant and then nothing. Hopeful and then utter despair. Those flickers come at times when you're doing something else, like making meatloaf and not being able to write down the flicker because your hands are covered in raw ground beef and barbecue sauce. Or while you're driving through the city of Calgary and your road is about to veer off in the direction you don't want to go sending you to Banff or Medicine Hat. Or the middle of the night when you know if you get up to do something about it, you'll come back to find your partner sprawled across the bed, wrapped in all the covers and drooling on your pillow.

So you wait to do something about it, promising yourself to remember it, only instead of remembering it, you remember the words to Stairway to Heaven and the time that that guy whatshisname left you alone on the middle of the dance floor. But the flicker?  It's gone. Sometimes forever.

There's something sad about a flicker. It rarely fully commits. It taunts you, making promises it won't keep, offering you hope and then abandoning  you. It's unsubstantial and unreliable. 

But sometimes all you need is the flicker. A flicker can turn into a flame. A flicker can give you just enough reason to get up and keep going. A flicker is enticing and can add just the right amount of zing to something that is lovely and good on it's own, but becomes better with the flicker, like the right amount of spice in a dish.

And so we present to you Flicker, beautiful soft tonal yarns with just a flicker of sparkle in its chain construction.

75% OFF

87% Baby Alpaca, 8% Acrylic, 5% Other Fibers
50 g/189 y/175 m Worsted Weight (4)

Regular Price:$16.00
Sale Price: $4.00


Another yarn that is pretty much the same thing only from a different company. Chain construction and flickers of shiny. 

Diamond Luxury Collection Stellabella
87% Baby Alpaca, 9% Polyamide, 4% Nylon
50 g/175 m Worsted Weight (4)

Regular Price: $12.00
Sale Price: $3.00

Posted by Anna Maria Junus (happy employee who has flickers of inspiration to direct a play in Ponoka which is opening this Saturday)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Anna One, Anna Two, Anna Three...

We're doing inventory right now.

You would think a word like inventory would mean "inventing a story" but no. It's nowhere near that much fun.

Although if you were the Count from Sesame Street you would have great fun going "One, uh, uh, uh, uh, Two. Uh, uh, uh, uh. Three, uh, uh, uh, uh. The Count would have a wonderful time. The people who would have to work with him not so much. Even Big Bird would be plotting ways to kill him and Elmo would swear at him and Ernie would hit him in the head with his rubber ducky. Bert would just set a whole cage full of pigeons on him.

It's a good thing The Count doesn't work here. We wouldn't be so kind.

We do have someone new working here! Anne Homenuk has joined the Crafty Ladies. Lori decided to give her a trial by fire by making her count inventory. If she gets through this and still wants to work here then we know she's crazy and eligible to stay.

Anne is a knitter, crocheter and needleworker, plus she has a background in newspapers and writing, just like Margaret and me - only Anne actually owned a newspaper. I just wrote stuff.

Best of all, she's counted the tapestry yarn and the Mill Hill beads so I don't have to.

Frankly, as I write this at the end of a busy Saturday, my feet hurt and I'm exhausted and I'm running out of time. So, here's the sale.

75% OFF

Schachenmayr Bravo Mezzo
100% Acrylic
100 g/165 m/ 180 y (Chunky 5)

Regular Price: $6.00
Price: $1.50 

I usually like to tie in the yarn to the post somehow, so here it is...

I am directing a play that will be performed in March. It's called "Things My Mother Taught Me". Come and see it and when it's over, stand up and say "Bravo!"

Okay, shameless plug over.

By the way, the yarn comes with a free hat pattern on the ball band.

Posted by Anna Maria Junus (happy employee - although not really right now because of that whole counting thing).

Monday, February 13, 2017

We Have Absconded with Valentines Day!

A long, long, time ago, back when Friends and Seinfeld were on TV the first time around, most of us didn't have computers or the internet (news was transmitted by the ancient inventions of radio and TV), and we were thrilled by the freedom of a cordless phone at home, but had no concept of ever carrying one in our pocket, Lori opened up a magical store.

Not a magic store. That's something different and involves whoopie cushions and card tricks.

No, a magical store where you could wander in and pick up eyes of newts and toes of frogs and make your own wonderful creations.

The store has evolved over time. The eyes and toes have disappeared and in their place is fantastical magical string that comes to life with a little bit of awe and wonder.  There are wands that come in different shapes and sizes made out of woods that come from enchanted forests and metals from mountains where ancient dwarves mine. A flick of the wrist, a twirl of the fingers, a breath of air and a wish of love, and before long, scarves, sweaters, hats, shawls, socks, slippers, and afghans appear in rainbows of colors, mountains and valleys of textures and clouds of softness.

With a little silver stick and multi-plied cotton harvested and dyed by fairies, pictures of mermaids and tigers appear on blank fabric. Round little pebbles with holes, long protected by fire breathing winged dragons, become delicate art to adorn wrists, ears, and necks. Paper milled from the talking trees take odd shapes and bloom into flowers, fans and hearts.

It has been twenty-three years since Lori's shop of awe and wonder appeared, disguised as an innocent looking brick and mortar store on main street Lacombe.

In celebration we offer you our annual anniversary sale. Lori has chosen not to divulge what will specifically be on sale. You will have to come in to discover the mystery.

Sale is on Tuesday February 14 from 9-6.

Yes, it's our valentine to you.

And speaking of sales. We are still doing our weekly 75% off sale too! As always it starts at 9 am on Monday and ends on the following Saturday at 6 pm (unless we sell out of it first).

In honor of Valentines Day we present to you...

Red Heart Heart & Sole
73% Wool 27% Nylon
50 g/187 y/171 m sock weight (1)

Free knit Cap pattern on Red Heart Website
Uses 1 ball each of 2 colors

Free Crochet Pineapple Shawl pattern on
Red Heart Website
Uses 4 balls
Regular Price:$6.00
Sale Price: $1.50

Free Knit Shawl pattern on Red Heart Website
Uses 2 balls of one color, 1 ball each of 2 other

Two balls will make a pair of socks. But you don't need to limit yourself to socks. There's a free scarf pattern on the ball band and more freebies for this yarn can be found on the internet.

Red Heart Heart and Sole Website

Posted by Anna Maria Junus (happy employee who hates Valentines Day but loves many many people, places, and things.)

Monday, February 6, 2017

Because You Need One More Project

Want to do a knit along?

Now I can imagine Buddy the Elf jumping up and down saying "A Knit Along! I want to do a Knit Along!"

We are excited about the Knitterati Afghan Knit Along by Cascade Yarns and Vogue Knitting. It's a mystery so we have no idea what it will end up looking like other than it's a bunch of squares and at the time of this post we've only seen two of the squares. Each square is designed by a different designer.

Mysteries are fun. I've always loved a good mystery. Although there's no murder in this one unless you get so frustrated that you use your needles as a weapon. We suggest that you don't do that and you leave your spouses intact.

The great thing about knit alongs like this is that you just have to do a little bit each week to keep up. So you don't have to stop doing your million other projects. I mean really, what's one more when you're already up to a million? It's already started but there's only a couple of patterns out right now.

Because it's done through Cascade Yarns, they suggest Cascade, however we have some really lovely alternatives and you can put together your own color ways because in knitting, you're allowed to do that.

I know! Put together your own color ways? It can be done! It calls for five colors, but that doesn't mean you can only use five colors. I've even seen people do the fair isle square in one color by purling on the knit side, so if you want to do one color you can. Or you can pick a whole bunch of colors. Do an entire garden of colors if you want!

And you don't have to buy all your yarn at once. You can buy a few at a time. Even dye lots wouldn't really matter

What are your favorite colors? Or, is there a room in your house that's just calling for a throw? Pick those colors.

So our suggestions:

For a less expensive throw, we have Cascade Yarns Anthem. Yes, a Cascade Yarn! It's 100% Acrylic Worsted Weight, costs only $6.00 a ball and comes in several lovely colors. It's our basic afghan yarn. Fully washable. 170 meters. We tend to run out of this fairly quickly so it's a good idea to get all you need if you can.

If you want a wool blend that you can throw into the washer, we have two beautiful options. Estelle Worsted, 50% Acrylic, 40% Wool, 10% Nylon at $10 a skein for 200 meters. It comes in lots of bright clear colors or neutrals.  Or you can choose Berroco Vintage. 52% Acrylic, 40% Wool, 8% Nylon, $11.50 a skein for 200 meters of worsted weight. This yarn comes in lots of dusty colors and neutrals which works great for home decor. It's also interchangeable with Estelle Worsted, so you can mix these yarns around.

You could splurge on alpaca. We have Ella Rae Cozy Alpaca. It's lovely and soft and comes in warm hues perfect for home decor. $13 a skein for 167 meters of worsted weight. 70% Acrylic and 30% Alpaca.

Want a cotton blend? Modern Cotton comes in beautiful colors. 60% Pima Cotton (the best), 40% Model Rayon. $10.50 for 191 meters.

And for you pure wool enthusiasts we have two superwash suggestions. Ella Rae Superwash Classic Wool is $11.50 for 200 meters and comes in warm tones. Rowan Pure Wool Worsted is $11.00 for 200 meters and also comes in warm colors. These two yarns are interchangeable with each other.

For those who love wool but don't want to pick colors, Lori has made up two kits for this afghan. One is pinks, purples and beige in Rowan, and the other is blues and greens in Rowan and Ella Rae.

Also if you wanted to make your afghan smaller and lighter you could make it out of a DK weight instead. We have Rowan Pure Wool DK for those who only want wool. Berroco Vintage DK for a wool blend.  Schachenmayr Bravo, Berroco Comfort DK,  and  Snuggly DK are acrylics and Sirdar Cotton DK is a pure cotton.

So there are lots of options. For more information you can go to Knitterati Afghan Knit-Along to sign up for the patterns. They are free the first week they come out. After that they are only a dollar, and that dollar goes to a worthy cause. From the ravelry site...

"Cascade Yarns® will be making a donation to Haiti Babi equal to the amount that it receives from Ravelry for the sale of this pattern. Haiti Babi, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, is dedicated to training and employing struggling mothers in Haiti. Rather than merely providing a meal or housing, Haiti Babi provides training and jobs to moms in Haiti so they can earn a sustainable living wage, provide for their children, and keep their families together. We encourage you to visit Haiti Babi’s website to learn more about their cause. In Haiti, one in ten kids lives in an orphanage, and 80% of kids in orphanages have a parent, or parents, who simply cannot afford to care for them."

So it's a win/win either way!

I've been eyeing the colors in the Estelle Worsted, so I'll be making my afghan out of that. The hardest part is choosing the colors. I love them all! So maybe I'll be doing a garden.

I know, I know, quit blathering away. You want to know what's on sale...

I mentioned Pima Cotton earlier. It's the best cotton with long staples. It's the kind of cotton used for luxury bed sheets that you find in hotel rooms and make you wish that you never have to get out of bed. We have it. Well, not the bed sheets. We don't do bed sheets.

75% OFF

85% Pima Cotton, 15% Baby Alpaca
50 g/100 m DK

Regular Price: $7.00
Sale Price: $1.75

Posted by Anna Maria Junus (happy employee who is thinking about growing a garden through her knitting needles).