Monday, November 20, 2017

South of the Border...Down Mexico Way...

The Aztecs Pyramid
at St. Cecilia Acatitlan,
Mexico

While both llama and alpaca are found around Alberta today, these animals originated in the highlands of South America, and were domesticated by the various peoples living there at the time.  Both are descended from the Camelid family (yes, that's just what you think it is!)

Both -- according to archaeological evidence -- can trace their ancestry back about 45 million years, originating on what is now North America.  Between the arrival of the Ice Age, alterations in habitat, and humans who both settled and traded, the camelids were dispersed around the globe and some types were completely wiped out.



Blessedly, three prongs of the family survived: the dromedary of North Africa and SW Asia, the Bactrian camel of Central Asia, and what are now considered four related species in South America -- including llama and alpaca.


Domestic Alpaca
Though these animals were originally domesticated in the highlands, between 900 and 1,000 years ago, some were brought down to the coastal lowlands, which would explain how they came to be in the area of Mexico -- the purview of the Aztec from 1300 to 1521 A.D. or so -- from the Incan Empire down the west coast of South America (1438 - 1533).

The Mayans, Aztecs and Incas all wove fabric from the fibre produced by these animals, and as with many cultures, the type of fabric worn was used as an indicator of status. While the Aztecs forbade the poor from wearing cotton, the Incas forbade all but the wealthy from wearing cumbi, a special cloth woven from baby alpaca that was -- literally -- even to the invading Spanish -- worth its weight in gold.

That's not surprising, since the fibre of the alpaca produces a soft yarn that can be woven, knit or crocheted into garments that are also toasty warm.

For folks who want the warmth and moisture-wicking properties of wool, but are sensitive to the lanolin produced in sheep's fibre, alpaca could be a great alternative.  Their fibres are longer than fine sheep wool, with a high tensile strength that results in durability and long wear.  At the same time, having fewer scales than sheep wools, alpaca fibre will take much longer to felt.

Because of its characteristics -- warmer, denser and heavier than wool if knit straight up -- ideally, yarn containing a high percentage of alpaca is best used for shawls, hats, scarves, cowls, gloves or mittens, where you want to keep warm without weight. 

Generally these garments must be washed by hand, but sometimes you can find a fibre blend that boasts just enough alpaca for warmth...and acrylic fibre for easier care.  And that's what's on offer for our Super Special this week!




Nako Alpaca
100 grams
90% Acrylic, 10% Alpaca
190 metres (208 yards)
Regular Price: $8.00

Sale Price: $2.00


AND




James Brett Aztec
100 grams
90% Acrylic, 10% Alpaca
190 metres (208 yards)
Regular Price: $8.00

Sale Price: $2.00


Pattern: Cable Hat - S.R. Kertzer
Yarn: James Brett Aztec


Written -- and knit -- by Margaret, happy TCL employee for whom a little alpaca can go a long way!

References:


Monday, November 13, 2017

Project Bonus

This morning I heard a news story on the imminent possibility of driverless semi-trailer trucks. We have all heard stories regarding the development of driver-less cars or computer-operated vehicles.

The thought of a fully loaded semi driving on the Coquihalla during a blizzard is just down right scary. I don't think the developers have got to that point. The two options reported were the driver would be in the self-driving vehicle, sitting in the driver's seat and only taking over when the alarms went off. The other option currently being developed was the driver would be operating remotely a fleet of 10 - 20 vehicles from a computer desk. These trucks would be robotically driven.

My understanding is many people are really great truckers as they do not want to operate computers, or become computer literate. They like to be working with their hands and minds. The other impact on this industry would be to the mechanics who repair and maintain the trucks.

Let's hope this is going to be a very, very long time coming. I am not sure I am ready for this type of technology.

Similarly, crafters and shoppers love to find really great ideas from the website. There are several great bonuses to browsing and maybe shopping on the internet. Proof - the rise in people who shop (and purchase) on the internet.

It is so much easier to sit with your daughter and find a picture of the sweater you offered to knit for her. My daughter came home a couple of months ago with a picture she found on the internet and said "Please, Mom, I would love this!!" It was a really great comfortable sweater. The problems developed when it took me two days of research to find the pattern - and cost $15 to purchase the pattern.

Then I priced out the yarns suggested in the pattern - the cost amounted to more than I could comfortably afford. It was more than her car payment and monthly rent!! So, having the privilege of working in a yarn shop, I priced out similar yarns. When I get it finished it will be a beautiful sweater, though may
be not quite exactly like the one in the picture.

It is so easy to find a great idea online, then come in an try to describe it to our staff. We do try and help - please recognize we are not mind-readers, and don't know of any courses (online or other-wise) to teach us this skill. We are requesting our customers, please do a little more research prior to coming in. Please take the time to find a similar pattern - and there are a number of really great crafting websites, i.e. Ravelry, Yarnspirations and Interweave. Most yarn manufacturers have pattern ideas on their website, some free and some cost a bit.

These websites have ideas and patterns for quick and easy - or more involved projects. They offer information/ videos to teach new skills, such a short-rows or top down sweaters.

This week we are featuring a very flexible yarn at 75% off - Schaenmayr's Bravo, a 100% acrylic yarn. Find a quick idea online or add to your stash as this yarn will fit in with many quick craft projects.

Bravo 
145 yds/133 m
100% acrylic
Reg. $3.50


75% Sale
87¢

Written by Anne, happy knitter who found a way to compromise on price, not on quality. Thanks to The Crafty Lady for supplying beautiful yarns. 



Monday, November 6, 2017

All That Glitters is Not Gold*

It's almost Remembrance Day...a sombre and serious day in which we remember our military, the roles they play(ed) and the sacrifices they make (made) for our freedom and democracy here in Canada and in most other nations around the globe.

At the same time, the days are shortening...the time "fell back" one hour to "Standard Time" here this weekend...and, as we've mentioned in several posts now, the longer evenings mean more time (one hopes!) for yarn-crafting.

Christmas/Holiday gift ideas abound on all the yarn-crafting websites, in the magazines. on social media of all kinds, and those deadlines loom large!

Christmas is fixed at December 25, but this year, Hanukkah
spans the week just before that (December 12-20), while Kwanzaa runs from Dec. 26 (Boxing Day) through January 1 (New Year's Day).

However you celebrate, there are opportunities to make something special -- or to decorate with a bit of colour and glitz to bring into your home the light and joy of the season.

In our last post we introduced a bit of glitter...just to get the inspiration going.

This week, we're offering more...

First up: 

Perfect for arm-knit 'decorative' cowls to complement that glitzy holiday party outfit, to trim a skirt or jacket, or to fashion a garland right off the hank to decorate the tree!



Red Heart Boutique Ribbons
100 grams
75% Manufactured Fibers - Acrylic
25% Manufactured Fibers - Polyester
38 metres (42 yards)

Regular Price: $7.50
Sale Price: $1.88!


And next...a bit of heaven...perfect for finger-less gloves, cowls, scarves, a hat...perhaps a brooch (or two or three)...or a tiny bit of 'home decor' that could become a 'memento mori'...




Sirdar Divine
50 grams
72%  Polyester
28%  Acrylic

Regular Price: $9.00
Sale Price: $2.25!

Whatever you choose, you'll introduce a bit of light, sparkle and energy into this otherwise dark and gloomy time of year.  See you in the shop!



*Merchant of Venice Act II, Scene VII, William Shakespeare.


Written by Margaret, happy TCL employee who loves a wee bit o' glitter in her life!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Seasonal Confusion

As our seasonal confusion continues. . . Do we wear flip flops (and get cold feet) or closed toe shoes and be too warm? What to wear? How to dress? Do I need that coat (that I then leave behind)? Will I be cold without it?

I now understand my mother "nagging" as we went out the door to school and walked a half mile to school. I know that is not a long distance but it seems very few people know what it is to go for a walk. I grew up in a smaller community which was for many years on the border-line - was it a town or a city. As the population increased, the province always moved the target of "city" status to an additional 5,000 people. Maybe this is partly where my confusion comes from. The town was the largest shopping area outside of Edmonton, and considered itself a rural community, as many of the businesses served the needs of the farmers.

As the temperatures drop - knitters are planning warmer items for cooler weather. Many of us have some things in our Carefully Curated Collection (aka Stash) we can use or resurrect appropriately. Some of us inherited things we are not quite ready to throw out . . . and continue to store. If you are fall-sorting your stash, please remember there are many places to donate yarns. We accept donations of acrylics and have people who make them into blankets we forward to Blankets for Canada. There is more information on their website https://www.blankets4canada.caA great place to donate yarns is to a church yard sale, sell at an Antique shop or donate to a long-term care facility. Many such facilities have residents who cannot afford yarn, or cannot get out to access yarn, and would love to sit and knit.

Planning forward we have Remembrance Day, Christmas, Hanukkah/Chanukah (the Jewish festival of Lights and re-dedication) or any other family celebration, this is often the time of the year we give thanks for the bounty of our lives. Recently more people showed up to harvest the Foodgrains Bank crop than ever before. To all who helped - A Huge Thank You 😂 🙇.

Giving gifts you create is a wonderful way to share your love to knit with others. Gifts do not have to be large to be thoughtful and appropriate. Cowls, boot toppers, finger-less gloves, toques are really great gifts, easy to make and can be made with things from your stash or new yarns.

This week's 75% Sale yarn could be a great additional to any project. Adding to our confusion, it could make a project, be added to embellish or complete another yarn. It is soft, with just a hint of sparkle - come in and feel up our Flicker.

Flicker / Stellabella      
           by Berroco / by Diamond Luxury Collection
87% Baby Alpaca, 8% acrylic, 5% other fibres,  50 gm/175 m 
Reg. $16.00
75% Sale
$4.00


Flicker Slouch Hat
Flicker Cowl

Posted by Anne, happy TCL employee who will continue to be confused - while loving her position here! I especially enjoy helping our customers create a little less confusion and stress in their lives.


Monday, October 23, 2017

Let's Linger...

For the past month we've had a "fall is in the air" feel to our posts...and today's is no exception!  While autumn is the favourite season for many of us, with its crisp days, bright sunshine and blue skies (when it's not raining or snowing!) and its harvest bounty, we still have to acknowledge that the days are shorter and the evenings longer.


For knitters and crocheters, that remains cause for delight, as our thoughts turn to gift planning for the holidays, and projects we can curl up with on those long evenings -- whether it's in front of the television with a favourite sport or series (Outlander, anyone? 😉 ) or with a glass or cup of something good in front of a crackling fire with an audio-book or music in the background.


If you're looking to get started on some smaller gifts and enjoy working with lighter-weight yarns (like I do!), may I suggest you spend your evenings lingering...with some fingering.   Yarn, that is.

"Fingering" yarn is defined by YarnCanada.ca as a yarn that "... is equivalent to a #1 super fine weight and is also referred to as sock or baby yarn. It’s lightweight and versatile and perfect for socks, shawls, wraps, baby items, mittens, hats and more."  I'd add gloves -- fingered or finger-less -- wristers, boot toppers, leg warmers... Lots to linger over!


This week for our Special Sale we're offering a fingering three-some...


First up is this delicious mix of caramel and chocolate:







Regia 4-fadig Color
75% super-wash wool
25% Polyamide (Nylon)
50 grams = 210 metres or 230 yards
(2 will make a pair of adult-sized socks)
Regular Price: $9.00

Sale Price: $2.25!



Next we have hanks in a steel grey tonal -- perfect for those "man socks" (or gloves or mittens...)


NOTE: This colour-way is not the one on sale!

Opal 4-fach Handgefarbt 
Pullover & Sockenwolle
75% Super-wash wool
25% Polyamid (Nylon)
100 grams = 425 metres or 464 yards
(1 hank will make a pair of socks or gloves, even for most 'manly' appendages!)
Regular Price: $18.00

Sale Price: $4.50!


And last but not least...

Not one but two colour-ways for those who love the look of variegated yarns -- these skeins dip-dyed by the artisans at Manos...

Photo: Silkernie on Ravelry
Colour: #800 - "Copper"


Photo: Celestya22 on Ravelry
Colour: #955 - "Meadow"



















Camino Color
Manos Artesanas
75% Super-wash wool
25% Polyamid (Nylon)
100 grams = 400 meters or 437 yards
(1 skein will make a pair of socks except for the very largest feet!)
Regular Price: $17.00

Sale Price: $4.25!

So come in this week, select the one -- or ones! -- that speak to you, and linger awhile to chat or browse patterns or fondle any and all the yarn we have on offer.  We look forward to seeing you!


Written by Margaret, happy TCL employee; you can find her lingering with her fingering at our Knit Nights, Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.  Ask at the store for details!

Monday, October 16, 2017

I be crazy ? ?

Do you occasionally feel like you are slightly out of step with the world, or maybe it is just those around you? Then something happens and you feel totally validated!!

This can be a feeling of huge relief and reduces the stress we all carry around. I now believe stress is not an over-used word, nor is it a state of mind many people believe it is in their best interest to admit to. Do you occasionally feel you look like this  . . .
Our Crafty Lady Greeter
I am currently reading a book on how the brain can heal itself. Some of the studies deal with mental health issues such as dyslexia, depression, autism and others deal with things like Parkinson's, strokes, Alzheimer's or accidents. The researchers describe helping professional opera singers heal after surgery destroyed their voices and their ability to heal (according to conventional medicine). Ground breaking research . . . as the brain is our most misunderstood organ - these researchers are giving us hope and understanding!

So what does any of this have to do with crafting? Knitting, crochet and other hand/mind skills have been proven to help us deal with stress, recover from brain injuries, stay mentally healthy longer and keep whatever function of our brain we have working more effectively. Plus you get something constructive at the end of your project (in addition to a carefully curated collection of yarn or fibre).

Again, so what does any of this have to do with the season? Autumn is the time many of us preserve the produce from our garden, farmers and their families are busy in the fields - a very creative time of the year. People are starting to plan their Halloween costumes for young and old and planning Christmas gifts!

Are you arm-knitting a cowl or something for a special someone? Check out this week's special - it is a really great deal!



Who are you planning Halloween costumes for? This week's 75% Off would make incredible dreadlocks for a costume . . . Where does your imagination take you?


ICE 
Marine
Reg. $25.00
75% OFF
$6.25


Posted by Anne, saner than I was and happy knitter

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Have You Any Wool?

More times than I can remember, when we in The Shop ask our customers, "Can we help you?", the answer is "I'm just here for some wool."

But that's not always the case.

Rather, they're usually 'here for some yarn'.  It's just that our customers are in the habit of referring to all yarn as "wool" -- because once upon a time, it pretty much was all wool, all the time.

Nowadays, we're doing our best to change their terminology -- mainly by showing them actual wool in the weight they said they were looking for.  If they want other yarn -- say, cotton or acrylic, or alpaca, or silk or a blend -- this startles them, and they let us know pretty quickly!  😊

"Heeland Coos"
(Highland Cows)
I'm just back from Scotland, touring castles, lochs, and crofts (among other things)...and revelling in the hilly countryside dotted with "coos" and sheep.  Over there, they are very particular about yarn terminology!  Wool is wool, and that's all there is to it!  It comes from sheep, and everything else is...well...just..."yarn".


Another notion about wool that's common with customers is that it is always scratchy.

I'll grant that some folks have a true allergy to wool (sometimes, sadly, to all animal fibre).  Handling it in any way makes their hands tingle, their fingers itch, and some even break out in a rash if they try a wool garment next to their skin.

Sheep grazing - on the road between
Edinburgh and Inverness
And it's true that the wool from some sheep breeds is 'scratchier' than that from others.  This is due in large part to the composition of the fibre: its diameter (in microns), its staple length and its crimp structure.

As author and yarn expert, Clara Parkes, writes in The Knitter's Book of Yarn (2008), "The finer the diameter of a fibre, the softer it feels against your skin." (p.14).  And..."A general rule of thumb...The shorter the fibers, the softer they will be against the skin." (p. 15).  As for 'crimp' -- the fibres with tinier crimp tend to be the ones that are bouncier, loftier and warmer (think hats, blankets, sweaters), while those with larger 'ringlets' (as Clara calls them) produce a denser, stronger, more lustrous yarn (think 'drape' for shawls, throws and elegant garments).

What does all that mean?  Simply that no two types of wool are alike -- and barring a true allergy to it, there's generally a wool available to suit your purpose!

This week's Special Sale offering is wool -- 100% wool.  It's labelled as "roving", which means it's not really spun.  Though it's a 'single' (ply), it's still strong enough to be knit or crocheted -- and there are some projects on Ravelry that show off beautiful stitch definition when knit up.  A 'woolly wool', it's ideal for jackets, hats, and outdoor sweaters not worn next to the skin.

It's not been treated for machine washing though, so it's better served in items meant to be hand-washed or felted.  That means it's ideal for felted slippers or tote bags that will be comfy and sturdy at the same time.

And the price is right!




Diamond Select
Pure Wool Roving


100% Wool
100 grams per skein
137 metres (150 yards)
Regular Price: $7.00

75% Off!
Sale Price: $1.75



Posted by Margaret, TCL employee, who's happy to help you find the right wool -- or yarn -- whatever your project!