shop talk

Posted on 21 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events, designing, projects

the last time i taught at shall we knit?, the shop was located in a lovely vintage storefront in new hamburg, ON. during this latest visit, i had a chance to check out the shop’s new digs at 11 willow street in waterloo, where it was moved in the spring.

now, i just loved the old shop space, so i walked through the door of the new space with a little anxiety and a lot of anticipation—it was obviously very different on the outside, so i was hoping to find at least a few vestiges of the old feeling on the inside.

and i was not at all to be disappointed. the moment i walked through the door, i felt like had returned to the warm, cozy atmosphere i remembered—and then some.

because the new shop is bigger . . . MUCH bigger. but you know that can be a drawback if it means that the close-knit vibe of a place just gets watered down.

not here though. first off, this is not a typical commercial property; the building is a charming craftsman-type bungalow, updated, but with most of the original features intact. there are all manner of nooks, crannies, and corners to house feature displays or a comfortable knitting chair.

i’m taking you through the shop exactly as it appears when you walk through it.

owner karen crouch and her staff have created their knit shop with a vision—they want this jewel of an enterprise to be the much-anticipated destination of every knitter who passes through the region. and they are making quite a dent in achieving that goal.

the koigu hutch, now famous in the area, is always full and inviting; it’s the shop pet (xena, i didn’t forget you; YOU are the shop concierge!)

the whole first floor (yes, there are multiple floors, swoon) is dedicated to knitterly goods—books, yarn, tools, accessories, and

YARN. everything from good wool to quiviut to cashmere to silk is represented here—there is a yarn for every occasion and then some.

shall we knit? is one of the very lucky few shops to have some briar rose fibers on hand and the display is gorgeous, filled with several of chris’s yarn types, including sea pearl. it rarely stays full however . . . area knitters are very fond of the stuff.

speaking of rare yarns, one of my favorite new delights was discovering that SWK? now has their own line of specialty silk fingering yarn, mmm! this is one thing that you can’t get anywhere else.

willow street silk a slightly nubby 2-ply yarn with a relaxed hand and generous yardage that is perfect for lace knits and lightweight garments (mmm, i’m thinking it would make a most excellent little cardigan; something plain with neckline or hem detailing—i want one now!). shown here is colorway service (you know i love my earthy greens).

best of all, the yarn is spun from silk recaptured from leftovers of the luxury goods trade, so that by using it, we are rescuing perfectly good silk from ending up in a landfill.

seriously, i shudder to think . . .

moving on, one of the best features of the new shop is the expanded classroom and gathering space. there is a generous front porch and back room area for small groups to gather (knit n chat is every friday night from 5-ish to 8-ish).

the second and third floors have spacious rooms for teaching and storage, including the sale closet, which is open one weekend per month.

along with more classroom space, karen now has a dedicated space for spinning fibers and classes.

many local fiber producers are represented, as well as more widely represented ones, such as briar rose fibers.

resident spinning and fiber artist tabi ferguson teaches spindle and wheel spinning here, where her goal of turning every knitter into a spinner as well is steadily being fulfilled.

and karen is happy to facilitate, hehehe—she has recently become a schacht dealer and will soon have sidekick wheels to offer.

the shop staff has an awesome debut for the sidekick planned into their booth at the october fiber festival.

i had the pleasure of teaching two classes last week in the new shop—we had an EXcellent bittersweet vines class; i figured out a better way to teach the project, which worked a treat. i will definitely use this format going forward.

we also did lace start to finish and as i told my students, this was the most efficient group i ever did this workshop with—they finished all their work in the allotted class time and even left about 5 minutes early. wow.

most fun of all was that roxanne from zen yarn garden and her fun crew of friends (including cathy of zigzag stitches).

for some reason, i happen not to be smiling in this picture, but trust me—i was delighted that they drove all that way for a class; we had a lot of fun that evening.

thank you karen, lynne, and lise for a wonderful stay at your shop. it was an absolutely lovely week; i miss you!

since all of my waterloo events took place in the evenings, i took a little time away from my desk work each day to explore. i did my running and walking in the nearby waterloo park and laurel trails, as well as the city streets.

on thursday, i headed for the st jacob’s market with tabi and matt, to check out the local farmer’s fare. this was a much anticipated trip, as i’d heard so many good things about the market.

even at that, i had no idea it was so huge—totally unexpected, in fact.

peppers were the big crop this week apparently and the air was filled with the scent of all types. heavenly.

color was everywhere; my favorite sight were these two side-by-side displays

flowers and little tomatoes that were color coordinated.

tabi took me over to meet her favorite vendor, mickey mcguire, who sells cheese. you really have to meet him; he not only sells cheese, but he knows everything about it—my kinda guy. i really hope i can take cookie to meet him some day . . .

i wanted to buy everything i saw, but since i was leaving the next day, i settled for a few homemade soft pretzels—one of my die-hard addictions. i love them and i try to eat them wherever i go to compare.

in fact, i just had one as i was writing this; i put the ones i bought in the freezer when i got to my mom’s, haha, for snacking on during this week. i’ll save one for david, too.

i was sad to leave waterloo; the time there always goes by so fast. but i looked forward to getting on to albany as well. i’m here now, working and visiting with my mom, who had knee surgery last week. she’ll be home in the next couple of days, maybe even ahead of schedule.

i’ve been working on patterns—had to finish up the september club packet and work on a few new patterns.

i’m knitting mostly on a secret project (which i can’t show you) and the blümchen cardigan (which i can)

for some reason i can get nothing but crappy photos today, but that one there is me picking up the stitches for the neck/button band the winds all around the front edges of the cardigan. i got post of it picked up last night but i fell aslseep in the middle of the last section and that was my cue to take myself to bed, haha.

i’m trying to get it done so i can add the actual neckband numbers to the pattern. there just aren’t enough hours in the day, are there?

i’m working on my first sleeve still as well; i’ll take this along on my hospital visit today and i bet i can get several more inches onto it there.

today is monday, when i usually have class in the afternoon at my house and i’m thinking about how much i miss everyone; i’ll be glad when we resume regular class hours.

and speaking of the hospital; i better get going. i want o visit earlier today because i made a dinner date with one of my mom’s friends here.


Posted on 28 CommentsPosted in patterns

i don’t know about where you live, but where i am, the air has turned very crisp in the last couple of days—last evening i was glad to have a scarf around my neck and wished i had thought to grab some mitts as well.

hard to believe it’s that time of year again . . . fall!

and we have just the thing to make the best of advancing chilly evenings and mornings—a cute hat and mitt set with matching scarf; take one or more as needed.

this fall set knits up super-fast in an entertaining openwork pattern that provides just the perfect layer of warmth for the season—not too much, not too little.

and it’s cute, too; warm, but light and fun—i know i’m not ready for bulletproof knits just yet.

what more could we ask for?

well, maybe one of romi’s metal stick pins to keep everything in place as prettily as possible, yes?

or maybe, a discount on this yummy yarn?
susan has generously offered one—use the coupon code “fallberry” to get 10% off your entire yarn order at slackford studio through december 20th.

shown above: size small in the deliciously squishy 8-ply pathway sport merino from slackford studio, in colorway from dusk til dawn.

and below, size large knit up again in pathway sport, this time in colorway roast carrots

to purchase pattern or view complete pattern information, please click here to visit the product page in the knitspot pattern shop.

susan at slackford studio has such terrific yarn in wonderfully cheerful colorways. she dyes on a very nice selection of yarn bases, some of them very luxurious (she dyed the yarn for our aria delicato scarf, mmm). she’s been hard at work stocking up her online shop with pathway for this release, but don’t forget to look at her other offerings while you’re there.

once again, our dear friend agnes cheerfully contributed her expertise by test knitting the purple samples, while i knit the orange ones. and when we were finished, we traded! i just love my dusk til dawn set; i feel so lucky to be able wear agnes’s work.

and our pattern release would not be complete without beautiful photos, taken at the farm of our friends helena and kris, who modeled for us, along with a few critter friends.

aren’t they just adorable? we are so lucky and grateful to work with such lovely and talented women.

and of course, kudos to david for getting so many beautiful shots; he’s a magician behind the lens.

knitter’s fare

Posted on 26 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events, designing, projects

whoa, these are some BIG tomatoes aren’t they?? and believe me they taste as good as they look. these are gift from james, who is lise’s husband—his garden is producing much better tomatoes than mine at home is this year and he kindly dropped off a bag to me yesterday, so i could have some good eats while i’m here in waterloo, ontario.

i arrived last friday as the guest of shall we knit? yarn shop and the kitchener waterloo knitters’ guild.

but i feel like i’m the guest of the whole city—waterloo is a wonderful university town with a wealth of interesting things to see and some great outdoor spaces to explore—most of them just outside my door. i was here last year in june and have been very much looking forward to returning.

first up on my week-long agenda was a trunk show/meet and greet in the shall we knit? booth during knitters fair, which took place this past weekend.

i arrived pretty early in toronto, having left our house at 4 am to catch the plane and was ready for a good nap by the time i reached my room. feeling refreshed afterward, i headed over to the shop for the friday evening knit n chat, where quite a crowd was spread out between the porch and the back room. i got right down to knitting and chatting and then totally forgot to take photos, ack.

having spent most of my travel time on a secret project and not wanting to divulge its details in public, i worked on the blümchen sleeve i have going.

i think i added several inches to it that evening, but sleeves, as you know, are long; it won’t look like i’m making any real progress on these for a while.

after the knit n chat, i met up with karen, lynne, lise, and tom at the knitters fair venue, where they were putting the finishing touches on the booth. it’s quite a production to recreate the yarn shop in a temporary space so that it feels like the real shop and the SWK staff does a beautiful job each time.

(aren’t they adorable in their aprons and pearls??)
with most everything installed, we headed home for a good night’s sleep to be fresh for the next morning—which was show day.

all that was left to do was unpack the trunk show and shop samples for the displays. here are a couple shops of us in the booth during those last few quiet moments, when the shelves were still full and everything was in its place.

just before the big flurry of activity after the doors were opened

the booth was thronged with customers all day—it was wonderful and exhilarating to be part of it.

i was scheduled for two hour-long meet and greets, where i got to talk to some knitters who already know me and some knitters who don’t; i enjoyed helping some of them choose project yarn in the booth or patterns to go with yarn they purchased, and just chatting or signing patterns as well.

this is jennifer, who is in our fall in full color project club, wearing her finished longshadows scarf in spirit trail nona, which was the august club project. isn’t she lovely in it?

she was so excited to share it and i was thrilled to see one in the wild.

during the times i was not in the booth, i was free to wander the show and there were a number of friends to visit as well and vendors who were new to me.

here i am with roxanne, whose zen yarn garden yarns are some of my favorites. roxanne has bouncy sock yarn that i know for sure is included in mister knitspot’s lineup of favorite socks as well as several woolgirl clubs.

and she has lovely lace and fingering yarn in luxury blends for myriad other projects. above is her serenity 20, a merino/cashmere/silk 2-ply lace (almost fingering) yarn in colorway frosted kiwi. mmmmmm.

and below, serenity silk single, another delicious merino/cashmere/silk blend, this time in a single-ply yarn that maximizes the softness; shown here in colorway frosted teal. can’t wait to try this one out . . .

just next door to roxanne, kathy had her zig zag stitches booth set up with all manner of project bags.

as you know, i am something of a project bag ho and true to self, i not only had a little fall down in kathy’s booth, but i managed to cheat on michele at the same time—how could i??

well, it was totally unfair to put the bike bags right out front, for one thing. and yes, michele has this fabric too, but i caved when i saw it in person (i’m trying to make up with my bike, which dumped me a few weeks ago, sob).

it could have been worse—she also had owls and poodles but since i saved her booth for the very end of the day, someone else beat me to them and i managed not to get snared into buying more than one (this time).

a little further along, i ran into marcia white

whose needlearts bookshop is one of my favorite places to shop for unusual or hard-to-find needlework books. i bought all of my japanese stitch dictionaries from her and i see she has some great new titles and reissues coming in soon that i’ll want for my library.

it was good to meet marcia in person—we’ve communicated by email for a few years, so it was with much pleasure that i got to see her this weekend.

around the corner was the purple purl booth—hugs and kisses all around; it was nice to touch base with them (i visited their shop last june as well).

now, THAT was all just in one room of the show . . . there was a whole other show floor down the hall a bit.

and the first person i saw there was kim from indigo dragonfly—who has some of the most beautiful (and popular) hand-dyed yarn in canada. she and her husband ron are well-known for the clever names they give to their gorgeous colorways; i’m very fond of their special brand of humor.

i dunno why i don’t have any of kim’s yarn (it’s one of those strange happenstances that i keep meaning to fix), but we did talk about the luscious new polwarth/silk blend she’s working with and what a great sweater that would make . . . so maybe in the near future, eh?

very close by i saw a booth that made my heart go pitty pat—hubbert farms beautiful display of yarn and fiber in all natural colorways of alpaca and gotland, from pale gray to fawn to charcoal. sigh—i just love me some neutrals . . .

and there was jody, who i know from the blog, excited as all get-out to share her beautiful lace shawls knit in her own handspun alpaca yarn. wow

her yarns are spun from some of the fiber blends available on the hubbert website, a couple of which she shared with me so i could show them to you

this little beauteous bump is a blend of brown aplaca, gray gotland wool and silk—just look at the depth created by mixing rich brown and charcoal gray, mmmm

now this is very special—i believe jody carded this for me herself, so it’s not necessarily something that’s available on the site or in the booth, but wow, isn’t it lovely? i am so honored to be carrying this home with me; i can’t wait to spin it. i really need to carve out more time for spinning in my week somehow . . . sigh.

next door to the hubbert booth was another wonderland of natural color at hopeful shetland

michele minty doesn’t have an online shop, but she does have some of the softest and nicest shetland spinning fiber i’ve ever touched, so it’s worth the trouble to contact her through her blog to find out more, or to hunt for her booth at local fiber shows.

she also offers some lovely shetland blends and crosses; i purchased two small bags of shetland/BFL cross blended with silk. it was the softest thing in the booth and i couldn’t resist, mmm.

at the end of that aisle was the gemini fibres booth, which i was not familiar with before, but the display stopped me in my tracks. i’m not a spindler at all but i know there are those of you out there that will appreciate the view i had of their spindle array on saturday morning, just before the doors opened.

i couldn’t even fit it all in the photo!

as i rounded into the last aisle, i saw some concentrated activity in a few places, which is a sure sign that a popular up and coming dyer or fiber producer is in the vicinity.

and sure enough, there was tanis fiber arts, mentioned recently by mister knitspot in his review of favorite socks (i used tanis purple label cashmere sock to knit his cinderblock socks).

tanis has a luscious new single-ply fingering yarn called red label cash silk single, which she was test marketing at the fair. of course i accepted on to bring home to show you—i love this chestnut colorway, thank you tanis!

next to tanis, i saw tabi ferguson showing her intimate sericin collection of luxury fiber blends, handspun skeins, and richly hand-dyed silk yarns.

that shot was taken in a still moment before the doors opened, but a few minutes later, her booth was packed as shoppers made a beeline for her very selective offerings that disappear all too quickly.

i can’t help but enjoy seeing people clamor for the work of someone i know; it’s a wonderful aspect of our community that we can share in each other’s peak moments.

i have a couple of incredible sericin batts at home as well as a beautiful skein of handspun, beaded yarn. i’ve been saving both for the perfect project, but really, it would be much better to use them!

oooh, i have to get going here to organize my talk for the guild tonight, so i’m going to show one last vendor and then skedaddle

viola is another emerging hand-dye company that i’ve been hearing wonderful things about, so i was excited to see that emily, the dye artist at the heart of the label, had a booth at the show

and there she was, right across the aisle from tabi, with a big smile on her face and a booth loaded with charm, cashmere, mohair, and soft merino—what’s not to love?

i’ll leave you to ponder that while i scoot—there are still spots open for my classes at shall we knit? later this week; please join us if you can!


Posted on 36 CommentsPosted in patterns

ten months ago i wrote excitedly about the publication of my leaving sweater pattern in the winter issue of twist collective and today i feel just as excited that we are now adding this pattern to our online shop, just in time for fall.

leaving is a sweater with a dual personality—the pattern includes both a cardigan AND a pullover version; you can knit one or both (i have both and i truly cannot say i prefer one over the other!).

they each have a purpose in my wardrobe—i like the cardigan because it’s dressy enough to function as a jacket, but much more comfortable for me than a structured piece.

the pullover looks nice with jeans or a skirt as a standalone piece—the fabric is truly soft and delicious against bare skin.

but the nicest feature of this sweater for me is the way it fits—close through the shoulders, bust, and sleeves, with a looser flare around the middle and hip area. not only is it a flattering shape for most figure types, but it’s easy to wear and move around in.

i’ve never been able to wear a scoop neck without worrying about it gapping, but this one works nicely—it implies a lower cut and open look, but lays nicely against my chest at all times.

shown above, the small size cardigan in woolen rabbit oasis, a 50/50 camel/silk blend, in colorway chocolate chambord.

i went to my favorite source, moving mud for the cardigan buttons—i knew their beautiful glass creations would be a wonderful finishing touch.

the pullover is shown in size small, also knit in oasis, colorway moroccan spice, while a second cardigan in size extra-small was knit in colorway birch beer, a colorway that my friend kim created just for this project (click here to read the full story).

to purchase pattern or view complete pattern information, please click here to visit the product page in the knitspot pattern shop.

many thanks go out to everyone who work on the production of this piece with me—my friend kim, the brilliant dyer, AKA the woolen rabbit, my friend karolyn whose knitting you marvel over here and on ravelry, my husband david, whose photography and filmmaking we enjoy so much, my friend tana, our inveterate tech editor and mistress of sizing, my friends ronni and anne marie—each and every one of them contributed time and talent to make this piece happen. thank you all so much!

i’m in waterloo, ontario for the next week—knitters fair is tomorrow, so if you plan to be there, please stop by the shall we knit? booth to say hello. and if you live nearby, karen has scheduled me to teach a couple of classes on wednesday and thursday evening in the shops new waterloo location (VERY nice; you should stop by); please visit their website or call the shop for more information or to register (there are still spots available!)