What’s with All the Hats and Scarves?

Today, in the frozen land that is Central Canadian prairie, the daytime temperature made it to the
lofty high of -21 C, with a windchill of -29. Just a little frosty, and even that pales in comparison to Northern Manitoba.

I’m not complaining (okay, I am) but this is pretty much standard fare for these parts, where cold descends in November and dissipates in April, give or take a May blizzard.

Hence the preponderance of warm woollies in my Etsy shop. But just because it’s cold doesn’t mean we have to dress in ten layers of clashing woollens–no, we can be fashionable AND warm. And warm doesn’t always mean bulky either. With lightweight options like alpaca and llama, outerwear can be sleek and stylish.

Fibre from the camelid family (alpaca, llama, camel and the like) is not only lighter-weight but is up to seven times as warm as sheep’s wool–and is often better tolerated by those with allergies to the lanolin found in sheep’s wool.

Alpacas…more than just pretty faces.

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Cabled up with Care

I love knitting cables…right, left, braided and woven. They add depth and interest to a garment, and add extra warmth as well. And in a climate such as mine in central Canada, that is no small consideration.

For Christmas, I received the book Aran Knitting by Alice Starmore and it is well worth the read for lovers of cables. In her book she details the history of Aran knitting and provides many beautiful and timeless patterns. I haven’t started any yet but I’ll get there one day. In the meantime, here are a few cables in my history:

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Creating a life one stitch at a time

For many years I didn’t create anything. I didn’t write creatively, didn’t draw, knit or weave. I’m not sure why–maybe I was too busy living, working, playing. Or it didn’t seem cool.

I had forgotten what it felt like to watch a garment fill the space between the needles, hear the gentle click-click-click of metal on metal, feel the satisfaction in giving something handmade and well-made.

I had learned to knit as a young child by my English mother, who learned at a young age from her mother, and so on, back through our heritage. I returned to knitting in my twenties, sweaters mostly, given to friends, or, in major lapses of judgement, to boyfriends who never seemed to last as long as it took me to knit the sweater. Ahhh youth.

Mostly I stayed in my comfort zone, knitting sweaters, using the only yarn I had really been exposed to — acrylic — available everywhere you looked. I firmly believed I was allergic to wool, despite having never really worn anything else.  Then one day I wandered into a good wool shop and found a new world of yarn, wool, all types of wool. I wasn’t an instant convert, as good wool isn’t cheap, but I ventured into Icelandic sweaters, mohair and cashmere blends.

In my mid-twenties I had had the good fortune of meeting a new friend who owned her own four-shaft floor loom. I was entranced, and even had the opportunity to buy it but didn’t have the space. But a seed had been planted deep in my soul, and a few years later, I took a weaving course, and felt a whole new world open up to me: the rhythm of throwing the shuttle and beating the weft, cloth made from my own bare hands.

It was a few decades before I was to own my own four-shaft floor loom, a Lecelerc Fanny from Canada. I added to it two rigid heddle looms from New Zealand and a weaver was born.  I also found a new favourite wool shop that opened my eyes and hands to beautiful wool from all over the world; wool that I wasn’t actually allergic to, wool that slipped through the fingers like silk, soft, squishy and beautiful.

Now I knit. I weave. I pore over books and websites for new patterns and ideas. I stockpile yarn like there might be a shortage next week. And I sell what I make to keep the yarn coming.

And now I write. Please join me on my journey, creating a life one stitch, one thread, at a time.