Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Olavia's pattern club

Happy Muharram!

I enjoy every aspect of knitwear design: planning the design, choosing the yarn, knitting the prototype, writing the rough draft, editing, and completing the new pattern. I always look forward to interacting with the knitting community: knitters, yarn shop retailers, yarn manufacturers/producers, publication editors, and fellow knitwear designers. I have a special appreciation for Patricia's Yarn Cabin on Vancouver Island in BC. Patricia was the first yarn shop to carry my designs.

My baby steps as a knitwear designer were challenging. I look back over these past three years in amazement. Due to the support I received from you I have grown as a designer. This support has helped me see that my work has value and that my dream of becoming a full-time designer can become reality. For this, I am deeply grateful.

Knitwear designers add excitement to knitting with new concepts, techniques, and shapes. We envision what has yet to be.

In a recent survey conducted by Patons', 47%, of those polled, reported that the number one item knitters look for in yarn shops is new patterns.

My passion to develop new patterns lead me to form Olavia's ,monthly pattern club. For a minimal fee, I will send you one new pattern per month.

"Love the patterns you have sent" writes Shirley T. a member of the club.

You are all invited to join the club. When you join, I will email you all the patterns you have missed so far.

Without knitters there would be no knitwear designers.

Tomorrow's: The Reader's Digest version.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Taking your knitting for a spin

Read the essay Tales of a Knitting Neophyte which is one of a collection included in For the Love of Knitting A Celebration of the Knitter's Art In the essay, Kari Cornell laments that, having never knit, all she really wanted was yarn and needles. She was overwhelmed by the idea of actually having to select a pattern. Had she asked me I would have encouraged her to stick with the yarn and needles. Play with them. Make them her own.

"How do you decide what to buy if you don't have a pattern to guide your purchase?" The answer: go with what feels comfortable. My personal preference is a medium size needle and then of course you would buy a medium weight yarn to accompany it.

It may sound strange for a knitwear designer to advise against buying a pattern. However, I know the charm of the yarn. You see when I began to knit I would amaze family and friends by knitting for hours only to cheerfully frog (rip apart) the entire creation. At that early stage, it was the process not the product that was key for me. This resulted in fine, near-prefect tension. It lead to a life long passion for knitting "things".

So by all means take your knitting out for a spin. I, your humble knitwear designer, will be here when you need me.

Meanwhile, I will take my electric bike out for a spin. Thankfully,Mother Nature decided to calm down and shower us with sunshine.
It's about the journey not the destination.

Tomorrow: Olavia's monthly pattern club.
Happy Muharram! Muharram is the first year of the Islamic new year. Learn more about this important day by logging on to this site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muharram

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Happy Lunar New Year

It is the year of the dog 4704 and people all over the world are celebrating. I am told that there is a huge celebration in Vancouver, BC. I too am celebrating. The year of the dog promises to be a lucky one for me. You see I was born in the year of the tiger. (What about you? What is your animal are you a pig, a dragon, or a rat. Figure it out by logging on to this site: http://www.c-c-c.org/chineseculture/zodiac/zodiac.html )Tigers and Dogs are compartiable and so I am in luck.

I already feel lucky. I am supported by a pride that loves me. I am receiving emails from thoughtful and caring people. I am filling orders and finishing new designs. All these things make for a very happy me. Added to this is my latest toy. ...more about what lurks under this trap in my next post.

About my next post: Mother Nature is threatening to challenge us with another wind storm. Unfortunately, this usually means that our internet connection is cut. If this happens please remember I want to blog ...but can't.Here's hoping my luck holds and I can blog tomorrow.

It is bad luck to touch sharp objects on Lunar New Year so you will notice that I have not referrred to the "k" word in this post. Why tempt fate.

Next post: Taking your knitting for a spin.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Where to knit?

The answer, for me, is, "anywhere you can - any time you can."

during a hockey game (because I'm a Canadian gal)
on the ferry
while hubby and his bro play (sometimes I even sing along while knitting ...a rare treat for all : ) )
outside while enjoying beautiful Mayne Island
Surprise! Surprise! Even in my studio. Go figure.
I haven't knit in Australia...yet...but I have dreamt about it. This cute little guy was given to me by a living, breathing, in the flesh Australian.

Happy Australia day!

Learn more about the day: http://www.australiaday.gov.au/

Tomorrow: My knitting haven

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Did I say that?

A project in grade twelve English directed us to present our favourite poet. I have never lost my passion for Robert Burns. He had a hard life. He died poor. Yet the poems he wrote to honour his people will live forever.

"To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough
The best-laid schemes o'mice an' men
Gang aft agley"
Oh, yes, Robert I know of what you write. I had the best intentions when I started this blog. Yet, I find I must retrace my steps. I must scrap off some mud which has collected on my boots.
Please allow me to take a closer look at what I've said and clear up some misdirections.

First of all I have stated that acrylic yarn is not suitable for a garter stitch sweater because it stretchs.

Well, I knit this sweater in garter stitch using Paton's Melody Quick & Cozy at least five years ago and it has yet to stretch.

Second, I stated that you could tell what weight of yarn you had by looking at the needles required. Well, there is an easier why than that. Do you see the "4" in the picture? Well, this "4" stands for Worsted, Afghan, Aran yarn. There are numbers from "1" to "6". "1" indicates sock, fingering, baby yarn. "2" indicates sport, baby yarn. "3" indicates double knit, light worsted. "4" we have addressed. "5" indicates chunky, craft, rug yarn. "6" indicates bulky, roving. Allow me to praise the wise person who developed this method.

Lastly, I joked in a recent post that a way to obtain free yarn was to use a Mother's love. Though it was written in jest I would not want anyone to think for a moment that I would advice this as a way to obtain yarn. ...and besides men knit: www.menknit.net So why waste time on Mom. ...just kidding.

Tomorrow's post: Where to knit

Happy Australia day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Winding yarn re-visited

Okay, so I introduced you to Hank. ...but not all yarn arrives to you as hank.
Some yarn is sold to you like this. If your yarn does look like this. Start winding your ball by pulling the yarn from the inside.
On the other hand, some yarn is sold like this. If so start winding your ball by pulling the yarn from the outside. I live by the KISS (keep it simple sweetie) principle. So if it is easier for me to find the end on the outside I start there. If the inside end is easier to find I start there. This is a tried and true method. If I fail to follow this advise I end up with a big mess.

Oh, yes, and by the way, Steven Harpur of the Conservative party is our new Prime Minister. It is a minority government so he will have to play nice with his friends. To honour our new PM, I have finished the many shades of blue children's sweater. Cute, eh? Yes, indeed, I am working on the spring collection. I will keep you posted. Wish me luck.

Tomorrow's post: 'Did I say that?': I rehash somethings
Also have a happy Robert Burn's Day http://www.robertburns.org/

Monday, January 23, 2006

Colour: politics and knitting

Today is the day that we Canadians decide who will lead our country. Who will I vote for? I have no idea. I know the basic philosophy behind each party.
Liberals think bleeding heart liberals: social responsibility - all that jazz.
Conservatives: think business
New Demonstrates: a voice for the working man.
The Green Party: a voice for mother nature.
Hey, I just had an idea. Each party has chosen a colour to represent it.
Liberals: red
Conservatives: blue
New Demonstrates: orange
The Green Party: green
Maybe it would help if I approached this problem as if I were choosing a colour for a sweater.
I like red ...but years and years and years of wearing the same colour sweater can get boring. Maybe it's time for a change. Besides there were a few problems with the consistency of dye lot. The yarn producer says that they have solved the problem but can I believe them?
Yes, but maybe not this colour blue. Is it truly the best colour for me? ...what colour is it anyway? It's so washed out that no one can tell.
Orange. I don't know too much of it can get a little overwhelming. It's best to keep it as a trim. Maybe around the collar and cuffs.
Green. I do like it. Unfortunately, I just don't have enough to make an entire sweater. I'm afraid, if I mix it with other colours the little I have will just get lost.
Okay so that didn't work. I will vote. ...but I'm still not sure for who.

Next post: Another ball game: winding yarn re-visited.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Cheap/free yarn

The beauty of living on an island is that when ever you leave you take an ocean voyage. On Friday, I did just this. My venturing forth was well rewarded.

Before I tell you of this adventure we do need to get one thing straight. The goal of this post is not to advise you to buy cheap yarn. Cheap yarn makes your project look cheap. The goal is to supply you with tips on how to find quality yarn for less or free.

Always, always buy/ obtain yarn that has a yarn band.

Okay, on to my latest adventure.

Right about now yarn shops are changing from fall/winter stock to spring/summer stock. This means that many are holding yarn sales. So I would advise you to run not walk to your nearest yarn shop. This is what I did and this is what I got.

If now is not the time for your local shops sale it will be coming soon. There is nothing wrong with enquiring about the date.

Search the web for sites which advertise yarn for less. Be very caution when buying yarn this way. Remember that you will not be able to see the quality of the yarn until after the purchase. So look for name brands that have a good track record.

Thrift shops often sell wool sweaters. You can buy these sweaters, unravel them, and then use the wool to knit a new project.

Here is an excellent how-to site: http://www.az.com/~andrade/knit/thrifty.html

Another way is to save on yarn is to open a yarn shop. However, be forewarned, starting any kind of business is a lot of work. ...and sadly, doesn't always end well. Do your homework when deciding to make such a career decision. More about this topic in future posts.

Okay so that's quality yarn for less. How about free yarn?

-Knit for charity. Advertise this fact. Ask for donations.

-Tell your Grandma that you are learning to knit. Many older people reach a point in their lives when they no longer can engage in crafts. This sad transition is made easier when they realize they can pass on their craft to the younger generation. Chances are that Grandma would be delighted to pass on her stash.

-Ask a friend who spins to dinner. Over desert mention your new passion: knitting. Suggest that you would be interested in working with her yarn.

-Start dating the guy with the nicest hand knit sweaters. Ask to meet Mom. Mention to Mom that you would love to knit her son a sweater. Enquire if she would have any yarn in her stash that she would be willing to share. Whispers of this sweater will no doubt scare off the geek. Leaving you holding the yarn. This solution should be attempted with caution. Make sure you have yarn in hand before breaking it off with sonny-boy. : )

-Throw a party for fellow crafters. In the invitation instruct invitees to bring craft items which they no longer use. Say for example, a scarpbooker who thought they were a knitter can finally get rid of that yarn.

Looking ahead for a moment to when you are an intermediate level knitter. One way to save on yarn would be to offer to knit samples or teach a class at your local yarn shop. In appreciate for your service, suggest that they offer you a per-centage off your yarn purchases.

Next post:

Colour: politics and knitting.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Yarn on the net

The internet is the great equalizer. Access to a computer allows both rural and urban knitters to shop until they drop.

Here are some sites which make this possible.

Yarndex www.yarndex.com
Goal: 'to present every quality yarn from all manufacturers across the globe in a single source that is easy to search, intuitive and that provides quick results to Yarndex users.'

Yarn Forward www.yarnfwd.com
They have a site for Canadian, American, and UK knitters. Each site is linked.

Elann.com http://secure.elann.com/yarn.asp

Yesterday, hubby and I went off island. Once home, I discovered... Joey, our Manx queen, purring away.

More on our ocean voyage tomorrow when our topic will be:

Cheap/free yarn

Until then let me leave you with a joke:

Mom: "Oh, NO, I dropped a stitch!"

Child: "Don't worry, Mom, you have lots more."

...I know...I know...I'll keep my day job.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Where to obtain yarn: rural and urban

In the yarn game there is a division between rural and urban.

Seen through rural eyes, an urban knitter need only open their front door to venture forth into the world of yarn. Rural knitters envision yarn shops on every corner.

The reality may be sadly different. With big box stores vying for customers, establishing a small independent yarn shop is not easy. Urban knitters chant, "Support your local yarn shop."

Rural knitters respond, "We would love to." Often shopping for yarn for a rural knitter requires a long drive to the nearest city. This shopping trip is squeezed between a long list of tasks. Not for the rural knitter a day devoted to visiting a multitude of yarn shops.
In order for me to visit my favourite yarn shop, I must travel by ferry for an hour.

If the rural knitter is truly blessed they may have a yarn producer in their area. On Mayne Island we have two: Hatake and Meadowmist Farm.

Next post: yarn on your net

Thursday, January 19, 2006


I don't own a spinning wheel ...yet.

The process involved in transforming this
fleece into
wool is pure alchemy in my eyes.

I have had the opportunity to try two spinning wheel. May I say, spinners are patient, empathic, encouraging people. ...and even though I felt rather awkward I was stung. Now I have the sickness. I am tormented (read delighted) by dreams of spinning my own yarn to knit my own designs.

I do not own an angora bunny. ...but this gal can dream. I fantasize about bunnies happily hoping around like little yawn mowers in our front yard. I fantasize about the beautiful hand knits created from their fibre.

As a couple, hubby and I are ying and yang. Me with my head in the clouds. He with his feet firmly planted on the earth. We do not own bunnies. He does not share my dream. ...yet.

Do you remember our lint yarn? Well, I discovered today that not only did we create yarn but we created single ply lint yarn. Cool, eh?

This yarn has three plies.

Learn more...

Check out Michele Lock's article: Why ply? [and how!] http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEfall05/FEATwhyply.html

...and Wendy Chatley Green's article: Frequently asked questions about the stringy stuff hanging from needles and hooks http://www.woolworks.org/fibers.html

Share my dream. Here's a good place to start: Angora Rabbits: The wool Industry's Pride and Joy by Victoria Varga http://www.homestead.org/LivestockDirectory/VictoriaVargas/AngoraRabbits.htm

Next post: Where to obtain yarn: rural and urban

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Secrets, we all have them. One of mine is hidden behind this cupboard door. Are you ready? In a moment I will reveal it. Brace yourself. Please don't think less of me.

Lint. Yes, lint. Why? I don't really know. It's not like I set out to collect it. And yet after every wash day the pile grows bigger. I once had grand plans of sharing it with the birds. Lint nests in the trees beautifying our island thanks to me. I have never followed through on my plans. I have never filled the birdfeeders left by the old owners either. Why? Because I like birds ...so do my three cats. I like them in an "aren't they pretty flying around, singing" vegetarian sort-of-way. My cats like them in a "nibble, nibble, burp" sort-of way. I don't want to endanger the vulnerable population of island birds.
Say, for example, by distracting the birds with birdseed or lint.
Speaking of lint, this lint maybe helpful in exploring how fibres are twisted together to form yarn.

This is rather full of technical jargon so try to stay with me. The first thing I did was pull the clump of lint apart to form smaller clumps.

I then twisted these clumps together. Try it yourself its fun. If you knit a sweater or afghan with your lint yarn please take a picture. I would love to see it.

Now I will throw my lint away. I promise. See...

Next post: Spun

Today is weedless Wednesday in Canada: Lay down your lighter. Pick up your knitting needles. One day at a time.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

And what are yarns made of ...?

Technically speaking, you should never refer to acrylic yarn as wool. However, you can refer to wool as yarn. Further, the correct term for Alpaca and Llama yarns if fibre.

How can you tell the contents of your wool/yarn/fibre? Once again I refer you to your yarn band.
Contents: Llama/wool 70/30

I caution you against acquiring yarn that has no known contents. If you do acquire this yarn you must solve many mysteries upper most - care. Wools and other natural fibres require different care than does synthetic yarns.

There are ways to determine the contents of a yarn. This topic will be left for future posts.

Here is a brief list of wools/yarns/fibres which you may have the pleasure to cast on:

Ragg wool
Lopi wool, Alpaca, Angora, Camel, Cashmere, Llama
Hemp/wool blend, hemp, banana silk, bamboo
Silk /Linen blend, silk, soy silk, linen, cotton, organic cotton, plant fibres
Acrylic, novelty yarn, polyamide (nylon), polyester, rayon.
Self-striping opal yarn

Here are some informative sites:





Tomorrow's post: Twisted

Monday, January 16, 2006


Rain...wet...annoying...rain. It's back. ...and we all are so very pleased. Who me complain? Okay, moving on.

Picture yourself in the safety and security of your favourite knitting nook. An oh so comfortable easy chair. Your legs resting comfortably on a over-stuffed stool. Your hands enjoying the luxury of yarn. Paradise. ...until. Oh, no,

you encounter a knot

or a colour spot (a discontinuity of colour in the yarn)

You must leave the harmony of paradise and travel into no man's land. Just where did you leave those scissors any way? The peace is broken.

The wise advise that this scenario need not occur. If you simply make a yarn ball. Please, don't ask me how many times I follow their advice.

I have shared how I make a ball, in my post: You and Hank (January 11th)

Here is how Joyknits makes a centre pull yarn ball: www.joyknits.com/knitbits.html

Sometimes as an artist you have to face rejection. You have to suffer the sting of being "unwanted". It's not easy.

The editors of KnitLit III attempted to make it as easy as possible. They stated that they enjoyed my submission but that due to "space and thematic constraints" they just couldn't squeeze me in. They concluded with " We hope that you go on writing". I was so excited. Linda Roghaar and Molly Wolf, talented editors, thought I showed talent. I was excited, until hubby pointed out that it was probably a form email. Sometimes its better to be naive. Never mind, I am continuing to write and this morning I began to enjoy... I plan to read one story each morning.

Word of advice: don't skip the introduction.

Tomorrow: Don't say "Wool" say "Yarn": more yarn exploration.