Thursday, 12 January 2012

It's time

Time for me to take the plunge, commit, reveal my dream to you! You may have read that rather than make resolutions, I wished for our dreams to come true in 2012. My dear friend Sonya from the Kanelstrand blog gave us all this inspiration. Another wonderful blog that I am thrilled to have found through Kanelstrand is the Everyday Inspired blog. Valerie gives us wonderful advice about staying on target, among other things! What they both tell us, and I know to be true, is that once we tell people our dream, it is much harder to give up. So here we go,

I have my very own online yarn shop!!

Ouf! I did it! There's  no going back, but this really is just the very beginning. I have mentioned before on this blog how life takes so many different turns and we do things we never expected. This adventure is no exception. I have been researching owning a retail yarn store for several years. This didn't happen overnight, but it has happened much more quickly than expected. This was my retirement plan for a brick and motar (love that expression!) shop. And now, here I am perhaps ten years from retirement with an online shop. I really couldn't be more excited, scared, but excited!

Writing and sharing this blog with you has helped me clarify my goals and values. These reflections gave me the focus, the raison d'ĂȘtre, of my shop. The following is from my about us page:

By buying yarns from Hands with Hearts you help to support any one of these causes:

  • Empowering men and women in developing countries by helping them learn a trade
  • Supporting health and education for men, women and children in developing counties
  • Encouraging the development of organic yarns
  • Protecting endangered breeds of wooly animals
  • Supporting ethical treatment of animals
  • Encouraging small farmers, dyers and spinners
  • Encouraging environmentally friendly practices in yarn production
  • Encouraging the development of sustainable natural and recycled yarns

Did you know you could do so much by making a hat or a sweater?

And we can also all help by donating to charities. At Hands with Hearts I will be encouraging you to donate to different charities with bonuses for you of course!
If you or friends are spinners or dyers and would like to sell on Hands with Hearts, please contact me.
If you have a special charity that you care about and would like to publicize, please let me know.

My first box arrived today! Yes!!

Gorgeous Be Sweet yarn!


  So, this is day one. Please follow the link to the shop. There are no products for sale yet, but you will get an idea of what's in store (couldn't avoid the pun!). Please sign up for my mailing list. I will keep you up to date on new arrivals and there will be special discounts for subscribers only.

I will continue to discuss fiber here. I may have to change my original plan of doing things linearly - one country, one yarn, but I will still share my discoveries with you. I will also be sharing the progress of starting a business with you. If I can do this, anyone can! 

Here's to 2012 and making all your dreams come true!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Secrets 7 and 8 of the Laidback Knitters

Our continuing series is nearing the end! I decided to share secrets seven and eight together because, for me, they really do go hand in hand.

Secret number 7

Value the partnership in knitting
between knitter and designer, and welcome the handclasp of two.

Chapter seven explores the partnerships in knitting. There is an implicit partnership between all knitting designers and all knitters. This partnership implies responsibilities on both sides. This means that to be a laidback knitter (enjoy what we are doing and create things we love), we have to respect certain rules and choose patterns that respect certain rules.
For the knitter - you know the drill: swatch, swatch, swatch! I am as guilty, or maybe guiltier, than everyone else. We just don't like to swatch. We want to dig in, get that project going, not waste time swatching! We only make that mistake once, putting hours into a project that turns into a disaster because we didn't respect the designer's gauge.
Pick a project for your skill level or be ready to stay calm if things get tricky!

For the designer - write clearly. Use the same terms and abbreviations throughout the project. Show us pictures, emphasis on the S. I am currently making a hat with my first bobbles. "I can cable, I can bobble I said to myself"! Obviously it's not going as well as I had hoped and the pattern I am using shows the hat from an angle so that we only see one bobble repeat. It would really help me to see the whole hat.

The moral:  As knitters, we have our part in success, but simply because a pattern is written down by someone, it doesn't mean that it is well written. Anyone know how to say Let the knitter beware! in Latin?

Secret number 8

Learn to soar patternless and feel the freedom!

Chapter eight is another chapter that really speaks to me. I have not been knitting that long, and I have tons of patterns, paper and digital. I actually learn a great deal about knitting from reading patterns, but I also have so many because I am always looking for that "perfect" pattern. I never imagined that I would make my own patterns, quite presumptuous don't you think? No, as it turns out, no!
My own private knitting classes!

Two years ago (again, late in life) I met (through the miracle of DVD) Elizabeth Zimmermann and her daughter Meg Swanson and they changed my knitting life! We should do a poll to see how many people have shared this experience. I'm sure the number is in the millions! Don't be embarrassed if you haven't heard of them. Just look them up. Better yet, watch their DVD's. Elizabeth Zimmermann was the most important figure in American knitting in the 20th century. She and her daughter Meg (one of my favorite scenes is the two of them knitting the same sweater together - amazing!) knit garments that I could never imagine knitting, and yet, they would both say, "of course you can!" 

My knitting "bibles"

Knitting isn't voodoo, it's logical. Take your time, make your calculations and knit! Elizabeth developed a percentage system, known as the EPS (Elizabeth's percentage system) which allows you to create any sweater for any body. Anyone can design a sweater with this simple system, really. Sweaters can become very complicated, lace, colors, patterns, etc. but what we need to know is how much to cast on, when and where to increase and decrease and that is what EPS tells you.

So, if you want to design your own sweaters patterns, start with the "Knitting Workshop". There are many more references, many listed in chapter eight, but you can go a long way with Elizabeth Zimmermann and Meg Swanson before needing others!
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