My friend Meghan, is beautiful, fearless, smart, fun, and a darn good knitter!!  About this time last year, she set out on the task of knitting her husband a sweater.  The challenge….Brooklyn Tweeds Svenson using Brooklyn Tweeds Arbor in colorway Dorado, purchased at Churchmouse Yarns & Teas.  Meghan had never done cables before, and a mans sweater is a lot of knitting anyway.  She did a beautiful job, and the fit is perfect, and so is this picture.  Aren’t they all a lovely family?  Yes, she’s Wonder Woman, for real…Meghan even made the girls dresses using fabric from Liberty of London!  You are so inspirational Meghan (((hugs))).

Isle of Innisfree

Mel is a local gal (to me here in the PNW), that is a member of our Ravelry group — why yes, we have a Ravelry group.  It started out small, but it’s growing all the time.  She knit these lively St. Patrick’s Day socks for herself.  I think they are wonderful.  Anyone who knows me, knows I love all things Irish!  AND I love this picture – cute!!

The pattern is the Basic Sock by Churchmouse Yarns & Teas.  It is a basic pattern with options to switch it up while learning to knit socks.  The yarn that Mel used is Abi Grasso SelfStriping Sock Yarn  that was designed especially for St. Patrick’s Day.  This yarn  is available on Etsy, but maybe some of these indy dyers will work more with the yarn shops, so they can sell unique yarns to the masses.  Just ask your LYS for some self striping sock yarn, and definitely start with this Churchmouse pattern if you are a first timer.  The Churchmouse patterns are now sold in many yarn shops around the world actually.

Nice work Mel, and thanks for sharing with us~

These are a few of my favorite things……

Some time back, I purchased Shannon Cooks Bradway pattern, and proceeded to purchase the yarn for the project at Churchmouse Yarns & Teas.  Jane Richmond and Shannon Cook traveled from Victoria, BC Canada down to Bainbridge Island, in Washington state, USA!  They were signing books and patterns and hanging out at the store.  I went to the event mainly to get a booked signed for Carmel, as she just loves Jane Richmond.  Well, both gals were delightful.  I went with a couple of friends, and we were having a great time — we were at the yarn shop, looking at yarn, talking, laughing, checking everything out.  Up comes Shannon Cook and she introduces herself to us.  She was so friendly, it was as if we already knew her.  Well, I bought her pattern (Bradway) too.

I really am not a shawl person.  But, I bought a book, the pattern, and some other stuff, and we had a great time.  Shortly thereafter, the Bradway just exploded.  Everyone was making it, and there was a knit-along at the Churchmouse.  Well, I thought about it and looked at all the colors in Shelter by Brooklyn Tweed, and came up with three colors that I liked.

It was a really fun knit.  I love the way Shannon Cook writes patterns.  She tells you exactly what she wants you to do, right down to the way she wants you to bind it off.  She is not a lazy designer.  It wasn’t difficult or hard, it wasn’t tiny yarn that took forever, it was worsted (but not heavy).  It clipped right along, growing all the time.  It was ever changing and not boring.  She even told you how to block it out.

So many things are left to the knitter with some patterns.  Some of the projects look great, some don’t.  If you follow Shannon’s directions, there is no reason why your shawl shouldn’t look great too!

So, my favorite things:

  • Worsted – so it clips along, but Shelter….so it’s not heavy or bulky
  • Three colors and varied stitches, so it’s not boring
  • How to cast on, how to knit all the stitches, how to bind off, and how to block
  • Photos so you can see just how to wear it, many different ways
  • A friendly responsive designer that feels like your new best friend
  • A great new shawl to add to the wardrobe (or a damn impressive gift)

I follow Churchmouse Yarns & Teas and Shannon Cook on Instagram!

*Happy Anniversary to CHURCHMOUSE YARNS & TEAS*

Churchmouse Yarns & Teas, located on beautiful Bainbridge Island, in the state of Washington, is celebrating 17 years in business!  The store started out as an up-scale yarn shop, and they have grown to a destination yarn shop visited by knitters and designers from around the world.  In addition to their lovely store, and fabulous selection of yarns, they have a fine line of patterns that are sold in yarn shops far and near.  The store teaches knitting along with lots of other classes.  They have trunk shows, events and retreats, and hold a sizable on-line presence.

Their style is classic, and tasteful simplicity!  Their patterns are timeless and ageless (except for their wee ones line).  Their staff is sweet and knowledgeable, and their brand…..inspiring!

Living in western Washington myself, I have access to lots of fine yarn shops…all different.  Fortunately, for me, getting to Churchmouse Yarns & Teas is an easy 25 minute drive for me.  Those of us frequent patrons have simple names for the business.  Lots of us, simply say Churchmouse, others fondly refer to the store as ‘the Mouse’.  And we further refer to the employees as ‘mice’.

This success, didn’t just happen — the store started with a business plan, works very hard, and hasn’t stagnated – they’ve grown.  Last weekend was their latest pattern launch, and this weekend, they celebrated their anniversary.  Churchmouse has a facebook page, and they also a Ravelry group, and are on all forms of social media.  I encourage you to follow them on their journey, and I hope that you are lucky enough to be able to visit their lovely store some day soon.  Congratulations to Kit & John, and all the mice, on your anniversary.

Here’s to 17 more years!!

World Wide Knit In Public Day

World Wide Knit In Public Day is a notion that is already, mostly a common practice for knitters, I believe.  Never the less, it’s fun to have a day during the calendar year that knitters can plan to spend, doing what they love.  For me, I guess, the most astonishing aspect of this special day, is that it’s a world wide concept.  That is significant!

I think the development of Ravelry has really brought the world together…the stitching world.  With all the groups, designers, focus on yarns, and patterns, and a way to organize your projects, and even your stash, you search for a project made with a certain yarn and find that the person that knit that project lives in Canada, or New Zealand, or Ireland, Japan or Norway.  It’s an amazing world wide thing!

Back to the concept of knitting in public, it is in some regards what knitting is all about.  It’s a great creative outlet for sure, but it’s a way to keep hands busy.  If you hate to just sit on the ferry boat on your way to work, or the bus or train.  If you hate to just sit there waiting for the doctors appointment (my all time high was 2 hours, and that was pre-knitting).  In those instances, we are knitting in public.  I have to admit though, when I am knitting in public, I could look around and not see a single person knitting, or crocheting.  It has made me wonder, with 7 million members on Ravelry (that is a world wide figure, and not every knitter is even on Ravelry), and 1,044 yarn shops in the USA alone, why don’t you see more people knitting in public?

I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know that World Wide Knit In Public Day is every year in June.  Even though it’s a busy time of year with kids getting out of school and graduations and Fathers Day around the corner.  I always go to the event that the Churchmouse Yarns & Teas holds.  Cold or warm (yes, sometimes it’s cold in June in the Pacific Northwest), we have a great time.  They serve us tea and cookies, we shop, visit, knit and the passers by look on and notice what we are all doing, and some even stop to say hello and look at our work.  I think it does help the craft.  It’s like a small planted seed into the minds of others.

If you know of a World Wide Knit In Public Event or get invited to one, you should strongly consider going.  It’s fun and part of the wonderful community of stitching.  These are pictures from this years event held on Bainbridge Island, at Churchmouse Yarns & Teas!  If you have any pictures you took, email them to me and I will add them to this post.  Calling Alaska, California, Texas, New York, Idaho, Vermont and all the states – we’d love to add your photos.  You can click on any of these photos to see their larger form~

Brooklyn Tweed’s Arbor & Charity Knitting at the Churchmouse

Last week Arbor was released by Brooklyn Tweed!  It was everywhere on social media, and I was curious.  Worsted spun construction, what does this mean…I’d never heard of it before.  I had seen the color selection, and in the photos, the yarn looked soft.  Is that possible for something to look soft.  Well anyway, fortunately for me a local yarn shop, Churchmouse Yarns & Teas, carries the full Brooklyn Tweed collection — so I decided to take my camera, and drive to Bainbridge Island and check out this yarn for myself.

I love that Jared’s yarn is made in the United States.  It really means a lot to me.  I’ve enjoyed the Shelter, Loft & Quarry.  I have never knit with Plains (yet).  So, dk weight, I wondered if it would have the same construction as the others, but no.  There are 30 colors from which to choose, and it breaks down like this: 50 grams | 145 yards | DK weight

  • 100% Montana & South Dakota-grown Targhee wool
  • Dyed in Saco, Maine. Spun in Springvale, Maine

Here is where the story shifts a bit… while I was there at Churchmouse, there was a large gathering at the table.  These women where very busy.  There was a real cohesiveness about this group; it wasn’t like a class.  They were a happy collective, working together in a focused fashion to an end goal.  There, I’ve described what I saw.  This was the Charity Knitting Group.  Churchmouse has a charity knitting group that meets every third Thursday of every month!  In chatting with Carrie Trapp, Churchmouse employee and group leader, she told me that the group started in 2002, and has become very philanthropic.  They disburse items to probably three different groups at any given time; from men’s and women’s shelters in Seattle, to the street people.  They were busy knitting hats and felted bags, but I believe they knit different things at different times.  They do the knitting, and there are others that help with the disbursement.  In the little felted bags, they even include toiletries.

I was amazed and humbled.  The fruit of their generosity is abundant.  During this time of harvest and thanksgiving, these women are to be applauded!  Thank you to the Churchmouse for sowing the seed of charity.

In closing, I didn’t purchase any Arbor yet — as you all know, it’s the year of the baby for me, and I have a grandson to knit for!  You can click on any of the photos to see a larger version~


What Makes For A Good Yarn Shop?

I may be the owner and operator of America’s Knitting, but first and foremost, I am a knitter, through and through!

What makes for a good yarn shop?  The answer…SO many things.  Not every hero wears a cape.  Churchmouse Yarns & Teas has this in spades…

At the top of the list – it has to be inspiration.  What brings you back to your LYS time and time again.  Here in western Washington, we have so many yarn shops, that it’s pretty competitive.  What if you don’t need anything?  You have lots of yarn, you’ve got needles in every size, books and books of patterns, not to mention the internet.  What is it that makes you, ‘just want to go’?

Who is there; maybe your favorite employee, that has become a friend of sorts or knitting friends that you know possibly?  The yarn that is on your mind, that you just have to go visit it.  Maybe it’s a pattern, that is on your mind, the next in the queue of projects.  I know, you’ve had a week, and you are thinking of treating yourself.  OR, somebody earlier bought something, and you just have to see it for yourself.  The shop pattern you can’t get out of your head!

Ok, let’s veer off and talk specifics – great lighting, free parking and plenty of it.  Classroom space, great classes that always work out.  Here you go….enough yarn to knit a bedspread or a sweater for a huge man (come on….we’ve all been to those shops that only have enough yarn to knit a scarf or a hat or mitts, socks).  Friendly and knowledgeable staff, it’s a must!!  All these things contribute to a great yarn shop.

Lots of knitters, and yarn shops nationwide are familiar with Churchmouse Yarns & Teas.  Their patterns are sold throughout the country, and probably over seas.  If you’ve ever knit a Churchmouse pattern, you will know, that their attention to detail is spot on.  We’ve all had those patterns, where for the life of us, we don’t know what they are talking about – you practically need an interpreter.  OR, the designer assumes that you are a long time knitter and know everything – why do you even need a pattern.  How about those patterns that after you’ve knit them once — forget about it — it is never knit again by anyone.

Churchmouse patterns are classics for one thing, and so easy to understand, just let go and trust what you are readingWell, the store is no different!  Classic, friendly, happy, well lit, plenty of yarn on the floor and in the back, knowledgeable employees, great communicators, they are open 7 days a week, they work super hard, and it shows!  The displays are tasteful, quaint, and simply lovely.  The store is ALWAYS clean.  Thanks for leading the way, being a class act, teaching the craft and your knowledge of tea, and sharing your patterns with us Churchmouse!

I was at their latest pattern launch with some friends.  If you aren’t familiar with Churchmouse knitting patterns, please take a moment and check out their website – it’s worth it~


Worldwide Knit In Public Day

FullSizeRender (1)Last Saturday, June 13th, was Worldwide Knit In Public Day.  I believe this day was originally put together to encourage knitters to take their craft to the public, and show the non knitters what it is we do, and what they’re missing!  These events happen all over the world, in parks, farmers markets, malls, yarn shops, pubs, cafe’s al fresco, and places I probably don’t even know about.FullSizeRender (2)

The truth of the matter is, knitters knit in public all the time; at ball games, doctors offices, lectures, coffee shops, in airports, on the bus, on the train…and so on, and so on, and so on!!  But, all that aside, yarn shops, and guilds have put together specific gatherings for this special day.

FullSizeRender (4)My friend Jana and I wanted to go to an event on Bainbridge Island, sponsored by Churchmouse Yarns & Teas!  I am so glad that we went, it was the perfect day.  The weather was perfect…it was on a Saturday, and it wasn’t too hot, and it wasn’t too cold…it was perfect!  There was a lot going on in town where the yarn shop is located.  The local famers market was in full effect, so after we got all set up at the Churchmouse event, we took in the farmers market as well.  There were lots of knitters in the piazza at front of the store.  We shopped at the farmers market, then we shopped inside Churchmouse.FullSizeRender (7)

This store is a destination store, no doubt, and inspiration abounds!  I saw lots of things that I wanted to purchase, but kept my purchase down to one skein of yarn to go with a project I already had on needles.  Jana picked up some yarn that the store was holding for her.  We will be back this summer and I plan to treat myself to some of the other things I saw.  We picked up a sandwich from the nearby Fork & Spoon and settled in for some knitting.  The Churchmouse was serving iced tea to all of us knitters and also bites of shortbread….can you image — it was perfect.FullSizeRender (10)

Tina Newton, founder of Blue Moon Fiber Arts, was there knitting away with all of us.  She had brought up a shipment of her special dyed yarns from Scappoose, Oregon, as the Churchmouse carries her lightweight famous Socks That Rocks yarn.  I purchased a skein — I LOVE THIS YARN, and I love Tina; I follow Churchmouse and Blue Moon Fiber Arts on Instagram.FullSizeRender (6)

Sounds sort of weird, but I felt like I was on vacation.  I was soaking up the sun, knitting the day away, eating out, shopping and taking pictures.  Doesn’t that sound like vacation?  It was kind of funny to watch people stroll by and look at all of us knitting, seeing the looks on their faces and overhear the funny things they would say.  So many people, would say, “are you all here every Saturday?”  You have to walk through the piazza to get from the Famers Market down to town, so there was a constant flow of passersby’s.FullSizeRender (8)

FullSizeRender (11)I love knitting, and I love knitters!  We all think about the same things, and talk about the same things.  If you are knitting, and are with knitters, it doesn’t matter where you are sitting, or if you know the person next to you — you’ll have a grand time*

FullSizeRender (3)

It’s Money In The Bank

It’s funny how things comes together!  I always say every project has a story.  This one goes way back to a breast cancer project I was part of many years ago.  Me and about 29 internet friends once knit about 300 scarves (all pink) for a breast cancer/month of October project.  I, of course, got a wee bit carried away and was buying pink yarn left and right….my motto was think pink.  I was actually buying all kinds of yarn — that went into the ‘stash’.  What a concept.

Years later, Churchmouse Yarns & Teas came out with a pattern in their newsletter entitled Last-Minute Cowls.  It was for knitters who needed to whip out a quick holiday gift.  One of the yarns listed as possible matches for this project was Rowans Big Wool.  I HAVE SOME OF THAT!!  Pink, purchased a long time ago for a breast cancer scarf.

Away I went knitting up to the 11th hour right before Christmas.  I actually had two of these gems on needles the pink one and a red one.  The red one got done and the pink one never did.  I put the project away and even worked on it a bit this holiday season.  I had someone special in mind for it.  It still didn’t make it to the finish line.

As the new year came and went, I looked at that project and thought ‘gee’ I could finish that today.  I did, and here it is.  Who would have thought yarn purchased ten years ago coupled with a pattern I got two years ago coming together for a finished project FINALLY.  My stash is embarrassingly huge.  When people see it, they can’t believe it.  My husband Wes always says “It’s like money in the bank”!  He’s really get’s me~

FullSizeRender (6)

Shy Friends

My friends are awesome knitters, but some are shy when it comes to the camera!  Here I am in Debbie’s Color Play Mohair Wrap by Churchmouse Yarns & Teas!  When I first saw this item, I instantly got hot just looking at it.  But, you New Englanders MAKE THIS, it’s amazing.  The yarn is Rowan Kid Silk Haze Stripe.  It’s soft, light, fun, warm and cozy!  Debbie is an amazing knitter that is also generous with her knitting, knitting for all of her family members…and I mean all of them.  Thanks Debbie for letting me share your garment on America’s Knitting~