Do you experience that knot of excitement mixed with apprehension when embarking on a new life adventure? I sure do. It could be the birth of a child, starting a new job, moving to a new city, parasailing for the first time…something that involves some risk and the possibility of reward. Will I be successful? What if I fail? What if this path is a huge mistake? But, then again – what if it isn’t a huge mistake?
We can often feel like we are stuck in a rut. Maybe we’ve outgrown our job but there is no room for advancement. Maybe an opportunity presents itself but it involves moving away from your family and friends. Maybe in order to take path you’ve always dreamed of, you need to go back to school. I remember going back to school when I was in my thirties. A few people thought that I was as mad as a hatter. “You’ll be in your late thirties before you’re done!” Well – the truth of the matter is that you are (hopefully) going to reach that age whether or not you go back to school, or take on that new job or embark on whatever adventure it may be. Time passes by so quickly. I know I don’t want to live a life full of “what ifs”.
My sister just reminded me of when our family moved to Ottawa. Our dad was already there. Our mom had to handle all of the logistics of a family move – not to mention wrangling 6 children onto an airplane! I was the second oldest at barely 10, with 4 younger siblings ranging in age from 2 to 8. We had never been on a plane before! I can only imagine my mom’s nerves, strung as tightly as fiddle strings. But she never showed her worries – at least not to us. It certainly was a tough move – leaving behind everyone you knew – but, in the end, it was definitely the best path for our family at that point in time.
I’m working on a new project right now. I don’t know whether or not it will get off the ground. I feel very positive about it – I did loads of research and am very excited about all of the possibilities. So I’m taking that leap of faith with my fingers crossed and my eyes wide open. Not to worry – Knit Pickers PEI and your chief knit picker (me) will still be here in beautiful “downtown Mayfield”! Hopefully with something new to share with all of you!
Is there anyone who does not enjoy spring? For me, I think it is my favourite season. After a long winter, it is so delightful to be able to pop outside without having to don boots, a heavy coat, mitts, and so on. Perennials are starting to poke their beautiful shoots out of the ground. As farmers start to prepare their fields for planting, the contrast of our red soil against green grass is absolutely stunning. And barns everywhere are welcoming new lambs, kids, chicks….. (photo courtesy of Blomidon Farm)
A part of my spring routine involves a good spring cleaning of the studio. I nourish the wood furniture with a fresh coat of Ewe Love wood wax. I do the same for any wood knitting tools that have worked hard for me all winter – knitting needles, looms, swifts. To once again throw open the windows and give the studio a good airing is not just delightful for me but also inspirational!
But sometimes we do not give ourselves the same care. We don’t always nourish ourselves physically with proper nutrition and healthy sleep habits. We don’t take the time to give our mental health a good spring cleaning. What?!? Well – what I mean is that we need to take the time to reassess our daily lives on occasion. What brings us joy, what brings us peace and tranquility. Each of us has only a finite amount of time on this beautiful planet. And I’m finding that, the older I get, the faster that time flies by. I can’t change what has happened in the past. And while we can’t control or predict the future (who could have foreseen Covid?), we can alter our habits to change our life path.
Just like we prioritise tasks we need to get done at work, we need to prioritise those things that bring us joy. More quality time with family and friends, more time spent with activities that you find fulfilling – knitting, gardening, yoga, playing a musical instrument.
I recently read an inspirational quote: “You are the author of your life’s story. Start creating the life story you want to read.” (photo courtesy of Carrie Green, Female Entrepreneur Association)
My life story won’t be the same as yours. You’ll never find me mountain climbing, bungee jumping or parachuting. That simply is not my cup of tea! In fact, my cup of tea tends to be a cup of coffee. But isn’t that what makes life interesting?
April 22nd is Earth Day. Did you know that Earth Day was founded over 50 years ago? And over 40 years ago, it became recognised on an international scale. Today, the entire month of April is celebrated as Earth Month because “we should care and learn about our home for more than just a single day of the year. Focusing one month of the year on climate change and sustainability can help everybody develop more eco-friendly lifestyles.” (credit: www.pela.earth)
At Knit Pickers PEI, we strive to celebrate Earth Day every single day of the year. We are always taking time to reflect and ask ourselves what kind of company we want to be for you, our customers. When we think about how our products can bring value to you, environmental sustainability and ethical treatment of animals remains our priority.
Part of what we do is to source everything we carry as locally as possible. Nothing in our studio comes from outside the borders of Canada. We are proud to support Canadian farmers, shepherds, mills, and artisans.
We also support the concept of slow fashion. What is slow fashion exactly? It is the concept of purchasing fewer clothes, and the clothes that we do purchase are of a higher quality with a longer life. Did you know that brands like H&M burn 12 tonnes of unsold garments each year? (credit: The Campaign for Wool Canada, The Wool Plan 2021-26) Wouldn’t it be far better to reduce this waste and focus on quality garments made with sustainable fabric?
I read a couple of articles recently that were profoundly disturbing. Did you know that 92% of the microplastic pollution in seawater samples came from synthetic fibres; 73% of this was polyester. (credit: Campaign for Wool). Of course, these microplastic particles end up being consumed by aquatic beings (fish, seals, etc). Often they feel full but end up starving because of course there are no nutrients in the plastic that they are consuming. But it’s not just in our earth’s water. Microplastic has been found in human blood – in almost 80% of the people who provided blood samples! Also, we are breathing in microplastics. Polypropolene and PET were the two most common of the 39 microplastics found deep in the lungs of living people. (credit: World Economic Forum)
If we wish to leave a planet and a human race that is healthy for generations to come, we need to focus on a move towards natural fibres. Wool is an ideal solution! Wool is biodegradable, offers UV protection, is durable and breathable.
There is a great deal of misinformation about wool, including the premise that raising sheep is more damaging to the environment than synthetics. Balderdash! Synthetic materials are created from fossil fuels. These materials will remain in landfills for centuries and will contribute to the air and water pollution as noted above. On the other hand, using sustainable sheep farming practices such as strip grazing or rotational grazing is actually beneficial to the soil. Sheep manure contains high concentrations of phosphorus and potassium. Properly composted, it is extremely beneficial when growing fruits, vegetables and flowers. Proper dietary management for sheep helps to reduce their methane emissions. (photo credit: Blomidon Farm, PEI)
So, if you knit, crochet, weave, hook or participate in any fibre-related craft, you are already contributing to the slow fashion movement by creating quality pieces with a long lifespan. If we make the move away from synthetic yarns to wool – and specifically Canadian wool as Canadian creators – we can feel proud that we are actively contributing to Earth Year!
Just a month ago, I wrote about the heartache I felt for the citizens of Ottawa who were dealing with the hate and violence demonstrated by some of the “freedom convoy” participants. Little did I know, or did the vast majority of the world know, that in a few short days, we would all be in shock over the devastation being wrought on the citizens of Ukraine.
Yes, there had been a build-up of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border – but Russia stated that it was nothing more than war games. On February 24, 2022, missiles and airstrikes hit Ukraine with Russia claiming that it was a special operation to “denazify” Ukraine. With all of its military might, no doubt Russia believed that this invasion of Ukraine would be deemed a success in just a matter of days. But Putin underestimated the pride and will of the Ukrainian people. Ordinary citizens have aided in the defence of their country by building barriers to stop tanks and using Molotov cocktails as weapons.
The young people of Ukraine, those under the age of 30, have never known life under a communist regime. Just last year, Ukraine celebrated its 30th year of statehood and has won a hard-fought transition to democracy. Their recent ancestors, however, or those who managed to survive, endured the “Holodomor” – Stalin’s literal starvation of the Ukrainian people – a punishment of the majority of Ukrainians who resisted the collectivization of agriculture. The farmers were given outrageous quotas of grain that were to be sent to the Soviet regime. When these quotas could not be met, seed was confiscated and fines were levied on meat and potatoes. These actions have been recognized by Canada and the world as an act of genocide which resulted in the deaths of millions of Ukrainians. In Canada, the fourth Saturday in November is recognized as Holodomor Memorial Day.
On this day in 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, ““In 1932 and 1933, the Soviet regime of Joseph Stalin orchestrated a deliberate famine – a genocide against the Ukrainian people – to impose total control over Ukraine, destroy the will of the people, and erase their identity. During this horrific campaign, millions died from starvation, including children, and countless others were either deported, imprisoned, or executed. Despite the brutality of the Holodomor, Ukrainians persevered. The resilience of the Ukrainian people and the survival of their culture, language, and identity is a testament to their courage and strength. After decades of Soviet control and oppression, Ukraine regained its independence in 1991. For far too long, the atrocities of the Holodomor were hidden from the world and outright denied. Today, it falls to each and every one of us to ensure this dark chapter in history is not forgotten, and to continue to defend human rights and democracy when they come under threat.”
And now, world leaders and people in every democratic nation are being asked to do just that. Severe economic sanctions have been imposed on Russia. Countries have closed their airspace to Russian flights. The US and UK are banning Russian oil. Major companies are closing down their operations in Russia. Some of these actions will have a direct impact on the worldwide economy. We’ve already seen gas prices reach unprecedented levels in Canada.
Despite the unconscionable actions of Russian leaders, all that has taken place over these past few weeks has given me a great deal of hope for humanity as a whole. The courage and determination of the Ukrainian people is unlike anything I have seen in my lifetime. I am thunderstruck by the immense response of everyday people who are gathering supplies and raising funds for the people of Ukraine in often the most creative of ways. A true “freedom convoy” of 25 trucks left Ireland this Friday with 500 tonnes of aid for Ukraine.
I don’t have a crystal ball – I don’t know when or how this invasion will end. I do know, however, that the evil of this invasion is being battled by the heart of humanity. I hope and pray that good will be victorious.
This is no big secret – there is a large protest that has overtaken downtown Ottawa. What initially started as a small percentage of truckers planning a demonstration against Canadian and US mandates that truckers crossing the border be vaccinated has morphed into a full blown insurrection.
This insurrection has been organised by a group calling themselves “Canada Unity”. They say that their goal is to end all vaccine mandates – failing which they will continue the protest in Ottawa until they get their way. The true nature of their protest is far more insidious. Their “Memorandum of Understanding”, easily found on their website, details what they expect Canada’s Governor General and the Senate of Canada to do. They want to overthrow the duly elected Government of Canada and if the Senate and the Governor General won’t help them in this endeavour, Canada Unity demands that they resign immediately.
This so-called “Freedom Rally” is not a rally for freedom – it is more like a hostage situation for the residents of downtown Ottawa. Night and day, horns blast at deafening levels. People wearing masks are harassed, threatened, spat upon and, in some cases, assaulted. People of colour, people who do not identify as heterosexual, people who are simply trying to go about their daily lives are made to feel unsafe and unwelcome in their own city. One person has died because an ambulance was unable to reach them in a timely manner due to roads being blocked. Just last evening, two fellows entered a downtown apartment building where a tenant who had asked truckers to keep the noise down lives. These two people lit fire starter bricks in the lobby of the apartment building (there is security video of this event) and then secured the exit doors from the outside to prevent residents from escaping the fire. It's unfair to speculate that it was set by protesters. But, because all of the police are tied up trying to ensure that things remain as safe and peaceful as possible, troublemakers are free to do things like this! I really believe that arson event was the main impetus for Ottawa's mayor declaring a state of emergency.
Protesters have assaulted and terrorized the citizens of Ottawa, urinated on the National War Memorial, danced upon the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, shat upon the doorstep of someone who displayed a pride flag, thrown rocks at first responders. They have flown Confederate and Nazi flags. And why in heavens name would they also be flying American flags and Trump flags?
Many Republican leaders, including former President Donald Trump, have spoken out in favour of the so-called “Freedom Rally”, with Trump going so far as to call our Prime Minister a “far-left lunatic” and labelled this insurrection a “peaceful protest”.
This is no peaceful protest. This is no “Freedom Rally”. This is an insurrection not dissimilar to what occurred on January 6th, 2021 in Washington, D.C. And, to boot, it is being supported by funding coming from U.S. citizens! To my American friends – do you realize that you are supporting a group that is trying to overthrow our federal government? Or did you think you were supporting hard-working truckers? The Canadian Truckers Association does NOT support this rally. Nor do the vast majority of Canadian citizens from all walks of life. Can you even begin to imagine the uproar if the Canadian maple leaf flag was flown by demonstrators on January 6th in Washington? Or if elected Canadian officials were in a state because donations from Canadian citizens were not going to be given to the January 6th insurrectionists?
The funds raised through GoFundMe by the group Canada Unity are being refunded to donors. Why? Here is GoFundMe’s official statement: "GoFundMe supports peaceful protests and we believe that was the intention of the Freedom Convoy 2022 fundraiser when it was first created…We now have evidence from law enforcement that the previously peaceful demonstration has become an occupation, with police reports of violence and other unlawful activity."
I fully support the right to peaceful protest. I do not agree with the position taken by unvaccinated truckers – especially in light of the fact that over 90% of Canadian truckers are fully vaccinated. However, if they want to protest, that’s fine by me. If they want to protest the fact that it is a real challenge to find washroom facilities – with many warehouses not allowing truckers to use their washrooms – I would fully support that cause! As I would support them in a protest for the right to access shower facilities, places to eat enroute, etc. etc.
Ottawa has seen many, many protests held at Parliament Hill. The Ottawa Police had been in contact with the protestors before they arrived in Ottawa. The understanding was that they would arrive on Friday and leave on Sunday – a 3 day protest. It is now day 10 with no end in sight.
My heart bleeds for Canada. To see the level of hate and violence in our nation’s capital is beyond disturbing. There is a great deal of talk about the emotional and mental toll that vaccine mandates have taken on people. The ugliness of this insurrection has had a far greater effect on my mental and emotional well-being than any vaccine mandate had. Can we as a nation recover? I hope so. But the scars will remain.
Snow storms and weddings and covid - oh my!
It’s 2022 – a new year and, so far, it has been interesting to say the least!
First and foremost, I want to send a huge thank-you to everyone who supported my small business by visiting the studio or my website for their holiday gifts. We were pretty busy leading up to Christmas, especially as I was also working on 5 custom sweaters for my niece’s wedding on January 7th, 2022. The groom, groomsmen and my brother were all decked out!
The wedding and reception were to take place in Ottawa. Then, on the Monday before the wedding, the venue cancelled – they were not comfortable hosting either the ceremony or the reception with the new Covid restrictions in place. After a few tears and a bottle of wine (or so I’ve been told), the crew was on the phones trying to find a place to host the ceremony. I absolutely must give a shout-out to the Strathmere in North Gower (a short drive outside of Ottawa). Not only did they offer a room for the ceremony and a room for the bride for the evening before the ceremony, they comped it all! They could have asked for the moon and received it. Instead, they graciously gave the bride, groom and family the very best wedding present possible.
The first real winter storm here on PEI started at just about the same time as the wedding ceremony in Ottawa! From Friday afternoon until Saturday morning, we received about 40 cm or 15” of snow. A lot for sure, but not record amounts. It was the 100+ km/hour winds that made everything so treacherous – whiteouts and huge drifts. Friday night as I lay in bed, the winds were so strong that the pitcher and bowl on the bedside table were rattling. And so many homes lost power. We were very, very lucky. Our power blipped for a moment but remained on. We did lose internet for a few hours on Saturday morning – but your pipes don’t freeze and burst if you don’t have internet. So many Islanders were in a far worse state. But kudos to the folks at Maritime Electric who worked like crazy to restore power to everyone as quickly as possible in some pretty awful conditions.
(Photo courtesy of Blomidon Farm – where’s the laneway?)
On Saturday, we were not yet ploughed out so I strapped on the old snowshoes and attempted to make my way to the studio. As I was cresting a big drift, I must have stepped on the back of one of the snowshoes. When I tried to take a step, I face-planted into that drift! I managed to get one foot back under me but, for the life of me, I couldn’t manoeuvre my other foot into place. So, on my hands and knees, I made my way back to the steps of the house. By the time I got there, my fingers were so cold that I had a hard time getting the snowshoes off my feet. No visit to the studio that day!
On Sunday, we still had not been ploughed out – and that is when I discovered that the gentleman who had taken care of clearing our long drive and the path to the studio had retired. Oh no! Numerous phone calls, texts and e-mails to friends resulted in a number of recommendations. We were lucky enough to find someone who was willing to add us to their winter snow clearing list of clients! They swung by today and I breathed a sigh of relief.
(Photo looking out from the spare bedroom towards the studio)
That doesn’t mean that there was no shovelling to be done. There was a mountain of snow deposited at the base of the studio steps. And, of course, the deck at the studio needed to be cleared so I could open the door. Between the storm and the milder temperatures this morning, there was a good crust of ice on top of the heavy, moisture-laden snow. That certainly was quite the workout – but at least I didn’t need to strap on those snowshoes.
Even though there is a nice path to the studio, we still can’t host our “Ewe Love to Knit” nights. With 320 new cases of Covid-19 announced today, we are being told to keep our circle of contacts small. We are scheduled to get our vaccine boosters mid-month. I am keeping my fingers crossed that, by month-end, Omicron will be tired of visiting PEI and we can once again gather together for some knitting fun and chatter.
To say the least, 2022 has certainly been off to an interesting start! The one word that I hear over and over again about 2022 is “hopeful”. May I wish you a happy, healthy and safe 2022 and, of course, happy knitting!
Shared from a Facebook Community Group entitled "Artist Quote of the Day"
This week is “back to school” week. Fresh new clothes, new notebooks, new pens, pencils and crayons, new teachers, maybe even a new city as kids head off to university. When I was in grade school, I always wanted a big box of crayons – and now I have loads of fun sketching out new designs!
Summer isn’t quite over yet but the weather is just a wee bit cooler with a whisper of fall in the air. Farm stands are full of the bounty of the garden. I’ve swapped out pots of pink geraniums for mums in shades of gold, orange and russet.
Knitting holds a special appeal for me in September. The stifling humidity has broken which sets my mind to creating cozy goodies. I’m drawn to autumnal shades of wool for new knitting projects.
Each season brings its own personality but I must admit I am particularly fond of spring and fall. Spring is all about rebirth, fresh green leaves, planting seeds for the future. In the fall, the weather is often still kind enough for beach walks and bonfires. And thankfully, you don’t need to haul on boots, a coat and mittens just to take out the trash! There are no treacherous ice patches or heavy snow to shovel. Fall is crisp, refreshing and energising. Fall is the time for making future plans. That is why I feel that New Year celebrations may be better suited to September than January!
Does September make you feel energised? Are your fingers itching to pick up your knitting needles and get creative? If you need any knitting supplies like wool, project bags or new needles, drop by our studio or visit our online shop. We’re here to help!
This past weekend, I went to my grandniece’s baptism. How lovely it was to be able to be a part of family gatherings once again! Of course, whenever family gets together, there is lots of chatter. My grandniece does not like to be placed on her stomach as she really suffered from colic when she was a wee one. After my niece tried a number of more modern “remedies” to relieve the colic, she turned to her mom’s recommendation of gripe water, which has been around for more than 150 years. Lo and behold – this tried and true remedy worked and parents and baby were able to get a more peaceful night’s sleep.
This morning, I read a Facebook post from Maggie’s Inn about what a bountiful harvest of apples her heritage apple tree was giving her this year. She credits not only the plentiful rain we’ve had this summer but also the nutrition, most specifically potassium, that the ashes from her woodstove provided.
There is absolutely no denying that we have benefited from modern advances such as vaccines for polio, smallpox, measles and most recently Covid. Improvements in insulation techniques make our homes so much warmer in the winter months. But there are some real benefits to be found in some of the “old” ways, too! Things like companion planting (of course I’m talking about gardening with plants, not placing your best buddy in your garden), composting and canning are all trending topics that harken back to things your grandmother and great-grandmother used to do!
It’s so very important to pass on these old skills. I wish that I had paid more attention when my mom and grandmother were preserving their veggies and making jams and jellies. My one attempt at canning tomatoes ended up with a kitchen that looked like the scene of a massacre when the lids all blew off the tomato sauce! But I have hope – just a moment ago, a young girl came into the studio with her mom. They are both knitters visiting from New Brunswick and are going to be trying their first pair of socks! They were nervous about turning a heel so I suggested they check out my YouTube channel – I have already uploaded a video on how to knit a short-row heel and will be creating a video on knitting a flap heel in the very near future.
I was lucky, though, to have spent time with my grandmother while she taught me to knit and tat. I still use her tatting shuttle to this day! There is absolutely nothing like the coziness of a wool blanket or sweater or socks. And to be able to pass on the knowledge of how to make these for yourself just makes my heart sing!
(photo by Andrew Montgomery)
I always say that knitting isn’t hard to do – you just need to learn the little tricks. Some folks are great book-learners. Others rely on YouTube. Still others find that a personal lesson is just the key they need to unlock the secrets of learning a new knitting technique. If you belong to the latter group, we are happy to offer workshops for a variety of levels of knitters – from the absolute novice to the more experienced knitter.
It’s never too late to take up a new hobby or to revisit one that you may have set aside for a while. I recently picked up my guitar again after having taken a “sabbatical” for a while. I discovered that I have no calluses left on my chording hand, and my fingers couldn’t remember a lot of the picking patterns. After a hour or so, however, the muscle memory kicked in (and my fingers were pretty sore).
Yesterday, I was involved in the filming of a documentary on fibre arts. We chatted for almost three hours about many things including why using natural fibres is so beneficial to both ourselves and our planet as well as the many health advantages of participating in an activity like knitting or crochet.
I certainly am not alone in finding knitting to be soothing and meditative. In my most recent newsletter, I introduced folks to Cassie Landolfi who operates a wellness centre in Ontario. She is a “kindred spirit” when it comes to how knitting can offer improvements to your health – so much so that she even offers a “Keep Calm and Knit On” knitting group at the centre!
In the November, 2019 issue of Interweave Press, Rachel Simmons wrote: “Without really being aware of what I was doing, I had introduced meditation into my daily routine. While knitting, there was no regret about what happened or what we might miss out on or worry about what was going to happen next; there was only a blissful focus on the now. I found that I was sleeping better, feeling better, and recognizing my own limitations and coming to terms with them. …. I was able to release the stress built up during the day and see the beauty grow in both my knitting and my life…. When we need to remind ourselves to cherish the living moment, let us create space to do so and lose ourselves in some meditative knitting.”
Just imagine – if we were better able to handle stress (and we’ve certainly all had our fair share of stress over the last many months), if we slept more soundly, if we cherished the gifts that life gives us, we just might discover that we shift our priorities from what we “must” do to what we truly want to do. I certainly am not suggesting that we abandon all of life’s responsibilities. But we can even find pleasure in the most mundane of chores if we look at it from the end result as opposed to the task itself. Stress often causes us to worry and focus on the negative. A shift from bleak to beauty can occur if we introduce meditation, be it through knitting or the more traditional path, into our lives.
Dr. Phil once said “You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others”. Most of us find this concept difficult to grasp, but it has been proven time and time again to be completely true.
Now, you cannot always take off on a vacation in order to recharge - nor do you have to! You just have to remember to find a little time to focus on you.
Maybe you know someone who could use this reminder. Send them a little gift to help them stop, pause, and recharge.
Here’s to having a little “Ewe” time!
EWE LOVE FOOT SOAK
Indulge yourself in a glorious spa treatment in the privacy of your home. Pamper weary feet and get them "sandal ready" by adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup to a basin of warm water. Relax and soak for 20 to 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, rub gently with a fluffy towel to exfoliate if desired.
EWE LOVE AROMATIC INHALER
It’s the perfect way to take your aromatherapy with you when you travel, head to work or school, or even go shopping. Just as its name suggests, it’s a personal inhaler that allows you to have "little diffuser in your pocket".
Not only is this massage oil great for a back and neck rub, but it will easily absorb into your skin without leaving a greasy feeling. If your skin is dry, especially after all that hand washing, we recommend rolling a bit on your hands. You will smell incredible and your hands will feel so so soft!
MINI BATH BOMBS
Feeling stressed? Are you suffering from allergies or a cold? Pop two Ewe Love Mini Bath Bombs into a tub of comfortably warm water and pamper yourself with a detox bath - ideally twice a week for 15-30 minutes.
In a rush? Let the aromatherapy of our Ewe Love Mini Bath Bombs work for you in the shower. Place one bath bomb on the shower or tub floor and inhale the aromas as you shower.
CREATE YOUR OWN "RELAXATION BOX"
Comfort | Calming | Anxiety | Stress | Thank You | Just Because
Check out our full range of products in our Ewe Love Personal Care Line and combine your favourites together and create a one-of-a-kind gift. Order one for yourself (because you’re worth it) or send one to a friend who needs a dose of relaxation.
Live life luxuriously! Classic simplicity is what I enjoy the most - in clothing design, home decor and in life!