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The Loop has been on Barrington Street for over five years now, and from the way some media outlets talk about the street, you’d think that was a miracle of longevity. But I would like to contrast that with one of our local suppliers we’ve relied on since before the store even opened in 2005. I’m talking about a company that has been active in Halifax since 1884. If you are racking your brain to try to figure out who could have been supplying yarn or craft supplies since that long ago, never mind: I’m referring to London Rubber Stamps.

Since November 2005, thousands of paper shopping bags have been carried out the door of The Loop, and each one was stamped by hand by us, using custom stamps made by London Rubber Stamps. LRS is currently located out on the admittedly dreary industrial stretch of Kempt Road in north Halifax. But back in the 1880s, they were located in downtown Halifax. On their website they have a well-written and fascinating account of the business’ history, with a couple of nice vintage photos of their former downtown locations. (Can you recognize either location?)

http://www.londonrubber.com/stamps/about.asp

When we were planning to open the store, we considered what kind of shopping bags we would use. We chose paper bags in part because they are more environmentally friendly than plastic, and also because we knew they would fit with our “DIY” ethic since we could hand-stamp each and every one. Sometimes when we are tasked with stamping a big pile of bags, we might wish we had taken a different approach – but when it comes down to it, we are glad we chose this route. We’re also glad that the small amount of business we provide to London Rubber Stamps is a part of their long history in this city.

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FACT: Canadian, U.S. and British security agencies DO allow knitting materials on board.

With summer here and travellers from all over the world dropping in to The Loop, we are hearing more questions about whether you can fly with your knitting. Opinions and stories vary, but the facts are available on the websites of the agencies that control security. Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. all permit knitting needles. Of course, a traveller will always be subject to the discretion of the individual security officer on the day of travel.  Common sense suggests you opt for smaller-sized needles in bamboo, wood or plastic, rather than 12”-long steel needles or 36”-long circulars. (Socks are the perfect, compact airplane project!)

On occasion someone will say to us, “But I asked and they said no” and it turns out they asked the airline ticket agent or another staff person who is not part of a security authority. We suggest it’s better to ask security staff, if you must, but – since the items are not prohibited – why ask?   Below is a sampling of links to national security agency sites that provide guidance for the crafty traveller, explaining what is and is not restricted from your luggage (checked and carry-on). We hope you will find this little guide helpful. Bon voyage!

Don't lock me in here without my knitting!!

In Canada, it is not the individual airlines, but CATSA – the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority – that determines what can be brought on planes. You know, the same people who have become obsessive about the dimensions of the toiletries you have in your carry-on. Here is a link to their searchable database clearly indicating that knitting needles and crochet hooks can be brought in both carry-on and checked luggage. Thank goodness! Because it’s bad enough to be crammed in that little seat having to watch bad movies. Knitting is what makes it bearable.

The U.S. Transportation Security Agency has an equally civilized policy – you can bring your knitting and your needles, but NOT circular cutters with hidden blades.

Flying to the U.K.? This page tells you the items you can NOT take on board, and there is no mention of any knitting equipment on there. You may be disappointed to learn that you can’t take your meat cleaver on a plane in the U.K. though.

How about New Zealand, the home of so much delectable merino wool? Here is a link to the Kiwi Aviation Security Service’s list of prohibited items, and it contains no mention of knitting needles.

It is harder to find this information for the European Union.  Some EU countries have tighter restrictions and in fact do prohibit knitting needles, while others allow them. Here are two examples of European sites with some info on the topic, showing this variety:

Bratislava, Slovakia (an EU member state) – no inclusion of knitting in their prohibited items list.

Ireland (an EU member state) – specifically states no knitting on board.

So when travelling to Europe it may be important to check with the individual countries’ security authorities.

Early tomorrow morning, Thursday September 10th, tune in to CTV in Halifax to see Mimi on the morning show, Breakfast Television. She is probably going to try to teach one of the hosts to knit, in record time.  This will be live, so anything could happen! Very exciting. Just don’t forget to set your alarm.

Revolution baby blanket

Revolution baby blanket in progress

My friend is having a baby this summer and I wanted to make a blanket that was quick and easy, without being too boring. Too much to ask? I was looking at the fun designs of British math geeks Pat Ashforth and Steve Plummer (Woolly  Thoughts). I had a hard time deciding which of their intriguing patterns to go with, but thanks in part to the projects posted on Ravelry, I chose “Revolution”.

A couple of dozen people had posted Revolution on Ravelry and many talked about how easy it is. Looking at the images I felt that it must be fairly simple, but my mind just couldn’t grasp how exactly the funky jagged spiral effect was created. I  purchase and downloaded the detailed, colourful pattern booklet and began to study it. Indeed once you read the instructions and get started, it’s blessedly simple to do. This is a fun pattern, a way to make garter stitch interesting! I’m using Estelle’s organic Cloud Cotton, which itself is a delight to work with. This is going to be a lucky baby, if I may say so myself.

Denise Interchangeable needles are made for this project!

One of the things that is making this project so enjoyable for me is my Denise Interchangeable Needle set.  It’s like the Denise kit was made for this kind of project. The blanket is a circle but you are only ever knitting one “wedge” at a time. Stitch holders are important, and as the segments of the blanket get bigger, you would need to use multiple circulars or lengths of yarn as stitch holders. With the Denise set, I just add lengths of cable and carry on. Most of the time the same needle I am knitting on is acting as a stitch holder for another part of the blanket.

Denise needle sets

We love the Denise Interchangeable company not just because of their products, but because they are a small company with a great customer service ethic.  The product itself is made with a conscious effort to support local (to Denise) manufacturing. We are always delighted to chat with them and they are incredibly friendly and helpful. And how many big corporations would send a package in the mail looking like this? (Yes those are individual postage stamps.) We love Denise.

Simpsons stamps

If you have attended ‘Loop Group’, our drop-in knitting night on Thursdays at The Loop, you might have met Tina B.  She is in the ninth grade and a devoted knitter – pictured below knitting the Cobweb Doily from A Gathering of Lace.

Tina knitting the Cobweb Doily from A Gathering of Lace

Tina knitting the Cobweb Doily from 'A Gathering of Lace'

Now we’ve learned she is also devoted to bringing happiness to other people. Tina approached us recently to ask if The Loop would make a donation to help cover the costs of a trip she wants to make this June.  This is no average summer holiday – she will be travelling to Poland with a group called Coalition for Kids, to visit terminally ill children to help make their short lives a little bit more pleasant.  The children helped by the program suffer from diseases like cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy. As Tina explained it to me,  many of the kids’ wishes are as simple as an iPod or a good bed. Check out the Coalition for Kids website to learn more about the program and its “Journeys of a Lifetime”.

I was impressed to learn about the funding structure for the program. Each teenagers’ trip costs $36oo and the fundraising structure employs a ‘pay it forward’ philosophy. Each participant raises half of the money for their own trip, and when they return they commit to raising another $1800 to cover half the cost of another student’s trip. One participant helps pay for the next one’s trip, and so on.

This is not something we normally do with this blog space, but I wanted to tell our community about this program  in case anyone would like to support Tina’s trip. The Loop will be making a donation and I will make one personally too, because I think it’s so important for young people to look outward and take an interest in the world.

If you are a knitter reading this, you know that non-knitters hold stereotyped ideas of who and what knitters are. We know better. Similarly, I think Tina – as a young knitter preparing to make this remarkable trip – does not fit the stereotype of a self-centred teenager.

Please feel free to contact us at The Loop if you would like to make a contribution to Tina’s “Journey of a Lifetime” by May 1st 2009.

I just opened a shipment of new magazines and books.

We’re starting to carry Interweave’s Spin-off magazine, and the first batch arrived today. It contains articles for spinners of all levels, and looks to be full of inspiration.

New issues of Knitter’s and Interweave crochet also arrived, along with more of the popular “Twinkle’s Big City Knits”.

Just for fun, The Loop is joining the social experiment called Twitter. It may also be because I have been finding it challenging to manage actual blog posts. Can I handle 140 characters?? Follow us at  http://twitter.com/theloophalifax

The shopping frenzy is about to wind down, and now it’s all about relaxing with your loved ones and your favourite crafts. We’ll be closing early on December 24th, in case you need to send any of your elves our way. felted-fire

Then the Loop will be closed for Christmas and Boxing Day, reopening on Saturday December 27th for a Post-Boxing Day Sale. After you’ve stuffed yourself with turkey and home-baked treats, toddle on down to check out our specials on yarn, patterns and accessories.

In the new year, we have lots of ways to keep you and your friends busy by expanding your knitting and language skills. Watch for announcements about upcoming knit & chat sessions in French and Spanish.

We’ve added some beginner and refresher knitting classes to our Workshops listing, and in early January we will be adding more winter classes.

And of course there’s always Loop Group. Starting again on January 8th, join us for our regular Thursday evening (6-9 p.m.) gathering of knitters & crafters. Everyone is welcome, beginner level on up.

Have a wonderful holiday, hope to see you soon.

Sincerely,

Mimi and Cathy
The Loop

Here I thought today would be a quiet snow day at The Loop, since the city of Halifax has deemed that 3 inches of snow make it too dangerous to send children to school. But I’m being kept plenty busy because finally! our winter issues of Knitters and Interweave Knits arrived today.

A winter's worth of knitting ideas
A winter’s worth of knitting ideas

Then, a nice man with a dolly brought us two huge boxes of Manos del Uruguay yarn. We’ve got two dozen colours of the classic wool you know and love, in multis and solids.

Manos del Uruguay wool
Manos del Uruguay wool

We also brought in a dozen colours of the wool/silk blend, including several brand new solid colours. The silky sheen of this double-knitting weight yarn is irresistible.

Manos wool-silk blend

Manos wool-silk blend

It just happens that the new issue of Interweave Knits has a cool-looking reversible ribbed sweater that uses the Manos Silk Blend. Hmm now I want to make that ….

Another one for my queue ...

Another one for my queue ...

We’ve been so busy at The Loop, with new shipments of yarn and other goodies that we have fallen behind on our blogging. We do have some brief updates on the front page of our website though, if you’d like to take a peek at some of the new products we’ve been getting in.

mc-winterlace-small

Winter Lace from Mountain Colours

This Sunday, December 7th, we have a special treat that should calm the nerves of the most harried shoppers. Judith Emery will be at The Loop from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., playing her Celtic harp. That would be an excellent time to drop by and see what’s new on our shelves, and maybe even  fill out a card for our wish list registry. We’ll keep your list handy in case any elves of your acquaintance drop by looking for gift ideas for you.

Hope to see you soon!

This week the “Holiday Hop” is happening downtown, with many shops downtown participating in sales and a contest to get the festive season underway.

Last Saturday the annual Parade of Lights kicked off the Holiday Hop, making its way through downtown and up to the Dalhousie University campus.  The weather was probably more what I’d expect in Bermuda than Nova Scotia, at 17 degrees and pouring rain.

I had volunteered to walk in the parade on behalf of the Downtown Halifax Business Commission, parade sponsor and resource organization for all businesses located downtown. We were positioned at the front of the parade along with the other sponsors (Halifax Chronicle Herald and Eastlink).

At 5:00 the proverbial crickets were chirping on Barrington Street as we made our way to the marshalling area down by the Navy dockyards (just past the brand-spanking new & stinky sewage treatment plant). While we waited, I walked the length of the parade as floats and marching groups were getting themselves organized. I was impressed by the number and quality of the floats… it seemed like it took me ages to walk all the way back to the front of the line, jingling as I went!

We finally got underway just after 6 p.m. I was sharing banner-carrying duties with two other clown volunteers. I really got a kick out of seeing the faces of tiny little toddlers agape with excitement as we came into sight. Tiny! Little Cindy-Lou Whos were everywhere.  We were the first costumes in the parade, and I suspect that the loud jingling noises we made with our hand-held bells really set the Christmas excitement neurons zinging in all those little brains. It was very cute to see how many tiny little faces lit up when a clown with green swirls on her face (that’s me) made eye contact and waved at them.

Due to the rain and poor visibility, it was hard to get decent photos of me or the rest of the parade. So you’ll just have to take my word for it, that’s me on the far side of this banner.  Next year I have to figure out how to get my hands on one of those shriner mini-bikes.

The Holiday Hop promotions continue downtown right through Saturday December 22nd. Check The Loop’s website to see what’s on sale … something different each day. And of course you knew that parking is FREE downtown on weekends right?

Cathy is merriment
Mimi is starlings
Morgan is pomoboho
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