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David sports a crocheted rainbow beanie with giant pink tourie on top. He has the best seat in the house for the 2011 Halifax Pride Parade.

Rainbows abound, and giant ric-rac sprouts twisted lengths of coloured crepe paper. They reach towards the sky optimistically.
Ilga Leja’s “Earth Maiden” sampled in Kauni’s Effekt yarn, colourway “EQ” looks right at home. Draped over a triangular metal form it makes a cheerful yet sophisticated statement despite being placed in the background, away from direct sunlight.

“Better Together” is the motto this year.

The formally longest scarf in the world cascades down the back wall, embraces the vivid yellow Judy (repeatedly) and coils into a tumshie seat at her feet.

The swift kicks up a breeze when used which sends the paper garlands dancing.

This year, Lamby wears Red Velvet Platformed Stevie Boots, an Art Yarn Necklace and Blue Feathered False Eyelashes.


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?)

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.

Miles Davis, “Kind of Blue”
Manos Del Uruguay yarns, Solids and Variegated
Connexion: Blue…kind of

The Partridge Family, “Shopping Bag”
The Loop, “Deluxe, Locally Sourced, Hand Stamped Bags”
Connexion: Highly Collectable Shopping Bags

Donovan, “Mellow Yellow”
Brown Sheep, “Burley Spun”
Connexion: Yellow

Stay tuned for a tutorial on using this extraordinary new yarn.

hbc cowichanThis week saw the launch of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s line of Olympic-themed sportswear in honour of the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. But one garment in the collection–a Cowichan-style sweater (pictured above)–has attracted criticism. Coast Salish elders have called into question HBC’s decision to contract the manufacture of the sweaters to a non-Cowichan company. Cowichan Tribes chief Lydia Hwitsum claims that the traditional Cowichan design (like the one pictured below) is the intellectual property of her people.

Traditional Cowichan sweater

The discussion brings up interesting questions about who “owns” traditional designs, and how handmade things are used as cultural symbols.

You can read more about the Cowichan sweater tradition here, and here. There is also an NFB documentary on the subject, called “The Story of the Coast Salish Knitters”. Interested in questions of intellectual property and clothing, check out intellectual property lawyer Susan Scafidi’s excellent blog, Counterfeit Chic.

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

This year’s NSCAD Wearable Art Show is scheduled to take place next Wednesday evening on Granville Square.  The square will be transformed into a canopied gallery and performance venue. The show promises to be a fabulous and fascinating evening of avant-garde fashion and art. Tickets are $15 in advance (available at Venus Envy or on the NSCAD art supply store). Proceeds from the event will go to the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia and to the Wearable Art Scholarship Fund. See you there!

I grew up in a rural area of southern Ontario, and when I was about 12, my father somehow convinced me and my older sister to join the 4-H calf club. Membership in this club involved learning about cattle anatomy, diseases and husbandry in general. To join this club you were required to have a calf to train; this training would culminate in the 4-H kids parading their calves around in the cattle show of the local fall fair.

My pedigreed Polled Hereford heifer, Missy, had a lovely personality and we enjoyed our time together. Somewhere there is a photo of me on our farm sitting on her back as she grazed contentedly; this behaviour did not conform to show rules.

I wonder if it was her eventual tragic demise, however, that turned my attention to sheep?

A year or so later, my dad bought me two ewes. No pedigrees here. These Finn-Lincoln cross sheep were more like mutts. But they were my flock, and I stuck with sheep for several years beyond the 4-H course requirements and the Puslinch Fall Fair sheep show.

Yes that really is me, and yes I once was that skinny.

Yes that really is me, and yes I once was that skinny. The ewe is Nellie, who was generation 2, with her lambs.

The point of my reminiscing is that back then, when I was 17 and had eventually bred a flock of a dozen or so sheep — selling lamb chops to neighbours and selling poor-quality wool to whoever owned that truck that came to pick it up — who would have imagined that years later, I would be sponsoring a knitting category in another fall fair in another province? Not me, that’s for sure.

But, here we are. The Maritime Fall Fair is fast approaching, and The Loop is sponsoring a new knitting category in the Homemaking Competition: Lace scarf or shawl. The prize will be a lovely and generous gift bag from The Loop.

When I spoke to the organizers of the competition about the current interest in lace knitting, they seemed skeptical. I talked them into it. So please, all of you genius lace knitters out there, please don’t let them think I’m crazy. You have until October 6th to submit your entries. (Please don’t submit them to The Loop!)

Other knitting categories include various types of mittens, sweaters and socks.

You can view all the rules for all of the homemaking competition in a lengthy Word document, downloadable from the Fall Fair’s website. There are 21 points in the General Rules, so we recommend you download the prizebook and check it carefully. The rules include but are not limited to the following points:

¬ Articles will be received by officials in the Handcraft Division between the hours of 12:00 noon to 8:00 p.m. on Monday, October 6, 2008. ENTRIES ARRIVING LATE CANNOT BE ACCEPTED.

¬ Persons who cannot [deliver in person] their exhibits may send them express or mail prepaid, addressed to the Handcraft and Needle Arts Division Maritime Fall Fair, 200 Prospect Road, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3T 1P2. Such parcels must be mailed or expressed to reach the Exhibition no later than Monday, October 6th. at 12:00 noon.

¬ Exhibitors showing original designs are encouraged to send short descriptions of methods and materials used.

¬ Articles must have been completed within the past year.

We are constantly impressed by the talent of our customers, so we hope you will participate in the Maritime Fall Fair! You know you want a blue ribbon!

Cathy is merriment
Mimi is starlings
Morgan is pomoboho
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