Exciting 2019 news!

With the start of a new year, I have taken an adventurous leap off the Yarn Cove wharf and I have launched a Yarn Cove Facebook page.  

Now that Yarn Cove has some fabulous product photos, I asked some fellow crafters for some tips and advice, and I decided this was the right time to set it up.

This may seem less like a momentous occasion to you, and more of a “Oh cool. I’ll check that out” thing. But to me, it’s been slightly terrifying.

What if my page doesn’t get any likes? What if it does? What if people start ordering items? What if they don’t? Will I be able to keep up?

I decided to live on the edge, and put the Yarn Cove Facebook page out into the world.

The page went live a few days ago and thus far, nothing catastrophic has happened.

Yarn Cove on Facebook has a reasonable number of likes, some nice compliments, and I am already working on a couple of commissioned pieces.

The universe is continuing to function as usual, except now I am taking knitting requests.

So (deep breath) – check out Yarn Cove on Facebook and let me know what you think!


Fashion Shoot

Here at Yarn Cove, I have been so occupied with the knitting that I have just realized that I’m long overdue in getting some proper photos taken of my knitted goods.

I turned to  Ally Wragg, a young, award winning photographer, who happens to be my daughter Ella’s good friend. They brought along their friend Owen.

With me there as knitwear supplier and adjuster of cuffs, hats, etc – the four of us set out to a scenic part of Yarn Cove to take some product photos.

Here is the Republic hat….


…And some mittens. I have used the Signal Hill Pattern, from Saltwater Mittens by Shirley A. Scott and Christine LeGrow.  (Boulder Publications)

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Trigger Mitts. Pattern by Shirley A. Scott and Christine LeGrow.


Wreckhouse Wristers. Pattern by Andrea Babb.






I’m also posting these photos on the Shop Yarn Cove page.

Thanks, Ally, Ella and Owen!



Buttons – to me – are like light fixtures and draperies – I don’t normally pay any attention to them. I only notice them if something is wrong, like a bulb has burnt out, a curtain has been ripped by kitty claws, or a button is missing from a shirt.

Most of my knitting has turned out to be button-less, as I stick mainly to hats, mittens and socks.  

This summer, though, I spied a cute cardigan pattern with detachable sleeves. I thought it could be just the ticket for using up some leftover yarn in my stash. As it turned out, that cute cardigan pattern was very button-intensive.

There are many ways to knit buttonholes. Some patterns use a yarn-over method, like in a lace pattern. Others use casting off stitches then adding them in the next row.  There’s also a tangly method involving wrapping the yarn then turning the work, which baffles me. At one point during the cardigan project, I made a buttonhole by poking my finger through a loose stitch and just wiggling the hole a bit bigger. Hey, it worked.

Then there’s finding the right buttons. Turns out there are probably more button options in terms of size and style than there are yarn options. The button selection at one local fabric store kind of freaked me out.

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And the sizing of buttons. I discovered you really need to take your finished garment with you to that button wall and try fitting the buttons to the holes, not the other way around.

I mean, who knew?

However, all this button brow knitting has made me more aware of the world of clothing fasteners.  

At gift shops and craft fairs, I notice a lot of one-of-a-kind ceramic buttons. They’re really nice, but I draw the line at searching for a knitting project that suits a button.

The fabric shop where I buy buttons also features button grab-bags for a dollar or two. I picked one up on the way to the cash register.

They are perfect for projects that need buttons, but not buttonholes.

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A few months back, I was checking out the yarn selection in a small gift shop in Corner Brook. I didn’t find any yarn I liked, but there was a selection of really cute, quirky little buttons.  

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They might come in handy – eventually.  

Summer knitting

Summer in Yarn Cove this year has been especially warm and sunny. It would be a shame to be tied to a computer screen, so I have let the blogging slide.  

The knitting, however, is an all-weather activity.  


In July, I was invited to take part in an experimental electronic music/knitting/performance art piece as part of Sound Symposium XIX, an international sound and music festival that happens here every second year.

One of the visiting groups, Rokkur, combines the tools of knitting with electronics to create sounds while knitting and engaging in other woolly activities. I was put in touch with Sarah Albu, one of the members of Rokkur, nearly a year ago. Sarah asked me to wind up a posse of knitters who might be into doing a performance piece.

No problem. St. John’s is the kind of town where random acts of art happen.

Sarah was initially concerned that the knitters might be too shy to perform. Rokkur had encountered that in other cultures and countries.

No problem, I assured her. People in St. John’s are all about random acts of art.

In the end, there were four of us knitters, Sarah, and Reuben the improvisational clarinetist. (What would knitting performance art be without improvisational clarinet?)

We did a half-hour set at a Sound Symposium evening concert at the LSPU Hall.


Apparently we were a hit.

Annie Corcoran, Sarah Gordon, and the kind people at The Overcast express it more eloquently than I ever could.

In August, attached to my working life, I was invited to take part in the Winterset in Summer Literary Festival in Eastport.

It’s a gathering of writers, musicians, and people interested in such things in a lovely part of rural Newfoundland. I took a bagful of my completed knitting projects, just in case some of them might like a handmade souvenir.

The festival’s HQ is The Beaches Arts and Heritage Centre, a lovely performance and community space at Eastport.

I mentioned to Glendene at the Centre’s office, that I had a few pieces of knitting with me.

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Show me what you’ve got – says Glendene.

The next thing I know, Glendene is digging through my bag of socks, hats and trigger mitts, and she took the whole works on consignment.

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So now there’s a pile of Yarn Cove products for sale at the Beaches gift shop.

I am beyond excited, and I’m curious to see what sells.

It’s also great motivation for me to keep knitting – and get back at the blogging.



I usually knit for the extremities. Most often, I enjoy making hats, socks and mittens. Basically anything that covers the head, hands or feet and can be made with one skein.

But when I’m browsing through patterns online or in magazines, I get some serious sweater envy.  


There are some spectacular sweater designs out there….from contemporary spins on  traditional fishermen and Scandinavian patterns, to cutting edge modern looks.

The February Lady Sweater has been in my Ravelry queue for a couple of years, and over the winter, I finally made one.  


I love it, and I wear it everywhere. My friend, Danielle, loves it too so then I made one for her.


We’re both really happy with our sweaters, but I have to say, I found knitting them a bit of a drag after a while. Even though the sweaters I made took only four skeins of Cascade 220, it seemed like I was knitting each project for an eternity.

In the case of Danielle’s sweater, double eternity, since I had an unravelling misadventure with that one.

I like the smaller projects so much because they are short-term. By the time I get bored with a pattern or a yarn or a colour, I am finished. Generally, an accessory takes about one skein of yarn. So if whatever I’m working on is not my jam, it’s a small investment.

I also still fret a bit over fit. Despite making gauge swatches, I’m still never sure if the sweater is the right size. And for a sweater to look good, the fit has to be good. Hats, mittens and socks can fit a wide range of sizes.

However, I think I have found a cardigan compromise.


A few people I know have had babies recently. After mulling over what to knit, I found a one-skein sweater pattern that went well with some Berocco Vintage I had in my stash.

A fashion forward – and short-term – project.


With my adventures in sweaterland, I have changed the way I look at all those super fashionable sweater patterns.

I now look at that edgy asymmetrical cardigan the way I look at a home decorating magazine – I may love that mid century modern dining room – but I have no illusions that I will recreate it in my house.


There’s been a gap in my knitting blogging lately. Mostly because I’ve been spending a lot of time UN-knitting. I’ve been on a bit of an unravelling tear.


Earlier this winter, I enthusiastically dug into my second February Lady Sweater project – this one for my friend.

I decided to make a small change – decreasing the number of stitches by seven under each armpit, thinking that this would provide a better fit.

Then, about halfway down the body of the sweater,I knit a round of the four-row pattern backwards.

I  kept knitting. By the time I was working on the right arm sleeve I noticed I had a LOT of yarn left over. So I laid the sweater out for a look.  

Even my husband, who is usually oblivious to the subtleties of knitwear design, looked at it and said “uh oh.”

I had to unravel. The entire arm. The body up to the yoke.

It’s a good thing I like to knit.

My knitting spidey sense has developed to a point where within a few stitches or a couple of rows max, I sense a mistake, stop and look, and backtrack.  

For me, to unravel or not to unravel is about risk management. How much damage will I do unravelling then picking up stitches to start again? If I knit past the mistake, will anyone notice? How obvious is the unravelling?

When I started knitting, I simply plowed ahead regardless, Hence, the first hat that I made. I accidentally started knitting in the wrong direction at one point. I call that garter stitch row a “design feature.”


I can’t live any more with accidental design features. It’s a good thing I like to knit.  

So while I was knitting that sweater again, I got bored and looked for a short term project to mix things up.  I took out a skein of purple hand dyed wool, bought on last year’s trip to Portugal, with a mind to knitting a beret to spruce up my spring wardrobe.

I did a gauge swatch and got to work.

First off, I accidentally twisted the ribbing. Then, I realized the hat was about the size of a dinner plate. Then, attempting to try it on too soon, I ripped some stitches out.  


I had to unravel that beret three times before it worked.

Eventually the sweater got finished – a month behind schedule.

What did I learn from all this?

Even with gauge swatches, I don’t have a good sense of fit.

However, I have a stronger sense of quality control  

Most importantly, do not fear the unravel.

Local Yarn Store Day

Saturday April 21 was the first annual Local Yarn Store Day – so of course I had to do my part and go shopping at my two favourite local yarn shops in St. John’s.

Wool Trends – the jam packed, multipurpose wool shop on Hamilton Avenue, has re-opened under new owners –  Deirdre Vey and Jake Brennan, and the shop is transitioning to a new name – A Grand Yarn.

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Deirdre and Jake have gutted, renovated, and re-organized the place, and they are in the process of stocking up and getting to know their customers.


They are just getting started, but they have some intriguing plans. They are talking about using the upstairs for classes and events, setting up an online shop, and perhaps even home yarn delivery in the greater St. John’s area (!)   

Next – it was on to Cast On Cast Off on Duckworth Street. It turns out that April 21 is also Record Store Day, so my son and I carpooled to downtown, he went to Fred’s Records for the musical festivities, and I went a few storefronts down to Cast On Cast Off at Posie Row and Co.

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Katie Garibaldi has relocated Cast On Cast Off from the west end of Water Street to the Posie Row complex on Duckworth Street. It’s a smaller shop, but cozy and bright, and attracts both the knitting crowd and the general shoppers browsing through Posie Row.

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Cast On Cast Off, or COCO, as it’s known to its devotees, is where I go to get that one special skein for a special project, although Katie does stock some economical Briggs and Little and Cascade yarns. COCO is the only place I would pay $30 for a skein of sock wool. I don’t think I have ever paid that much for socks.

Katie is loads of fun, knows all her customers by name, and has comfy couches to encourage knitting and loitering.

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It was a productive day – I netted some everyday yarn for upcoming projects, and a fancy skein that I am going to use for an as yet to be determined, but classy, accessory.

Also,  I’m spending my money at local businesses, and I can’t ever have too much yarn.

Commissions and voyages

I grew up in pre-oil boom Newfoundland and Labrador. Most of my friends from high school and university are scattered across Canada and around the world, simply because most opportunities were elsewhere.

So it was great to see my old buddy Gilbert in town. Gilbert is a pilot based in Nova Scotia, and his work takes him all over the globe. A few of us went out for a pint at the Duke of Duckworth to catch up.  Gilbert mentioned my knitting and wondered if I could make a pair of traditional Newfoundland trigger mitts for a retirement gift for one of his colleagues.

At which point, my friend Danielle added, “Yeah, Heather – I meant it when I asked if you could knit that sweater for me!”

Two commissions!

First, the trigger mitts, since the retirement gift was needed by the end of the month. I had been wanting to try one of the latest patterns from Spindrift Handknits, called the Wesleyville Trigger Mitt,  and this was the perfect chance.  

Everything went along smoothly, until I discovered I was running low on Briggs and Little Regal Yarn in Dark Grey.



I did the 21st century thing – put out an appeal on Facebook, and within the day, I had bought enough dark grey from a friend’s stash to finish the project.

I’m just throwing it out there to all purveyors of knitting supplies in the St. John’s area: Briggs and Little REGAL yarn is an essential supply for all the traditional N.L. knits – If you stock it, we will buy it!!

Anyhow – back to the commissions. Danielle and I needed to go wool shopping.

Danielle is a visual artist, and I wanted her seal of approval for the colour of her February Lady Sweater.

An aubergine shade of Cascade 220 caught her eye.


The Wesleyville Trigger Mitts are done and in the mail.



Now I’m onto Danielle’s sweater. I’m really digging the colour.

As we were talking that night at the Duke of Duckworth, I mentioned that of all out of my friends, I have probably lived the most of my life in Newfoundland. Which is fine, but I think it would be nice to spend an extended period of time somewhere else, just for a change.

Gilbert said, “Well, just put the money for those triggers mitts in your trip fund.”

As for Danielle’s sweater, it’s already prepaid. You see, Danielle and her husband Jean-Marc lived for a couple of years in the south of France. My husband and I got to stay in their vacant apartment for a holiday a couple of years ago.

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I should probably knit Danielle’s entire wardrobe for the rest of her life.

Yarn Sale

I love a sale. I pride myself on buying anything at full price as rarely as possible.

So when I heard Posie Row was having a big sale this past weekend – I got myself downtown as quickly as possible.  

Posie Row is a funky gift and clothing shop in downtown St. John’s, which has recently expanded. Upstairs, the rooms are small micro-shops, rented to other local businesspeople. It’s kind of a cool little indie mall.

It’s where Cast On Cast Off,  the knitting shop with the fanciest yarn in town, has relocated – to a scenic third floor space.

I headed directly upstairs to check out the sale at Cast On Cast Off. I also had a skein of yarn left over from a previous project to return for store credit.

Store credit in hand, I browsed the sumptuous shelves. What to buy? Struck with indecision, I surrendered to my woolly surroundings and let the yarn choose me.


A Julie Asselin,  DK, merino and silk yarn, colour “kelp,” pulled me in.

On the main floor of Posie Row, I browsed through a sale dress rack and found a retro, black and white tweed shift dress, in my size, with a 75 per cent discount.  Obviously, I snapped it up.


Home, I laid out  my purchases and receipts.

I was thrilled with my spontaneous dress purchase. And I love the yarn.

But wait – I paid how much for that yarn?


At full price, obviously, the dress would  have been way more expensive than the yarn.  

However, on sale, the yarn was more expensive than the dress.

Ah, but I had a credit for the yarn, which means that I paid slightly less for the yarn than I did for the dress.

I know that dress will be in heavy rotation in my wardrobe. I’m wearing it to work this week. I can dress it up or down.

The yarn. There is enough of it to make one accessory item. I don’t even know what.

As I said to shop owner Katie while she rang in my purchase, “That yarn is speaking to me, but I have no idea what it’s saying.”

Katie nodded, understanding and enabling. “I hear you.”

So that’s where I am. I am willing to pay more for the raw materials to make a yet to be determined item of clothing than I am to buy a finished item.

It’s like paying more for the grapes than for the bottle of wine.

And, as you have read, I will go to great lengths (of yarn) to justify this to myself.


Vanity Projects

Now that Christmas knitting is over, it’s time for a little “me” knitting.

Most of my gift and commission knitting tends to be Newfoundland traditional style pieces made with Briggs and Little yarn.  I’ve been itching to work with yarn that’s different in size, texture and colour. Plus, other people get to wear stuff I made, so why shouldn’t I?

It’s vanity project time.

I made a short poncho as a Christmas gift out of some hand dyed Queensland yarn I snagged at a sale a few months back. I had loads left over, and it’s really nice. Obviously, I need a beret.


This northern European style Icy Water pattern has been in my Ravelry queue for some time, and I’ve wanted to try more Fair Isle knitting.

I had some soft acrylic solid and variegated yarn left over from a dog sweater. In addition to looking sharp on a chihuahua, I thought those yarns might look pretty good on me.   


Despite knitting a gauge swatch, it quickly became clear that this mitten would be way too small for my hand. Also, both yarns were pulling in on the wrong side of the mitten, making it even smaller on the inside. But it was so pretty I had to finish it. It reminds me of a stained glass window.


Now for the biggest vanity project of all: a sweater. I have admired the February Lady Sweater pattern on Ravelry for  ages, and I calculated that it could be made it in one of my favourite yarns, Cascade 220.


Sweaters are a good idea in theory, but I get impatient with longer projects and I get nervous about sizing.


I’ve  made gauge swatches, I’ve taken measurements, I’ve even compared stitch numbers with another Cascade 220 sweater, and I’m well into the February Lady project.  I still can’t tell whether it will fit me or even be wearable once it’s done.  

Oh well, it’s January. The weather is miserable. There are new things to watch on Netflix. I have passed the point of no return on this sweater.  

It’s all about me!