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.

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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.

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A Visit to Baynoddy

It’s been a while since my last post – and I have no excuse. I fell off the regular writing wagon, what with work, life, knitting, etc. But I’m back!

And I’ve been thinking about the whole locavore thing.

Occasionally for a treat, I’ll go out for a nice meal at Mallard Cottage, or another of one of the happening restaurants in St. John’s that specialize in local food.  Who would have known that root veggies and cod would be so trendy?

The meal is always delicious, the atmosphere and service makes for a lovely evening out, but for my wallet, it’s pretty expensive. A meal for two, with wine, comes in at around $150. So, it’s not every week I can do this sort of thing.

I got to thinking about this when I paid a visit to the Fahey Farm recently, out in Chapel’s Cove, home to Baynoddy Knitwear, Spinning and Weaving.  

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Linda Lewis creates the gorgeous Baynoddy knitwear and woven textiles I’ve seen at craft fairs for years. Her husband is part of the Fahey family, which has operated this farm since 1789, which makes it oldest heritage farm in Newfoundland and Labrador.

These days, the Fahey Farm’s main crop is fibre.

Linda and her husband raise sheep, goats, and alpacas who provide the raw material for the Baynoddy sweaters and scarves.  

It was great to spend a couple of hours with Linda, touring the small farm, meeting the animals, and seeing the process of getting the fibre from the backs of the animals, through the cleaning, carding and spinning process, and then, finally to the sweater.  

See that hand spun skein of yarn? That came from Henry the Alpaca!

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That woven scarf over there? Half Clover the Sheep and Gertie the Goat.

It’s also really hard, time consuming work. They run a friggin’ farm. That means year round early mornings, late nights, and everything in between.

Washing, cleaning, carding, and spinning wool is a slow and careful process which requires a lot of time and even more patience.

That’s before Linda even gets to the weaving and the knitting.

It’s one thing for me to knit for fun, as a diversion at the end of a work day, but it’s another ball of wool to make a living from it.

I can totally understand why yarn and the finished products from Baynoddy are a bit pricey. Even so, I’m still amazed – and impressed – that Linda and her husband are making a go of it.  

In an ideal world, me and all the other local knitting fanatics would be buying all our supplies at Baynoddy and a handful of other local wood producing spots.

But for me, on a modest budget, artisanal yarn is a special occasion thing, just like having a meal at Mallard Cottage.

Then again, when I’m gonna splurge, I’m gonna splurge local.

So, while I was at Baynoddy, I picked up two skeins of 50% mohair and 50% wool, which means half Gertie the goat and half one of the sheep (I can’t remember which one).

I made a set of fingerless gloves and a matching earwarmer headband.

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Fashion and function!  

I’ll use them to punch up an otherwise blah outfit in the middle of winter.

Just like a meal and a night out at Mallard Cottage can punch up an otherwise blah week anytime of the year. 

P.S. Here is the result of my visit to Baynoddy from my day job.