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I have to tell you something strange — recently I almost stopped knitting. I knit some things here and there, but in general I don’t pick up my knitting every free minute, as I did before. For the last three months, I was spending every free minute online trying to figure out if my home country, Ukraine, still exists. I won’t go into political stuff here, but you can imagine that a question of that magnitude can distract from.. pretty much everything else.

That’s why I was happy to hear that Phoenix Community Center offered me to teach a knitting class to its clients. The class is scheduled for six weeks, every Monday morning. Some people who signed up wanted to refresh their skills, and some wanted to try knitting for the first time. I started thinking about a useful project that would allow my students to practice basic stitches. When I was buying yarn, Louise from LK Yarns suggested making wristwarmers. I thought it was brilliant, and made one when I came home that very day. (There is no pattern — I cast on 40 sts and knit all stitches until the piece wrapped “snuggly” around my wrist. Sew the seam leaving the opening.)

Wristwarmers
My students liked the idea and three of them already finished their mitts! Another idea came from an experienced knitter who showed up with a dishcloth in progress. Suddenly, everyone wanted to make one. So we got some cotton yarn and learned to read a dishcloth pattern called Grandmother’s Favourite.

Dishcloth
Teaching knitting techniques to a group of knitters with different skill levels is tricky. It’s a bit chaotic, but also very fluid. I am just trying to meet everyone where they are and take it from there. Making samples boosted my knitting mojo a bit, and I was able to finish a sweater that was a WIP (work-in-progress) for almost two years.

DinosaurSweater

I don’t know what it says about me as a knitter, but I have no projects on the needles right now and no interest in starting one. Which is good, because I am going to sew another Ukrainian flag.

Ukrainian Flag

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You know Rachel, the owner of From Ewe to You in Lower Sackville, right? She supports the Liver Foundation and periodically organizes fun charitable events for this cause.

Last Thursday she hosted the Fastest Dishcloth in the East competition.

Brave knitters, who rigorously practiced making dishclothes at home, came forth and crossed their needles at 6:35 pm. The clock started ticking and the needles started clicking. What began as a fun activity soon turned into a foul play as it was clear that Rachel was winning. Some knitters lost their cool. Distracting cupcakes were offered. Suggestions were made to move closer to the table to see the pattern better. One crafty lady called the store from her cell phone hidden under the table to make Rachel get up and loose precious time. I am telling you, it was madness.

So while the knitters are clicking with their teeth clenched, let me give you a little tour of the store if you haven’t been there yet. We could probably agree that yarns stores are wonderful and magical places. They all have their distinct atmosphere and feel. From Ewe to You feels warm and friendly to me. It has a welcoming table with chairs around it. It has a huge sheep toy tucked under the table. My kids call him Sheepie and take turns riding him, a very helpful animal if you ever consider taking two preschoolers to the yarn store. It has Lost Mittens tree with a crow wearing a scarf.

It has a knitted Santa and at Christmas time they put up the wolliest Christmas tree I have ever seen.

Rachel herself is very nice and friendly. She provides useful public service to Lower Sackville knitters who knit for the IWK by collecting donated items and delivering them to the city. I picked up three bags full of baby hats that I will drop off at the hospital on Monday.

Did I tell you that the store has yarn, too? It does.

Back to our knitters. Rachel got carried away with her early success and blew past the decrease point ending up with 46 stitches instead of 43. There was evil laughter. One contender was so nervous, she kept dropping her needles, after which inappropriate giggles were heard. Meanwhile, some knitters passed the decrease line and were getting closer and closer to the finish. This happy knitter is Caroline, the Second Place Winner, who finished her dishcloth in 65 minutes. Rachel gave her the most logical gift, a bottle of dishwashing liquid, and Donna donated a family pass for the Haunted Hollow in Hammonds Plains. (They are scary but nice people who give money to local charities).

This is the Winning Dishcloth, that was finished in 55 minutes. The winner was really surprised and she confessed that it was her first dishcloth ever.

She was presented with these wonderful prizes, the Fastest Knitter in the East Cup, a pass to the Haunted Hollow and a beautiful Queen of the Dishcloth towel embroidered by Ann-Louise.

Thank you, everybody. It was a lot of fun.

Royally yours,
Queen Olha

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