Small Business in 2020

The hardest part of this current situation is not letting people into the store. I’ve disappointed a lot of people at the door, and last week got caught breaking my own rules in the worst way, and it’s left me with an uncomfortable feeling all week.

As much as I’m grateful to have the kind of business that can be recreated online (enough to survive), I dislike it passionately. An online business was not part of my plan, and especially for a fibre arts supply store where texture and colour mean everything to the customer. The in-person sensory contact and community space have always been the driving force of this shop, and Covid has changed all of that. It’s been hard for me to adjust all of this in my head and adapt at the same time.

I’m not good at saying no. I’m easily persuaded, to a fault sometimes. I always want to be able to help. Standing in the doorway of this beautiful shop saying “no, sorry, I can’t let you in” makes me feel awful, frustrated, sad, defeated… all of it.

It seems so simple, a quick pop in, grab something, go. That would be fine (maybe?) once, but being a retail outlet – who do I allow to be that maybe once? If I let one in how do I not let in another?

Then I’m in a situation where I’ve had too much contact with too many different people for my comfort zone.

I really don’t think people grasp the seriousness of living with a deep-seeded infection. I’m not afraid of dying from Covid, I’m afraid of living with it. I already have been living with an infection that stumps doctors and has caused an array of confusing symptoms, most of which untreatable. Eleven long, frustrating years I’ve lived with this, in pain, with constantly evolving symptoms clearly caused by inflammation that can’t seem to be controlled. Inflammation, y’know, like what Covid causes. I’d rather close the shop and lose everything than catch another inflammatory infection.

My need to limit the contact around the shop is serious.

It’s tough right now because the temperature is dropping, we don’t have the enclosed entrance ready – and to be honest, I’m not sure right now how I will operate with it when we do. Initially it will just be a warm place to grab your curb side pick up.

Rising case numbers, a testing fiasco, and winter approaching are all reasons to take a step back. There is a dangerous lean in Thunder Bay toward believing that because our numbers are low that it is somehow safer here. *Not for the immune compromised* – that way of thinking is a privileged perspective of survival of the fittest, with an added “may the odds forever be in your favour.” It’s truly heartless. Sadly some people just can’t understand without experience.

This region has a terrible way of saying that “there was only one death, and he already had cancer”… *only*… and I have to wonder how many of those people saying that would say that to his family? One of my dearest customers and friends has a daughter who has a history with cancer which resulted in a heart transplant; a daughter the same age as my daughter. Would those people say the same if it was “only” her?

Covid has really brought out a strange sacrificial allowance among some people. It’s something that won’t be tolerated in this inclusive community shop. I believe in protecting those who are most at risk, and putting strict limits on those who act fearlessly.

The shop isn’t wildly busy, it’s not more than I can handle, and if I do need help around the shop I have great people to call; the staff/instructors, and volunteers haven’t gone anywhere. These wonderful ladies and I have Zoomed our way through this and find our ways to connect. We enjoyed a great sidewalk reunion last week with Ashley, Katie and Eleanor, Dana, and the fab Heliina; Tiffany stopped by later in the day. I know Denyse and Kathy are out there (*waves*).

What is hard for me right now is keeping up with messages, and trying to get my communications out there. None of that is difficult to do – it’s just finding the time to do it. Finding that time with my head in the right place (which, frankly, has been challenging in itself lately) is additionally difficult.

Working parents do require time, time that daycare and school would allow, and without it Rohan and I are both feeling our focus is torn. We’ve switched from online to home schooling and it’s already helping us find a better balance, but it’s still not easy.

(And we just have one little one with two of us! For those who are single parents [which I was for 11 years], or any with multiple children I understand the impossible, exhausting situation and applaud you.)

Applying for grants and business financial assistance (none of which have come through …yet?) is also time and emotion consuming. I really loathe doing that stuff, it makes me whiney. It’s also not necessarily difficult, but dealing with whiney me is. Me dealing with whiney me is difficult, so I’m sure Rohan agrees with a big 🙄.

None of this has anything to do with wool and yarn. None of it gives me time or energy to be creative, or focus on the “yarn shop” aspect of owning a small business. It’s all business-ey stuff, tech work, email overload, computer/phone work, …all the stuff I thought I would tolerate in exchange for the creative outlet the shop provides.

Without the people, and creative outlet I’m left feeling rather unenthusiastic about my daily tasks, and I think it shows. Thankfully I know I’m not alone, I know lots of people are feeling the gravity of changes to their daily life. None of it is easy to navigate, but at least we can remind ourselves we’re not alone.

I’ll end this long winded ramble on a positive note, saying that I’m determined to keep the shop evolving through this, with the end goal of being able to safely gather together again, shop in person, touch, talk, laugh, and inspire each other. And hugs.

If we take care of each other we’ll get there.

Thank you for all the continued kind messages and support!

Needle Felted Gingerbread Cookies

Recipe for Needle Felted Gingerbread CookiesIMG_2802

For this project you will require a foam work surface and I strongly recommend leather finger protectors.


The process of needle felting is simple: pierce the wool lightly and repeatedly with the needle. The barbs of the felting needle bind the micro fibres of the wool, which holds the shape. 

Needle felting is a slow process, many people describe it as meditative and relaxing. I spend approximately 45 minutes working on each cookie before decorating.

A gentle touch with the felting needle is all that’s needed. The more you felt the more your project will compress and the smaller and dense it will become.

For the 2×2.5 inch cookie cutter included in the kit, use approximately 3 inches/2

grams/.05 ounce of wool roving. To make your own using a standard 3×3.5 inch cookie cutter use approximately 5 inches/5 grams/.10 ounce of merino wool roving for each cookie. These amounts are variable. My finished cookies are 5-8mm thick (depending on which size cutter I use), soft and bendable, but sturdy and solid.


Let’s Begin!

Place the cutter on the foam work surface.

Pull off a small tuft of wool roving, and pull the fibres apart using your fingers to fluff and mix it up. Work using small amounts at a time to prevent clumping. Place the puff of wool into the cutter and repeat this process until the cutter is solidly filled.

Using a medium gauge felting needle, pierce the wool in the cutter until it felts down. You may need to add more wool here and there, especially in the feet and hands. Once the cookie starts holding its shape, flip the cutter and felt from the other side.IMG_2867Be sure not to felt deeply into the foam work surface. The foam is there just to be a soft surface to work against. Allowing your needle to pierce the foam too much will both dull the needle and waste your energy. Remember, you are felting the wool, not the foam.

Take care to not hit your needle against the metal cutter. This is an easy way to break your needle. Use the cutter as a guide, carefully felting the wool along the edges.

Continue to felt both sides, flipping the cutter periodically to make sure you’re creating an evenly felted surface.

Once the cookie is felted and holds its shape outside the cutter, continue to felt the surface with a fine felting needle to smooth the surface, Wearing finger protectors is a good idea for this part!

Decorate your cookie with colourful wool roving, beads, wool yarn, or embroidery floss. String them together as a garland, add a ribbon to create an ornament for the tree. These little guys make a great hostess gift, or a nice addition to tie on to a gift this holiday season.IMG_2815

Please don’t eat wool cookies. ;o) 


Kits are sold at the shop!IMG_2926

Batty McBatface ~ Crochet Pattern

IMG_2162For this project you will require:

Wool: approximately 75 yards (I used Cascade 220 Superwash) (worsted weight), and a small amount of an alternative colour for the bat’s nose.

A crochet hook suitable to your yarn weight. (When making amigurumi I recommend using a smaller hook than your yarn weight suggests. This keeps stitches tight, creating a solid fabric.) I used a 4mm hook when making these bats.

darning needle

7mm safety eyes 

soft fibre fill

stitch marker

Stitches and Abbreviations (North American terms):

magic circle (magic ring, magic loop):
Make a loop a few inches from the end of your yarn. Grasp the join of the loop (where the 2 strands of yarn overlap) between your left thumb and forefinger. Insert hook into the loop from front to back. Draw up a loop (also known as a chain [ch 1]). Insert hook into the loop, so you are crocheting over the loop and the yarn tail. Draw up a loop to begin your first sc of Round 1.

yo = yarn over:
Yarning over (abbreviated yo) in crochet is the most basic step when making a stitch. Yarning over means wrapping the yarn over your crochet hook. Yarn overs are used before or after you insert the hook into the next stitch, and depending on the stitch you are working, you may yarn over two or more times.

sc = single crochet stitch
Insert the hook through stitch space, yarn over and pull through from back to front.

sc inc = single crochet increase stitch
Two single crochet stitches into one stitch of the previous round.

sc dec = single crochet decrease stitch combines two stitches from the previous round into one stitch. (I use the invisible decrease stitch: hook through the front loops of the next two stitches to decrease (three loops on the hook), yarn over and pull through the first two loops, yarn over again and pull through the two loops on the hook.)

fasten off = pull the working yarn through the stitch to close the loop to finish the project

Let’s Begin!

Body & Head

Worked from the bottom up in one piece:

Magic circle with eight single crochet stitches, join (do not slip stitch) and begin:

Round 1 – 2 sc in each (16)

Round 2 – sc, sc inc, repeat (24)

Round 3 – 2sc, sc inc, repeat (32)

Round 4 – sc in each (32)

Round 5 – sc in each (32)

Round 6- sc, sc dec, repeat (24)

Round 7 – sc in each (24)

Round 8 – 2 sc, sc dec, repeat (18)

Round 9 – sc in each (18) 

Round 10 – 3 sc, sc dec, repeat (16) (stuff the body with some fibre fill)

Round 12 – sc in each (16)

Round 13 – sc dec, repeat (8)

Round 14 – 2 sc in each (16)

Round 15 – sc, sc inc, repeat (24)

Round 16 – 2 sc, sc inc, repeat (32 (continue stuffing the body with a little more fibre fill, using the back end of your hook to stuff it through and into the neck.)

Round 17 – sc in each (32)

Round 18 – sc in each (32)

Round 19 – sc in each (32)

Round 20 – sc in each (32)


Round 21 – 2 sc, sc dec, repeat (24)

Round 23 – 1 sc, sc dec, repeat (16) (Place eyes into the face between rounds 18-19 eight stitches apart.) (This is a good time to stitch the nose in place.)

Round 24 – sc dec, repeat (8) (fishing adding fibre fill)


Fasten off leaving a long tail, sew through the last six stitches to close them, then sew the tail through the body (to hide) and snip off the remaining end.

For the Ears:

Begin with a magic circle with three single crochet stitches.

Round 1 – 2 sc in each (6)

Round 2 – 2 sc in first stitch, sc in each of the rest in the round (7)

Round 3 – 2 sc, sc inc, repeat (9)

Round 4 – 3 sc, sc inc, repeat (11)

Round 5 – 4 sc, sc inc, repeat (13)

Round 6 – 5 sc, sc inc, repeat (15)IMG_2084

Round 7 – sc in each (15)

Round 8 – sc in each (15)

Fasten off. Fold the ear in half and (using the daring needle) sew the two sides together with a single stitch. Attach to the top of the head on either side above the eyes.

For the Legs:

Chain 8.


Stitching into the back bar of the chain: sc in the second chain from the hook, sc in the next back bar of the chain (2),

Chain 3, stitching into the back bar of the chain: sc in the second chain from the hook, sc in the next back bar of the chain (2),

Chain 3, stitching into the back bar of the chain, 


sc in the second chain from the hook, sc in the next back bar of the chain (2),

Pick up the two loops of the previous two chains (three loops on the hook), yarn over, pull through all three loops, yo and single crochet into each of the back bar of the remaining chain (5).


Repeat for second leg.

Attach to the bottom of the bat body using the darning needle.


Note: To keep stitches facing the same way for both wings: when working on the bat’s right wing chain one and turn on the first row of the wing. For the bat’s left wing chain one but don’t turn, instead fold the chain stitch around the arm and begin working stitches into the chain.  

Chain 18IMG_2101

Stitching into the back bar of the chain: sc in the second chain from the hook, sc in the next back bar of the chain (2),

Chain 3, stitching into the back bar of the chain: sc in the second chain from the hook, sc in the next back bar of the chain (2),

Chain 3, stitching into the back bar of the chain, sc in the second chain from the hook, sc in the next back bar of the chain (2),

Pick up the two loops of the previous two chains (three loops on the hook), yarn over, pull through all three loops, yo and single crochet into each of the back bar of the remaining chain (15).

Chain 1, turn, sc in each of the next 15 stitches, chain 1, turn, sc in each of the nest 15 stitches, chain 1, turn,

sc in each of the next 14 stitches, chain 1, turn, sc in each of the next 14 stitches, chain 1, turn,

sc in each of the next 13 stitches, chain 1, turn, sc in each of the next 13 stitches, chain 1, turn,

sc in each of the next 12 stitches, chain 1, turn, sc in each of the next 12 stitches, chain 1, turn,

sc in each of the next 11 stitches, chain 1, turn, sc in each of the next 11 stitches, chain 1, turn,

sc in each of the next 10 stitches, chain 1, turn, sc in each of the next 10 stitches, fasten off leaving a long tail for sewing.

Repeat for second arm/wing, noting the differences stated above.

IMG_1993I suggest blocking the wings. “Blocking” in knitting and crochet is a term used to describe the process of gently cold water washing a finished project to relax and soften the fibres. Once bathed in cold water, the item is layed down and pinned to shape to a breathable surface. Blocked garments hang better, move more naturally, and look neater.

In the case of amigurumi parts, there’s no rocket science involved. I used a washcloth from the shop that I use when wet felting, pinned the wings spanned out and let them dry. IMG_2160

Sew the wings to the bat body using the darning needle. Sew the arm to the neck and the base of the wing to just above the leg on either side. Tack the arm to the neck with a single stitch, then tack the base just above the leg. The wing will find a natural curve around the body: stitch from the leg to the neck then secure with a knot to the neck stitch. Hide the ends of the yarn by stitching through the body and clipping the ends.


Enjoy your bat!IMG_2162

Chronic Pain and the Work-Life Balance

I talk a lot about emotional healing. I’ve lived through a trauma that no one wishes on their worst enemies. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t feel _all_ the emotions. Some are days I can tolerate and push through, others make me feel like I’m falling all day.

On another personal healing note, this has been a very challenging summer for me with ongoing physical pain. I try hard to not put my physical challenges in the spotlight, and certainly not at the forefront of the wool shop. My hope for the shop is for it to feel like it belongs to our community, and isn’t all about me, so I try to keep the social media feeds focussed, while at the same time staying authentic and relatable.

The humidity this summer aggravated inflammation in my body in ways I haven’t experienced in years. Many days in recent months have been excruciating, but I’m very good at “walking it off”, dealing, staying on top of acupuncture and other therapies. I wear pain extremely well. Too well.

Flare ups can come out of nowhere, affect any joint or limb in my body- usually my arms, shoulders, and often my hips. They can last a few days to a couple weeks, and shift throughout my body in that time. The pain can waffle between a nuisance to debilitating. The last few days have been on the debilitating side. When it’s this bad I can’t do simple things like: get dressed by myself, wash or do my hair properly, put a bra on, pull up my underwear, put deodorant on… – these all become things that my amazingly supportive husband will do for me. Obviously in days like this I can’t drive, or do basic household things – which is extremely difficult when you have a small child.

This morning I had an injection of a powerful anti inflammatory and given some back up pills. I’m not crying anymore so I’d say it’s starting to work.

The culprit? Call me a medical mystery. It all started ten years ago in August 2009 when I caught what I thought was a flu. Within days I was having major flank pain, and by the time I saw my doctor I was deep into neurological problems. Lead suspect at first was Lyme’s, but since then

I’ve been diagnosed with everything from fibromyalgia to MS. It’s not MS. Current leading theory is back with Lyme, but what to do about it after ten years is highly questionable.

When I was first having symptoms it was primarily weakness in my hips and legs accompanied by extreme neurological pain in my shoulders and arms. Sitting has been extremely difficult at times over the years. I have to be able to move around freely to “walk it off” when needed.

Crochet, felting, knitting, and photography have all been outlets for me to both use my arms and keep sensation flowing, as well as a creative platform to seek mental healing. It’s not always easy, my arms often hurt and my coordination can be iffy., but I persevere because what else can I do.

I’m sharing all this now in order to explain a few reasons why I occasionally have to close the shop without much notice. Thankfully I have an amazing team of friends who volunteer and help out in all kinds of ways, but sometimes there are days I just can’t control it all. Thankfully I also have a supportive community with customers who understand the work-life balance.

Tomorrow, Friday August 23rd, my husband has to leave town to travel to Ottawa to pick up our daughter and all her belongings as she is now finished her university degree. I’m a very proud mom and excited to have her home, briefly. She’ll be heading off to basic trading with the Canadian Armed Forces shortly and off on endless adventures from there.

This also means that as of tomorrow morning I’m alone with our youngest, who still rides in a car seat. I have no strength to put the car seat in a cab, and likely won’t be able to drive myself anyway, which leaves us few options for both getting to daycare and work, but also getting home at the end of the day.

If this anti inflammatory shot doesn’t work by tomorrow I won’t be able to go anywhere. It’s not just about driving, but drying off after my shower, getting dressed, and simple basic life needs.

Hopefully the medication will kick in enough to allow me to move around tomorrow and be here at the shop – my healing space.

How much does this suck? So many ways. I want to be out on my bike again, I want to go kayaking, and I want to be able to pull my pants up after visiting a bathroom. Is that too much to ask?

While I continue to look for a solution to my problems I thank you for your patience and understanding. Chronic illnesses are often invisible to others, but are very, very real to those suffering.

My family doctor is very supportive and curious, and I have a team of support: acupuncture, physio, chiropractor, naturopath/nutrition, restorative yoga… you name it, I’ve got them by my side. What I don’t have is an infectious disease specialist focussed on chronic Lyme Disease. If any of you know of a doctor who could help I’m willing to go anywhere.

Thank you, everyone, for all you understanding.

Crochet Easter Egg Pattern

For these simple Easter eggs I used various yarn scraps. Any yarn will do, you can even mix and match scraps into stripes or colour work patterns. Obviously, a sock weight yarn will create a small egg, and an aran weight will create a larger egg. Most of my eggs were made with my go-to worsted weight yarn.

You will need:

  • 4 yards (or so) of yarn scraps
  • A crochet hook appropriate to your yarn (I often use a hook smaller than recommended to ensure a tight stitch, resulting in a solid fabric.)
  • Stitch marker (use your stitch marker to mark stitch number 1 of each round.)
  • A small amount of fibre fill
  • Darning needle


magic loop (magic ring, magic circle): Make a loop a few inches from the end of your yarn. Grasp the join of the loop (where the 2 strands of yarn overlap) between your left thumb and forefinger. Insert hook into the loop from front to back. Draw up a loop (also known as a chain [ch 1]). Insert hook into the loop, so you are crocheting over the loop and the yarn tail. Draw up a loop to begin your first sc of Round 1.

yo = yarn over: Yarning over (abbreviated yo) in crochet is the most basic step when making a stitch. Yarning over means wrapping the yarn over your crochet hook. Yarn overs are used before or after you insert the hook into the next stitch, and depending on the stitch you are working, you may yarn over two or more times.

sc = single crochet stitch Insert the hook through stitch space, yarn over and pull through from back to front.

sc inc = single crochet increase stitch Two single crochet stitches into one stitch of the previous round.

sc dec = single crochet decrease stitch Combining two stitches from the previous round into one stitch. Hook through the front loops of the following two stitches, yarn over and pull through both loops of the stitches, yarn over again and pull through the two loops on the hook, continue on to the next stitch.

fasten off = pull the working yarn through the stitch to close the loop to finish the project

Let’s begin!

Begin with a magic circle of 6 sc crochet stitches.

Round 1: sc in each (12)

Round 2: sc, sc inc – repeat (18)

Round 3: 2 sc, sc inc – repeat (24)

Round 4-10: sc in each (24)

Round 11: sc, sc dec – repeat: (18)

Round 12: sc in each (18)

Round 13: sc, sc dec – repeat: (12)

Stuff your egg with a small amount of fibre fill.

Round 14: sc in each (12)

Round 15: sc dec repeat: (6)

Fasten off.

Use a darning needle to stitch the remaining six stitches closed, then thread the yarn end though the egg to hide it, and snip off any remaining yarn end.

Decorative tip: Consider using other yarn scraps to decorate your egg using embroidery techniques.

If you’re interested in an Easter egg pattern that opens up allowing you to hide a small treasure or treat inside, check out my pattern for opening eggs:

Designer’s choice: not all my eggs are the same size – some have an extra round of stitches, others have a row less. The size is often dictated by the amount of yarn I have, and remembering that this is not an exact science, and some variation makes the end result a lot more interesting.

Spring Onion Crochet Pattern

Spring OnionIMG_3403 (2)
Crochet Pattern

For this project you will need:

9 yards of worsted weight yarn in white
(I used Cascade 220 superwash.)

1 yard of worsted weight in light/lime green yarn

48 yards of a soft dk weight yarn in forest green
(I used Diamond Luxury Collection
100% Super Baby Alpaca.)

a pair of 6 or 7 mm safety eyes

a small amount of fibre fill

3.75mm crochet hook

a darning needle

a stitch marker

Optional: some rustic jute twine to tie around your onion in a bow for decoration
– or to tie a bunch together.

Let’s Begin!IMG_3409 (1)

For the white part of the onion:
Begin with a magic circle of 6 single crochet stitches

Round 1: 2 sc in each (12)

Round 2: 1 sc, sc inc (repeat) (18)

Round 3: 2 sc, sc inc (repeat) (24)

Rounds 4-6: sc in each (24)

Round 7: sc, sc dec (repeat) (18)

Round 8: sc in each (18)

Place the safety eyes between rows 5 and 6
approximately 6 or seven stitches apart.

Round 9: sc, sc dec (12)

Round 10: sc in each (12)


Round 11: sc in each (12)

Round 12: sc in each (12)

Fasten off leaving an end long enough to sew to the green stalks.

Stuff your onion with a small amount of fibre fill.

To make the white roots for your onion:
Use your leftover white yarn, and with your darning
needle thread through the bottom where the magic
circle comes together. Stitch six or eight times leaving
two inch long loops. Snip the ends of the loops, then
untwine the ply of the yarn to create the squiggles.

Green StalksIMG_9499

To make the stalks stitch approximately 70 rounds in total slowly increasing from six stitches to ten.
There is no exact process of increasing, in fact by using a different count for each stalk, your onion will look more realistic. Your green onion stalks should measure between 8.5 and 10 inches when finished.

Fasten off two of the stalks, leaving a longer end on the third for sewing together.

Make three:

Magic circle of 3 sc crochet stitches

Round 1: 2 sc in each (6)

Rounds 2-9: sc in each (6)

Round 10: add one sc to this round anywhere (7)

Rounds 11-25: sc in each (7)

Round 26: add one sc anywhere (8)

Rounds 27-40: sc in each (8)

Round 41: add one sc anywhere (9)

Rounds 42-58: sc in each (9)

Round 59: add one sc anywhere (10)

Rounds: 60-70: sc in each (10)

To attach the green stalks to the white onion:

First, fasten off two of the green stalks, leaving the third with aIMG_3407 (1)long end for sewing.

Sewing just in the centre of the three stalks,
stitch the stalks together either using a slip stitch with your crochet hook or by using the darning needle.

Continue to stitch them together in the centre until you have approximately 12 stitches
around outside of the three stalks.

Use the light/lime green to sew the white onion to the green stalks, placing two stitches into each stitch.

Decorate your onion with a small piece of jute twine wrapped around a few times
then tied into a bow.

IMG_9501 (1)

Download the FREE PDF here:

Spring Onion Crochet Pattern

September 18th

My business is named for my children – my three children if you consider my logo. When people ask what ‘Olives and Bananas’ means I always reply that it’s a play on words using the names of my two living children, Oliver and Hannah, and when the moment seems right (which most often it is) I add that the dragonfly in the logo is for our son, Finn, who lived and died in 2013.


In the first few years after Finn lived and died I spent a lot of time reflecting and writing about him.
I didn’t go out much, I felt exposed and fragile, while also feeling like my heartache was being worn like heavy armour. Five years later I still feel that way, though over time I’ve found ways to express my grief that make it more comfortable to wear.
In those first years there was a lot of alone time and space to think. I needed to talk about him, but silently while I worked on the right words. It was easy to purge my feelings in the Instagram community because I knew there were others out there who identified with my words, and that made it safe.
In the past year my safe place has become the wool shop. I know that one of the many reasons I don’t write as much about Finn as I once did is because I talk about him more, I have real life conversations about him now in ways couldn’t before. This past year has forced me into the confrontations and questions I feared the most, and in that I learned that I can handle it, I can cry in front of someone and recover and move on with my day, I can catch my breath. It’s okay to cry, it’s okay if I cry, and we can hug it out – or better let’s dance it out like Grey’s.
The subject of child loss isn’t one that comes up often in casual conversation, but because the “how many kids do you have?” question is asked all too often, for some of us child loss does come up all.the.time.
I could have avoided the subject more easily by naming my shop ‘Amy’s Wool Shop’ or something equally uninspired, but there wasn’t much heart in that, and not in line with what the shop is about. More often than not people who shop & stitch here are making something for someone else; if not it’s something special for themselves. It’s more about the pride in creating and giving than anything else, and it’s been deeply inspiring to be surrounded in that kind of sharing.
I think naming the shop for my children points to who I’m creating for and why on a personal level, which opens the door to deeper conversations – which I think is lovely, and we need more of that in this world.


There’s a perception is that the subject of child loss is too sad or complicated to talk about openly, and I know some people worry about my response and wonder if they should bring up Finn and his story. You should, you always should. It would be much more sad to not hear his name, or feel like he’s being forgotten because he’s not physically present. When his name is said aloud he is acknowledged, as is our grief, and makes me feel less alone in remembering him.
The experiences in the months since opening the shop have been hard to put into words for many enormous and extraordinary reasons. There have some been some really profound exchanges and heartfelt moments, confessions, tears, sharing, hugs, laughter, …all the emotions that seem indescribable when I try to transcribe them.
IMG_0745 (2)
Finn’s photo in his rainbow knit elf hat hangs prominently in the shop. That hat, that photo, that memory… it all represents such an important step toward my business – long before I even knew the direction I was headed. By the time the path appeared I was already well on my way.
Some of you have come in wearing dragonfly clothing or jewelry as a gesture in honour of Finn. Some have brought me little dragonfly trinkets, candles, and bookmarks. You have shared heartfelt stories about what dragonflies mean to you, and the folklore that makes you believe there’s something magical about them. All of this demonstrating the best of the human heart, and I’m eternally grateful.
Finn’s dragonflies originate in a simple pencil drawing by Betsy Bowen, whose original sketch of ‘green darner dragonflies’ for the book Hawk’s Ridge was for sale as part of the 2012 Crossing Borders Art Studio Tour. I bought it a few months before I was even pregnant, but knew it was special instantly. It was he first thing I hung in Finn’s nursery in 2013.
In the shop I’ve been visited by other bereaved parents, who find the right moments to share their stories. Talking openly together somehow softens the effects of our tragic stories. Losing a child can feel isolating, it’s an incomprehensible grief unless you’re in it. You can imagine the worst – and I’ve lived the sad losses: my parents are both gone, friends, deeply missed, so many people live in my heart…, but nothing compares to the longing for Finn. My little Finn…
It is so important to me that Finn is remembered for living as much if not more than because he died so young.
He lived.
Finn brought so much joy, relief, peace, and hope to our family when he was born. A rainbow baby himself, he was a bright light after years of miscarriages. Once he was in my arms I felt calm like I hadn’t in years. The future was wide open with potential and possibilities.
He was such a beautiful baby; his golden hair and bright, curious eyes made my heart melt. Tiny and loud, he was perfect in every way.
He had visitors, people held him, we all cooed over him. I nursed him, changed him, bathed him… unaware that all these firsts were his last. Our last. The only.
His death blindsided us.
Five years later and for weeks now I haven’t been sleeping well. I’m waking in the very early hours and can’t fall back asleep despite all my hacks. In the months following Finn’s death I couldn’t sleep without some kind of white noise being pumped into my head, anything to drown out the wheels turning. The only times I felt I really slept was after an acupuncture treatment, and though I still see my acupuncturist weekly it’s not enough to ease this restlessness.
Every morning for weeks I’ve felt butterflies and anxiousness as if I’m heading into an important interview and it’s messing terribly with my physical well-being.
There’s nothing in particular keeping me awake or making me feel anxious; it’s simply a function of grief and the time of year bringing all the feelings to the surface. The air, the way the sun rises and sets, the changing colours of autumn, all of these earthly reminders of Finn are impossible to escape. And why would I want to? It’s always been my favourite time of year. I felt so lucky to be able to celebrate my special boy in this beautiful season.
Now he is everything autumn is to me; he is the lake breeze, the sunrise and shine, and all the warm colours – everything reminds me of him. It’s both paralyzing and full of static energy. He’s my forever baby, he will never grow up, he will never have a first day of school, ride a bike, play with friends, choose Halloween costumes, or celebrate Christmas. All these occasions still come and pass without him, and all I can do is imagine him and wonder who he would be.
September is difficult to navigate. This year I’ve felt numb, distracted, and unable to express myself in the ways I’ve found healing in the past. I’ve learned enough from previous years to know that I can’t predict anything, the triggers will catch me off guard, some will devastate me and others will lift me (and everything in between). I try not to schedule too much or makes plans knowing that each day needs its own space.
Five years ago I thought I would never leave the house again. I definitely wouldn’t have believed I would be running a wool shop, talking to people about Finn, least of all smiling.
Thank you, to all of you who have shown such genuine thoughtfulness, compassion, and empathy for my little Finn, myself and my family. I’ve learned a lot more about humanity this year than wool. We really do need more togetherness in this world because we heal better in groups leaning on one another.

I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.

Making of a Wool Shop: The Children’s Play Area

This area of the shop has evolved into a space of its own.

I knew the wall gets too much sun for yarn storage, so my first thought when I was planning the space was that it would be the community space. The wall did scream for a fireplace, and I loved the idea of cozy fireside seating by windows. We in the north have to source as much light and heat at possible!

It IS a cozy seating area beside a window and a fireplace, but it has become more of a children’s playroom than a yarn lovers gathering space. Stitchers do sit by the fire occasionally, but we usually squeeze around the three tables even if there’s too many of us. 😀 (which is so fun!)

The area around the fireplace grew into a wonderful play area for kids. The little table originally had a glass top and I had plans to fill it with decorative wool displays, but before I could put the glass back after painting it somehow filled with Oliver’s toys.

I’m often thanked for creating the space, but really it created itself. Kids now enjoy coming to the wool shop, and moms, dads, and grandparents appreciate the distraction while they shop. Sometimes kids have to be dragged out kicking and screaming when it’s time to go. :S

There’s a lot of weird stuff to pique the imagination: a mounted unicorn head (custom made by the beautifully talented @mommycansew), a monster garland made by @camphappyheart and me, melting snowmen, a toy alien by @sewwhimsicalbykatie, little felted creatures, crochet Oliver in a pumpkin, sheep and alpaca toys, and of course Shaun the Sheep on the smart tv.

This area isn’t what I originally planned but I couldn’t be happier with what it has become. I love that kids enjoy coming to the shop, and that their guardians feel a little less stress about taking littles out shopping. I know the juggle well.

My hope for a community creative space is constantly both affirming my intention and evolving on its own. It’s a great thing to watch.

Thank you all for making the shop what it is today!

Summer Stitch Along

Our summer stitch along is designed to be a workshop on the go. It’s difficult, especially in summer, to commit to weekends in a row at the yarn shop to complete a project in a designated workshop. By stitching along you can join us at the shop for tutorials and socials, while working on the steps in your own time.

To participate simply purchase your pattern from the designer and come by the shop to find your yarn. Cast on is June 16th from 1:00-4:00 pm at Olives and Bananas (or contact the shop to arrange a time to get you started).

Tiffany and I have been planning a combination of knit and crochet projects to keep us busy this summer. The Atelier cardigan by Heidi Kirrmaieris is our knit project, which Tiffany will lead. At the shop Tiffany has set aside kits of yarns measured in appropriate quantities for various sizes, so you don’t have to search the store for enough of the right yarn to use with this pattern. Don’t like what you see in the kits? We can help you find a yarn you’ll love.IMG_2423 (1)

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I will host a couple different crochet projects: a simple amigurumi giraffe and a pretty crochet shawl made of flower motifs:

The amigurumi giraffe is one of my favourite toy patterns. It is designed by Allison North of KornflakeStew. Her patterns are well written, simple, and accessible for a beginner. Find her giraffe pattern here. IMG_1126 (2)

The amigurumi toys I make are worked in the round and all begin with the magic loop. This is an important step you’ll need to master to begin making these patterns. It just takes a little practice. Sharon Ojala has a simple YouTube tutorial on beginning that magic loop: watch it here. There are a few different approaches to the magic loop, but this video is closest to how I do it.

The Posy Crochet Shawl by Amanda Perkins was inspired by her summer garden, so I thought it was an appropriate project for the summer. This is a great pattern to use bits from your stash, or you can use just a couple colours to create a pattern. It would also look nice in autumn colours. There are lots of possibilities.


Once again, to participate: purchase your pattern(s) from the designers, find your yarn from Olives and Bananas, and join Tiffany and I for the cast on June 16th from 1:00-4:00pm.