I didn’t mean to be gone so long! The last time I wrote, I tried to convey that I had a strange sense of foreboding. Well, strange things did, in fact, happen around here. Then, I got sick. I’ve had a head cold/cough for the better part of a month. I just started to feel like it was going away…aaaaaaaannd then it was back. Now, finally, I think I have the upper hand! I’m feeling my energy return, and just in the nick of time. I have to scramble, because I’m a bit behind in Christmas preparations! Luckily, my knitting mojo didn’t desert me. I knit and read a lot, in between the coughing fits. Okay, whining over.

So, how have you all been? I hope you’re all looking forward to the holidays. I’m looking forward to having my family all together this Christmas. My sister will be traveling from Ottawa, and I can’t wait ’til she gets here. Both of my kids had school Christmas concerts, which were so enjoyable. I was amazed that my 4 year old son didn’t get stage fright. He actually sang, until he saw the movie projection behind him. That was evidently far more interesting than singing. So, he spent the rest of the concert facing backwards. My husband and I had a good laugh, and we have a nice videotape of the back of my son’s head.

So, I’ll show you a couple of the things I knit. Due to my cold, I felt the need for some warm woollies. I have been wanting to knit this scarf for a long time, and I finally got around to it. It was a fun, quick knit.

My So Called Scarf

My So Called Scarf

My So Called Scarf

Yes, that’s me, sick as all get out, standing in the snow without a hat on! Well, I knit a hat too.

Turn a Brim

  • Materials: Belfast Mini-Mills Ltd. Chunky Merino Wool, 1 skein.
  • Needles: 4mm for the ribbing, & 4.5mm.
  • Sometime I’ll knit a fancy schmancy hat, to go with the scarf. However, right now, my aim was warmth, so I chose the thickest yarn I had in the stash, and it happened to be winter white. This hat is a cross between the Turn A Square hat, by Jared Flood, and the Brangelina hat, by Crazy Aunt Purl. I had a problem with stretchy cast-ons. I started with Eunny’s tubular cast on, which wasn’t nearly stretchy enough. I ripped that out and started again with Ysolda’s version of the tubular cast on, which was much more stretchy but very bulky looking. I carried on and knit the hat anyway. When I was finished the whole hat, I ripped out the cast on, picked up the stitches, and did a sewn loose cast off instead. The hat was knit with 96 stitches. I used the smaller needles for the 3×1 ribbing. After the ribbed portion, I purled the last stitch on the round, then I wrapped a stitch (bring yarn to the back of the work, slip one stitch from the left needle to the right one, bring yarn to the front of the work, slip the stitch back to the left needle). Then I pushed the knitting through the middle of the needles, and began knitting on the other side of the work. What was once the inside of the hat, became the outside. This makes the right side of the brim show, when it is folded back. I switched to the larger needles, continued in knitting, and did the decreases according to the Turn A Square pattern.

    For another fancy schmancy hat to go with the scarf,  I have some dark green Malabrigo, or rust Malabrigo. Which should it be?

Where have I been? I can’t believe my last blog post was in *gasp* April!! I’m very out of practice. I had an unintentional blog hiatus. Nothing is wrong at chez Loopy Knits….everything is right. My husband was given the “all clear” by his doctor! So, with his new-found energy and positive outlook, we are doing things. We are doing things that have been on hold for a long, long time. So, we have been very busy…hence the blog hiatus.

What has brought me back to the blog? Well, I have something to share. I want to talk about this place, Belfast Mini-Mills, in Belfast, Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Behind this humble entrance is a treasure trove.

Belfast Mini Mill Store

Belfast Mini Mill Store

I should explain that this is not just a store. This is a mill. They process exotic fibers from around the world, such as yak, camel, alpaca, llama, cashmere, bison, musk-ox and mohair…oh, and sheep wool. I know this is true because I saw it!! Despite the fact that we arrived only an hour before closing, we were given a tour of the mill. I saw bags and bags of cashmere (pictured below)!

Bags of Cashmere!

I also saw bags of qiviut! I’m not kidding!!

The owners invented the “cottage industry” machinery they use. This enables them to process fiber in smaller batches than larger commercial mills. Larger commercial mills will combine fleece. So, you might get your own fiber back, but in combination with others. However, when you send your fleece to the Belfast Mini Mill, you can be sure that you get your own processed fiber back. In fact, Belfast Mini Mills has developed 27 other mini mills world-wide!

The mill process begins with cleaning, carding, and drafting the fibers. As it goes through the machinery, the wool is collected in another small room. They have spinning equipment, which was fascinating. They also produce wool felt, and make up needle felting kits.

Then, there were the animals.

Belfast Mini Mill

As we were given a tour of the mill, my daughter was given a tour of the farm. She was ecstatic! She was responsible for carefully collecting nine eggs, from the nests in the hen house. Apparently there were tiny baby chicks that were white in colour. My daughter fell in love with a very cute, *free*, bunny. We did not come home with it, fortunately. The bunnies really were cute though, and run freely around the barnyard.

Then there was the store.

Belfast Mini Mill Store

They had all kinds of exotic yarns. The cashmere almost seemed ordinary!! Those are alpaca/nylon socks in the upper left hand corner. They also had superwash wool socks, and I came home with a pair for my husband. I forgot to take a picture of the wall o’ socks.

Belfast Mini Mill Store

They also sell needle felting kits, as I mentioned, mittens, gorgeous woven hand towels (pictured), which I almost bought, soaps, wool dyes, books, dyed roving, blankets… This is a woven, merino wool blanket that my mother bought:

Woven Blanket

Woven Blanket

They had qiviut socks, if you want to really splurge! So, so, soft…

Qiviut Socks

Too pricey? Here are musk-ox leather pouches containing qiviut samples.

Musk Ox Leather Pouch With Qiviut Sample

Belfast Mini Mill Store

Would you like to see what I bought?

100% Camel Down

I got two skeins of 100% camel down. It is so soft, I had to take it home. It was $20/skein. I also got this:

Chunky Merino Wool

That’s two skeins of chunky merino wool, $8/skein. I also got a wool dyeing starter kit for $20. I can’t wait to give it a try.

Starter Dye Kit

I decided to include prices I paid, because I don’t think they have that kind of information on their website. I have no affiliation to this place whatsoever; however, I had great fun there, and I thought that others might be interested in hearing about it. It’s worth a visit, or a phone call. I have linked to their website, but I also have their business card. Comment here, if you would like me to forward their phone number or email address. Gotta love PEI!

Cavendish, PEI