Tag Archives | yarn craft

On Location at Churchmouse Yarns & Tea

Reported by Julie Tiu

Anywhere I go now, it’s as if crafting and tea call out my name. We’ll talk about tea another time, but Churchmouse Yarns & Teas is the place you want to visit and where you can surround yourself in amazing colors and textures if you’re visiting Seattle. Take a 35 minute ferry to Bainbridge Island, walk a few minutes into town and the yarn will be calling out to you.

Who wouldn’t want to walk into this? I’m so glad I checked it out!

Actually what caught my eye was this contraption, which later I found out (not being a knitter at this time) is an Umbrella Swift Yarn Winder. Laura was kind enough to show me how they wind their skeins.

She introduced me to Kit Hutchin, Proprietor, who welcomed me to her store and showed me around. After a few minutes of talking with her, I quickly forgot it was a store and had the distinct feeling of being welcomed into a home. Warm and inviting, Kit’s personality certainly is carried out throughout the details of Churchmouse Yarns & Teas. (There is no tea service, yet, just products. That may be a future endeavor.)

Skeins of yarn in every fiber and color, patterns, accessories, tools, needlepoint and crochet… and a knowledgeable staff; you can find what you need here. There’s a wide selection that would seem to satisfy anyone.

And, even if it’s just for a little “color therapy” as Kit mentioned one of her customer told her, you’ll be amazed at the spectrum.

The featured projects or samples, handcrafted by staff, are not for sale, but you can buy the patterns or even take a class. Churchmouse Yarns & Teas also provides space for some informal conversation while you work with their “Circles”, private or community, social or charity.

After I came home, I had a couple of questions I wanted to ask Kit. She was on a deadline and scheduled to leave for a conference when I e-mailed her with some questions, so John, her husband and business partner, was ready to answer.

Q: What is, or do you have, anything new that you’ll be featuring for the Fall and Winter? Products, accessories, services?

A: Next for Fall. Her pressing deadline is for the next round of Churchmouse Classics patterns. Very exciting! We published our first 11 shop patterns last November and they have been very well received by our customers in the shop, online and even by fellow yarn shops who are reselling them. You can now find Churchmouse Classics in more than 100 yarn shops across North America. To grab lovely images of these patterns, please visit (Photos by the talented Jared Flood of

The new line will feature a dozen or so more patterns including several for baby. Jared came back from New York for us to shoot adorable little bundles of joy in Portland, Seattle and Bainbridge Island. This photos are not yet available for distribution. We will launch this line to coordinate with our 10th anniversary celebration on September 9th.

Q: And, (I should have asked you when I was there) how did you name your store “Churchmouse Yarns & Teas”?

A: Before opening Churchmouse Yarns & Teas, Kit worked as a commercial freelance writer and named companies, products, services and even buildings. She developed a solid criteria and an analytical system to find just the right name for her clients.

For herself, well, just a few days after she decided to open a yarn shop, a name popped into her head and stuck. “I noticed a small ceramic mouse that lived in a teacup on my kitchen counter. It seemed inevitable that I should call my shop Churchmouse Yarns & Teas.” Among other things, she wanted something that sounded English and friendly, and this name met all her criteria in retrospect.

Kit and John just celebrated Churchmouse Yarns & Teas 10 year anniversary this September. Many wishes for continued success!

We’d love to hear about your favorite fiber stores! Let us know what’s in your area!

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Book Review: Mason-Dixon Knitting

Reported by Jen Geigley

Mason-Dixon Knitting is a collection of knitting stories, patterns, advice, opinions and humorous enthusiasm. Reading through this book made me feel like I was knitting with two beloved aunts or neighbors, so if you’ve always secretly longed for that ‘bond’ with a fellow knitter, you’ll love Mason-Dixon Knitting.

Authors Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne are founders of the knitting blog where they share correspondence and adventures in knitting with each other and hundreds of thousands of visitors who check in regularly. The two writers met online (Kay lives in Manhattan and Ann is a Tennessean) and they share their story of online forum friendship and love for all things knitting in this friendly book.

The Mason-Dixon Manifesto is this: Peace, Love, Natural Fibers. (Not necessarily in that order.) Inside these pages you’ll find all kinds of stories from the writers and their friends, plus 34 knitting patterns for you, your loved ones and your home (along with knitting humor at its very best and anecdotes about the friendships that often form out of this hobby.)

There is a section that explores teaching children to knit and sharing your hobbies with your kids.
The writers also talk about knitting for the common good and getting involved in knitting circles and the knitting community, which is a huge part of knitting for me!

I was extremely excited to start knitting after reading through the patterns and looking through the colorful photos, but choosing what to make was so hard! I longed to make a blanket but decided to start out with a few smaller projects first. I began with the ‘baby bib o’love’ pattern, which was a quick and fun knit (and would make a great gift).

Then I knitted the ‘ballband dishcloth’ after being completely inspired by the fantastic color combos shown in the photos.

Here’s my version of the dishcloth, which was so much fun to knit and will totally brighten up my kitchen.

I’m really excited to make more of these using all kinds of different colors and I really enjoy knitting something so functional.

Although I stuck to knitting the quick and simple projects from the book, I definitely was reading through the other patterns and I plan to knit some of the bigger projects as time allows.

The bedspreads and log cabin blankets in particular are incredibly beautiful and well-diagrammed in this book.

The patterns throughout are very well-written and easy to follow, and even the more complicated patterns are really not that hard to make if you’re willing to put in the time and effort (and for a bedspread like the one pictured here… it would be so worth it!). You can find the errata/corrections for the patterns in this book here.

While reading, there was constant encouragement from the authors to take the basic patterns and ideas described and make them your own. Which left me inspired, and I kept coming back to the pages that had photos of these rag yarn balls.

They just totally intrigued me!

I decided I had to try to make something out of my own recycled fabric yarn. So I found some fabric scraps, ripped them into strips, tied them end-to-end and voila!

I ended up knitting a small skinny scarf out of my rag yarn on large needles for my daughter and I to share.

(And I think that Ann and Kay would be proud!) Now, I just have to teach this kiddo how to knit.

Inspiration, Guidance, and 30 Projects to Knit

Featuring: Technical hints; Great (knitted) things you will do; How to cope with disaster; Must-knit T.V.; Mistakes you will definitely make; Knitting for the common good; Knitting something that looks like something else


  • Lots of real-life patterns that everyone will want to knit make this a great resource.
  • The friendly humor is engaging and every knitter will relate to the stories and sidebars.
  • Everything from knitting with children, to knitting for your family, to knitting for charity is covered in its pages.
  • This book gives you the skill sets to knit the patterns included and encourages you to take those ideas and run with them, making this an inspirational read.


  • There are a large number of ‘big’ projects in this book (like blankets, bedspreads and rugs) that will require lots of yarn and a big time commitment.
  • There are lots of pages that are devoted to ‘the story’ throughout this book, so if you’re looking for a patterns-only resource, this might not be for you. (But I assure you that the anecdotes shared are fantastic and worth a read!)

Format: Softcover, 160 pages
Mason-Dixon Knitting: The Curious Knitter’s Guide is available at
What patterns have you knit from Mason-Dixon Knitting? We’d love to see – please share the links to your photos and projects!


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Ariosa by Classic Elite Yarns

Please welcome Deja to the Craft Critique family!

Deja Jetmir has joined the Craft Critique team as an expert crocheter and has just begun learning to knit. She has been crocheting for over 20 years, and is an independent designer that sells her patterns on various websites such as and After nine years of working and going to school part time, she will be earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting this Spring from California State University at Long Beach. Currently, Deja is a stay-at-home mom to a beautiful daughter and is expecting another baby in October. Deja enjoys just about any kind of crafting, and is excited to share her knowledge and product reviews with you. Check out her blog: The Cheap Hooker

Reported by Deja Jetmir
I’m always on the lookout for the softest yarn ever made, and am willing to test anyone’s claim that their fiber is the best. Most of my favorite softies include some percentage of cashmere, so when I saw an advertisement for Classic Elite’s Ariosa, with its 90% extra-fine merino and 10% cashmere blend, I just knew I had to head down to the LYS (local yarn store) to get a feel.

If you have ever felt 100% cashmere and thought it was softer than baby’s bottom, then you must get your hands on what can only be described as “cushy as a pillow from heaven” and work with Ariosa. I have squeezed innumerable skeins of yarn, and this is one of the softest I have come across in a natural fiber. I have found through internet searching that a skein of Ariosa runs anywhere from $9.50 to $12. for a 50 gram skein. A 100% percent cashmere counterpart would cost you up to 6 times as much for that same amount (ask me how I know). Classic Elite does not list the weight of the yarn on the label, but I would guess it as a worsted to bulky (4 to 5) on the weight scale, and is single ply, so you do have to keep that in mind if making a garment that will encounter friction (such as swinging arms in a cardigan). You will get pills, but a simple sweater stone, or shaver will have it looking new again in no time.

I used a size L hook to crochet the cowl pictured in less than an hour. Unlike other yarns that only soften up after you block or wash them, Ariosa begins soft and stays that way, making the crochet process itself enjoyable (no scratchy yarn running over your fingers). Unlike many one ply yarns I have come across, Ariosa has a consistent thickness throughout, so you will achieve a uniform look on any garment you make. Also, because of its one ply, it is nearly impossible to split the yarn with your hook while working.

After a blocking done in Soak brand wool wash, I found very little of the color washed out, and I achieved and extra 3 inches on the circumference. The cowl wears remarkably well, and hasn’t made me itch once, even with its 90% wool content. For special presents for you or a loved one, this is worth the price. You will get a wonderfully luscious product that you can’t help but stroke as you wear it.


  • super soft
  • lightweight
  • quick to work up


  • pricey (it does run on the high side for other yarns with similar content)
  • pilling on garments
  • company’s lack of crochet info and weight information

Product Specs:
Classic Elite Yarns “Ariosa”
Color pictured: Sangria (4827)
50 grams
87 yards

In addition to your LYS, Classic Elite Ariosa Sangria 4827 Yarn is available from

Have you used Classic Elite’s Ariosa, or do you have a different favorite super-soft natural fiber yarn? Leave us a comment and let us know!


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