Advent Fun

My friends at River City Yarns in Edmonton, Canada, have put together another Advent Box for 2019. The box contains 24 individually wrapped gifts, marked with a do-not-open-before date. Each day of December you get to open a package to reveal a skein of River City exclusive yarn, a special pattern or project kit, a tasty treat, or an indispensable tool. Every year River City Yarns creates a new set of treats: so far, there are no repeats. The photo here shows a variety of knitted trees, just one of the gifts from a previous Advent Box. I can’t tell you how delighted I was last year to discover one treat included a skein of yarn and the pattern for my Peaks and Ridges Cowl. This year I’ve designed something new that will remain a secret until its designated date.

If you don’t live in the Edmonton area, you can order your box online at The quantities are limited, so don’t wait. The boxes will begin shipping October 27; in-store pick-up begins November 9.

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Packing Up Fun

When I was Montreal recently, I visited Robyn Grauer of Les Lainages du Petit Mouton, a wool shop in the Western Island town of Pointe-Claire. I couldn’t help but notice a large box filled with dozens of handknitted dolls. It turns out that Robyn is a local collection site for dolls knitted or crocheted Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC), who use the small wool toys to help secure the packaging in boxes of medical supplies shipped overseas. Much more useful than styrofoam packaging, doctors and health-care professionals then hand out the dolls to their youngest patients.

Called Izzy Dolls, the dolls are named after Mark Isfeld, a Canadian soldier who, in the 1990s, handed out similar dolls knitted by his mother to children he met while serving overseas as a Canadian peacekeeper. Although Master Corporal Isfeld was tragically killed by a land mine explosion in 1994 while serving in Croatia, his mother continued to make the dolls, which she named for her son. Hundreds of knitters have joined the project. HPIC estimates that it hands out about 12,000 dolls a year and has handed out a total of more than 100,000 dolls in more than 100 countries.

Robin Grauer holds weekly meetings in her shop where interested knitters gather to turn leftover sportweight, DK-weight, or worsted-weight wool into “comfort” dolls. The dolls feature a variety of hair and skin colors as well as colorful “clothing.”

Knitting and crochet instructions are available at the Izzy Dolls website. Dolls can be dropped off at Les Lainages du Petit Mouton at 295 Boul Saint-Jean, Point-Claire QC H9R 3J1, Canada, or sent to: Izzy Dolls at 2907 Portland Drive, Oakville, Ontario L6H 5S4, Canada.

Finally, I’m happy that I saved all those bits of leftover yarn!

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Monkeying Around

I’ve had my re-purposed sock monkey sitting at my desk asking to be given some features.

finished sock monkey 1

The past few nights my husband and I have been watching DVD or on-demand movies so I gathered a few things to give the monkey a little character.


After a few hours (and maybe a little too much wine), my monkey is complete. Of course it had to have a knitted skirt!


It’s a pretty good likeness, doncha think?

monkey selfie

Now I really do need to get back to work.


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