My intentions for 2016


Last year I wrote a post about all my big 2015 goals. I’ll give you a recap of those goals in short form and then I’ll talk about where I failed:

  • Finish knitting my sweater and then take on a more difficult knitting project.
  • Learn how to mount insects.
  • Carve my own wooden spoon.
  • Be more active in our Mycological Society.
  • Be more diligent about saving money.
  • Try more new recipes.
  • Continue with my blog.

In all honesty, I did kind of horribly! That sweater is half finished and I haven’t touched it in…8 months-ish? I see it every day looking so sad and I feel guilty. The insects and the wooden spoon are still things I want to do – I have not lost interest in those ideas, I just didn’t get to them last year! We did get out with the Mycological Society a couple of times, but not nearly as much as we’d wanted.  Saving money? Ha! I decided to start a second handmade business, so saving money didn’t work out so well. Cooking? Does trying new flavors of frozen pizzas count? And the blog? Well, you know exactly how that went.

So I failed with all of my goals. But I’m not too worried about it – in all honesty, I focused my time on learning weaving, started Secret Wool Society (which included participating in a couple of handmade markets), and working on other knitting projects (socks, socks, socks!). I don’t feel like I failed in 2015, I just shifted my focus. I will continue to want to learn insect mounting and spoon carving, and I will continue to go out with the Mycological Society when I can.

What do I want for 2016? Mostly the same things, to be honest, but there are a few things in particular that stand out in my mind:

  • Continue participating in stitch ‘n bitches. In 2015 I began participating in some various knitting/crocheting/embroidering/general crafting circles and they have been really good for me. As an introvert, I’m much more comfortable at home in my stretchy clothes, covered in blankets, tea in hand, some British crime series on the TV, and cats by my side. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy the company of others occasionally, it was just finding the right fit for my social needs – crafting friends seem to fit.
  • Continue focusing on my handmade business. The more I work at it, the more successful it is (duh), but I also really enjoy doing it. It can be stressful at times, but mostly good stress. I want to apply to a few handmade markets as well, but mostly I want to expand my weaving skills in to fabrics (this requires a new loom, which I have already started a fund for) – I’m very excited about this goal.
  • Learn a new craft. I’ve already signed up for a ceramics course and I am very excited about it. But crochet is also high on the list – at least the basics. And I’d love to learn tatting. But I don’t want to set unrealistic goals for myself, so for now, just ceramics.
  • Let’s try that saving money goal again. This basically just means paying off debts (car, house, credit cards), but also spending less on things that I don’t really need (like buying lunch during the week, cutting back on magazine subscriptions that I don’t really read, using up yarn in my stash instead of buying new, etc).

Aside from that, I’m just going to keep doing the things that I enjoy – tending to my garden, watching my British crime stories, hanging out with my kitties, cooking, and doing lots of knitting! I think the theme for 2016 is keep it within reason!

Custom Woolen Mills

In December, my husband and I made a trip out to Custom Woolen Mills located about an hours drive north east of Calgary. I’d been wanting to visit the mill ever since I heard about it a couple of years ago, but just didn’t make the trip until recently. And I totally regret not going until now!

Wool mills in Canada seem to be pretty few and far between, especially mills that do custom processing. I purchase a lot of wool yarn from Custom Woolen Mills for my weaving (I also use a lot of Briggs and Little, which is another custom Canadian wool mill), so it was pretty interesting to see how the wool is processed.

The mill is a family-run business that got started from a love of weaving and fibre arts – which I just love. It was totally inspiring to see as I can imagine myself doing something very similar (although maybe not to the same scale) – I’m thinking a few sheep and a micro-mill.

Custom Woolen does not have their own sheep, but instead they purchase wool from sheep producers in mostly Alberta and BC, that they process and sell in their physical shop and online. The remainder of the business comes from sheep producers who would like to have their wool processed and sent back to them (which is where “custom” comes in to play). I was astonished by the massive bales of sheep’s wool that they had waiting to be processed – the photo below shows the outdoor storage area for the unprocessed bales sorted by sheep breed. Inside the mill they also had bags and bags and bags of unprocessed custom orders.


Custom Woolen uses old machines. Like, really, really old. Some from the 1800’s. It seemed like the majority of their machinery was newer (early 1900’s), but almost all pre-war. They describe their machinery as turn-of-the-century, industrial revolution. They ran all but one of their machines for us to see, with the exception of the gigantic carding machine because it wasn’t the kind of thing you could turn on and off for a short demonstration. Parts for these old machines are no longer manufactured and are quite difficult to come by, so most of the repairs are done using whatever parts they can find on the farm from other machinery.


I think one of my favorite things was seeing all the wooden bobbins filled with cream wool, as it is my weaving material of choice. And also, the sock knitting machine, which was just unbelievable. I’ll still spend weeks knitting a pair of socks by hand, but it was pretty amazing to find out that these machines can knit a pair of socks in about 6 minutes (about 8 minutes if you include serging the toe afterwards).


So after getting the mill tour, we ventured in to the adorable little wool shop right next door, which was just too cute. They sell their own yarn and roving, their machine knit socks, and a ton of other wool things – some things knitted by others using their wool for sale, like slippers, sweaters, hats, mitts, and so on. I purchased a number of gifts and some small naturally dyed skeins of wool for weaving with (I couldn’t resist).

My guess is that I will make more trips to the mill in the future – it was just so lovely and reminded me of all the amazing work that goes in to my fibres before they even get to me. Plus, anyone who knows me knows that I love all things old.

I was not compensated for this post in any way, shape, or form – I am just a lover of all things fibre and a supporter of small local businesses. Find out more information about Custom Woolen Mills on their website.

One Year

It was exactly one year ago, June 19, 2014, that I clicked publish on my first Carrots & Raspberries post. I don’t know if I ever believed I would stick with it for an entire year, but here we are!

Sometimes it is a bit difficult to put yourself out there and try new things, especially when you’re a bit of a recluse. I don’t mean this in a bad way, but I’m an introvert, with a small group of close friends, and I like to stick to doing what I’m comfortable with, mostly in the privacy of my house in my stretchy clothes, surrounded by my cats.

In the past year, I’ve really stepped out of the box and basically put myself out there for the world to see. I was scared shitless, I’m not going to lie. I like my little world where I knit and I cook and I tend to my garden and I meet a friend every now and then for a tea. And no one else really knows about it – I just do my thing and that’s quite alright.

I’d waffled about starting a blog for a few years. I love reading other blogs and I even have a few blogs that I check several times a week, and I’ve always thought I’d like to try it, but I just wasn’t too sure what to write about. On top of that, I was afraid to put myself out there. It’s not that I can’t take criticism or that I care much about what other people think – it’s that I like to be a private person. Then one day about a year ago, I decided that I was tired of coming up with excuses not to start writing, so I went ahead and started writing about one of my main passions in life: gardening.

One main reason why I wanted to start writing was to challenge myself. I wasn’t looking for a way to bring in extra income and the goal wasn’t to see how many followers I could get. I just wanted to write about things that I loved.

I hit publish on my first blog post a year ago, then I published a few more posts, and then I decided to share the blog on my personal Facebook page. I wasn’t really expecting much. I mostly received comments from friends and family members on how much they liked my blog, but I kind of felt like they may be saying those things because they were my friends and family and they were obligated to say nice things (I’m not saying this to be negative at all, I was very pleased at the initial response. And there were no haters, so that had to be a good thing, right?). But then I started to get some positive comments from people I was not expecting, like people I hadn’t seen for years, and that was a shock! A little weird for me, but in a good way. Then comments from people I’d never met before, and that was unbelievable!

I think the hardest part of putting yourself out there is figuring out how to accept the positive feedback. My instinct is to turn red, say something awkward, and then change the subject. Learning to smile and say thank you has been a huge mountain for me to climb. Just accept it, Megan!

The point of this post is not for my readers to comment here and give me praise. It is to say that if you really want to do something, just do it. I’ve learned a ton from this blog. I learned that I really like writing about things that I am passionate about. It doesn’t matter if you’re an expert on any particular topic – if you’re passionate about something and love talking about it, do it!

The thing I didn’t expect when I started blogging is how much of a community I could become involved in. I’ve gained a few internet friends who share common interests, exchanged emails with people in the gardening community I really admire, and have even been asked to contribute to other people’s blogs. I’m trying to be humble about some of these things, but I am also very excited, so hopefully this doesn’t come off as smug.

Even though my blog has evolved a bit since I started writing it (the original plan was to focus primarily on small space gardening, but I do write about cooking, weaving, knitting, sewing, cats, and whatever else fancies me), I feel good about where things have ended up. I’m really looking forward to the next year on Carrots & Raspberries.

And lastly, thank you to all of my readers, you are the milk to my cereal.

Vintage Little Red Express Wagon

The little wagon that belonged to me and my siblings growing up – I use it for plants now!

Fabric De-Stash

As I get older and acquire more things for my various hobbies and whatnot, I am becoming more aware of the clutter. I hate clutter, but it seems like lately I am having a more and more difficult time of controlling it and that is causing me some stress. I’d love to live a minimalist lifestyle, but that just isn’t me – I love making and cooking and books, and all of the things that go along with them, but I would like to pare it back a bit. Look at me complaining about living a life surrounded by material possessions and a roof over my head.

Anyway, I figured the best course of action to organizing and making the load a little lighter was starting with the obvious suspects – the paper pileup, clothes that I don’t wear or that no longer fit, old gross and barely held together shoes (they were well loved!), and so on. But then it came to my studio/office/crafting room. I have a lot of fabric that seems to be waiting for that special project. It was purchased with no actual projects in mind, just that I liked it. And some of it has been sitting in plastic containers in waiting for years. So sad. So I’ve decided to send it on its merry way, to someone that will make good use of it (if you’re interested in any of it, please click this link to my Etsy shop).

Heather Ross Gnomes Fabric Japanese Linen Fabric

I think the hardest fabric to part with is the gnome print – it’s so darn cute! But it would be perfect for a little girl’s dress or a little boy’s bow tie!

I am going to continue the Big Purge and hopefully soon I’ll be able to close the closets in my studio!

Amy Butler Home Decor Fabric

Thanks for hanging on for this post! I don’t normally like to use my blog as a sales mechanism, but all the proceeds from my de-stash sale will go towards making beautiful things to share with you on this blog!