Joanne Bradley (left) and Lorie Schenk with just a few of the handcrafted items they will be selling at Vernon Presents A Festival of Crafts

Joanne Bradley (left) and Lorie Schenk with just a few of the handcrafted items they will be selling at Vernon Presents A Festival of Crafts

Crafting for Christmas

Vernon Presents A Festival of Crafts brings together artisans and crafters from throughout B.C. and gives back to Hospice House

As a young girl in Austria, Lorie Schenk developed a passion for knitting and sewing. It’s a passion that continues to this day, more than 50 years after she moved to Vernon.

Joanne Bradley also discovered the joys of working with yarn as a youngster in Vancouver, where her mother got her started on what has become a lifelong hobby.

“I started knitting in my late teens,” said Bradley. “My mother was a very talented knitter and crocheter and so she would help me with fixing my mistakes, which usually involved ripping everything out and starting again to make sure it was right.”

Growing up near Linz, Austria, Schenk was still in Grade 1 when she was taught how to crochet. By Grade 4, she and her classmates were making socks.

“And in Grade 5, we had to sew our own shorts for PE.”

The owner of Lorie’s Hobby and Yarn from 1977 to 1991, Schenk is also the former owner of Harris Flowers. She is looking forward to taking part in Vernon Presents, after getting a taste of selling her wares a few times this summer when she shared a booth with Bradley at the Vernon Farmers’ Market.

A longtime member of the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Auxiliary, Schenk has made and donated many items for the hospital gift shop.

“It’s just something I really enjoy,” she said.

Friends for many years, Schenk and Bradley are taking their love of working with textiles and yarn to this year’s Vernon Presents A Festival of Crafts, taking place Nov. 16 and 17 at Wesbild Centre. There, they will share a booth to offer their wares, which for Schenk includes everything from a hand-knit Lambchop, the puppet made famous by Shari Lewis, and colourful aprons, to whimsical Christmas tree decorations. Bradley will be selling her popular NHL-themed sweaters featuring Canucks and Flames logos, as well as beautiful hand-knit dresses and bonnets for infants, and cozy cocoons for dolls.

“I started making the sweaters for my grandkids in Alberta,” said Bradley, who is  doing the Vernon Presents show for the first time, as is Schenk. “Lorie is very talented, she does the most beautiful quilts, and I’ve been doing this kind of thing for as long as I can remember.

“It’s just that creative instinct and I give so much away that I figured it would be fun to sell some of the things I’ve made.”

The two crafters have also collaborated on Vancouver Canucks-themed pillows, the perfect gift for the hockey fan.

Bradley’s connection to Canada’s national sport has also brought her in close contact with hockey royalty Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky. Howe had come to Vernon and was playing golf at Vernon Golf and Country Club, where Bradley and Schenk used to play regularly.

“I attempted to knit a sweater with a Detroit Red Wings design as a gift and sent it to him and I received a lovely card of thanks from his wife,” she said.

Along with the card of thanks was enclosed a photo of Howe and Gretzky, signed by both players, and which is now framed with the thank you card, in which Howe’s wife, Colleen, mentions that the couple’s grandson, Gordie Jr., would be wearing the sweater.

“It is great to make something and know it is appreciated,” said Bradley.

It was at the encouragement of Vernon Presents creator, organizer and fellow crafter Olive Dent that brought the two friends to the show.

“Olive had a booth next to me at the farmers’ market this year and asked if we’d like to do the Christmas show,” said Bradley. “There are so many talented crafters at the Vernon Farmers’ Market, each making amazing creations, and it’s a great place to meet on a beautiful summer day and sit for a drink of lemonade, shop for the finest fruit and vegetables, home made bread, and enjoy the art of all of the crafters.”

The 12th Annual Vernon Presents A Festival of Crafts takes place Nov. 16 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Nov. 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Wesbild Centre. The show features many artisans selling their wares. As well, the show supports the North Okanagan Hospice Society by donating $1 from each $3 admission charged. There is no charge for children under 12.

“This is an excellent opportunity to get started on your Christmas shopping and support quality end-of-life care for all in the North Okanagan,” said Valerie Blundell, financial assistant for the North Okanagan Hospice Society.