Halifax yarn-maker creates custom yarns commemorating Canada’s national parks

Green yarn in Gros Morne, NL

Canada’s parks have been celebrated in many ways in the country’s 150th year — free National Park passes, photography projects, and tribute gardens (some of which ended up in the bellies of moose). And now, a Haligonian woman has come up with what is likely the craftiest tribute for the sesquicentennial: custom yarns for each province’s National Parks.

A seasoned camper, Jana Dempsey said that the idea was born out of her experiences of knitting while camping. Dempsey, the owner of Hand Maiden Fine Yarns in Halifax, has created 13 yarns, one for a National Park in each province and territory. Dempsey let the colours from those parks inspire the yarns, dyeing them in hues evoked by the parks.

She started with Forillon National Park in Quebec where an acquaintance of hers had a farm. “We had, first of all, that kind of image, the farms and the fields . . . of wildflowers. So I had these red-purple colours in mind, and this kind of, field greens and field yellows,” Dempsey told the CBC. “But then of course we needed some cliff colours, so then we went into the grey for the cliffs.”

Other parks to get their own yarns include Sable Island (Nova Scotia), Sirmilik National Park (Nunavut), Grasslands National Park (Saskatchewan), and Thousand Islands National Park (Ontario).

Blue-green yarn in front of a lake
The yarn commemorating Banff National park celebrates the turquose colours of Moraine Lake. [Credit: Instagram/bobinevoyage]
Dempsey says the yarns have gotten a great response. “It was something people really took to heart, really got excited about,” she said.

Some people have been using the yarn to knit, while others see it as a keepsake. Some have bought yarns representing parks they love, and others buy ones for the parks they’d like to visit. “We have someone driving across the country, hitting each park as they went — or as many as they could — and doing a project as they went,” Dempsey said.

People have also been showcasing the yarns (and creations they’ve made with them) on social media. Some of the most ambitious projects, Dempsey notes, require a full set. “We’ve . . . got quite a few people who have purchased the whole collection and are making themselves blankets,” she said. “So they’re going to have their National Park blanket with all the colours of the country.”

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