Happy Stitches

Keep your stitches smiling!

Changing the World One Knitter at a Time! (Guest blog) April 16, 2014

Every now and again, I receive a letter about, or am otherwise made aware of, a knitter’s journey which resonates with me.  Today I’d like to introduce you to Liz, who is currently working on an ENORMOUS project inspired by one of my patterns.  She has been keeping us updated through the DK Techniques Club on Ravelry, where we keenly await her progress pictures and cheer her on her way.  This has been a thoroughly enjoyable conversation:  I love watching how other knitters approach such a project (she has gotten a multitude of helpful advice from the start), from casting on to advising on broken cables to the invaluable virtual hand-holding essential to the pains of ripping back several weeks’ worth of work.

Here, then, is Liz’s story in her own words:

 

the-knitting-lesson.jpg!xlMedium

 

Over 30 years ago, when I was a child, my mother taught me to knit. I really wanted to, but was terrible at it. I was persistent, but terrible. For the most part, she would try get me to make a jumper or cardigan, and by the time I was less than half way up the back, still on the first piece, I’d be starting to grow out of it. I was painfully slow.So I  gave up, but held on to how much frustration I had experienced trying to knit and thought I hated it. I learnt to do a few other crafty things, including making my school uniform one year. I learnt to do lace making, tatting, and even made some large hand-sewn patchwork quilts. All this, but nothing grabbed me.

Around 7 years ago, I was in a phase of serious online gaming: 20 hours a day if I could manage it, 7 days a week. But one Saturday, I woke up thinking how my tombstone would read “Liz led a Virtual Life” or such. I got onto eBay and decided that, as I hated knitting, I would try crochet..

Well, crochet grabbed me by both hands and I began making many blankets and other things. I designed my own patterns pretty much from the start, as I am a geek! I just viewed stitches as pixels in a picture. However, crochet, while really adaptive, has one limitation: it doesn’t stretch. So, it doesn’t have the same fit when it comes to clothes, and socks. And although I do like making crochet blankets, there are only so many you and your friends, acquaintances, family, friends of friends you’ve never met or spoken to can need… I had pretty much run out of recipients and the ‘done’ pile was stocking up.

 

pileofblankets

 

In May 2013 I seriously injured my knee at karate. The resulting pain gave me chronic insomnia. So, what do you do all night and all day when you can’t go to work? The obvious answer is craft! But my brain needed something new. A friend on Google+ showed me a couple of pictures of double knitting.  I had never heard of it but wanted to give it a try. From this explanation, all I ended up with was a yarn barf. Then I discovered a double-knitting class at craftsy.com .

I bought Lucy Neatby’s Foundations of Double Knitting Class, and watched it in the wee hours of the morning in bed. It was like that moment in the Wizard of Oz when the world changes from black and white to full colour!

 

wizard-of-oz

It was like that moment in the Wizard of Oz when the world changes from black and white to full colour!

 

 

My main issue when I first tried to double knit was that it was knitting and, well, I didn’t like knitting, did I…

But this looked good and it had to be tried. The next problems were, of course, how to work with 2 yarns, then keeping tension and reading what was on the needle not what was visible in the work, and remembering that everything is a pair!

My first success, if you can call it that, was done in black and white (the most contrasting colours I could find) in thick, chunky wool. I made a motif I found in one of my books. I made mistakes, but realised, like with my first ever crochet piece, that I really liked this. I followed Lucy’s suggestion of one yarn on each hand, and learned to knit continental. Well, wasn’t that a revelation: pick knitting, where had you been all my life?

 

my Moonstone Scarf

my Moonstone Scarf

The first official Double-Knit item I made was Lucy’s Moonstone Scarf, a lovely simple repeating pattern which I could memorise and then concentrate on what I was doing. It became easier to think in pairs, and I got faster; it looked good, really good.

 

Casting on for a much BIGGER version!

Casting on for a much BIGGER version!

It looked so good, in fact, that I then wanted to make a bedspread based on it. I can hear you now, “Oh that would be nice..” – Yes, yes it would…  but mine is a kingsize bed!  361 pairs of stitches, progress is slow, but I have ideas coming out of every pore… I just can’t knit quickly enough! I have never been this inspired by anyone or anything, and I only have Lucy to thank, or blame, depending on your viewpoint.

The first rows: the design becomes clear...

The first rows: the design becomes clear…

 

Some time later: the blanket is growing...

Some time later: the blanket is growing…

Over Christmas, to get some finished project to cheer me up, I made a pair of socks. I am wearing them today: they are perfect. A year ago I would never have thought to make socks; it was crochet for the win! Of course they are just standard toe up socks in normal stockinette stitch. I have started a second pair, I have a bookmark in double knitting as a wip too… and a cabled jumper I started… I am a dog with two tails, I can’t wag enough.

Lucy has so many amazing patterns! She has truly changed my life. I have taken the journey from avid knitting-hater to double-knitting obsessed loon. I’ve got many designs and ideas in my head, each one cascading and triggering yet more ideas. From little bookmarks to thinking of a kingsize bedspread made in cobweb weight wool… Double-knit, of course.

I look forward to going home and knitting, I dream of knitting, and daydream of knitting.

Happiness was just the cost of a Craftsy class or a Lucy DVD away. Who knew! Of course, I now have all her DVDs, as Lucy could inspire me to try anything!

-Liz K.

 

 

 

Stephen West’s Shawlscapes Class on Craftsy March 26, 2014

As a Craftsy Instructor, I enjoy taking the time to watch other classes there, both for their educational value and to learn more about presentation methods.  I’ve been able to learn some interesting lessons on both ends from most of the Craftsy classes I’ve watched and  like to share some of my insights with you along the way.

Stephen West Shawlscapes Class on Craftsy

I recently watched Stephen West’s Shawlscapes class and found him to be a most entertaining presenter. I enjoyed his approach, yet found I had to pace my consumption of the classes: you can have too much of a good thing!

In this class, Stephen gently guides you through his shawl design process, gradually leading you from simple beginnings into shawls that look far more complex than you know they really are – once the path of their development has been revealed. You could take this class on two levels: as an explanation of the fairly simple techniques he employs and how to knit the  Boneyard Shawl pattern  included in this class, or as a guide to designing your own creations. Watch for his particularly unusual method for removing excess water from a project before blocking!

Stephen’s approach to shawl knitting is both informative and inspiring for the new shawl knitter and a wonderful resource for those tempted to try their own designs.  His teaching style is unique and entertaining, without compromising the lesson plan.  Well worth a try!

 

Patternfish reborn! March 17, 2014

Filed under: Double-layer knitting,Pattern highlight — Lucy Neatby @ 11:33
The 15000th pattern on Patternfish.

The 15000th pattern on Patternfish.

The folks at Patternfish have been working hard behind the scenes. (And I do mean hard.) To make changes to site of this complexity is a huge undertaking. We take our hats off to them. Congratulations folks.

This month I just happen to be the featured designer in their newsletter. I was also given the honour of being their 15000th pattern, the Sunburst DK Blanket seemed to be a suitably magnificent project for this situation!

 

 

 

 

Zinnia Blanket is Bound-Off! March 3, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lucy Neatby @ 10:09
Tags: , , ,

Zinnia Blanket is Bound-Off!

My Zinnia blanket, fresh off the needles. Just a shade over 198,000 thousand Happy Stitches!
Now to weigh, measure, wash and block. It’s not too late to join the Zinnia club BTW!

 

An exciting new enhancement to my Lucy patterns! February 26, 2014

Hooray for my new Igloo Scarf pattern featuring clickable links!

Hooray for my new Igloo Scarf pattern featuring clickable links!

Say goodbye to the need for copy-pasting links from my patterns! Thanks to the kind assistance of JC Briar, we can now offer you patterns with genuinely clickable links. Until now, the best I could manage was links written into the text that could be  copied and pasted into a browser to allow access to the supporting videos offered in some of my new patterns.
Featuring the Igloo textured pattern, this versatile DK scarf can be knit several different ways

Featuring the Igloo textured pattern, this versatile DK scarf can be knit several different ways

Our first pattern to offer this, right out of the gate, is the Igloo DK Scarves pattern. I have highlighted the links in turquoise, and a simple click on that  link (if an internet connection is available) will take you to the specific video on YouTube.
I have also included the links in full on the last page of the pattern, in case you are working from a paper version of the pattern.
Feather and Fan: an example of one of JC Briar's highly intuitive stitch-maps

Feather and Fan: an example of one of JC Briar’s highly intuitive stitch-maps

For those of you that haven’t met JC Briar, she is the brilliant mind (and everything else) behind the excellent book on charting, Charts Made Simple, and the amazing Stitch-maps website, where you can find shaped charts that look like real knitting.
Previously released patterns will gradually, over the next few months, have their video clip links converted to live links.  Let me know what you think: how will this new feature add to your knitting experience?
 

My Happy Sewn Stitches! February 12, 2014

Filed under: Craftsy,General Musings,home,Quilting,Teaching — Lucy Neatby @ 21:04
Tags:
DSCN5223
Many of you have watched my descent into quilting with interest. My early quilts were ready after much intensive basting (involving much crawling around on the floor), then  finished with a combination of machine stitching the the straight bits and hand quilting the squiggly ones. The machine stitching often resulted in the layers migrating.  All in all, fairly tedious and with results I wasn’t fully satisfied with!
detail of my fish quilt--note the basting stitches

detail of my fish quilt–note the basting stitches

Then a friend recommended that I look at Leah Day’s website and was delighted to find she had filmed a Craftsy course. I had wanted to watch some Craftsy classes in preparation for filming mine,  Foundations of Double Knitting,  and this one fit the bill.   In enrolling in this class, I could both learn more about free motion quilting and watch an experienced Craftsy teacher in action!
I enjoyed Leah’s class,  Free Motion Quilting A Sampler.  I had struggled just enough on my own to appreciate the full merit of her suggestions. From watching this class  and implementing the techniques I learned from Leah, I have become an avid and enthusiastic free motion quilter. No more struggling with basting threads, now I’m totally liberated in my approach.  Leah has an easy-on-the-ear voice and offers sage advice with an open mind. I would advise any quilter to try it – you might like it!
My current quilt: for the youngest tractor aficionado of the family!

My current quilt: for the youngest tractor aficionado of the family!

 

A fantastic Project is in the Works for Android Users! January 27, 2014

Filed under: knitCompanion,Knitting tips and hints — Lucy Neatby @ 06:49
Sally Holt's knitCompanion

Sally Holt’s knitCompanion

Are you an Android user? Have you ever lamented the fact that you couldn’t get KnitCompanion for your device? It’s a wonderful app which, up to now, has only been available to iPod, iPad and iPhone users. If you haven’t had the opportunity to use it,  you may not fully appreciate what knitCompanion has to offer. It makes following a pattern and reading even the most complex charts a breeze.
I’m pleased to share Sally Holt’s good news!  She is about to roll up her sleeves and get to work on creating the app for the Android platform but she needs our help. She’s using Kickstarter to try to raise enough funds to develop the app for you and your knitting friends.
Sally's Android App project is in the works!

Sally’s Android App project is in the works!

I can hardly begin to describe the challenges of developing this software so that it works on all Android platforms. The Apple iOS platform is one tightly controlled ecosystem, but there are almost as many flavours of android operating systems as there are jellybeans. I’m sure it can be done, but it will take much testing and coding, then some more of the same. Sally’s high standards will ensure that it will be a gem when it is done.In Sally’s words: “The total cost to redevelop knitCompanion for Android is approximately $200,000.  Our company is small.  And the costs for Android are high, in part due to the need to purchase additional hardware and licenses for capabilities that are included free in the iOS platform.” 
 Please support a wonderful small US business by submitting a donation. Yes, every single donation makes a difference, no matter how small. If the funds are raised, the project will go full-steam ahead. So vote with your dollars and ask your friends to do the same. By the way, not a cent is taken from your account unless the target is met.
I’m going to pledge  and I’m not even a regular Android user!  It’s important that Apple not be the only game in town: let’s support the development of a super Knit Companion for android tablets and phones.
 
Lucy's Patterns app

Lucy’s Patterns app

Here at LucyNeatby.com we do offer two Android apps of our own, both of which are free. One is the Lucy’s Patterns app (requires no permissions), which is a recently updated digital catalogue of my patterns, giving you details of pattern type, level, yarn requirements, etc. The other is Patterns Plus, an app that you can use as a catalogue, that lets you interact with the website to download stuff from your LucyNeatby.com Notebook or add patterns to your wishlist, and to view any of your Lucy videos.

Lucy’s Patterns can be downloaded and installed  here  and this  is the link for the Patterns Plus app. (If you have a moment to review them on-line, that would be appreciated too!)

Back to Zinnia knitting for me…

Lucy's Patterns Plus app

Lucy’s Patterns Plus app

 

 
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