Happy Stitches

Keep your stitches smiling!

Churchill or bust! September 24, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — happystitches @ 13:35

More on this year’s Adventure Knitting saga…

The next leg of our Adventure Knitting tour was to Churchill, MB, on the shores of Hudson Bay.

Heading north!

Heading north, with a howl!

There are only three ways to get to Churchill.

The first is by cargo ship through Hudson Bay (an option not open to the casual traveler). Churchill has a grain terminal with a very short seasonal window of operation. Ships have to leave by mid-September or run the risk of spending the long winter stuck in the ice. They have to sail a lot further north to exit Hudson’s Bay.

The second option is to go by train (my first intention). Judy researched the train. It can take 30 hrs or more each way, is spartan in the extreme, and offers no food services. Quite suitable for knitting tuition, but the scenery after the first hour would become repetitive. Manitoba is flaaaat, infinitely flaaaat.

The linear fields and land around Winnipeg

The linear fields and land around Winnipeg

An expression very much at home in this landscape is: “You can watch your dog run away for days!” The train is also subject to frequent delays, as freight service (the grain) takes precedence over passenger service.

The final option was to take a plane. We took it.

I was initially surprised at how few people that I met in Winnipeg had ever been to Churchill, but once you look at the logistics– it’s understandable. There is no road connection; Churchill is remote. The situation is very similar to many of the Alaskan ports.

Once we had endured the crazy security lineups in Winnipeg and found ourselves on the tarmac to board our plane, travel suddenly had a different and friendlier, more human face. We were on a  Calm Air plane and the front half of the plane was sectioned off for cargo. A while back, I traveled on another flight up north, where the cargo area was occupied by dog sled teams! That was beyond cool.

The tundra, measelled with lakes and my first sight of Hudson Bay

The tundra, measeled with lakes and my first sight of Hudson Bay

As we descended from the clouds, the scenery was tundra, dotted all over with lakes (mosquito camp grounds); the overall appearance reminded me of a lichen-covered rock. We noticed: clean crisp air and an expanse of light.  Our adventure was about to begin, replete with an old school bus and a genuine rifle!

The lengths we will do to to prevent knitters from skipping class!

The lengths we will go to, to prevent knitters from skipping class!

Don’t forget our new monthly promotion for our “Learn with Lucy” DVDs.

This September only, buy Lucy’s Knitting Essentials 2 DVD for the reduced price of $19.99 (save 33%) AND receive the Video Download version (normally $19.95) free in your Notebook! Happy Stitches!


All things Winnipeg! September 9, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — happystitches @ 07:46
Tags: ,
Pedestrian bridge across the Red River

Pedestrian bridge across the Red River

Adventure Knitting Camp Day 2 dawned sunny and hot and we headed to the (air-conditioned) Winnipeg legislature. Prior to knitting travel I would never have considered visiting a legislature for architectural interest, but I have had my eyes opened. (If you ever find yourself in Yellowknife, don’t miss the Yellowknife Legislature, either.) We had an excellent guide who entertained us by revealing all the Masonic symbolism hidden in plain view. The architect obviously had a wonderful time with this project, and must have had quite the sense of humour. I wonder if the people who accepted his design and commissioned the project had any idea what he was up to? According to this article, they may just have known all along.

Do you see socks too?

Do you see socks too?

Fascinating acoustics under the dome.

Fascinating acoustics under the dome.

The legislature building with the Golden Boy (Mercury) atop.

The legislature building with the Golden Boy (Mercury) atop.

Need a new skill to entertain you this Fall? Check out Craftsy’s extensive library. Cat Bordhi and Franklin Habit both have new classes available. My affiliate link: LINK


Adventure Knitting goes to the Races August 30, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — happystitches @ 16:23
Just in case you didn't check your plane ticket!

Just in case you didn’t check your plane ticket!

No canals today!

I’m going to take a several-blog digression from my canal ramblings to share a few highlights from our recent Adventure Knitting trip to Manitoba. Judy Fawcett and I have been coordinating these biannual exotic knitting holidays for more than 12 years now.

Our past destinations have included White Point Beach in Nova Scotia, Saltspring Island in British Columbia, the Îles de la Madeleine by ferry, the Galapagos Islands,  and Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory. PSST…insider tip: We will be heading for Nelson, BC, in September 2017. Lots of time to get ready!

This year we went North, very North. Our starting point was Winnipeg. Prior to this trip I had never so much as changed planes in Manitoba, so I was excited to finally visit!  As usual, Judy had conducted a thorough reconnaissance trip in anticipation, and we had a great time.

The plan was to use Winnipeg as a staging post for our travels further north, and to explore as many sights and yarn destinations as possible.  Thanks to Judy’s resourcefulness, the diversity of our travel experiences never ceases to surprise.

The first night of camp, after distribution of our goodie bags and camp knitting kits (containing custom dyed luxury yarns), we were all whisked off to Assiniboia Downs Racecourse, where we had dinner and.. Surprise–a behind the scenes visit with the horses and jockeys!

Dinner and a little flutter overlooking the track.

Dinner and a little flutter overlooking the track.

Meeting the mounts (surprisingly slender and petite)

Meeting the mounts (surprisingly slender and petite)

Interestingly when we were all clustered in the winners enclosure, the photographer carefully arranged us so that no one tall should stand near the horses!

Awaiting the winner

Awaiting the winner

Here they come

Here they come

Information on past and future trips can be found under the Info tab on my home page. Adventure Knitting

To be kept updated as plans develop, please email me.

Our thanks to our very generous Goodie Bag sponsors:

PS Craftsy have a sale on colourwork knitting classes this weekend! My affiliate link.


The light at the end of the Tunnel… August 16, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — happystitches @ 07:05
Tags: , , , ,
Our little boat is about to emerge into the light

About to emerge into the light

There are expressions we use every day, almost subconsciously, but quite often, until you have a certain life experience, you really don’t fully get them.

An expression often heard in my old family home was ‘backing and filling’, used in the context of fiddling around, not really getting anything done. It comes directly from yachting, and I suddenly recalled this when out on a sailing dinghy: alternately ‘backing’ the jib (wind on the wrong side) and ‘filling’ the jib (wind on the power side) was a way of holding a sailing boat more or less still whilst waiting on something. Link

I have encountered several of these delightful moments of sudden insight on the canal. It is very likely that canal terminology permeated the language in the early 1800s, but the experiences have vanished in modern times! The first of these ‘Aha!’ moments for me was ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’. We all know what it means, but nothing can prepare you for the sense of joy and relief as you actually see the imminent possibility of emerging from a long dark canal tunnel into the light. At first you glimpse the light in the distance; you chug your way closer through the clammy, dark murk, under the drips, as the glimmer of light grows larger. As you reach the end, the world re-appears, with the glorious light and the colours; it’s even more enchanting than you would have expected!

Awaiting our time slot to traverse the tunnel

Awaiting our time slot for the tunnel

Tunnel information

Tunnel information

Our trip this year began with a couple of modest tunnels on the first afternoon. The usual tunnel etiquette is to tie up just before the tunnel, send a minion to look through, and if you cannot see any boat or headlight at the other end you are safe to switch on your headlight and proceed.

Our first tunnel was too long to be able to see the other end, and for such tunnels there are time slots allocated to north- and south-bound boats to ensure no head-on crunchy encounters in mid-tunnel.

This is what it feels like in a tunnel: There is very little to see apart from the odd stalactite and ventilation shaft, sounds are strangely ghostly, and the air feels thick and cool. I always find myself thinking of the workers that dug them with pick and shovel. What an amazing amount of hand labour these watery highways demanded!


The Adventure Begins! August 7, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — happystitches @ 16:14
Route planning

Route planning


This year I was determined to extend the pleasure and anticipation of our trip to the maximum (and blogging about it afterwards lets me savour all the delights again, at no extra charge).  I began by ordering a couple of detailed canal guides to areas that we might wish to cruise.


Our starting point was settled fairly quickly: we needed it to be close to Manchester airport so that we could return our hire car (rental car) there before we headed off on the canal.  These wonderful guides show the distances and approximate times between points on a route. Better yet, they also show pubs (yes, a necessity), watering points, locks, winding holes, tunnels–everything you need to know.


A look at the detailed canal guide.

A look at the detailed canal guide.


We would be starting just slightly north of Anderton (at the top of the map above). After a short debate, we settled on doing the Four Counties Ring. Having amicably settled on heading south from our starting point, of course we discovered that our dear 60 foot boat was determinedly pointing north.


Yes, there turned out to be a solution to this: The first thing we had to find was a winding hole (the consensus is that this is pronounced like wind as in gale, rather than winding a ball of yarn).


A very smart winding hole on the left.

A very smart winding hole just ahead on the left.


These are marked on the map as a circle with a number in it. Thus a winding hole marked 60 is not wide enough to turn a 70 foot boat! Watching boats make turns is a matter of considerable amusement for the onlooker, and is just slightly stressful in the doing  for the novice helmsman!

Short course in winding: You have to try and turn the bow into the dip in the bank, and then shuffle backwards and forwards performing a 17 point turn, whilst fervently hoping hoping that there are no boats coming, that the wind will let your bow around, and that you don’t run aground (the epitome of embarrassment).

We successfully achieved this, greeted with modest applause from a nearby moored boat!  We were on now properly on our way.


Our first bridge of many!

Our first bridge of many!

On our way at last

On our way at last




I have been getting some lovely reviews on my new Fearless Knitting class – this class is not just for beginners, btw! Craftsy is having a holiday special, too: Get better-than-ever results with the newest classes at $19.99 and below with my affiliate link! Break through your creative barriers today. My affiliate link!


Special DVD Offers: Have your cake and eat it, too! August 4, 2015

Filed under: DVDs,General Musings,Patterns,Sale,Teaching — happystitches @ 10:19
Filming the

Filming the “Learn With Lucy” series came with a unique set of Challenges and Joys!

When we first started filming the “Learn with Lucy” DVD series, we never thought there would be more than two or three titles, certainly not the eventual sixteen action-packed titles!  Though the process was sometimes grueling, and we did have obstacles to overcome (The great DVD disaster, Spunyarn 27),  the project has been a great success.

The dream team!

The dream team!

We have been selling the DVDs for 9 years now, as one title at a time or through our subscription service.  DVD subscription customers  sign up to receive one or two titles monthly until their collection is complete.  This, too, has been a wonderful success from the start.

My longtime friend, and now committed tech nerd, Corrie, foresaw that physical DVDs, as a means for sharing large amounts of video content, were on their way out. Computers, in happy homage to Moore’s Law, were getting faster very fast, and the price of computer memory was dropping like a stone (or a feather in a vacuum). She took on the challenge of finding a way to convert the information on the DVDs into a video format that could be used for on-line streaming and downloaded for off-line viewing.

Suffering for my art!

Suffering for my art!

This was a nasty exercise, but had to be done, since we did not have the original filmed production tracks. Did you know that web browsers are not in any agreement with each other as to which video format they will show or dis-allow?  After the pain and suffering, all 16 titles were completed, and tested on many browsers (!), so we could now provide knitters with a choice of medium.

The great thing about the video versions is that, once purchased, your videos are stored indefinitely in your Notebook at LucyNeatby.com.

Lost all your downloaded Lucy videos in your Great Computer Crash of 2013? No problem! Login on your new computer: all your things are still in your Notebook and ready to be downloaded anew.

For the above and other reasons, our Video Download versions have become very popular, their sales increasing  all the time. Our Video subscription customers make up about half of those sales now, as well.

While some knitters still do prefer the benefits of a physical disc (can be played on computer and tv screen, better image quality–we are still waiting for less expensive server storage space to happen, so we can afford to store the MUCH larger HD files for you), the trend is towards downloadable products.  This is something that has happened everywhere: to patterns, books, movies and educational courses. Just look at Youtube videos and newer Video Blogs, and the hugely successful courses offered through Craftsy, Coursera and others. Instant gratification is lovely.

Knitting Essentials 1

Knitting Essentials 1: our first monthly DVD Special!

In the wake of this technological tsunami there has been an inevitable decline in our “real” DVD sales. We have not ordered a new crate of “Learn with Lucy” DVDs in quite some time, yet we still have plenty of the titles in-house.  In our ongoing mission to downsize the brick-and-mortar aspects of the company, we have decided that a DVD sale was in order!

  For those of you who want the best of both worlds, we have launched a monthly DVD special, whereby you can get a DVD title with its accompanying Video Download version, for a specially reduced rate.  Our first title is Knitting Essentials 1.  Through the month of August 2015, this real-DVD-plus-video-Download pair will be on sale for $19.99 (plus shipping and tax where applicable)!  

A new sale title will be announced in the Newsbox at the beginning of every calendar month. (Is it too early to think about stashing holiday gifts?) If you already own the disc but would like the virtual version too, this offer will give you a present to bestow on a friend, or guild gift exchange, for the same price as a virtual disc. You’ll just have to watch the offers to complete your set!

Happy Stitches and enjoy Learning with Lucy!

We’ll be back to the narrowboat chronicles next time. (I’m loving reliving the trip for you.)


Have Canal Map, Find Boat! July 27, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — happystitches @ 15:22
Taking on stores

Taking on stores

At last, canal trip time arrived! We made it from Nova Scotia to England, and out of the airport. (The anticipation of our ‘messing about with boats’ holiday made even the airport look lovely.)

The very first stop was at Sainsburys for essential supplies and rations; good food makes for good boating.

This was much more fun for us than a typical Nova Scotia shopping trip, due to the novelty of shopping in a UK supermarket and rediscovering all kinds of forgotten favourite foodstuffs–remembrances of ‘foods of yore’ engulfed us.

Action Bridge Black Prince depot.

Action Bridge Black Prince depot.

Half a dozen boats tied alongside the wharf

Half a dozen boats of various lengths are tied alongside the wharf




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