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Planes, Trains and Narrowboats! Part 1 February 22, 2018

sy94_beautifulNelson copy

Beautiful Nelson, British Columbia

I realize that my husband’s retirement shouldn’t have come as a surprise, but even two years out there were no formal plans. It was business as usual for Judy Fawcett and me: Plans had been hatched for our next biannual Knitting Adventure Camp in late September 2017, and Nelson, British Columbia was our chosen destination.


Life moved on and, somehow, the idea of a long apres-freedom narrowboat trip intruded into our consciousness and wormed its way into being. DH was set loose on the world in mid-August. We’d both been so busy with work that we hadn’t had time to take our customary two-week boat trip earlier in the season.  This left us with only the autumn months if we were going to cruise the canals in 2017.  September to December seemed perfect… apart from the Adventure Knitting commitment from September 24 to the 30th.

The Queen Bee: our home-away-from-home!

After much discussion, it was determined that the only way to have my cake and eat it too was for me to leave for our UK journey at the end of August, temporarily return to Canada, teach the workshops, then head staight back to the boat as though nothing absurd had just happened. Problem solved!


This manoevre took on the nature of a military operation.
There were several steps to be taken in Canada before the September departure:
Step 1 – May – June: prepare the workshop notes, design, knit and write the Selkirk Mittens pattern.
Step 2 – July: order the yarns for the class knitting kits.
Step 3 – August: pack a large box with my teaching clothes, projector, and knitting kits; ship it out to Judy on the West Coast.
Step 4 – Find a 10 day berth for our boat and book it.  As our rental agreement precluded single-handed operation of the boat, we’d have to find somewhere within 19 days cruising range of our starting point near Oxford. This mooring would also need to be near a railway station, be pleasant for DH, and secure for the Queen Bee.
We hit upon theNational Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port, conveniently near DH’s mother. Could we book a berth there for the period? Luck was with us – yes, we could! All locked in (both by canal locks and padlocks), she could safely be left unattended if needed for a few days.
Step 6 – Plan the voyage to reach Ellesmere Port in time to catch a train to London to get to the airport to fly back to Canada. We would be picking Queen Bee up from just north of Oxford, and estimated that it would take 15 days cruising to reach our destination.   Bearing in mind that a cruising day may not go according to plan, and that time  also has to be budgeted for food shopping on foot, taking on fresh water, pumping out the sewage holding tanks, picking up diesel, or for canal lock hiccups, we gave ourselves 20 days. We even worked in a contingency plan that I could be dropped in Chester near the station should we be delayed any further.
With all this in place or planned, we were ready to head to the UK.
 Move-In Day
Space is at a premium on a narrowboat (they are not called narrow for fun), so we decided  to empty all our worldly goods into plastic bin bags to take on the Queen Bee, with the exception of one carry-on size suitcase for me to use on my return to Canada.
On the water, at last!
In high spirits and with much anticipation, we set out on our voyage.
Check out our weekly half-price patterns at LucyNeatby.com.
This week we are featuring my Selkirk Felted Mittens!
These mittens are named for the Selkirk mountains that surround Nelson, British Columbia, the venue for my Adventure Knitting camp 2017. This speedy and warm mitten incorporates a number of interesting techniques: a ‘reducing’ waste yarn opening for the thumb, an un-fulled cuff (for maximum draft exclusion) and a tubular bind-off!
The Selkirk Felted Mittens pattern is half-price ($4.50) until February 27,
Happy Stitches!

Narrowboat Adventures: Weeks Nine And Ten November 11, 2017


Our beautiful home away from home. There is a lot of hard work and some days are challenging, but this experience has been one for the books, we are loving every moment!

The start of this month found us chasing diesel – not sure how far we could go without running out and unable to purchase a jerry can for emergency supply (not to mention organizing a way to carry it back from a garage) – diesel stockists are few and far between at this time of year.  It was our very dear plan to take the Huddersfield Narrow Canal back south (many, many locks but narrow) and go through the Standedge tunnel  (the longest in the UK) but the vagaries of the Canals and Rivers Trust thwarted us thoroughly and we decided to continue along the Rochdale Canal in the company of our canal-exploring coconspirators aboard the Willow.

Traveling in tandem with our friends aboard the Willow

Traveling in company is fun provided they are compatible – luckily we are! We leapfrogged each other on the run up to Leeds both heading for the one open day at the lock stoppage and both getting caught up at the jammed swing bridge – adversity unites. 
The Rochdale! It’s spoken of with trepidation, and we found out why.  Since the Summit, it was challenging with both excesses of water and shortages. Going downhill is easier than uphill, but many of the overflow sluices are blocked with twigs, which then catch the leaves and effectively impede the water that needs to escape, leaving the locks brimming over at both ends. The canal itself is very shallow, with very few mooring spots and none of them dredged.
Frequently we had a challenge to get alongside at the end of day. The locks came thick, fast and heavy but we had a good system going.

A gruelling but satisfying day transiting Manchester. Disappearing under the arches.

The final day on the Rochdale saw a target of 29 locks to reach the middle of Manchester and a reasonably secure overnight mooring in Castlefield. There are many spots en route where it was not possible or wise to stop. The homelessness visible in Manchester is depressing. One lock in particular was inhabited under the bridge by a full on encampment constructed of umbrellas and tents with all the occupant’s clothes hung on the lock mechanism.
Luckily we were able to get both boats out of the lock using only one gate so didn’t have to disturb or dismantle the residence.

Moored in Castlefield after 29 locks; early to bed!

We made our goal, setting off at first light and tying up in the twilight.

Narrowboat Adventures (and Beyond!): Weeks Three and Four September 28, 2017

The time is flying by and suddenly, Week 3 has morphed into Week 4 and I am back in North America!

I won’t be on this continent for long, though.  I’m spending the week with my Adventure Knitters in beautiful Nelson, British Columbia.  More on that later…


approaching Chester in the fog


Into our 3rd week, we were settling into a slightly more leisurely pace.
Leaves were beginning to fall from some trees. On one lovely evening, we tied up under an oak tree and spent the night listening to the staccato machine-gun style rattle of acorns with every gust of wind. Our lesson: on nights when there are strong winds forecast, we won’t plan to moor under any type of tree in case of larger things than acorns breaking loose! 

my last day on the Queen Bee, working the locks

For the last two weeks on the boat we’d been setting our sights on reaching Ellesmere Port or Chester on September 20th – not a tall order by car, but on a narrowboat (traveling at walking pace) you have to allow time for lock delays or other unexpected happenings and you can’t just hurry up.

Chester Locks

 I had a train to catch that Wednesday to get to Heathrow – hard to take a break from your journey, but needs must! John’s plan was to visit his mum and clean and do laundry. We also planned to offload any summer or unwanted gear – anything for space.
We had gradually been learning how long we can go without taking on potable water, fuel, and how to judge the holding tank gauge for just-in-time pumpouts! Finding garbage drop offs can prove challenging, the Canals and River Trust have been removing skips from some of the watering points …. there is a quite a bit of fly tipping in evidence under the railway bridges.

all moored up, Ellesmere Port

We’d taken Queen Bee to Ellesmere Port National Waterways Museum, to moor up whilst I’m away. The museum is situated on a basin accessed by a couple of locks and offers a snug protected berth.  In fact, we’ve become part of the exhibit!  Gongoozlers were busy taking pics as we came through the locks. We offloaded bin bags full of laundry  and excess gear.  John is taking the opportunity to stock up with dry goods and tonic water, which we constantly run out of! 

Chester Train Station

I was prepared with clothing and a small carry on case to be able to leave the boat as we passed through Chester and walk to the railway station.
As it happened we had a day in hand and decided to moor up Queen Bee and rent a car (had to walk to get that), and visit my mother in law for a night before my departure.

All my connections worked and I had a really good journey to BC, using boat, car, train, tube, taxi, plane, feet for transport!

Next thing I knew, I was on my way to Nelson.
I was dropped at Chester station and caught a train to London. This was a little like narrowboating in reverse, as the train line frequently criss crossed the canal that I had spent the previous 2 weeks on – it looked very tranquil on the cut. 
This felt cruel, having chugged alongside train tracks on many occasions over the previous couple of weeks.  Now I found myself on a train, catching glimpses  of the canal. It all looked so peaceful, rather like looking at a model scene. I saw the locks we’d recently been through and several boats on the move.  I couldn’t exactly identify them without a map and they look so different from inside a train.

I then caught the tube across London during rush hour to get to Heathrow.
Next I had to find the hotel that I had booked! Couldn’t locate the shuttle buses so took a taxi. In the morning I was successful in catching a bus back to LHR and flew to Vancouver.
Here I was picked up by Judy, my Adventure Knitting co-conspirator, and conveyed to a very welcome bed and hot shower. We set off early the next morning on the 10 hour up-and-down car journey to Nelson, crossing several mountain ranges. The huge trees and craggy mountains were quite a contrast to the flatness of canal travel.

And now that I am here, let the Adventure Knitting begin!


I felt like I’d just taken part in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, but here I am in Nelson, BC!

An afterthought…

My Almost Saintly Socks is our half-price pattern of the week!
An entertaining project for the ardent sock knitter, for those in search of an interesting foot-suntan pattern, or those with naturally hot feet! The scallop holes stitch pattern sets off hand-painted yarns beautifully.
The Almost Saintly Socks pattern is half-price ($4.50) until October 3!


Half-price pattern of the week!





Knit Camp 2016: Only 3 Spaces Left! April 14, 2016

Filed under: Adventure Knitting,Guest Post,Tancook Cottage,Teaching — jcw104 @ 09:00

Wouldn’t you love to spend a week on a secluded island with Lucy, enjoying knitting classes, companionship and incredible tranquility? Join us this September for Knit Camp 2016 on Big Tancook Island, Nova Scotia!

tancook2Expect a warm Tancook welcome, and enjoy the rugged beauty of this remote island full of a peace and quiet that scarcely can be imagined in our modern world. You may even find the volume of bird song and sounds of the waves rather intrusive on occasion! You’ll travel back in time and leave the everyday world behind, the moment you step ashore.

Attendance is limited to 12 and there are now only 3 spaces left, so reserve your place today to avoid disappointment!

For more information see the Knit Camp 2016 Brochure or contact info@lucyneatby.com.



Lucy will provide formal knitting classes for 3 hours each morning (there will also be informal gatherings for social knitting with Lucy at other times). With such a small group, we will be able to explore ideas more freely than is usual in a conventional workshop environment.

The topic for this year’s camp will be socks. We will explore the attributes of a great sock, and the best techniques and methods to knit them. Special emphasis will be given to cuffs and edgings, and fancy sock legs using stitch patterns of your choice. (You may select one of Lucy’s patterns or work on your own design.)

tancook4Afternoons will be free to spend as you wish. Curled up with a book on the beach (it’s pebbly, but pretty), sipping tea on your cottage deck overlooking the ocean, knitting in the gallery with friends, or wandering freely.

Optional weather-dependent plans include a bird watching walk with Hillary (she knows where they all hang out and what they are called), an expedition by ferry to Little Tancook Island, or touring by bicycle or on foot.



Welcoming the Cooler Days October 22, 2014

We have things pretty good here in Nova Scotia: though our summers do start wet and late some years, the season certainly makes up for it in September and October. We are treated to glorious foliage, our gardens are bursting with the colours of late-summer flowers and ripening vegetables, and we enjoy  an abundance of warm and sunny days. This is the perfect weather for long bike rides along the coast, leisurely strolls on the beach, and invigorating inland hikes. This September was gorgeous, and I was thrilled to introduce another crop of Adventure Knitters to my home-away-from-home on Tancook Island. We had a glorious week, spending much of it outdoors.

Paradoxical Mittens

Paradoxical Mittens

But now the colder months are fast approaching. We are starting to put our gardens to bed, and hunting through the closets for our warmer clothes.
While I like to create and design throughout the year, some knitters feel less compelled when the weather is warm. But with one or two cold snaps under our belts, the needles are coming out and we’re all getting back to work!
For many of us, it’s socks and slippers, blankets and cozy sweaters, and, of course, mittens and hats. This time last year I was knitting the Zinnia Blanket, and  I enjoyed the warmth of a sizeable WIP on my lap. Now I’m working on my Blossom design and, while I’ve focused mostly on smaller sample sizes, I am keen to let this winter flower grow!

DK Hats Bundle

DK Hats Bundle

To start off the season, we’ve created a new Bundle to help get some of those needles clicking and entice you to knit a few double knit accessories in the round: the DK Hats Bundle is on for a special introductory price for the rest of the month. It includes four of my double-knit hat patterns and my DK Hats Tutorial. A worsted weight DK hat is an easily achievable gift size project to practice on.

Who knows? With a few smaller dk projects under your belt, you might want to try working on a really large one this winter. You may even wish to join my upcoming Blossom PIP Club!

Happy stitches to you, wherever you are.


Introducing Susan November 8, 2013

Filed under: Adventure Knitting,General Musings,The Tradewinds Team — happystitches @ 08:07
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My name is Susan Hannah and I began working with Lucy in 1998 when my youngest son was in preschool. (He’s 6′ 7″ and several years into university now. L)

Lucy had started her fledgling business a few years earlier and I knew that, in order to continue being creative and developing new patterns and ideas, she would need help on the business side of things.  So I offered.  After some consideration, Lucy agreed, and we decided to give it a whirl at a Knit With Us event in Newfoundland.  Lucy taught some classes and I ran the sales; we both had a great time and so began our business relationship.

After a few years, Lucy asked me to help with the bookkeeping.  Her husband John had been doing it up to that point, but could no longer fit the extra work around his full-time job.  Now there was no looking back, and we worked together for many years on our own.  Over time, Corrie developed Lucy’s web presence, and we truly became an online business (more from Corrie in a later post).


Here is my version of Lucy’s Abracadabra Scarf, knit in Celestial Merino Deep Purple. What a fun knit!

But how did a girl from the West Coast of Canada meet a girl from England and Wales?

Lucy moved to Nova Scotia in March of 1992, and I arrived less than a year later.  I always claimed that we were destined to meet and each had to move four Time Zones to do it.  We had three connection points: the Knitting Guild of Canada, where we had both placed ads looking for Knitters in the Halifax area, Shirley Scott’s Newsletter (Knitting News) and the Newcomers Club in Halifax.

My older two children fit between her younger two and, in fact, her youngest and my oldest are good friends to this day.  We became each other’s family in Nova Scotia and would celebrate various holidays together.


Lucy and I, organizing our shipping lists. Things were very hands-on in the beginning!

But mostly Lucy and I worked together to create Tradewind Knitwear Designs (or LucyNeatby.com).

I have had many roles here:  I started out doing the shipping, then started answering e-mails and phone calls and taking on more duties.  I have packed patterns, created kits, sorted yarn, run Knit-Alongs, done the books and generally been involved on almost all levels of the business.


I loved knitting the Cloud Stole in Celestial Merino Mango.

Last summer, I found out that I would be moving back to BC.  At first, I couldn’t tell anyone, as the plans wouldn’t be finalized before November.  My family and I had been in Nova Scotia for 20 years and we had built a life there, including this job I had created for myself.  Though I had been scaling back and we had gotten more help over the years (Stephanie had arrived on the scene by then and I could hand a large part of running the business over to her), now I had to leave completely.  I was torn– this job and my relationship with Lucy had been a big part of my life for such a long time.  Could I really do it?  Lucy and I had many emotional talks as I tried to untangle myself from the day-to-day workings of Tradewinds.

In the beginning, things had been very hands-on.  A big part of my job involved sending pattern packets, kits, yarn and DVDs to customers.  Nowadays, so much of the work can be done online, which means that certain parts of my job can, as well.  So here I am in Brentwood Bay, BC, a full continent away from Lucy, and I still work with her!  We do our accounting online (of which I’m still a big part), and I run Knit-Alongs on Ravelry.  I still help to answer some of the trickier e-mails and questions without having to step in the shop.  In the end, I’m still a part of the business, but from a distance.


I created this version of the Fiesta Stocking after having brainstormed a few good kit options

 What were my favourite things about working with Lucy at Tradewinds?  Watching an idea grow from a small seed into an international business and knowing I was an important part of that.  Being involved with yarn–very dangerous but so much fun!  Most of all, I enjoyed the contact with customers.  I loved talking to you on the phone or working with you via e-mail to help with your choices, answer your questions, help interpret Lucy’s patterns and support you.  It was wonderful to meet many of you in person at Lucy events, especially the four Adventure Knitting trips I went on.


I was lucky to have joined Lucy on several of her Adventure Knitting trips. Here we are, embarking on a trip to the Galapagos Islands!

Oh and the knitting!  That was our original connection, and it remains to this day.  I have knit or test-knit many of Lucy’s patterns and have enjoyed every one, even the ones I had to be talked into knitting


I knit this Infinite Entrelac scarf for Lucy, using some of her favourite colours!

It has been a great ride and I am so grateful to Lucy for taking a risk and allowing me to go on this crazy, wonderful journey with her.

Now I’m looking forward to sharing my insight into Lucy and the business via the blog.  I’m hoping you’ll welcome different perspectives and, in turn, do your bit to make this business a better, more user friendly and fun place to be.


A Taste of Les Îles de la Madeleine! October 5, 2013

Les Iles de la Madeleine--well worth visiting! (Don't forget to bring your knitting)

Les Iles de la Madeleine–well worth visiting! (Don’t forget to bring your knitting)

My bi-annual Adventure Knitting trips take me all over in the cause of great knitting fun and friends, and we like to seek slightly off-beat travel methods and destinations. With the notable exception of one trip to the Galapagos Islands, Judy Fawcett and I focus our travel trips within Canada. Ours is such a huge and magnificent country, that it isn’t hard to find beautiful and out-of-the-way spots to visit.
Our home away from home, the CMTA Vacancier

Our home away from home, the CMTA Vacancier

This year found me, suitcases in hand, standing somewhat bemused on the docks in Montreal. Along came a coach, happily containing my merry Knitting Gang which had already had some time to tour the city together! It was time for the Adventure to begin.
We dropped off bags and cases (many of which were already brimming with yarn after a few days shopping) and boarded the CTMA Vacancier, our home for the next two days and nights.
knitting our way down the St Lawrence River

knitting our way down the St Lawrence River

We knitted our way down the St. Lawrence River and out into the Gulf until we made landfall at the microscopic chain of islands known by Anglophones as the Magdalen Islands.  Their correct french name is Les Îles de la Madeleine. There is very little English spoken in this region of  Quebec, which was especially noticeable on this trip. During the English safety talk at the start of our journey, we discovered that the ferry had only a handful of other English speakers aboard apart from our group! This just added to the fun. The crew of the ferry were delightful and the atmosphere aboard simply jolly whatever the language.
We improvised for classroom space and held informal classes in many spots on the ship. We tried a number of different saloons, the dining room outside of meal service times, but best of all was out on deck one afternoon. This further increased my repertoire of weird teaching venues (trains, planes, coaches, ferries, Chinese restaurants, next to an expresso machine, from ship to ship by VHF radio to name but a few I can remember). I haven’t tried a hot air balloon yet – any takers?
Everyone enjoyed making their own Igloo Cowl or Hat

Everyone enjoyed making their own Igloo Cowl or Hat

I had brought play yarn along for everyone, and, without any undue coercion, everyone decided on tackling a double knit Igloo Cowl or Hat. Originally designed as a top-down hat, it can also be tackled from the bottom up (thus avoiding the perfect circular, tubular, double layer cast-on which is wonderful, but fiddly, and maybe not recommended for poor light situations). For the determined and fearless, the top down version offers more flexibility for sizing and is my personal favourite!
Travel by school bus was part of the Adventure!

Travel by school bus was part of the Adventure!

We were well underway by the time we docked at Cap aux Meules Island two days later. Our land program saw us board a school bus and be transported along a 50 km road to the far end of the island to our Inn (or Auberge).
The Îles de la Madeleine are so slender, it’s a wonder they haven’t yet been washed away!  Long, thin and windswept would be a brief description. For most of the bus ride  we could see sea on both sides. However, this doesn’t do justice to the spectacularly eroded red cliffs, miles of magnificent golden sand beaches and the brightly coloured houses: lime, purple, turqoise, orange, teal, pink, yellow–all of my favorite colours! Unfortunately,  I don’t have a photo of the houses; they are so widely scattered it was hard to get more than two into any photo.  Just imagine a handful of coloured bricks sprinkled across the hills.
Firewood is created by stacking piles of driftwood teepee fashion out side the houses,  it is left this way for a couple of years to wash out the salt before burning. There are hardly any trees of any size on the island. The wind has to be experienced to be appreciated (and it wasn’t excessive whilst we were there). There a number of cycling companies that take their tour groups to the windward end of the island to start their ride each day!
The fabulous beaches impressed us all!

The fabulous beaches impressed us all!

We walked along the beaches, toured some of the many fishing harbours and visited beauty spots, all the while steadfastly knitting on. We tasted and sampled our way around the islands. Fish and seafood were staples. We did once see a cow. In fact, we are sure we saw the same cow every time we went anywhere, but it did look lonely.
We couldn't resist sampling the local brew

We couldn’t resist sampling the local brew

We naturally endeavored to support the local brewery: I admit to only sampling the Corps Mort 12% brew!

We quit our spacious steady rooms at the Auberge on our last Island-Day and returned to the dear old CTMA Vacancier after a slap-up sunset diner at a former convent. It felt like returning home and the cabins no longer felt quite as tiny as they had before. Offloading the burden of yarn I had started my journey with helped too!
Did I mention that my sister joined us on this lovely journey?  Though she likes to refer to herself as a beginner-knitter at best, she put us all to shame with her double-knitting prowess!

Did I mention that my sister joined us on this lovely journey? Though she likes to refer to herself as a beginner-knitter at best, she put us all to shame with her double-knitting prowess!

The weather was ideal for al fresco knitting on the way back upriver. Our two last ports of call were  Chandler and Quebec City. In lovely Chandler we were treated to a magnificent display of gannets feeding.
How lovely to have made new knitterly friends on this fantastic adventure.  I can't wait for the next one!

How lovely to have made new knitterly friends on this fantastic adventure. I can’t wait for the next one!

All in all,  this was a magnificent trip with some stunning knitting successes being achieved, although I’m not sure what the rest of the passengers thought of us wearing hats to breakfast on the last morning!
I was sad to say farewell to such a great group of friends and fellow travelers – I can only say I’m looking forward to seeing many of you again in Manitoba in August 2015! We will be going north….

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