Happy Stitches

Keep your stitches smiling!

Narrowboat Adventures 2018: A Fond Farewell July 22, 2018

finaltieup

It’s over. We have departed from Ali’s Dream.

We made our way super, extra, very slowly the last 1/4 day, stretching it out as long as possible.  We meandered back to Swanley BridgeMarina, to allow time for a last canal coffee, and to savour the last 5 locks.

In total, we completed 939 miles and 874 locks in 81 days (not to mention several bottles of Baileys – the essential ingredient in our canal coffee).

lastnightinamarina

a last bit of knitting while enjoying another glorious sunset

We filled Ali up with fuel, did a few pirouettes and backed her into a very slender berth. Then followed 24 hours of washing, polishing and sorting. I achieved my Fitbit goal and then some just on dashing to and fro between the boat and the marina laundry!

June6_dinnerwithfriendswithalaundryoption

Jackie-the-Boat-owner made a few queries about us being happy to get back to a flush toilet and ample water flow but, honestly, a washing line and good Internet connection were all I’d missed.

rain

Our last was another stunningly beautiful morning but, strangely, between locking the boat and reaching our hire car, there were raindrops. Actual rain drops. This turned into a light shower, requiring windscreen wipers and creating modest puddles. Not enough to break the drought, but it did help to make our departure easier.

AlisDreamMay2

Thanks for reading and joining in John’s and my summer adventure. And now I’m signing off from the cut…

I’ve started putting out feelers for next year’s boat.

 

This week’s sale pattern:

 

 

The  versatile, multi-size Lighthouse Bag is another fun summer project! It is worked in the round in a spiraling lacy pattern that gradually decreases as it winds its way up the bag to finish in a short-row Spider strap.
This quick project requires very little finishing and can be felted to make it resistant to stretching.

The Lighthouse Bag pattern is half-price ($3.75CAD) until July 26,
Happy Stitches!

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Narrowboat Adventures 2018: Daily Life June 19, 2018

We retraced our route somewhat at the beginning of the month, and perhaps even enjoyed it a bit more the second time around! The weather was clearer and the views better. The addition of our boarding plank has widened our options for mooring, too.

wildrosesonthetowpath

Good morning! Beautiful wild roses on the towpath.

Our days are full, and we are usually underway by 0700. Tying up at the end of the day depends on conditions and objectives.

 

Once the engine has been started, one of us heads out and prepares the first lock, and we are off.

swingbridge

a beautiful day, swing bridge in the distance

Apart from a couple of notable flights the locks have been about every 20 mins, with another 20 spent negotiating the upcoming one.

Between locks we: eat breakfast on the deck. Boil the kettle. Make a cup of coffee.  Clean teeth. Wash up the dishes. Put away the dishes. Clean the bathroom- it needs regular maintenance!  Make another cup of canal coffee. Tend to the plants. Dead head and water the flowers (feed on Fridays). Plan and make water/sanitary/ garbage stop.

timetomakethebed

our bed doubles as the charging station!

Tidy up the bed and prep the items for charging (we only have a cigarette lighter adapter to a small inverter- that can only be run after the engine has charged the battery for the engine start for an hour.)

chargingstation

 We can only charge devices whilst underway. Part of the daily routine. Works surprisingly well.

The one battery is reserved entirely for starting the engine, and we always ensure that it is fully charged before charging the domestic ones or the plug in the inverter to charge the devices.

 

Usually only one item can be achieved between locks or swingbridges. No wonder it takes all day!

 

makingsupper

dinner prep

By 4 or 5pm we are ready to stop, eat, drink and fall asleep. The sun insists on staying up later than we do!

 

June6_dinnerwithfriendswithalaundryoption

we enjoyed dinner with our friends, who generously shared their laundry facilities. A nice evening for drying, as well!

We had a lovely invitation from friends in Woolhampton. They offered us both dinner AND a washing machine. We couldn’t resist, and luckily caught an excellent drying evening, too.

June13_shorttermmooringatTesco

lovely temporary mooring stop at Tesco–we were able to shop and load our groceries easily!

 

 

notmuchtimeforknitting

Still looking down at the water and continuing along our way.

And hardly a stitch knit!

 

 

 

This week’s sale pattern

#662 Celestial Baby SwaeterMy Celestial Baby Sweater is a lovely gift for the newest addition to your family! An easy-fit, easy-knit sweater with button-shoulders for a baby or toddler. Knit yours out of machine-washable yarn, and it will become a treasured garment!
The Celestial Baby Sweater is half-price ($3.75CAD) until June 21,
Happy Stitches!

 

 

Narrowboat Adventures 2018: First Days May 21, 2018

These first three weeks on the canals have flown by!  John and I are having fun on the cut, we found ourselves dropping back into our canal routine rapidly.

firstglimpse

First Glimpse of Ali’s Dream

We found Ali’s Dream easily. We met her owner Jackie  and the rain eased off for our move in with our garbage bags.  Once again, we felt like we were playing a life-size game of tiles: move something to one place, then  move it again for the next item.

We set out early next morning for a full on shop at Tesco, we needed food and various boat-hold items to make life more comfortable!  And then we were off, on the canals…

A quick little diversion onto the Llangollen to meet up with our friends on Willow

A quick little diversion onto the Llangollen to meet up with our friends on Willow

First off, we took a short detour up the Llangollen to meet up with our friends from Willow (we did the Rochdale together last year).  After all, they were only 4 miles, 5 locks and 2 lift bridges away!

We successfully found them, went on a little further to the next winding hole and turned around so as to be facing the way we wanted for the morning. That night, we moored up next to Willow and caught up with news.  Our friends were delighted that we had come to visit.

 

After that, we headed south in our intended direction.

blissedoutRiverSevernMay6

Blissed out on the canals…

…and suddenly, May was upon us!

Spring arrived late this year. Cows have only just gone out to pasture (they look joyous), trees are budding, and green is the colour of the moment. The first fluff ball ducklings are hatched, swans are nesting and the birds are very vocal. We’ve seen our first kingfisher. The spring flowers are a delight: occasional daffodils ( have they escaped or do they exist in the wild?), celandine, primroses, bluebells, cowslips (haven’t seen these in years), pussy willows all turned to pollen, glorious blossoms on the trees.

The best evenings are spent outside.  One evening I heard a cuckoo calling in the late day sunshine and calm. I hadn’t heard a cuckoo in years.

alisdream

We explored a new-to us canal: the Staffs and Worcs, which proved surprisingly rural after an urban start outside of Wolverhampton. The ingenuity of the original canal builders- here James Brindley and the Bratch locks- is astounding.

 

newplantsMay15

We found a Sainsburys store close enough to the canal to come back with more plant pots and compost (and food). John fitted a new water pump and nearly has the boat to to his satisfaction

 

We moored up just outside of Stourbridge More for the  bank holiday on May 7, with unaccountably good weather for the long weekend.

Stourport basin, entering the Severn, reaching Worcester and heading up the Birmingham and Worcester canalMay6

Stourport Basin, entering the Severn, reaching Worcester and heading up the Birmingham and Worcester canal

Stourbridge was very pretty and our gateway to the upper reaches of the River Severn on a glorious day. The River was flowing gently and was mostly wooded on both sides.

We had to turn back off the river at Worcester: a sharp left hand turn, but the river was wide and it was easily done. The first two locks on the Birmingham and Worcester Canal were very wide, giving access to the town dock basin for much bigger river boats. We then began our journey towards the Oxford Canal back on narrow channels.

 

Bank holiday Monday turned out to be a scorcher. We went from bringing the plants in for fear of frost to midsummer temps. This was also the day when there appeared to be a problem with the charging of the domestic batteries. The fridge shut down, the newly installed water pump gave up, and on and on! We called in to a small boatyard for confirmation of the diagnosis and the aid of many fuses, a work-around, and some shore power to perk things up we were eventually back underway.

 

readyingfor36locksMay7

Readying ourselves for 36 locks in one morning!

Next day, we completed the Tardebigge Locks – a personal best with 36 locks before lunch!

topofTardebiggeLocksMay9

at the top of Tardebigge Locks

We started very early in case it should be as hot as the day before.  There were was no one ahead of us and, amazingly, almost all the locks were set in our favour. This meant that the last boat through had been downbound the day before, leaving all the locks empty (except for a couple that had filled or partially so owing to leaks). A huge saving in time and effort for us! The weather was cooler, the heatwave over thankfully.

36lockslaterMay8

This saw us onto the Grand Union Canal and into double wide locks. This was the last leg of last year’s journey but, unlike last time, there were other boats around with which to share some of the locks. This can be fun, as you meet and chat with other boaters, exchanging jibber-jabber. Or you can catch up with a single-handler who has been out so long that he has apparently lost the ability to speak, and end up doing twice the work to help him through. It takes all sorts on the canal!

interiorMay3

the interior of Ali’s Dream–home away from home!

We’ve had a few fun nights with squeaking smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors and I’ve become expert at finding them and replacing batteries! Otherwise the engine controls are working like silk, the fridge is staying frozen, the shower can get both shoulders wet simultaneously, the new water pump is working and life is good.

tiedupMay17

On the bank, the moorhen chicks are hatching, the mallard babies are getting bigger (but still insist on trying to race the boat – whilst peeping frantically for mum), the yellow iris are appearing, the lambs are getting tubby. Sheep are nothing but eating machines. We’ve seen two batches of cygnets. The new flowers are planted (we might need a longer boat to accommodate them all!) Now headed for the Thames and new waters in a day or two.

 

canalknitting

Some evenings, I even find time to knit!

 

 

 

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The SnowFire DK Blanket January 31, 2018

 

snowfire

Knit yourself an heirloom with this spectacularly beautiful and warm double-layer blanket!

 

I’m so thrilled with the responses I’ve gotten to  my newest dk blanket design which was pre-released last week!

narrowboatknitting

I’ve been working on the SnowFire Blanket for many months–I started this project at home in Nova Scotia, it was my constant companion throughout John’s and my time on the UK Canal system, and I’ve been happily knitting on it since my return.

 

This project makes for wonderful travel knitting: interesting, colourful, technically pleasing, but still portable and fun.  My blanket is certainly well-travelled: as a matter of fact, it is with me in Quebec right now!

 

stitchmaps

The SnowFire DK Blanket pattern is more of a workshop-in-a-pattern, as it includes 15 instructional videos and detailed Stitch-Maps charts.

 

 

knitcircus

I had such fun choosing the KnitCircus gradient yarns I would use for the blanket, and am thrilled with the results.  The yarn is gorgeous, a treat to work with and so extraordinarily soft.

How exciting, too, that the good folks at KnitCircus Yarns have put together a yarn pack based on the colours I used for my blanket!

 

 

sfedge

I am nearing the end now, and am applying edge treatments as we speak.  It’s been a gloriously enjoyable project, one which I will miss.

 

 

For more tips and techniques in double knitting, please consider joining my Double Knitting Technique Club.  This is the club for all who have discovered the magic of double knitting and are now lusting after more advanced forms of DK sorcery!
My Double Knitting Technique Club is full of an ongoing supply of new techniques in video format supplemented by workshop-style notes.

couchknitting

SnowFire and I on Big Tancook Island in January

 

 

Please note that the SnowFire DK Blanket is currently a pattern-in-progress.
While it is still on my needles and the pattern under construction, it is fit for use. I will continue to update it until it is complete with final pictures, video links and layout.

 

Happy DK Stitches!

 

 
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