Happy Stitches

Keep your stitches smiling!

Narrowboat Adventures 2018: Our Journey Continues June 7, 2018

Filed under: Canal boat,home,Knitting Travels,Narrowboating — happystitches @ 20:04

June5SteamingintoHungerford

 

Travelling downstream along the Thames added to our progress considerably. A river is quite a different proposition to a canal. No lack of moving water, it being replenished from many feeders and has to be channeled downwards and out to the sea. Many of the locks are left with one set of the paddles open, a definite no-no on canals, where every drop is husbanded. I didn’t really enjoy the automated or manned by a lock keeper locks — not nearly as much fun or exercise!

 

 

beautifulscenery

There are long stretches where you can see nothing apart from the wide river and bushes and trees, then towns with interesting buildings and many ostentatious houses with enormous lawns leading down to the river! These often include docks with equally fancy boats. The boats were noticeably larger and with greater air drafts as we went further down.

 

Mooring up is tricky along a big river too. All the fancy gardens are clearly labelled “Private – no mooring”. The wild banks have many trees. Sometimes there are fairly smooth sheer bits of bank that might work. At least the river is wide enough that you can turn the boat and go back to a suitable spot — not an option on a canal. I believe it is also done to moor the bow to a tree or a pin and just let the stern fall to the current.

 

yellowirisonK&A

yellow iris along the Kennet&Avon canal

We reached Reading sooner than expected and decided to continue on to the start of the Kennet and Avon. We turned into the mouth of the Kennet and faced a formidable current against us.

We slowly made headway against the flow. We reached a ‘one boat at a time’ section controlled by a traffic light!  You had to push the equivalent of a pedestrian crossing button. When the light changed to green, you could proceed, giving you 12 minutes to reach the lock at the other end. This section wiggled and wound around the Center of Reading taking us right through the middle of a ritzy shopping area, where we formed the entertainment for those drinking at the bars and restaurants on either side. After having exited the next lock, we were happy to tie up for the day.

 

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happy to tie up for the day, getting in a few stitches canalside

 

The Kennet & Avon is different. The first day or two was a mixture of river and canal sections and lots of “Danger” signs. The River Kennet was flowing strongly against us. Wherever it leaves the canal, it swooshes off over a weir, sucking your boat to that side. For the period that it runs as the waterway it works against you, and where it enters the canal, it pushes you across (often just as you approach a lock). The locks here are very large and somewhat aggressive, not at all consistent in size and method of operation.

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chocolate box village!

 

Here in  Wiltshire, the rolling hills and unspoiled scenery are glorious with villages few and far.  In them, thatched cottages abound.  The canal took us uphill for 3 days and once we  passed the summit headed down to Bristol.

 

 

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above the Caen Hill Locks

We did our usual crack of dawn attack on the Caen Hill Locks. We had about an hour to go before we reached them and we were just in the first lock when the thunder clouds rolled in and drenched us. Fortunately it wasn’t very cold rain and working the locks kept us warm.

CaenHillLocks

29 locks in five hours!

These locks were distinctly heavy and we were just getting a system worked out between us (each set seems to be different), when up popped a couple of Canal & River Trust volunteers offering assistance!  As there were no other boats around, they stuck with us most of the way despite the deluges. We cleared the 29 locks in about 5 hours.

 

May28BradfordonAvon

May 28, Bradford on Avon–gongoozlers on holiday!

We had planned to pump out, get rid of rubbish and take water in the sleepy little town of Bradford-On-Avon but, as we reached the bottom of the locks, there were suddenly a lot more boats!  A fair was being held and the quays were brimming with people. Luckily for us there was a CRT guy on the quayside ensuring that the sanitary berth was only being used for its intended purpose and we left as soon as we were done.  The towpath was awash with people, dogs and bikes and also heavily wooded.

Eventually we found a spot where we could moor in –  a concrete ledge prevented us from getting fully alongside, but gave us a grandstand view of a string of frazzled hire boaters failing to make the next bend.

yellowirisonK&A

Along the Kennet & Avon canal,  the lilacs were starting to go over, the ducklings becoming adolescent, the yellow iris coming out. Swans just hatching and the Canada geese herding the chicks into community daycare systems.

Next we worked our way west until we connected with the River Avon.  The intersections between canal and river were less frequent and the current not as strong. Here we encountered a bit of a problem:  in order to secure to a rough bank, you had to be able to get off the boat to drive in  mooring pins, but we had no boarding plank suitable for bridging the gap!

We reached the final lock that released us onto the Avon and called the lock at the Bristol Docks to check that their lock was open and headed on downriver. Both gates of the entry dock were open,  we tied up and paid our dues and then chugged on into the Bristol Floating Harbour.

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entering Bristol Floating Harbour

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the new pedestrian bridge in Bristol

After a fair stretch of Feeder Canal we turned into the heart of Bristol. Tall buildings both ancient and modern, exotic bridges, and all manner of boats, coastal vessels, harbour ferries, water taxis, Dutch barges, sailing, tugs, historic exhibits, gigs, paddle boards, with narrowboats being in the minority. We spent the afternoon being tourists, and evening watching the harbour traffic. The harbour was impressively well organized, with visitor moorings and facilities for water, rubbish and sewage in several locations, and the harbour was immaculately free of trash.

 

 

 

 

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Making use of our new boarding plank!

 

We have become fairly adept at planning day visits from friends and family! Arrange to meet up at a location where they can leave their car and access the canal, enjoy a day together, then plan the departure at a canal side pub where a taxi can be obtained to take them back the 6 or so miles that we have achieved.

We had a full shopping list request for our good friends who visited last week, top of which was a 2 meter long plank! They were happy to oblige and we are now equipped with our own official boarding plank.

 

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Bristol Harbour

 

AqueductHat

Meanwhile, back at home, we are continuing with our weekly half-price sales: this week we’re featuring my Aqueduct Hat and Tea Cozy pattern!  I had so much fun designing this project–an homage to the Pontsycllte Aqueduct in Wales and a lovely knit for the narrow boaters and tea drinkers in your life!

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

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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.
ukprep

Preparations

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.
queenbee

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.
selkirk
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!
 

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!

 

 

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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.

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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!

 

Lucy’s Advent Sales! December 1, 2017

Filed under: Advent 2017,home,Sale — happystitches @ 10:11

 

ighat

Today’s half-price pattern is Lucy’s Igloo Hat! Check at LucyNeatby.com daily until December 25 for more Advent Specials!

Join the festivities as we count down to the holidays!
We’ve created a 2017 Advent Calendar Sale and will be featuring one half-price pattern per day until December 25.
Our first door opens to Lucy’s Igloo Hat!
You’ll have plenty of time to knit this delightfully warm, top-down, fully reversible, double knit gift: one side of the hat features a rippling texture pattern and the other sprinkles of colour!
The Igloo DK Hat pattern is half-price ($3.75CAD) until the end of the day!

Check back at LucyNeatby.com daily for more Advent Calendar Specials!

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A Little Excursion into Fox Paws April 26, 2015

Fox Paws designed by Xandy Peters

Fox Paws designed by Xandy Peters

Fox Paws is a crazily unique design by Xandy Peters. I’ve long regarded knitting a creation from another designer as an excursion into their brain. It’s often an interesting journey. In this case, it resembled an extremely enjoyable potholing or spelunking trip.

My first acquaintance with Fox Paws was whilst on my way to speak to the Snohomish Guild in Washington. My kindly and thoughtful drivers factored in time to stop at a beautiful yarn store, Serial Knitters, should the traffic gods be with us. They were. The Fox Paws wrap displayed in the window stopped my in my tracks before I even entered. It was the most striking, beautiful and un-knitting-like piece of knitting I have ever seen.

It was extraordinary. I began to hear a little of its story: about the store knitalong and the fact that the Yarn Harlot had knit one fairly recently.

After Madrona, I headed east for some housebound winter hibernation and resolved to give this design a whirl. I don’t usually have much time for recreational knitting, it takes away from my available time to work on the designs I have brewing. I purchased Xandy’s pattern on Ravelry anyway (I sometimes just buy a pattern as a vote of support for the designer despite knowing I may never knit it. I file it under Retirement Projects).  At this point, I had been happily chugging away at my Blossom blanket for the last six months, and the rounds were a merry 1400+ sts in Kauni. Although I love Kauni, it is not the most satin soft of yarns. My hands were craving a bit of variety, and some indulgence with Cat’s Pajamas was very alluring. Done deal. I was curious.

I paused to read Steph’s blog post.  Her  knitting adventures always make for great reading, and she had dropped a few cryptic remarks about vows of silence and the k5togs(among others!) when I saw her at Madrona . A long road trip loomed, the perfect time for some recreational knitting. I would leaven the Blossom with the Fox Paws. Yarns were packed, always a last minute grab and go for me. I leapt in blind.

The first mistake I made was that I changed colour straight after casting on (reading error on my part), but I actually like it and copied it for the bind off. At first, I kept losing my place in the row (this is not a design to allow your attention to even momentarily wander) and this work is not easy to unknit or count. I quickly learned not to embark on a row unless I could go the whole way. Fortunately, the Trans Canada Highway across New Brunswick is singularly unexciting.  I was fine unless my driver had the temerity to try to engage me in conversation. I did find it a bit tricky to read the multi-line rows, it took total concentration to keep track of where I was and how many times I had repeated an action. This would have been a great time to make an audio pattern. (Speak the row out at knitting speed and record it on your phone. Play it back through your ear bud as you knit: no need to take your eyes off the work).

Throughout the growth of the first repeat, I found myself marveling at Xandy’s creativity and cunning (also wondering what mind-altering concoction she must have been ingesting at the time). This is a superbly clever design. There is an excellent logic to the design: the vertical stacks of stitches that make the fingers and the stalks have a pleasing consistency along the same row. It really helps if you are familiar with the k1-O-k1 increase before you begin (one of my favourite increases). The clumps of extra stitches do feel a little awkward on the needle, and the frequent slipping of two stitches back to the left-hand takes a little practice (you will get plenty). The joining method, which is heralded by the k5tog, is dependable and easy to remember once you have done a couple. The pattern is made additionally challenging because the pattern action rows (believe me this is James Bond kind of knitting action) take place on WS rows. This makes it harder to keep your bearings.

This is NOT take it to the guild evening kind of knitting.

In fact, peaceful music without lyrics is about all I could handle.  I limited myself to one pattern row per knitting session, and there were times when that was enough! Fox Paws is quite challenging but might well change the way you think about knitting stitches. I can only imagine the considerable work it took to design and write this pattern, Xandy has done a great job, hats off to her!

Cat's Pajamas Solids

The  Cat’s Pajamas colours that I used were: Lime, Hot Pink, Mango, Turquoise and Damson

If I were to make another Fox Paws, I would:

#1 Use wood or bamboo needles with lace tips: Addi lace or Hiya Hiya sharps.

#2 Once I have chosen the colours and designated them A – E, I would take the time to colour code the table of colours to save confusion.

#3 Practice the k1-O-k1 increase and the k5tog decrease. This decrease isn’t too bad if you slide all 5 stitches onto the taper of the left needle before attempting to stuff the second needle into them. Lace needles would help a lot.

#4 Develop a personal shorthand diagram for each pattern row.  I’d reduce the stacks of stitches to an annotation of stack 3 or stack 2 and reduce the joining method to  dec+2 or dec+3. This is not something the designer could or should do for you. It’s about how you picture it. In my mind this would be a combination of diagram and text.

#5  Read the knitting. Pay attention to the stacking of the double decreases (at the junction between repeats), if they don’t line up vertically every alternate row, something has gone wrong.  The k1-O-k1 increase at the top of the fingers should be  over the central stitch. It’s hard to fudge the numbers if they are off and this pattern is NOT easy to un-knit.

#6 Keep the stitches nearer the tips of the needles than usual.

#7 And lastly, I would NOT rely on stitch counting – it’s very hard to do and there are an awful lot of them on some rows!

All in all, this design is well worth the effort, and the results are just fabulous!

Happy Stitches!

Air Conditioned Mittens from A Little Book of BIG Holes for Hand-knitters!

Air Conditioned Mittens from A Little Book of BIG Holes for Hand-knitters!

As a side note: our Flash Sale on Bundles has been extended until Thursday!  Bundles are collections of patterns and other digital products which will be stored in your Notebook upon purchase.  Take a look, you might find something to inspire you!

 

The Storm Mountain DK Hat March 19, 2015

Storm Mountain DK Hat

The Storm Mountain Hat features built-in insulating air spaces!

Nova Scotians are digging out after yet another massive storm, with some parts of the province having received upwards of 50cm of snow.  Add to that the 70km/hr winds, and most of us  are now tunneling through drifts much taller than ourselves!

Sometimes the best solution to life’s little problems is to sit back, pull out some yarn and needles, and start a new knitting project. With that in mind, and as a small consolation to our Nova Scotian friends, we’ve decided to offer the aptly named Storm Mountain DK Hat for only $3.50 (half-price) this week!

This warm double-layer hat has built-in insulating air spaces between the layers. The hat uses two yarns: the inner yarn is the only one that touches the head and occasionally appears on the public side of the hat. The exterior colour only ever appears on the outside of the hat. The air spaces are created by working more rounds on the exterior fabric than on the interior layer.
We added a bonus to the updated pattern a few months ago, which features an alternate top I like to call the Space Cadet option!

The Space Cadet Topper option will work for any size Storm Mountain Hat you choose to knit: here it is on a baby-siazed version, knit with my Cat's Pajamas Yarn

The Space Cadet Topper option will work for any size Storm Mountain Hat you choose to knit: here it is on a baby-siazed version, knit with my Cat’s Pajamas Yarn

Wishing you Happy Stormy Stitches!

 

Happy Holiday Greetings! December 24, 2014

Filed under: General Musings,home,The Tradewinds Team — happystitches @ 16:30
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Happy Holidays from all of us at Tradewind Knitwear Designs!

Happy Holidays from all of us at Tradewind Knitwear Designs!

 

Christmas Greetings from an unseasonably warm and damp  Nova Scotia!  There isn’t even a hint of ice on the lake.  As a matter of fact, if it gets much soggier, we’ll have to dig Hermione The Tractor out of the front lawn!

I’m so fortunate that our house is full of grown children, I count my blessings every time we are all gathered together.  My son was lucky to dodge some nasty weather in the far North and got a flight out of mine camp in time to join the festivities. My younger daughter is home for the holidays, as well, and we will all be under the same roof come Christmas Day.

Just before the Family Invasion and in the nick of time, I’ve drafted out the final rows of the Blossom pattern.  Now I’ll have plenty of social knitting!   I’m looking forward to sharing these next steps with my Blossom PIP Club, once they are finalized.

I hope this note finds you well, warm and in good company, with ample supplies of yarn to see you into a New Knitting Year!  Many thanks for your continued support of the Tradewinds Team!

Lucy, Stephanie, Susan, Corrie and Diane

 

 

 

 
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