Happy Stitches

Keep your stitches smiling!

The SnowFire DK Blanket January 31, 2018



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!


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!



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




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!




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.


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!


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: Week Eight November 5, 2017

Three days in Leeds. We timed our arrival at Hurst Lock perfectly, arriving in the morning of the day before opening. We tied up for the day, conveniently near to a pub (great wifi) and took a taxi into Saltaire. This model village was built by the wealthy and philanthropic industrialist Titus Salt, his huge main factory building is now being restored and turned into art galleries and designer shopping. The workers houses of the village are privately owned homes and all look very much as they originally did. It’s a magnificent place to walk around.
There were three boats now gathered awaiting the one day lock opening. 
Saturday morning saw all the boats easily through the the partially restored lock and on our way until two hours later … People on the towpath started to call out to us that the next swing bridge was broken and couldn’t be made to open. Sure enough, the other two boats were tied up waiting. The electrically controlled swing bridge wasn’t responding to commands. A canal and river trust guy was already in attendance, but the bridge remained steadfastly closed to both road traffic (the gates were down) and boats.
Eventually at about 1600 it was decided that the bridge could/should be manually hauled open to let the boats through, before the technicians called it a day. 

Here we are off the L&L canal and on the Aire river,  moored up by the Armoury in Leeds Dock. Still waiting.

We headed on our way to our evening rendezvous with John’s sister, after losing most of that overcast but dry day,  then things went downhill as drizzle turned to rain, and the breeze picked up into a hooly. It was one of the forecast “named” storms arriving. We looked for somewhere to moor but were defeated by concrete ledges along the canal edge and had to keep going. As the wind strengthened and we became completely soggy the need to tie up became urgent. We eventually blew into the one remaining berth just outside Apperley Bridge and gratefully called it day. We cancelled all attempts to meet up and hunkered down by the fire.

found some time to work on my aqueduct tea cozy!

I finally had a moment to pull out the graph paper  (Stitch maps printed blank before I left) and began working on the design for next section of pattern for my DK blanket and began the arches on my Aqueduct tea cozy.

taking on water in Leeds

Leeds was getting closer, mile by mile. The L&L is 127 1/4 miles in total. 
We pulled into the Granary Wharf to overnight before tackling the River Aire. We’d been told that the river was running high (as a result of the storm draining off the Pennines) and knew that we would have to wait until the water gauge was at least in the orange (ie. proceed with caution). 
We waited. The Granary Wharf gradually filled up with the other boats met at the bridge hold up. It was a convenient place to wait, other that there being no potable water or diesel available nearby. We were right in the old heart of the city, surrounded by restaurants, pubs and a wonderful market. We were also almost underneath the railway arches. The first morning the gauge dipped into the orange and we walked along the river to check the navigation challenges that awaited and by the time we returned, the gauge was back in the red again. 



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!





The Mardi Gras DK Blanket July 23, 2017

The Mardi Gras DK Blanket is only the second of Lucy’s double-knit blankets that we’ve featured as our 1/2price pattern of the week and it’s a real beauty!

Lucy Neatby's Mardi Gras DK Blanket




A spectacularly beautiful and warm double-layer blanket, this engaging knit will hold your interest. The linear nature of the motifs makes the pattern easy to follow, and any portion may be used on projects of all sizes, from coaster to blanket. Small ones are great fun, but a blanket is lovely to knit on; a dependable companion to work on whenever you need it.

Lucy’s Mardi Gras Blanket was knit using Malabrigo Yarn, but any fingering-weight yarn will suit this project. This pattern features detailed written descriptions, as well as diagrams and graphs, as well as PatternGenius and Stitch-map-style charts!



Here is Part 1 of the Circular Tubular CO method that Lucy uses to begin top-down double-knit hats and all of her DK blankets. It’s so elegant!  See Lucy’s  free YouTube Channel for parts 2 and 3!




Some of you may remember this blanket from our last Pattern-In-Progress Club: it’s hard to believe the official pattern was released over a year ago!



The Mardi Gras DK Blanket is on sale until July 26!



Not Quite Round the Horn! February 19, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 8.49.09

You probably know that I adore boats, right? Long thin narrow ones on the UK canals, great big seagoing cargo ones, ferries both large and small, and especially ones with sails. Anything boat-shaped really. In spite of that, for a number of years I’ve been resisting various tempting offers to teach on cruises to appealing destinations, on the grounds that they don’t really offer enough working days for the length of time away.


Woolly excursions!

But now, as part of my newly adopted life policy of  “Sod it, have more fun!”, I just had to say YES to this trip. Imagine my delight at being invited to teach on a 3 week cruise from Buenos Aires to Santiago, taking the inside passage around the tip of South America! Just the names of the ports of call  give me goose bumps; I recall them from my reading the many tales of the old clipper ship days.


Woolly excursions!

Just to make it even more wonderful, I’ve been given the freedom to make the subject of the classes my favourite topic: Double Layer Knitting. This is the perfect venue to learn and practice, concentrating either on the basics or taking your DK adventures to a new level. The small class size and long duration of the trip will give us lots of scope.


Delicious Malabrigo yarns!

We will be making knitterly trips while in each port, including to Malabrigo for essential supplies. My delectable project design yarn has just arrived, and I’m hatching up two projects, one small and one larger, so we will have something for everyone!

The larger project will likely be a blanket design. I’m debating as to whether it should be flat or in the round? What do you think?

Craft Cruises Itinerary

I hope you will be able to join me – this is going to be a trip of dreams!




Many ways to chart – Part 1 January 11, 2016

Filed under: Design,Double-layer knitting,Patterns,Uncategorized — happystitches @ 07:16


The first of my addictive down-the-rabbit-hole double-knit blankets was the Sunburst. It had a nice straight-forward design that was easily described by means of a construction diagram and a conventional chart.

This was all that was needed to describe and portray this simple pattern. But, if you look at the blanket closely, you may be able to see the smooth sides of each of the 1/8th sections of the blanket are smooth, not serrated as they appear in the chart on the right. The central double increase pushes the stitches out, thus causing the actual continuous edge stitch columns to fan out, but on this kind of chart without using thousands of No Stitch symbols, this is the result. Below is a sketch of a tiny bit of such a chart with the outside columns running smoothly.


Before the advent of the truly amazing Stitch-Maps, this charting problem hobbled my ability to properly portray more complex designs: if you want to knit the pattern, surely you ought to be able to read it!




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