Happy Stitches

Keep your stitches smiling!

Narrowboat Adventures 2018: Along the Shropshire Union Canal July 16, 2018

 

alilastweek

Our last week has been just about ‘perfic’- warm but shady, a breeze, a view, cows in the distance, knitting, feet up, dinner cooking!

We took a little side trip along the Middlewich Branch the other day. This east-west canal usually connects two major north south canals, the Shropshire Union and the Trent and Mersey. Months ago, there was a major breach near Middlewich, draining the canal.  It’s going to take a lot of time and funds to fix it and is causing a lot of problems to boaters,  the businesses situated on the canal, and hire boat companies who promote the Four Counties and Cheshire cruising rings.

 

July7ShropshireUnion

along the Shropshire Union Canal

 

You can go along the canal as far as the temporary dams.  You can only get to the the last winding hole before the problem, unless you like going in reverse.  So that is what we did! We met up with some friends at an excellent pub walking distance from the canal. The canal was noticeably lifeless.  Apart from regularly moored boats, there were just a couple of visiting boats in the whole length that we traveled. The water, not moving much now, had become distinctly scummy and the two marinas, normally bustling,  were ominously quiet.

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Back in Chester after a day on the locks!

We then returned back to the mainline Shropshire Union and continued on up towards Chester. Here we devised a plan to get John’s mum to the boat so she could spend a day with us. Deciding that a tour of all the locks in Chester would be ideal, we cruised through the 8 locks. These are big and heavy and it was hot work. After going down the 3 step staircase lock, we turned around and went up again, returning back to where the hire car had been left.  We had time for a drink at the pub,  dinner on the boat, and then John took his mum back home!

 

swappingplacesinastaircaselock

oncoming traffic

Yesterday marked Day 70 on Ali’s Dream.  We had an early start, completing 25 locks before lunch. The flight was fairly busy and we had a good number of locks.  This was very easy, as an uphill boat would exit the lock as we left each downhill one. Going downhill in narrow locks, after entering and stopping the boat, the helm can close the back gate and wind up one of the two paddles, and then hop back on the boat before it gets too low. The half-width gates can be opened, first the towpath side, then hop across the lock and open the far side, boat exits, whilst the far side paddle is lowered, far side gate closed, hop back and repeat and on to the next one. It appears that some 700 locks have honed us into a slick team!

nantwichwaitingintheshade

No need to warm up with soup during this hot summer1

Things are starting to wind down.  We are beginning to whittle down our supplies. However, the cans of soup purchased for a quick warm lunch on a cold day, will remain in the cupboards for Ali’s next journey.

 

This week’s half-price pattern:

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Socks are a fun, portable project!
Lucy’s charming bead-topped Double Diamond Socks feature a choice of two different diamond patterns. The Diamond Lace gives a traditional lacy effect, while the Waffle pattern gives a denser, more textured look.  A lovely treat for your feet!
The Double Diamond Socks pattern is half-price ($4.50CAD) until July 19,
Happy Stitches!

 

 

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Many ways to chart – Part 1 January 11, 2016

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

sunburst

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.

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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!

 

 

 

The Fiesta Family – Flying Swallows Stitch May 7, 2015

Fiesta Vest  Photo by Pauline Rook

Fiesta Vest
Photo by Pauline Rook

I’m always interested to see which garments in my traveling trunk show catch people’s attention. This trip it was particularly the Fiesta Vest. I was teaching buttonholes and bands, thus had the vest with me. I ended up explaining this stitch many times!

So here it is for you too.

This was the stitch I developed first for my Fiesta Feet Socks (which are on sale this week).

As I enjoyed it so much, I then went on to use it in the Fiesta Mittens and Fiesta Stocking patterns.

Do take time to read the comments as various aspects of this stitch are discussed.

Do not attempt to work this stitch flat, unless you enjoy WS row decreases and cutting your yarn frequently!

Worked in the round with a steek, you’ll have much more fun.

 

Seamless Knitting – the fly in the ointment (and how to swat it). April 16, 2015

Pinstripe Mitten

Pinstripe Mitten

Very few knitters love finishing and assembling garments – I admit, it’s not my favourite stage either, but the satisfaction of a beautiful seam can go a long way to compensating.

Even if you are studiously avoiding finishing, and decide to knit the top of a raglan sweater all in one, there is still the under-arm seam that  needs to be joined. The underarm is a perfect place to get-away-with-it. This is a great place to have a cobbled together seam, very few people will check it. However, deep down, you will probably feel that you are letting down your otherwise impeccable knitting.

Fear not: here’s a method using waste yarn flaps that will help you to join and finish the underarm beautifully!

And now, how to gather and neaten the holes on either side of the grafted join.

The idea of using a waste yarn flap in place of cast on stitches can be used in a number of different situations such as mitten thumbs. A double waste yarn flap method was used for making the double thumb on the Pinstripe Mittens.

Let me of any other applications you come up with!

BTW Our half-price pattern of the week is the Cloud Scarf and Stole. This is an easy to finish design with integral side edgings.

Cloud Stole in Mango Celestial Merino knit by Susan Hannah

Cloud Stole in Mango Celestial Merino knit by Susan Hannah

 

Dare to compare: What technique is right for you? March 25, 2015

A pair of matching Paradoxical mittens.

A pair of matching Paradoxical mittens.

Here’s a Knitting Hint: Dare to compare! When you are debating with yourself about the very best way to hold your yarns or knit up stitches, the most suitable decrease or buttonhole, or any of the other myriad of choices we face as engaged knitters, take a little time to play. Try the various methods open to you. Practice them in close proximity so you can directly compare the results.

Private side comparison of Paradoxical mittens swatch

Private side comparison of two Paradoxical mittens.

Paradoxical Mittens: swatch

Public side comparison of the same two Paradoxical mittens: note the difference in colour dominance

Making a small swatch, looking at it, ripping it out and then redoing it another way won’t give you the necessary comparison. It is not a truly useful experiment.

The pictures above demonstrate an extreme example of colour or stitch dominance, shown using my Paradoxical Mittens pattern. The samples show identical mittens – but one was worked with the dark yarn as the contrast (held in left hand), while the other was worked with the yarns held the other way.  What incredibly different results!   Either one would look fine on its own, but they don’t work as a pair. As you see, the difference is not evident unless we compare them side by side. (By the way, there is no need to work a whole experimental mitten, a modest swatch will usually do nicely!)

I love it when at workshops the cry goes up: “My goodness, you are right!”  It’s not that I’m on a power trip, wanting everyone to do things my way, but I do like knitters to explore their options and come to their own conclusions.  If it happens to be the same one I reached, that’s cool, but it doesn’t have to be.  Different techniques work differently for different people.  Occasionally, there is no ‘right’ answer — only the one best suited to you, your yarn and your knitting circumstances.  Experimenting with the options available to you is fun and educational: that’s why I included the small “Challenge Swatches” at the end of each chapter in my Cool Knitters Finish in Style book, inviting you to try a variety of methods and draw your own conclusions. Be curious: play with your stitches, make them smile!

Paradoxical Mittens

Paradoxical Mittens: feeling right at home on Big Tancook Island!

The Paradoxical Mittens are on sale for half-price this week only!  Before you begin your project, try working with the dark yarn as the contrast in one swatch and the light yarn as contrast in another.  See the difference?

 

It isn’t really double knitting? July 7, 2014

The Bubbles DK Scarf

The Bubbles DK Scarf

“It isn’t really double knitting! – I can’t separate the layers!”

This is one of the most common comments I hear from muggle* knitters as they try to separate the layers of two-colour patterned fabric. *A muggle knitter is one is as yet not fully aware of the mysteries and marvels that the parallel universe of DK offers!

You can work DK with entirely separate layers, however, this can only be achieved in single colour DK when making tubes or an open-at-one-edge fabric.
To achieve unconnected layers if using two colours, each one must be used only on one side. The edges can be open or connected.
Whenever you have two-colour DK with a pattern you will join the fabrics at the sides of each colour block. However the middle of each colour block area will be separate – this is what allows the bubbles in my Bubbles Scarf to be stuffed.

I often use the connection of the layers to secure the fabrics together. In my Cape Spear Blanket the area between the big motifs would be entirely unconnected and probably baggy if I didn’t add the bands of chequered turquoise/lime across the width of the design.

Cape Spear DK Blanket (Side B)

Cape Spear DK Blanket (Side B)

Cape Spear DK Blanket (Side A)

Cape Spear DK Blanket (Side A)

 

For more about double layer knitting try my Double Knitting Delight DVD or my Craftsy class Foundations of Double Knitting.

For further arcana for the initiated, there is my DK Club which offers an ever expanding selection of clips relating to DK

 

To further illustrate this, look at the red/grey DK swatch on the left.Striped DK fabric, needle removed. photo 3

The same swatch is shown opened up on the right, the vertical pockets are unconnected except at the sides. To create horizontal closures a threaded /quilted colour change is needed. (More another day….)

 

 
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