Happy Stitches

Keep your stitches smiling!

Narrowboat Adventures: Weeks Nine And Ten November 11, 2017

beautifulQueenBee

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.
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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. 
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Moored in Castlefield after 29 locks; early to bed!

We made our goal, setting off at first light and tying up in the twilight.
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Narrowboat Adventures: Week Eight November 5, 2017

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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.
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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. 
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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.
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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.
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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). 
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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. 
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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!

 

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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!

 

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

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Not Quite Round the Horn! February 19, 2016

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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 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!

 

A New Year is Blooming January 16, 2015

An array of double-knitting, from medallions to blankets.

An array of double-knitting, from medallions to blankets.

It’s been a rocky start to the New Year around here and I just can’t seem to get un-mired from all sorts of nonproductive stuff. After a lovely family Christmas, I was all set to get creatively busy, then was suddenly hit by a fusillade of enthusiasm-sapping nonsense.  I just haven’t been able to focus.

However, today a breath of fresh ocean breezes has blown the cobwebs away.

And so, for you, I share a couple of Hillary Dionne‘s wonderful photographs of Blossom and Zinnia. I love her creative staging and use of colour coordinated lobster traps!

A magnificent Zinnia blanket knit by Arden.

A magnificent Zinnia blanket knit by Arden.

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A bouquet of Blossoms.

Blossom medallion showing both sides.

Blossom medallion showing both sides.

Zinnia on the beach.

Zinnia on the beach.

 

 
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