Happy Stitches

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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!





Long-Tail Cast On Revisited January 26, 2015

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!

I love Long-tail cast-on! It’s so versatile and very easy to control. I opted for showing Knitted cast-on for my Brand New Knitter DVD as it includes so many elements that are repeated in an actual knit stitch and it will form stitches no matter how randomly they are made. But as soon as the basics are established and the knitter is comfortable with stitches, it will be time to explore the Long-tail method. This method is, in essence, a series of stitches (made with the ball yarn) knitted through a series of loops (made with the tail yarn).

It is otherwise known as Continental cast-on – but the name “Long-tail” reminds the knitter that a long tail of yarn is needed. I’m all in favor of helpful names!

In this video I demonstrate Long-tail cast-on and explore some of its many attributes!

I  demonstrate this cast-on by using two colours to differentiate the functions of the tail and ball yarns. It’s important to understand the role of the two yarns. If you use your tail yarn to make the twists around the feet of the new stitches, it can be unpicked or cut away at a later time as a form of provisional edge (not the most convenient one, but it will work).

Estimating the tail length is often cited as a problem with this method.  I recommend 4 times the width of the edge, which is usually perfect. You don’t want to have to economize on tail yarn length because you are running out, else your edge will wind up too tight. The tail yarn controls the spacing between the stitches (and YOU control the tail yarn).

Fear of tangles in the tail yarn sometimes leads knitters to economize on the length, too. No problem dealing with that: If you wind the tail into a butterfly, it keeps it tidy and allows it to turn and release the twists that tend to un-ply, and hence weaken, your tail yarn.

Long-tail calls for a little finesse from the knitter in balancing the tension between the two yarns. There is no reason why the new stitches should ever be tight. There is no need for a larger size needle to be used, either, as this only leads to baggy stitches and won’t affect the width of your edge.  You are in control of the tension and of the spacing of the stitches.

You’re the boss.

If you enjoy my You Tube videos – please tell your friends and sign up for my channel lucyknit

The Air Conditioned mittens pictured above in Abstract Fibers yarn, used Long-tail cast-on before the “holey” edge. This pattern is available in my ebook A Little Book of BIG Holes for Hand-knitters!


Remarkably Easy Holes! (And How to Make One) June 19, 2014

The Mille Feuille Shawl

The Mille Feuille Shawl

If you hadn’t guessed, I’ve been hooked on holes in my knitting for a very long time (ever since the Emperor’s New Scarf – recently knit by the Yarn Harlot). The type of holes used in this scarf are beautiful with their chained outlining, but time consuming and labour intensive.

Hence my new eBook A Little Book of BIG Holes for Hand-knitters, which is devoted to a DIFFERENT kind of hole. MUCH easier and faster.
I’d like to share with you the method I use for making these Holes – they don’t involve binding off or casting on. With just a little practice they become quick and easy. Holes make a fabric grow very fast and save on yarn!
HERE’S HOW A HOLE IS MADE in step-by-step detail.

These versatile Holes may be used as a form of both increase and decrease, for button bands, bag handles  and beautifully decorative, matching cast on and bound off edges!

My book offers 10 patterns using these holes and a very full technique section (60 odd pages) covering the other techniques used in the patterns including cast-on methods, finishing techs, grafting, short rows and much more.


The Kangaroo Bag – uses the Holes for handles and double-layer knitting to create as many integral pockets as you wish. The pattern is written to accommodate a laptop in the main bag, with a large tablet pocket on one side and two (or three) pockets on the other, for a phone, Kindle, earbuds etc! All worked without breaking the yarn!

The many-pocketed Kangaroo bag

The many-pocketed Kangaroo bag

The Perforated Hot Water Bottle Cover – the Holes allow the heat to permeate out whilst protecting the cuddler from burns.

Tancook Hat – the Holey brim of the hat is folded over a contrasting colour to allow the underneath colour to show through. A quick knit-in-a-night hat.

Chinese Lanterns – just for the fun of it!

Mille Feuille Shawl and Scarf – an elegant modified mitered square, with a scarf option to use up the leftovers!

Air Conditioned Gloves – Perfect fingerless gloves for joggers and typists!

Banksia Bag – a perfect beach-bag. The holes allow you to use a lot less yarn than a solid one. The knitters equivalent of a string bag!

Spindrift Scarves – great gift-sized projects with an impressive appearance, ideal for using up oddments of yarns. There are two versions of the stitch pattern for horizontal and vertical scarves.

Almost Saintly Socks – such a pretty sock with my garter stitch short row heel – the pattern is Holey right down the top of the foot, although Holes may be used in the leg only if preferred.

Spindrift Capelet – A little shoulder wrap using short rows Holes of different lengths to give shaping. This would make an awesome skirt too!


We recently polled opinions on printing a paper version of this book and have sadly decided against it. It’s really designed as an eBook with many coloured pictures and clickable links to technique videos, just where you need them.

If you would prefer a personal use paper version I would suggest having one made at a copy shop. Ask for it to be printed double-sided with a spiral binding and transparent covers. To make it more economical, have only the covers printed in colour and the remainder black and white.



“Lucy’s Holes provide clean, precise elegance at any scale and in any position…move over, yarn-overs!”
Cat Bordhi

“One of the first things students learn in art class is all about positive and negative space – how what isn’t present is as important to composition as what is. Here then, Lucy takes the textile artist to school with a wonderful exploration of the places knitting isn’t.  A little book of BIG holes for knitters is inspiring and charming, and as always when Lucy writes, the ornaments, tips and tricks for the rest of your knitting are worth the price of admission alone.”
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee


A Very Special Birthday Gift May 12, 2014

Filed under: General Musings,Holey Knitting,home,Pattern highlight — happystitches @ 09:06



Happy Stitch double-knit Earrings made for me by my daughter in 2012

Poseidon Neatby: the picture of innocence!

Poseidon Neatby: the picture of innocence!




You may remember the adorable double-knit Happy Stitch earrings which my daughter made for me just two years ago(and the feline disaster that befell them (click the above link for the full story). They have been lovingly worn by me every since. Poseidon, who is our current cat-in-residence, has not been given the opportunity to once again have his way with them. I keep them carefully stored away from any such mischief making!







test-knitting mini earrings for size

Well, after a few test-knit samples to ascertain the proper size, Holly has done it again. This year’s birthday gift from her was a specially commissioned pair of micro-Chinese Lantern earrings! They are adorable, and the perfect accessory. I am delighted!


Aren't they lovely?  Poseidon has been kept well away from these beauties!

Aren’t they lovely? Poseidon has been kept well away from these beauties!

If you are interested in knitting your own Chinese Lanterns, you will find the pattern, along with 9 others, in A Little Book of BIG Holes for Hand-Knitters, the new e-book I released last month!


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