Happy Stitches

Keep your stitches smiling!

Narrowboat Adventures: Weeks Five and Six October 17, 2017

Filed under: Canal boat,General Musings,Knitting Travels,Narrowboating,Sale — happystitches @ 21:07
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We offered our guests an unparalleled experience on the canals

My friends and I had a happy reunion at Heathrow Airport after my brief sojourn in British Columbia, Canada (see my October Spun Yarn for details).  They joined John and me for a most enjoyable week on the canals before continuing their own UK adventure. We offered them an unparalleled guest experience: sleeping together in maximum intimacy, strenuous exercise, lock wheeling, floor sweeping and learning the art of living with a sewage holding tank…
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A working holiday!

…On a narrowboat you have to unlearn everything your mother taught you about always ‘going’ before you leave the house. We have quickly learned to visit the facilities both on arriving and departing a pub, the supermarket or any other designated place in order to save room.
Queen Bee has a fairly large waste tank, hardly situated under the fixed double berth. We have been carefully monitoring the level and pumping out as needed.  While the tank  does have a gauge, we were warned of its sudden leaps from empty to the red zone – with no interim progression.
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Stocking up on coal from the fuel boat

We were very organized, stopping for fuel and a pump out on our first day out from Ellesmere.  Chugging along the Llangollen canal just a couple of days later, the gauge suddenly took off. A visual inspection of the tank was immediately undertaken – it was 7/8 full. Evidently we were short-pumped at the last stop. A swift consultation of the nav book and we found a hire base, just 2 hours away.  Off we went.  Imagine our predicament when we arrived and found it to be long-since ceased operations!
Our next possibility was another 3.5 hours away and we couldn’t make it that day. We took our chances and made an early start next morning.  All was eventually well – we checked the tank visually this time. It’s amazing how rapidly boat conversations sink to plumbing and electrics. 
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We didn’t find much time to knit, but made the best of it when we could!

Despite the more “back-to-the basics” elements of our time together, we had a most enjoyable visit.  On our last day together, we coasted into town on fumes, dropping our visitors off in Llangollen 
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Starting to feel a chill in the air

Autumn is setting in seriously now.  The air is a confetti of leaves with each wind gust, we see skeins of geese in the sky daily. I’ve been finding myself thinking  about gloves whilst on the tiller in the mornings.
The canals are becoming leaf drifted and we have to stop the engine and reverse to shake them off the prop from time to time. The weather continues to be intermittently showery, we try to shelter the flowers in the worst winds – nearly lost the parsley overboard. The hydrangeas on the foredeck are very popular with passing boaters and walkers, we’ve received many compliments. John says hydrangeas are the new orchids!
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We have established what passes for a routine to our days – up early before first light and underway. By  0730 we are quietly having breakfast (or even tea in bed) and one of us suddenly leaps up starts the the engine, lets go the lines and we are off. We generally travel all day, apart from necessary stops for groceries, water, fuel and pump outs every few days. It’s definitely about the journey; the destination is largely academic.
I find it very hard to be below once we are underway. Although you still have a great view, you can rubberneck better from on deck.
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We seem to have brought a stowaway with us–all the way from Nelson, BC!

Equilateral Hat

This week’s half-price pattern is my Equilateral Hat! This highly unusual but easy construction for a hat may be made from oddments of wool or out of a variegated yarn with a long color gradation. Work a strip of triangles, fold, and mattress stitch into an amazing hat. The Equilateral Hat pattern is half-price ($3.75) until October 19!

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Narrowboat Adventures: Weeks One and Two September 16, 2017

Filed under: Canal boat,General Musings,Knitting Travels,Narrowboating,Travels — happystitches @ 16:32

Week One:

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Two days before we set off!

We had an interesting and busy few days after reaching the UK: pre-boat shopping and provisioning whilst we still had a car.

I knit quite a few rounds on the Ice Dragon blanket between Heathrow, Somerset, Merseyside and Oxford. And not a stitch for a whole week after having embarked on the Queen Bee!

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Our beautiful home for these three months: The Queen Bee

We arrived on QB with all our provisions and worldly goods in garbage bags (no room for suitcases on a narrowboat). Steve, Queen Bee’s owner, met us for a handover and we moved in. This felt roughly like getting a quart into a pint pot. The boat has plenty of equipment and every locker had something in it.

We sorted ourselves out bit by bit whilst heading to Oxford. The canal and homes alongside were beautiful, but without tying up and going into the city, you really couldn’t see much of the Oxford of dreaming spires, etc. We did get one brief glimpse of Jericho – familiar from Inspector Morse! Next, we started heading north, with one of our first stops just north of Banbury.

After only 4 days, it felt like we’d dropped off the planet.

 

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Heavenly Warwickshire countryside, winding along the contours on the Oxford canal.

 

Internet is tricky and I’m trying to conserve! I’m not getting much time to knit a stitch, but the journey has been nothing but enjoyable so far.

 

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This is my view as I answer my Craftsy class questions!

 

You will laugh, but never have I felt the urge to be so tidy! During the whole first week, in between steering, locks, taking on water, finding fuel and pump-out facilities, shopping for additional gear (bath mat, a few extra towels) and groceries, we sorted cupboards and lockers so that we could fit everything in (and find it again). There is plenty of equipment on the boat: 3 dustpans and their accompanying brushes are handy, but the duplicates and other things we don’t need can be stowed deep in the most convoluted of the available spaces. Tidying up reminds me of the game with 15 squares in a 16 square grid: you have to move one thing to get to another.
J has been entertaining himself by gradually puzzling all the systems out and making fixes – all four burners on the stove now work (and the radio). I’m getting unnatural urges regarding Brasso and polishing.

Having fun on the cut.

 

Week Two:

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I find myself juggling taking photos on my phone while trying not to use too much data. It’s bit tricky to get lock photos and action shots with just the two of us – we are both kept pretty busy.

 

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Hawkesbury Junction, turning on to Coventry canal.

 

After an intermittently rainy morning with a bunch of locks, which run through several appealing historic villages, we entered Warwickshire.  Here the canal meanders along a contour line in an apparently aimless fashion. With many 180 degree bends, it takes 11 miles to achieve 4 as the crow flies. The scenery was magnificent – too expansive for an iPhone. Next, we had a full day with many locks ahead to get through Napton.

The hedgerows are brimming with wild fruit The wild fruits are stunning: hawthorn berries, hops, rosehips, elderberries, sloes, curranty-looking springs, to name only the ones I can name or describe. One morning, I picked a basin of blackberries – they are everywhere along the canal but not often convenient to pick. There are apples, plums and pears in profusion, in canal side gardens and many gone feral.  The fields all look very smart and stripey in their recently harvested condition. The smells and scents of the countryside are delightful. The Oxford canal meanders along the contour lines, so not many locks. It’s such a pleasure to get away from the drone of motorways, hooting of trains, it’s just sad to know that the new planning white-elephant high-speed train will soon be cut through this extraordinary landscape – all to save a mere 20 minutes travel time.

 

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End of the day bliss.

On September 11, I finally knit one round on my Ice Dragon DK Blanket.  I’ve either been too busy, late with dinner, or the evening light on the boat hasn’t permitted knitting or any fine work. We’ve found a solution, though.  There is a small rocking chair on board and, if carefully angled (in the minute available space) so that I can put my feet up, I can then knit by the light of J’s headlamp.  It’s very focussed but works. I’ve got 2 x 40” needles in the work now and a third one to knit with. J has got the radio and DVD player working and the boat has an eclectic supply of discs aboard.

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Enjoying some highly anticipated knitting time!

Of course as soon as I picked up the blanket I discovered a FTRC (failure-to-read-chart) mistake from the road travel knitting, and had to change the colour of the centre line increases from 5 rounds back in eight places on both sides. Grr. Once I had that fixed I was able to proceed. One afternoon we had enough sun, and no locks so that I was able to sit on the stern deck and make my fixes as we transited Nuneaton. However I was exceedingly careful with my short fixing needles and crochet hook not to lose them overboard.

 

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On we go… we have found a good rhythm and are enjoying every moment!

 

 

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!

 

 

 

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.

 

Fitbitting into the Winter… October 29, 2014

Filed under: General Musings,Knitting Travels,Teaching,Travels — happystitches @ 09:32
Pike's Peak, CO

Pike’s Peak, CO

Back in April, I took the pledge: I was going to exercise every day, regardless of being home or away.

I’ve done very well thus far, didn’t miss a day… until recently.  My game plan was to either walk 11000 steps as monitored by my Fitbit, ride my bike, swim, paddle or do a weight routine.  If hadn’t achieved my daily exercise goal, I’d gotten into the habit of walking after dinner until the necessary number of steps had been completed. This is less appealing in the dark, damp and cold, and now that the nights are drawing in, the siren song of the knitting chair by the fireside is hard to resist.

I did well on my last workshop tour. I found several like minded knitters in Colorado who, once the workshop day was done, joined me  for a good long walk. We found a route away from the road, set off, and got back in time for dinner. What a great way to spend time with new friends! The range of subjects we covered was astounding.

 

Osage Orange tree

Osage Orange Tree

 

 

My Kansas host lived near a park, and I walked there after class. The weather was perfect and, once I had located the pedestrian-only parts of the park, I enjoyed lovely walks whist listening to an audio book. I even discovered what Osage oranges look and smell like!

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Osage Orange

 

My next stop, in Livonia, MI, was at a hotel.  Here I  remembered that I hadn’t brought along my gym gear. The clothes could be improvised but, without appropriate indoor shoes, the indoor sports facilities were  a no go. I climbed stairs between floors and walked where I could. Sadly, though, being bounded by roads and parking lots is not conducive to walking outdoors. On the other hand, owing to the bizarre design of the hotel, I frequently headed off in the wrong direction between my room and the classroom, and gained many valuable strides this way!

 

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Post-workshop stroll in Lexington

Lake Huron

A gorgeous view: Lake Huron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Onwards to Lexington, MI, right on the shores of Lake Huron. It was very beautiful there but, again, not easily suited to walking. I had hoped to walk back from the workshop to my host’s home each day, but the nature of the traffic on the apparently quiet road was enough to blow you off your feet!  I contented myself with some small-scale local strolls and a thorough exploration of all the streets in Lexington.

 

 

 

Detroit airport green wall

Luscious Green Wall in the Detroit Airport

Airport days present good opportunities for walking and, when time permitted, I avoided moving carpets.

Rather than sitting (knitting) and waiting,  I preferred to pace up and down the terminal a few times instead. In a crowded airport, you never know who a FitBit knitter might bump into!

Airport Sighting

You never know who you might bump into!

 

Wall of silence – now demolished! August 4, 2014

Filed under: Craftsy,Knitting Travels,Uncategorized — happystitches @ 14:44
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My First Socks!It was so hard returning from the high of filming for Craftsy.com in Denver and not being able to post any photos of the filming without revealing the subject matter. No matter how you frame it, a knit sock looks suspiciously like a knit sock.

Now I’m allowed to reveal both subject and the class title page, and in addition offer you the opportunity to win a free copy of this class! Follow this link to sign up for your chance to win.

 

 

Spring, the DK Club and a Sale! June 16, 2014

Spring on Tancook Island: my home away from home!

Spring on Tancook Island: my home away from home!

 

I hope you’ve been enjoying the spring as much as I have this year! My last teaching trip, which took me to Ontario and Saskatchewan,  was a  huge success: I knitted with old friends and new and, happily, had some time to visit with my younger daughter in Toronto.  Upon my return to Nova Scotia, Holly and I headed out to the Island, armed with buckets of paint.  My little Tancook home is certainly becoming a bright oasis!

 

A bright welcome: my back door is almost colourful enough for me now!

A bright welcome: my back door is almost colourful enough for me now!

 

 

In other news, I have uploaded another video to my Double Knitting Technique Club:

In Video #22: Perfect Graft of a Single DK Tube in the Round, I demonstrate a way to invisibly join two ends of a tube using my Perfect Grafting Technique and brightly contrasting waste yarn.

This is a larger version of grafting I-Cords into hoops!

 

Video #22 of my DK Technique Club.  It's never too late to join this ever-growing Club, and you will have access to all of the Videos filmed and yet-to-be-filmed!

Video #22 of my DK Technique Club. It’s never too late to join my ever-growing Club, and you will have access to all of the Videos filmed and yet-to-be-filmed!

 

 

As with all of the DK Club Videos, I have included an accompanying set of Notes.  It includes links to two of my free Youtube Clips, which demonstrate Perfect and Imperfect Grafting in even more detail.  Remember, too, that it’s never too late to join the DK Technique Club!

 

We have announced our online Canada/Independence Day Sale, which will run from June 29 to July 6, 2014!

This week-long event will feature our downloadable products: you will find discounts on selected Patterns, e-Books, Tutorials and more!  We may even add a few special Sale Bundles to our new Bundles Section at LucyNeatby.com!  Please do check in, you’re sure to find some fantastic deals.

We are also planning a second sale for later in the summer: this one will include shippable products such as yarns, paper patterns and some kits.  We will keep you posted with those dates once they are finalized.

The Little Joey Bag is a clever and quick DK design

The Little Joey Bag is a clever and quick DK design

For today, I wish you Many Happy DK Stitches!

Lucy

 

 
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