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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…

approachingChester

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! 
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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.
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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.
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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! 
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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.
PlanesTrainsAutomobiles

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!

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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!

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Half-price pattern of the week!

 

 

 

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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:

greathaywood1209

 

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.

 

icedragonupdate

 

 

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

 

 

Lucy’s knitting cruise memories February 6, 2017

Filed under: Guest Post,Travels — codeandknit @ 20:16

Lucy has just returned from her recent knitting cruise all around  South America with a humungous photo collection. Since I was unable to go on the trip, I thought it would be fun to go through the pictures with her and get her to share some stories. I will share those tales and images here; maybe other knitters will enjoy the armchair experience as much as I will. (more…)

 

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!

 

I’m back from my wanderings! July 23, 2014

Filed under: Travels,Uncategorized — happystitches @ 05:59
Raising a bridge on the Llangollen canal.

Raising a bridge on the Llangollen canal.

Excuse the silence during my recent sojourn in the UK. Internet and I never seemed to coincide. I’ll try to post pics over the next few weeks. It was so beautiful, I took hundreds. I did however manage to keep up with my new exercise goal whilst on this trip, never easy on a family holiday. Lots of country rambles and it turns out that a canal trip can involve almost equal quantities of walking if you wish. A canal boat at top whack only travels at walking speed. On days when I found myself short of steps, I simply hopped off the boat at a lock and walked to the next one! This also allowed for the taking of spectator style pics. The bridges and locks add a little weight training too.

The Chirk Aquaduct

Crossing the Chirk Aquaduct

Here’s an amusing article on how a Fitbit might affect your life.

 

Canada/Independence Day Online Sale! June 29, 2014

Filed under: books,Bundles,DVDs,General Musings,home,Patterns,Sale,Travels — happystitches @ 08:45

 

 

Our morning ride awaits!

Our morning ride awaits!

I’m just off for a bike ride this morning, I’m going to take advantage of the lovely weather before things heat up too much!  We’ll be riding a different route from our usual one today, enjoying another gorgeous coastal route.  This should be fun!

 

 

Canada/Independence Day Online Sale

Canada/Independence Day Online Sale

Before I go, I wanted to update you on my Online Sale starting today and lasting all week.  We’ve dubbed it the “Canada/Independence Day Online Sale”, in honour of North America’s two upcoming National Holidays.  A large number of my downloadable products are on special, including ALL of the “Learn with Lucy” Video Downloads, certain eBooks and Special Sale Bundles, and patterns from every department!  Full details are in my mini-Spun Yarn Newsletter, released late last night.

 

Happy Stitches, I’ll get back to my own projects after the ride!

Lucy

 

 
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