Happy Stitches

Keep your stitches smiling!

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!

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Changing the World One Knitter at a Time! (Guest blog) April 16, 2014

Every now and again, I receive a letter about, or am otherwise made aware of, a knitter’s journey which resonates with me.  Today I’d like to introduce you to Liz, who is currently working on an ENORMOUS project inspired by one of my patterns.  She has been keeping us updated through the DK Techniques Club on Ravelry, where we keenly await her progress pictures and cheer her on her way.  This has been a thoroughly enjoyable conversation:  I love watching how other knitters approach such a project (she has gotten a multitude of helpful advice from the start), from casting on to advising on broken cables to the invaluable virtual hand-holding essential to the pains of ripping back several weeks’ worth of work.

Here, then, is Liz’s story in her own words:

 

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Over 30 years ago, when I was a child, my mother taught me to knit. I really wanted to, but was terrible at it. I was persistent, but terrible. For the most part, she would try get me to make a jumper or cardigan, and by the time I was less than half way up the back, still on the first piece, I’d be starting to grow out of it. I was painfully slow.So I  gave up, but held on to how much frustration I had experienced trying to knit and thought I hated it. I learnt to do a few other crafty things, including making my school uniform one year. I learnt to do lace making, tatting, and even made some large hand-sewn patchwork quilts. All this, but nothing grabbed me.

Around 7 years ago, I was in a phase of serious online gaming: 20 hours a day if I could manage it, 7 days a week. But one Saturday, I woke up thinking how my tombstone would read “Liz led a Virtual Life” or such. I got onto eBay and decided that, as I hated knitting, I would try crochet..

Well, crochet grabbed me by both hands and I began making many blankets and other things. I designed my own patterns pretty much from the start, as I am a geek! I just viewed stitches as pixels in a picture. However, crochet, while really adaptive, has one limitation: it doesn’t stretch. So, it doesn’t have the same fit when it comes to clothes, and socks. And although I do like making crochet blankets, there are only so many you and your friends, acquaintances, family, friends of friends you’ve never met or spoken to can need… I had pretty much run out of recipients and the ‘done’ pile was stocking up.

 

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In May 2013 I seriously injured my knee at karate. The resulting pain gave me chronic insomnia. So, what do you do all night and all day when you can’t go to work? The obvious answer is craft! But my brain needed something new. A friend on Google+ showed me a couple of pictures of double knitting.  I had never heard of it but wanted to give it a try. From this explanation, all I ended up with was a yarn barf. Then I discovered a double-knitting class at craftsy.com .

I bought Lucy Neatby’s Foundations of Double Knitting Class, and watched it in the wee hours of the morning in bed. It was like that moment in the Wizard of Oz when the world changes from black and white to full colour!

 

wizard-of-oz

It was like that moment in the Wizard of Oz when the world changes from black and white to full colour!

 

 

My main issue when I first tried to double knit was that it was knitting and, well, I didn’t like knitting, did I…

But this looked good and it had to be tried. The next problems were, of course, how to work with 2 yarns, then keeping tension and reading what was on the needle not what was visible in the work, and remembering that everything is a pair!

My first success, if you can call it that, was done in black and white (the most contrasting colours I could find) in thick, chunky wool. I made a motif I found in one of my books. I made mistakes, but realised, like with my first ever crochet piece, that I really liked this. I followed Lucy’s suggestion of one yarn on each hand, and learned to knit continental. Well, wasn’t that a revelation: pick knitting, where had you been all my life?

 

my Moonstone Scarf

my Moonstone Scarf

The first official Double-Knit item I made was Lucy’s Moonstone Scarf, a lovely simple repeating pattern which I could memorise and then concentrate on what I was doing. It became easier to think in pairs, and I got faster; it looked good, really good.

 

Casting on for a much BIGGER version!

Casting on for a much BIGGER version!

It looked so good, in fact, that I then wanted to make a bedspread based on it. I can hear you now, “Oh that would be nice..” – Yes, yes it would…  but mine is a kingsize bed!  361 pairs of stitches, progress is slow, but I have ideas coming out of every pore… I just can’t knit quickly enough! I have never been this inspired by anyone or anything, and I only have Lucy to thank, or blame, depending on your viewpoint.

The first rows: the design becomes clear...

The first rows: the design becomes clear…

 

Some time later: the blanket is growing...

Some time later: the blanket is growing…

Over Christmas, to get some finished project to cheer me up, I made a pair of socks. I am wearing them today: they are perfect. A year ago I would never have thought to make socks; it was crochet for the win! Of course they are just standard toe up socks in normal stockinette stitch. I have started a second pair, I have a bookmark in double knitting as a wip too… and a cabled jumper I started… I am a dog with two tails, I can’t wag enough.

Lucy has so many amazing patterns! She has truly changed my life. I have taken the journey from avid knitting-hater to double-knitting obsessed loon. I’ve got many designs and ideas in my head, each one cascading and triggering yet more ideas. From little bookmarks to thinking of a kingsize bedspread made in cobweb weight wool… Double-knit, of course.

I look forward to going home and knitting, I dream of knitting, and daydream of knitting.

Happiness was just the cost of a Craftsy class or a Lucy DVD away. Who knew! Of course, I now have all her DVDs, as Lucy could inspire me to try anything!

-Liz K.

 

 

 

Presenting Diane December 3, 2013

My name is Diane Nolet and I am Lucy’s workshop coordinator.  My function is to provide future Hosts with information they will need to offer their clients a truly remarkable learning experience in Lucy’s workshops.

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My knitting began at age 5 or so emulating my maternal grandmother and my Mom.  This fascination with knitting never saw a hiatus.  In fact, while serving in the Canadian Forces some of my Air Crew colleagues would tease me.  They wanted me to knit them a VW before we landed in Dusseldorf.

Fiesta 2

I originally bought the Fiesta Feet pattern from Kathryn Thomas at Fleece Artist and made several pairs using various yarns.

My association with Lucy began with the pattern Fiesta Feet, which I had bought from Katherine Thomas at Fleece Artist in the mid 1990’s.  Eventually, I met Lucy and Susan Hannah at the Cole Harbour Library one evening when Lucy was doing a knitting presentation with a display of her work.  That evening, I brought some of my collection of Fiesta Feet socks that I had created out of  various yarns.  Thus began my personal relationship with Lucy.

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Here, a friend of Lucy’s is modelling one of my Sky Diamond Hats which I test-knit for Lucy last winter

Occasionally, I test knit patterns for Lucy.  This is very much a high spot in my knitting life.  I live for a challenge and Lucy provides the opportunity with her stimulating, cutting-edge designs. Over time, I have become addicted to almost anything to do with double knitting and have enjoyed test-knitting Lucy’s DK patterns.

Recently, Lucy’s creative genius formulated a concept for a DK blanket.  This project is started in the center without a slipknot and consists of eight segments or wedges.  The project was so intriguing: when Lucy asked me if I was interested, I was over the moon! The Sunburst Blanket was, without a doubt, the largest, most intensive labour of love that I have embarked on to-date. Honestly, I was never bored while working on it and when it was complete, I even experienced some withdrawal symptoms! That was soon put to rest as Lucy had another project for me; her Igloo series of warm winter wear, hat (with two different cast ons), headband and cowl.  What fun!

sunburst

I used Kauni Effektgarn EQ-Spectrum paired with EPA-Cowichan Colours for my Sunburst Blanket,it was such an enjoyable knit! I miss working on it and now I’m looking forward to casting on my own Zinnia Blanket.

 

Home Again to Enjoy the Last Gasp of Autumn October 28, 2013

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One last glimpse at beautiful British Columbia before heading back East

Following one more slight medical “hiccup” back home, I rebooked my flights out of British Columbia and made it home to Nova Scotia on the red-eye on Sunday night.  I arrived just before noon on Monday and was immensely glad to be back. He was looking rougher than I’ve seen before.

I’m happy to report that he’s improving steadily now (fingers crossed as I write): our patient is on the road to recovery.  He’s healing nicely, his energy is returning and some stitches have now been removed.

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I’ve been in a bit of a fog this last week…

 I’ve been in a bit of a fog since my return (those red-eye flights between time zones can really do a person in!), but am finally starting to feel like myself again.  The beginning of the week was filled with paperwork, paying bills and banking (not to mention housework and extra domestic tasks!), but on Thursday  and Friday I was finally able to focus on writing and charting more of the Sunburst DK Blanket pattern and getting a certain ‘albatross’ sock off of the needles. It’s lovely now but has given me every kind of grief being born.

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Our local lake in September. The fall foliage is even more glorious now!

 The weather has been delightful since my return.  John and I have taken a few strolls around the lake, admiring the last of the fall foliage.  My gladioli continued to bloom during my time Out West, but I was delighted that they were still in their glory  by the time I got home.

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Susan is running a new Knit-Along on Ravelry!

Work at the office has continued apace, with new DK Club members registering every week. I’m very glad I have plenty of new movies queued up for release, I always underestimate the disruptive effects of being on the road.

Happily there continues to be lot of interest in the Video Versions of my “Learn with Lucy” series which may be streamed or downloaded.  For the time being, these titles are still available as DVDs as well, as some of our customers do prefer those.   Susan is running a Knit-Along associated with the DK club over on Ravelry ; this is the season for casting on a double-knit hat!

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Susan is a wonderful knitter: here is the Infinite Entrelac Scarf she made for me. She chose just the right colours!

 We’ve decided to try a little experiment with the blog over the next few weeks:  I would love for my readers to get to know the people that make up the Tradewinds team and so have asked some of them to guest-blog here.  I think you’ll love meeting them “in person”; they are a diverse and wonderful bunch, who all have their unique talents to offer Tradewinds—I think we make a pretty good team all in all!  Stay tuned, I’d like to introduce you to my dear friend Susan first…

 

A Taste of Les Îles de la Madeleine! October 5, 2013

Les Iles de la Madeleine--well worth visiting! (Don't forget to bring your knitting)

Les Iles de la Madeleine–well worth visiting! (Don’t forget to bring your knitting)

My bi-annual Adventure Knitting trips take me all over in the cause of great knitting fun and friends, and we like to seek slightly off-beat travel methods and destinations. With the notable exception of one trip to the Galapagos Islands, Judy Fawcett and I focus our travel trips within Canada. Ours is such a huge and magnificent country, that it isn’t hard to find beautiful and out-of-the-way spots to visit.
Our home away from home, the CMTA Vacancier

Our home away from home, the CMTA Vacancier

This year found me, suitcases in hand, standing somewhat bemused on the docks in Montreal. Along came a coach, happily containing my merry Knitting Gang which had already had some time to tour the city together! It was time for the Adventure to begin.
We dropped off bags and cases (many of which were already brimming with yarn after a few days shopping) and boarded the CTMA Vacancier, our home for the next two days and nights.
knitting our way down the St Lawrence River

knitting our way down the St Lawrence River

We knitted our way down the St. Lawrence River and out into the Gulf until we made landfall at the microscopic chain of islands known by Anglophones as the Magdalen Islands.  Their correct french name is Les Îles de la Madeleine. There is very little English spoken in this region of  Quebec, which was especially noticeable on this trip. During the English safety talk at the start of our journey, we discovered that the ferry had only a handful of other English speakers aboard apart from our group! This just added to the fun. The crew of the ferry were delightful and the atmosphere aboard simply jolly whatever the language.
knittingwithcompany
We improvised for classroom space and held informal classes in many spots on the ship. We tried a number of different saloons, the dining room outside of meal service times, but best of all was out on deck one afternoon. This further increased my repertoire of weird teaching venues (trains, planes, coaches, ferries, Chinese restaurants, next to an expresso machine, from ship to ship by VHF radio to name but a few I can remember). I haven’t tried a hot air balloon yet – any takers?
Everyone enjoyed making their own Igloo Cowl or Hat

Everyone enjoyed making their own Igloo Cowl or Hat

I had brought play yarn along for everyone, and, without any undue coercion, everyone decided on tackling a double knit Igloo Cowl or Hat. Originally designed as a top-down hat, it can also be tackled from the bottom up (thus avoiding the perfect circular, tubular, double layer cast-on which is wonderful, but fiddly, and maybe not recommended for poor light situations). For the determined and fearless, the top down version offers more flexibility for sizing and is my personal favourite!
Travel by school bus was part of the Adventure!

Travel by school bus was part of the Adventure!

We were well underway by the time we docked at Cap aux Meules Island two days later. Our land program saw us board a school bus and be transported along a 50 km road to the far end of the island to our Inn (or Auberge).
The Îles de la Madeleine are so slender, it’s a wonder they haven’t yet been washed away!  Long, thin and windswept would be a brief description. For most of the bus ride  we could see sea on both sides. However, this doesn’t do justice to the spectacularly eroded red cliffs, miles of magnificent golden sand beaches and the brightly coloured houses: lime, purple, turqoise, orange, teal, pink, yellow–all of my favorite colours! Unfortunately,  I don’t have a photo of the houses; they are so widely scattered it was hard to get more than two into any photo.  Just imagine a handful of coloured bricks sprinkled across the hills.
Firewood is created by stacking piles of driftwood teepee fashion out side the houses,  it is left this way for a couple of years to wash out the salt before burning. There are hardly any trees of any size on the island. The wind has to be experienced to be appreciated (and it wasn’t excessive whilst we were there). There a number of cycling companies that take their tour groups to the windward end of the island to start their ride each day!
The fabulous beaches impressed us all!

The fabulous beaches impressed us all!

We walked along the beaches, toured some of the many fishing harbours and visited beauty spots, all the while steadfastly knitting on. We tasted and sampled our way around the islands. Fish and seafood were staples. We did once see a cow. In fact, we are sure we saw the same cow every time we went anywhere, but it did look lonely.
We couldn't resist sampling the local brew

We couldn’t resist sampling the local brew

We naturally endeavored to support the local brewery: I admit to only sampling the Corps Mort 12% brew!

We quit our spacious steady rooms at the Auberge on our last Island-Day and returned to the dear old CTMA Vacancier after a slap-up sunset diner at a former convent. It felt like returning home and the cabins no longer felt quite as tiny as they had before. Offloading the burden of yarn I had started my journey with helped too!
Did I mention that my sister joined us on this lovely journey?  Though she likes to refer to herself as a beginner-knitter at best, she put us all to shame with her double-knitting prowess!

Did I mention that my sister joined us on this lovely journey? Though she likes to refer to herself as a beginner-knitter at best, she put us all to shame with her double-knitting prowess!

The weather was ideal for al fresco knitting on the way back upriver. Our two last ports of call were  Chandler and Quebec City. In lovely Chandler we were treated to a magnificent display of gannets feeding.
How lovely to have made new knitterly friends on this fantastic adventure.  I can't wait for the next one!

How lovely to have made new knitterly friends on this fantastic adventure. I can’t wait for the next one!

All in all,  this was a magnificent trip with some stunning knitting successes being achieved, although I’m not sure what the rest of the passengers thought of us wearing hats to breakfast on the last morning!
I was sad to say farewell to such a great group of friends and fellow travelers – I can only say I’m looking forward to seeing many of you again in Manitoba in August 2015! We will be going north….
 

Supermodels! August 23, 2013

Filed under: Double-layer knitting,General Musings,Uncategorized — happystitches @ 08:22
Tags:

ImageWe’ve all heard gory stories about the high-stress life on the fashion runway. Oh, the lifestyles, temperaments and intrigue!
As an antidote to all that craziness, we give you our many wonderful models on Tancook Island. Whenever Hillary and I have garments in search of models, we knock on a few doors and are rewarded with enthusiastic raw talent.
Here are a few excerpts from our latest Igloo Hat photo shoot.ImageImageImageImageImage
Every model needs a cuddle with her dad to counteract the pressure!
BTW, darling Hannah was also the model for the ‘Challenge Cardigan’ in my finishing book!

 

Texture in DK #8 March 16, 2013

String of Pearls Scarf with yarns with different textures.

String of Pearls Scarf with yarns with different textures.

Before we move off onto another topic, here is one last look at texture created by two different yarns used in a simple double knit design. This scarf starts out with simple vertical stripes with the option to spice them up as you feel more comfortable with your chosen two yarn technique. When you first start double knitting IMHO lots of practice is beneficial before embarking on complex patterning. In this example the yarns are slightly different weights resulting in the woollier yarn receding slightly. In addition, on the right hand side of the picture, the contrasting stripe is also reverse stocking stitch. The lower right picture shows the scarf with additional patterning that may be started at any time.

String of Pearls with full patterning

String of Pearls with full patterning

497StringNeck

 

 
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