Spun Yarn 95
I arrived back from my mind-blowing 3 1/2 months in the UK just in time for the final run-up to Christmas. Unconditionally surrendering from most of my usual Christmas preparations, I made the exception of baking one large batch of Stollen. Coupled with a last-minute dash for a tree, welcoming our overnight guests, and the cooking of our largest turkey ever, it almost felt like too much for one week!
Everything worked out beautifully and, as always, Christmas was a wonderful time of reunions with friends and family.
Our last visitors have headed home, and a very new-style year is unfolding. This time last year, I was in the final stages of my departure to Buenos Aires, then onwards to Antarctica with Craft Cruises. As it turned out, my travel was charmed and it was a wonderful trip, but I must admit that, as we anticipate yet another severely windy winter storm, I am relieved not to be chewing my nails about catching a flight out to somewhere to teach. Frequent winter flying is not something I will miss!
I have been very happily knitting on my newest doubleknit blanket. Its current appellation is the Ice Maiden Blanket, but I am welcoming alternate name suggestions!
I love working on this project and, as I am letting the KnitCircus ombre yarn determine the pattern motifs, I am charting as I go. I hope to soon release this as a Pattern In Progress.
I also designed a new doubleknit hat while we were away! This is the Aqueduct DK Hat and, now that I'm home, I am knitting a second one and writing out the pattern. This design will be adaptable to various yarn weights, from fingering to worsted weights, and will feature a terrific tea cozy option!
A New Way of Life
In case you missed the news, my husband retired in mid-August last year. By disappearing on an extended Narrowboat trip, we were able to avoid the reality of retirement for several months, thereby turning a potentially stressful change into an extended holiday. We BOTH survived the trip and are keen to do more. As a matter of fact, we are actively searching to rent another Narrowboat in the near future!
For those readers interested in the specifics of our route,
our journey began in Oxford, where we boarded our lovely Queen Bee. From there, we headed south onto the Thames, then up to Ellesmere Port, Llangollen, across to Middlewich and up to Wigan. From there we travelled across the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and back on the rivers Aire and Calder to the Rochdale, back to the Anderton boat lift onto the River Weaver, then the Trent and Mersey canal to Shardlow. Owing to the winter maintenance stoppages, we had to double back here: from south of Birmingham to Stratford, and then back to Braunston before returning Queen Bee to Napton Junction. You can see most of these places marked on this map (taken from a tea towel ;) Alternately, check this link for a bit of virtual canal-exploring of your own!
Days started early, sometimes even before I had finished my morning tea! It is a lot less fuss to set off in a narrowboat than a sailing
boat: start the engine, mount the tiller, let go the moorings, push off from the bank, and hop on board. It can easily be done by one. Of course I would have
to get up, not wanting to miss a thing. We would take breakfast in shifts - and see what the day would hold.
Every day brought new scenery and challenges, not the least of which was living together in a very small space! However, locks kept us both busy and we can be an excellent team. Life with limited Internet was a challenge, as were the long dark evenings. In order to husband the battery power overnight, we had very limited lighting, so less than ideal knitting conditions. I took a drop spindle and fibre, stitching, and knitting with me. While I did sew a few stitches, I didn't even get the spindle out.
We were lucky with the weather: nothing so bad that actually caused us to tie up and stay put. The worst we faced were bouts of continuous rain (which, frankly, many of the canals and reservoirs could do with), and only a couple of days with very strong winds caused us any issues. A 55 foot boat tends not to hold a course well in a gale!
Picking a spot for the night was a regular challenge. We would inspect the map to find potential mooring sites, preferably away from roads, motorways, rail lines, wasps nests, sewage works and, ideally, providing us with a west facing aspect, cows, sheep and a great view - not too much to want!
Once moored, we would write the log and inspect our food stocks. Next, we'd study the map for potential food shopping opportunities, newsagents, navigational challenges, potential overnight locations, watering points, pump out and fuel requirements.
As soon as day broke, we would set forth anew.
Our canal trip was not a holiday in the conventional sense, but it was very satisfying in a hamster-wheel kind of way. We traveled every day, with the exception of
four days when the river levels were too high in Leeds, and when the timing of locks prevented us from leaving.
In just over three months, John and I covered about 850 miles at 3 - 4 mph (when there were no locks), in excess of 650 locks, quite a few tunnels - to say nothing of some very stubborn swing and lift bridges!
Stephanie, Diane and Corrie did a wonderful job of keeping the home fires of Tradewinds running whilst I played hookey. I am very grateful to them for making this possible for me.
Upon our return from the UK, I thought that life would go back to normal. However, my DH seems to be showing a total absence of interest in returning to his usual routine! I can not say I blame him: for 45 years and 11 months he has leapt out of bed every morning and headed to work, leaving me free and alone to write patterns, newsletters (this is #95) and handle all the other minutiae involved in running a business. Now he is home with me every day. While I do enjoy this, I must admit that it is much harder to get down to my work! I have snuck out of bed extra early today to score a bit of quiet time to write this letter. In the main, my intention is to give in gracefully and make the most of every moment.
In view of this new life-pattern, I have kept 2018 largely open to further adventures (apart from some pre-exisiting bookings in the Ottawa/Peterborough area - details
can be found here).
This period seems like such an opportunity to be embraced that I am determined to run with it. I am already finding myself tackling strange jobs around the house that had been somewhat neglected for years. These projects include eating our way through the UFOs (unidentified frozen objects), turning out drawers, sorting out the Christmas decorations and more.
We are anticipating our annual ski trip to Quebec and are open to what the rest of the year will bring.
Wishing you Happy Stitches in 2018,
Knitting on the Wild Side Camp
This is the usual year for Knitting on the Wild Side Camp on Tancook Island in Nova Scotia, and I am looking forward to hosting it again. If it goes ahead, the dates would be from September 15 - 21st. If you are interested in this camp, just send us an email and we'll take it from there! This camp will likely focus on hats and will cover a wide variety of knitting techniques.
Fearless Knitting - Empowering Techniques for Every Knitter
This class is a great favourite of mine (and 11300 other knitters). It will take you from individual stitch formation, through stitches in rows, their intersections and on into my most powerful stitch domination techniques. Read the many glowing reviews - this class has helped a lot of knitters!
My First Socks
This class keeps me hopping! Questions come in nearly every day from the 16000 students. In this class, I will teach you how to knit a conventional top-down sock, the workhorse of sock construction. I believe this class maintains its popularity because of the many easy ways there are to customize the fit once you have the basics covered.
Next Steps in Socks
This much overlooked class (with only 1700 students) covers, in great detail, many more sophisticated sock and general knitting skills. Let me show you the wonderful sideways sock top and how it can be used as a gauge and sizing swatch for any sock you wish. This class covers several stitch patterns that often puzzle knitters in workshops, as well as toe and heel turn techniques. Help me give this wonderful class a boost!
Foundations of Double Knitting
This class has confounded the doubters: double knitting CAN be fun and popular! I am within a whisker of having 10,000 students (won't you please help me make this goal?) and have seen some wonderful projects launched using techniques learned from the class.
Use this coupon and receive
50% off the full retail price of select Craftsy classes taught by Lucy Neatby. (Cannot be combined with any other coupons) Expires April 9, 2018.
Back in the days of paper-only patterns, we were fortunate to
sell wonderful designs by Ilga Leja
and Catherine Vardy in addition
to Lucy patterns. Our new website, the transition to digital photos,
and various other technicalities now prevent us from marketing these
We are on the last few of these wonderful, but now-neglected, paper patterns (including some of my own old style patterns). Rather than putting them into a landfill, we have been offering them as a collection! For $10 Cdn (plus shipping and applicable taxes), you will receive a surprise package of 10 diverse patterns.
The range of designs is very wide! There are mittens (fulled and otherwise), tams, booties, shawls, scarves, socks, hats and sweaters--to name but a few. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
You'll find this special pattern collection, and many more sale items, in the Clearance section of my website.
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