Lucy Neatby - Tradewind Knitwear Designs - Spun Yarn 10
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Summer, 2005

Photo credit: Jeff Harper of Imageworks Photographic

Welcome to summer!
It's been a long time reaching us in Nova Scotia (mid-July!) but it was worth the wait. The spring season was busy with voyages to all points of the compass: I was dashing north, east, south and west. This very peripatetic existence inspired the theme for this newsletter: the climatic effects on regional knitting seasons.

I first became dramatically aware of climate disparity on my recent trip to Houston, Texas. In the frigid and wet north where I dwell, we spend the time from March until June deluding ourselves that spring and summer are just around the corner; we wait, ... and we wait, anticipating that the best is yet to come. If we are lucky, we are rewarded with a few dry 80 degree days in mid-summer. This momentous event will send me scurrying to the basement to unearth the cotton/silk project that hasn't seen the light of day since temperatures last hit this dizzying mark. (The summer cardigan currently in progress is now in at least its third season - it may possibly be finished this year!) After maybe a week or two of this extreme heat, we will be immensely relieved when the shortening day length and cooler evenings make for better sleeping. And then the coziness of a wool project on the lap allows one to sit outdoors in the evening for just a little longer ... and the cotton project will go back into hibernation again!

So, can you imagine this heat-deprived soul arriving in Texas in May (while my family in Halifax is enjoying spring snow flurries)? Ah, the warm embrace of summer air: hot, but not excessively so, just deliciously welcoming. Just as I was succumbing to a warm fuzzy mood, along came Corporate Air Conditioning: that was quite an adjustment. I quickly discovered that you have in Texas an Alice in Wonderland existence: I am accustomed to donning clothes to go out, whereas you folks undress to go out and carry clothes (especially shawls) to put on when you go indoors. This reality reversal is further exacerbated by the tinted reflective anti-glare glass used in many of the buildings: it does a fine job of giving one the impression of a cold gloomy day outside. The result: now we have major cognitive dissonance and mental adjustment! You have to be prepared for any climatic condition at a moment's notice; to be able to strip if the AC is off or broken, and to dress warmly if you happen to be directly under the cooling vent.

This led me to consider that the cycle of life and knitting seasons in the south is somewhat different to that of more northerly knitters. The southerly knitters probably need both cotton and wool projects for the shoulder seasons when they might be knitting either indoors or out, and during the hottest months some nice large wool project to keep them warm in the AC. I imagine, too, that those of you who love to be outdoors have the equivalent of two summers to anticipate with pleasure: the warming up and the cooling down on either side of the 90 plus degree weather.

Late june found me in Calgary, and I was graphically reminded of how much further north than home this is: I was woken up at 0530 by a beautiful golden sunrise. Once the sun is up, I am too. No moaning and groaning, or the need for 'just a few more minutes in bed'; I want to get a move on. I remember this effect from a wonderful Knit With Us trip with Shirley Scott (a.k.a Shirl the Purl) to Yellowknife in the North West Territories a few years ago. Yellowknife is a mining town quite literally at the end of the road (it's a five hundred mile road), just shy of the Arctic Circle. We were there over the summer solstice, with the sun setting at around 2330 and rising at 0300. To watch the sun fully set below the horizon took half an hour or more as the orbit of the sun is at such a shallow angle to the horizon. From the beginning of our sunset vigil significant eastward movement in the sun was visible before it finally disappeared, and even then there was little darkness, just a deepening twilight before the sun began its upward movement.
I find it very difficult not to keep the hours of the sun, and on more than a few occasions there I found myself wondering why I was feeling weary only to discover that it was 2300 and that I'd been up since 0330! I will have to keep this in mind, as some friends and I are planning a long canoe trip in the Yukon Territory towards the Arctic Circle next year. Sleep might be hard to come by in a tent in mid-summer, although physical exhaustion should help. (This reminds me of the story of some seasoned backpackers who carefully weighed and measured every gram of equipment they planned to carry on a trip up north, only to discover on their first night that the weight they had allocated for flashlights and spare batteries could have been entirely given over to chocolate!)

Aside from musing on the wonders of our planet and how it all relates to knitting, I have actually done some knitting. Double Knitting has still got me in its grip and I'm happily immersed in the second prototype of the Cape Spear Vest. It will, I believe, be very striking when it is completed ( although my determination to knit the vest sideways has led to some challenging technical issues that I am well on the way to solving now).
Just to make sure we still have fun on a smaller scale as well: a new pattern, the flouncy Sea Lettuce Scarf, has been spawned by the ocean around me. The scarf features multiple short rows, and is repetitive but certainly not boring knitting. Around here, everyone who sees it suddenly breaks out in a desperate need to make one!
Of course, you have all been putting sheepbends in your hawsers waiting for a decent knitted chain mail pattern: here it is, the colourful Chain d'Amour Scarf. OK, here's where you trot out all the chain and dominatrix jokes.
The Domino Blanket(absolutely nothing to do with dominatrixes), a classy mitred-square design, has reached completion: it makes great carry-around knitting and an excellent use for left-over sock yarns, especially if variegateds are teamed up with some of the solid-coloured yarns to give unity to the overall look. It looks ten times as much work as it is, making it one of those high-yield-of-elegance-per-unit-effort projects.

The hot news this summer: at long last the fulled (or felted, if you prefer) bag syndrome has hit me very seriously. I have held out for a long time, but I've contracted it now: our Celestial Blue Faced Aran fulls so beautifully! I had a bag knit and ready for felting: on the single glorious spring day that we had in June, when it was proving far too nice out to work indoors, three of us decided to play hooky in the sunshine. There we sat around a foaming tub (I suspect that more than a few passersby suspected us of practising a new form of witchcraft) and took it in turns to knead and pummel said knitted bag. The results were magical. Stand by for further developments.

My other little discovery is books on MP3. I have long been a huge fan of books on tape and books on CD as a knitting aid. However, both machines consume batteries at a great rate and I no sooner get settled with the right machine (having tracked them down from the last person who 'borrowed' them) than the battery dies, the tape gets chewed, or the next disc has been mysteriously abducted from the box. The MP3 player is light on batteries, can handle a whole book or two on a tiny card (with no additional weight) and it will even read out aloud to me as I knit. What a joy.

Yarn news....Dream On...

We have found a new spinner for our Celestial fingering weight merino. For those addicted to our original Celestial Merino we have a limited supply of the original handpainted colours still available, on sale until supplies run out! See below for details.

The new yarn, called Celestial Merino DREAM is a miniscule bit thicker, very bouncy and extremely tempting. It can be used in the same patterns as the original. It is now available in the same handpainted colourways and mottled solids. We also have two new mottled solid colours: Medi Blue (a light turquoise) and Sunbeam (creamy yellow).

On the Beach

Over the summer we'll be working on the final details of the plans for our Adventure Knitting week at Whitepoint Beach. I may have to try a few restaurants on your behalf; no hardships are too great when preparing to host such guests!

Stay cool wherever you may be!

Woolly wishes,

Lucy and the crew.

Latest Products.....

Lucy's Celestial Yarns: Merino DREAM

A heavenly new range of hand-dyed merino wool. Custom-dyed in Nova Scotia for Lucy in 6 colourways. Fiesta, Sugar Maple, Seashell, Blue Vesuvius, Aquarius, Fiery Fuchsia
2 ply Merino wool, fingering Weight.
Suggested needle size for Stocking Stitch 3mm / #2.5 US to give an approx. gauge of 7 sts x 9 rows = 2.5 cm / 1" sq. 280m/310yds per 100g, hand or gentle machine wash. Lay flat to dry.
Per 100g skein $24.50 Cdn
Also Celestial Merino DREAM Mottled Solids: Per 50g ball $12.50 Cdn

Special introductory DREAM offer (valid until September 1, 2005) for our Spun Yarn subscribers only : Choose a free $6 Pattern with every 100g of Dream merino purchased!
Original Celestial Merino Special Clearance offer (limited quantities, hand painted colourways only). SPECIAL SALE PRICE $19 Cdn per skein while stocks last. (Original price $24.50 Cdn per 100g skein (320m /350 yds)).

Umbrella Swifts

At last we have been able to get our grappling hook on some very attractive and beautifully finished umbrella swifts, essential equipment for every knitter that purchases yarn in a skein. The wooden spindle will clamp to any flat horizontal surface and the adjustable frame expands to fit and hold your skein of yarn; the frame rotates around the spindle as you wind your yarn. (Hints for gift-giving could be dropped to family members who currently hold your yarn for you; it's a small price to pay to be released from this duty.) Remember too, that with the aid of a swift and a ballwinder even very small children may successfully be trained to wind yarn!
$77 Cdn, Postage at cost.

Domino Blanket (#466)

An easy and practical gift with serious heirloom pretensions, suitable for treasures of all ages, newborn to sage. Perfect carry-around knitting, this blanket may be worked from a single yarn, several yarns or from small quantities of many colours / similar weight yarns.
Size - rectangle of any size you wish.
Yarn - any weight (fingering weight might try your patience, though).
Techniques - Domino squares, applied I-cord-trimmed edging with mitered corners. Minimal finishing.
Pattern - $9 Cdn

Chain d'Amour Scarf (#764)

Ready for preliminary release only: this means the pattern is now available to the hardcore must-have-it-now-or-else knitters but has not yet finished its rigorous pre-release testing schedule! ( i.e. It is not yet ready for wholesale production.)
For the lunatic fringe! An eye-catching, grafted I-cord creation.
Size - Width entirely up to you.
Yarn - Worsted or other!
Techniques - I-cord, grafting, patience.
Pattern - $6 Cdn.

Sea Lettuce Scarf (#468)

A spiraling, frilly short-row extravaganza, suited to hand-painted and printed yarns. Perfect travel knitting. Knit width-wise; just keep on knitting until you run out of yarn.
Size - Width 20 or 32 sts. Length, entirely up to you and your yarn.
Yarn - any weight.
Techniques - Picot edges, unwrapped garter stitch short rows. Minimal finishing.
Pattern - $6 Cdn

New Opal Shipment due on board very soon!

Rainforest, a new glowing colourway in this fabulous sock yarn, is expected in any day now. You may start salivating! And do watch our Opal Page for new arrivals.

The Curious Knitter

What do you do with your very last stitch? Are you a tail threader? It is a matter of great (and largely frivolous) interest to me to discover how many knitters, when faced with the last remaining stitch after binding off, cut their yarn and then lovingly thread the resulting tail through the last stitch.
If this describes your method, then I'll implant this idea: cut the yarn as usual and then (brace yourself) simply lift your knitting needle upwards, stretching the last stitch, bigger and bigger and bigger, until the cut tail pulls through the base of the stitch. Take a good lung-full of air and relax. Your last stitch has now given its life to hold all the other stitches in place and you have one less widget at the end of the row!

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