Lucy Neatby - Tradewind Knitwear Designs - Spun Yarn 11
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SPUN YARN #11

Autumn, 2005

When I started putting down thoughts for this newsletter, we were eagerly anticipating the glorious colours of Fall and the arrival of our Adventure knitting crew!

Welcome Aboard!

Where did my summer go? It seems just moments ago that the leaves opened to feed and shelter their summer insect guests, in fact just as I berthed at my home port, having returned from my spring voyaging. The steamer trunks were merrily placed into long-term storage and I prepared to get caught up with myself, my family and the myriad of neglected jobs demanding my personal attention.

Amidst this busy but manageable hubbub, by an obviously unmonitored bit of brain tissue, I was viciously bitten with a new book idea. Out came the needles: I must start knitting bags at once! The double-knit vest and the beaded shawl-in-progress (which I had previously been enjoying immensely) were abandoned in a dark corner. There followed a halcyon couple of weeks of comparative tranquillity, in which enthusiastic bouts of knitting, writing and bicycling followed each other with little interruption.
My husband was in Chile (hence no requirement for conventional meals) and the girls were fully occupied with their summer employment as well as trips to the beach (courtesy of the older one's newly obtained drivers licence). Soon bags of every style,
type and technique flew from my needles. I must be at home to be truly creative: a myriad of yarns of every hue and type are needed, and at a moment's notice; more needles: longer, shorter, fatter, thinner! Notebooks in every room, in short: creative chaos. Great progress was being made, then the great UK visitor invasion occurred...

For those of you who didn't know: my family moved to Nova Scotia from Milford Haven in southwest Wales just over thirteen years ago. Thus, when visiting family and friends arrive, they tend to stay awhile! The first few summers were not unlike running a non-stop summer camp, as all the parents, siblings and friends took the opportunity to enjoy a cheap visit to Canada and the obligatory feed of lobster! However, things had quietened down a lot on the visitor front in the last few years. I am sure that the Nova Scotian lobster population heaved a collective sigh of relief!
Not so this summer. We had a full slate of family and friends. It was rather fun to be a tourist in my home town once again. One dear friend who hadn't previously ventured across the Atlantic finally managed her long-awaited visit only to find that she had arrived at a mad-house. Not only was she sleeping in what appeared to be a yarn store (not a hardship as she is a fibre fiend too), but when she emerged, still slightly jet-lagged, from her bed on the first morning of her visit, she was somewhat astonished to find the house apparently brim-full of strangers and no one recognisable as family in sight. Holly and George had long since departed for their summer jobs, while Susan and Kathleen had arrived at their workplace (my home) to do theirs. They, however, knew of my anticipated guest and introduced themselves, and Ro speedily became accustomed to introducing herself: "Hello, I'm Ro, I'm staying here!" to any and all of the people who seem to find themselves ebbing and flowing through this house.

My studio also is lucky enough to receive a number of surprise visits from travelling knitters: some call ahead, others simply turn up at the door clutching a map! One of these serendipitous visitors this summer was Cat Bordhi: our paths have crossed before, but never with more than a brief moment to say hello, so it was great fun to have a little time to spend together.

As we are all too well aware, it's been a volatile period in the gasoline business. It is a good job that we have a yarn stash to tide us over whilst we all stay home a little more. However, spare a thought for the poor pump jockeys: this was the summer that daughter Holly decided to get a job in a gas station, which proved to be a crash-course in the realities of dealing with the general public and life at the bottom of the employment pile. It came as quite a shock to discover that the gasoline-buying public seem to take pleasure in venting their frustrations on the poor employees and hold them personally responsible for the ever increasing price of gas! The common misapprehensions include that they will be making more money from the escalating prices or that gas customers don't need to pay any of the few cents of over the dollar (or in some cases, pay at all).

A little trumpet fanfare here: We have a new arrival, not amongst the TKD crew exactly, but to my husband's tug fleet. He has spent this last year commuting to and from Chile overseeing the building of a new tug boat. It made for an interesting life here, trying to mesh my years-in-advance planned travel schedule with his fly-by-night, here-now-gone-again unpredictability! We did on one occasion leave on the same flight and, on another, pass in the airport as I was arriving and he departing. Despite all this we have managed to keep the show on the road. The new tug, now released from Chile's shipyard, has made her way to Halifax and will soon be christened "Switzer Bedford". Believe me, it was a great pleasure to me to witness her arrival at her new home. Family life resumes as before.

As I write this my focus is on the forthcoming Adventure Knitting trip, and the book, the title of which is going to be "Cool Bags - Hot knit tricks!"


Wishing you all contented stitches......... Lucy

PS. Adventure Knitting at White Point Beach has come and gone; it was a blast!
.... more details in the next newsletter. (By the way, it is not too soon to sign up for West Coast Adventure Knitting camp.)


New Book in Stock:

Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

This surely has to be the perfect gift for knitters, or their families and the knitted-for. I laughed until I cried! Don't miss this one:
$17.50

New Yarn in Stock:

At last we have a supply of all the colourways of Opal Saphir, a dependable, well-behaved, luscious wool-rich yarn. It is great for heavier socks, hats, sweaters or our Domino blanket. Its longer-than-usual colour sections give colour bands you can really work with. See their website, Ladybug Yarns for more info.
80% Superwash wool /20% Polyamid. 100g = 250m
Per 100g ball: $14.80

We used #76 in both the Domino Blanket and the Sea Lettuce Scarf below.
Domino Blanket (#466)
An easy and practical gift with an heirloom appearance, suitable for treasures of all ages, newborn to sage. Perfect carry-around knitting, may be worked from a single yarn, several yarns or comprised of 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.
Level: Intermediate
Pattern: $9 Cdn
Yarn for blanket as shown (size: 26 inches x 34 inches): Opal Saphir 5. Quantity: 6 x 100g balls.
Sea Lettuce Scarf (#468)
A spiraling, frilly, short-row extravaganza, suited to hand painted and printed yarns. Perfect travel knitting. Knit width-wise: keep on knitting until you run out of yarn.
Size: Width 20 or 32 sts. Length: entirely up to you and your yarn.
Yarn: Almost any weight.
Techniques: Picot edges, unwrapped garter stitch short rows. Minimal finishing.
Level: Beginner/Intermediate.
Pattern: $6 Cdn.

Knitting Hint

How long has it been since you spared a thought for the Long-Tail Cast-On? It is such a versatile method, that it is worth a second look. (If you are familiar with the technique, skip straight to the What is going on? paragraph.)

If you are new to this cast-on, try this: Before casting on, tie two colours of yarn together, one to be the tail yarn and the other the stitch yarn: this will give you an intimate look at the functions of the two different yarns!
Now how about doubling the tail yarn for super-elastic hard working edges, such as sock tops? This automatically strengthens the edge and prevents the stitches from snuggling as close together as usual, as well as giving a more elastic edge.

Have fun: stitches like to be played with!

Long-tail (Continental) Cast On

If you only live long enough to learn one cast-on method, this would be the one I would recommend. It forms an excellent general-purpose edge. It is known by a variety of names, and it forms the basis of many other more elaborate cast-on edges, which become easier to follow once this one is mastered.

You will need: working yarn and a single knitting needle.

Long-tail (Continental) Cast On
Preparation: Unwind a tail of yarn approximately 4 times the intended cast-on edge length.
Make a slip-knot.
Place the slip-knot onto a needle and firm up the loop to gently fit the needle.
Place the ball of working yarn out to your right.
Let's make stitches: *Hold the tail yarn out to the left with your left thumb above it.

Make a loop in the yarn by dropping the tip of the thumb in a circular motion, first down away from you, back towards you and then up to its original position. There should now be a loop of yarn around the thumb (as it crosses the thumb it should look like the middle portion of an S).

Slide the tip of the needle ( the one holding the slip-knot) up the side of the thumb into the loop. Leave the thumb in the loop.

With the right hand, throw the yarn leading to the ball (the working yarn) around the needle as if to knit.

With the left thumb, push the loop up and over the needle tip and extricate the thumb.

Whilst maintaining a gentle tension on the working yarn (leading to the ball), tighten the tail yarn. The yarn thrown around the needle should now look and behave like a stitch.
You should feel a little resistance as the loop firms up underneath the needle.
Repeat from * for each stitch. The slip-knot is also counted as a stitch.

What is going on?

A long-tail demystification:

The new stitches are formed by the working yarn (held on the right, leading to the ball) which is thrown around the needle just as in regular knitting. These stitches form a tidy edge because they are all, individually, being held around their little neck (or base of stitch) by a loop of tail yarn. The tension on the right-hand yarn controls the firmness of the new stitches; keep this gentle but controlled, similar to your usual knitting tension. If your cast-on stitches are habitually too tight, you need to practice r-e-l--a-x-i-n-g the tension on this yarn as you cast on. The newly cast-on stitches should be only fractionally more difficult to work than your regular mid-project stitches.

The spacing of the stitches is controlled by the tail yarn (held to the left). The elasticity of the edge is directly linked to how closely the stitches are placed together on the needle. For socks, extreme edge elasticity is required to permit the sock to stretch around the heel. With practice, it is possible to space the new stitches further apart than might be usual. The secret to controlling the spacing is to keep the left-hand yarn at 90 degrees or less away from the needle (measured from the tip). As you tighten the left-hand yarn, do not allow the new stitch to slide very close to the preceding st.

After checking and counting your cast-on edge, cut off all but 6" of any remaining yarn tail left over from casting on. Why, you ask? Can you find me a knitter that has never launched forth on their knitting, only to find that they were running out of yarn after twenty-five stitches because they were knitting with the tail yarn? Ah, I thought not.

Other than for Tubular Cast-on, don't use a larger-than-gauge needle size for regular casting on; this only creates elongated stitches but no extra distance between the adjacent stitches. The resulting edge is slightly looser, but only because everything is a little sloppy!




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