Lucy Neatby - Tradewind Knitwear Designs - Spun Yarn 12
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March, 2006

Here it is March already, a little late, but: a very happy new knitting year to you all!

Well, this has been a FUN week, intensely educational! I have spent the last several days in my basement, in almost total darkness, with three very expensive handsome men. The toys they brought were most impressive! Oh, do stop snickering and let me explain: we are filming a series of knitting technique DVDs. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it! )

Having taught many, many workshops and demonstrated the sock toe chimney or some other wow-this-is-brilliant-once-you-see-it technique with knitters clustered around, each vying for the coveted knitter's eye view position, it has more than once occurred to me that a little film-clip of each technique would be most useful as a take-home record.

I began my search for a videographer last year, but kept coming up at one dead end after another, mainly due to my woeful ignorance of the film world. I knew so little about the movie business that in reality I did not even know the kind of person I was seeking. Eventually, in desperation, I asked Kathleen (our wonderful new crew member) to ring anyone she could think of and ask whether they had any suggestions (How's that for desperation?). As sometimes happens in fairy tales, serendipity took a hand, and a darling soul at The Coast newspaper mentioned that she had a friend in the business and that this project might be of interest to him: Enter Stage Left, wearing shining armour, Colin MacKenzie of Whatnot! Productions.

My first call to him was very promising; I did not detect the usual sense of, shall we say, lack of seriousness often engendered in the wider world when knitting is mentioned. It further transpired that a couple of his good friends had just sunk their life's savings into Halifax's newest addition to the knitting scene: The Loop Craft Cafe, and he was in fact knitting-aware. We met for coffee and to discuss a project which neither of us could quite quantify but which sounded possible!

The decision was made to get cracking, there being only a short time available until I would be off traveling again. Film folk, too, appear to be very mobile; to my astonishment, a dream-team to complete the first phase of the project was assembled and deployed in mere days. Since then we have done many hours of filming.

I now know how to turn a house into a studio: it is a painstaking labour. SILENCE is paramount: All phones must be disconnected, the freezer unplugged, the fire allowed to burn down (as we freeze quietly), dishes left unwashed (no sound of water), and flush only when strictly necessary. We rigged signs on all the doors:
SILENCE - filming in progress. Don't ring the door bell. Please return tomorrow!
My teenagers and husband (who had believed this to be their home) were instructed not to return until after 6pm, and then preferably bearing food and drink.

The process of filming was an education. For each topic we had to itemize our shooting list in excruciating detail and prepare a ton of swatches : the samples were then filed in little baggies marked with name and number. And even though I own a thousand needles, it was still necessary to slip stitches onto yarns: this meant that having a very quiet assistant who could prepare the next swatch for me was vital, so as not to waste valuable cameraman-time (and you thought a taxi meter was scary?!). (The thank-you's on my DVDs are truly heartfelt and well-earned.)

Shots had to sequenced in a bizarre manner to avoid having to move the camera, light and sound set-ups: every move, akin to shifting the SS Queen Mary, ate up one or two hours (more $$$)! Thus, all the shots requiring a particular set-up were shot on one day. On the dreadful day we planned to shoot more than just my hands, we hired a make-up artist, not in a vain attempt to transform me into a lovely sopisticate (giggle), but to banish the dead-codfish look I take on with the gut-wrenching dread I produce (as good as any Pavlovian reaction) when face to face with the reality of being SHOT. Go ahead and laugh, but there are surely others among you who would rather have every bit of your stash peeled from you, one precious little ball at a time, rather than face a video camera to see your stage-fright recorded for posterity!

On the appointed day-of-doom, it had most obligingly snowed a few decorative inches (quite a rarity this winter) and Dean, our camera-man, was thrilled: we could film my charming introduction in the garden by the lake. It was like fairyland outside and I almost, only almost, forgot what I was out there for. I was duly anointed and daubed and exhorted to be myself, and, once the camera and lights were ready, we headed to the lakeside.

I was wearing many layers of clothing, topped with a heavy sweater. The ordeal began: anyone who knows me appreciates how camera-shy I am, and the first few takes were hilariously awful (you should see the out-takes). However, I did feel very Prima-Donna-esque: between takes somebody would run over and wrap me in a large down jacket as well as tweak my hair and make-up!

Then we ran into the challenge of rowdy spectators... a murder of crows.
This is certainly how the collective noun was derived: did we ever want to lay unkind hands on them! After the crows lost interest, an enterprising helicopter pilot decided that he was going to tour local lakes and practise his roaring bumps and starts. Aaaargh, life in the film industry is full of unexpected challenges. We eventually managed to complete our task, just a toe ahead of hypothermia.

Sound, as you might gather, is not just a matter of happy chance: Aram, our eclectic sound guy, now has me listening to the world in a whole new way. I have for a long time extolled the visual aspects of happy and contented stitches; now I can hear them screaming in agony when they are split or speared with two full needles, as well as their contented purring when happy in mid-row. She's lost it, you say? Have you ever listened to someone dear to you knitting? There is more in our environment than we usually pay mind to. We recorded both fast and slow knitting on wooden and metal needles; I await with interest to what effect these sounds will be used.

This audio-visual medium is a wonderful tool. It is naturally different from the written word but perhaps more surprisingly, it is significantly different from a workshop presentation. It is much more intimate (no comments on my manicure, please), and allows small details, that are hard to convey on a grand scale, to be clearly shown. As a result of this project, I have discovered the delightful portability of the DVD format (probably lightyears after all of you who travel with young children). With the aid of a portable player, small enough and light enough to be easily carried in your knitting bag, a DVD can be played just about anywhere you might happen to be (please DO NOT play them at meetings).

Our tentative discussions on producing 'a little knitting DVD' have somehow blossomed into a project of E-p-i-c P-r-o-p-o-r-t-i-o-n-s not unlike the Lord of the Rings. We will be releasing four discs to begin with, each containing in excess of 2 hours of thrilling knitting action. We will be offering Knitting Essentials 1 and Knitting Essentials 2; these are the skills and techniques that no curious knitter should leave home without (fully indexed so that you can easily find the technique you need). The 'Essentials' series will eventually be further developed, delving into ever more exotic (nay, arcane even) areas, building on the previous material.

In Sock Techniques 1 and Sock Techniques 2 we have covered multitudes of the techniques described in my book Cool Socks Warm Feet. I had hoped to make these, at least, into just one disc, but they both are standing at three hours of material apiece right now and require some pruning! I should have put less into the book!

Our anticipated DVD release is scheduled for May 2006: currently we are at the final editing stage. It is a delight to see how sequencing the clips and inserting the various types of shots enlivens the whole: it's film-magic.

As you might be able to tell, this DVD project has proved rather all-absorbing, but many other things have been happening too (hence the lateness of this newsletter). We have a several exciting


New Address
Our website now has a second, easy-to-remember, address: (if you are book-marked.... YES, your old bookmark will still work).

Ilga Leja Designs

Onto our mighty vessel we are welcoming our talented stowaway (contrary to the usual practice of keel-hauling them): a new designer, Ilga Leja. Her designs, many of which are worked in our Celestial Merino yarn, are quite delightful. They combine elegance and simplicity, and offer the potential for hours of absorbing, yet not overwhelming, knitting. Ilga's patterns are excellently written, with the customary attention to detail that we know you expect from us. Ready for an afternoon of happy indulgence? See Ilga's page on my website.

Ilga's Brickwork Scarf

Knitters all...
I am delighted to announce that the company of ardent knitters has a new member: My eldest daughter Holly has just recently completed her metamorphosis. She has been knitting in an absent-minded manner for many years now, but a couple of weeks ago I found her tucked up in bed with Barbara Walker (First Treasury), puzzling as to how to line up her moss stitch with her ribs. She has also returned from work (at the Tangled Skeins wool shop in Dartmouth) on more than one occasion with a desirous look in her eyes, speaking wistfully of a beautiful skein of yarn, yarn that was just begging to be knit into a lace scarf. Sigh..... If only I could remember what these are the symptoms of! I also haven't seen her without needles in her hands for many days now.
I'm trying not to let on how tickled I am - I don't even mind sharing my stash!

New U.S. Distributor for Tradewinds
It is soon going to become easier to find Tradewindknits patterns and products around the US. We have a new and wonderful distributor: Up North Fiber Art Supply based in WI. (As I know many of our subscribers are shop owners: they can be reached at (920) 720-9276. We will be attending TNNA in June; please drop by and meet Barb, Laurie and me.)

A tale of a coat...
Before ending this mega-newsletter, I must regale you with the story of The Coat. It all took place on a cool, crisp and extraordinarily beautiful late fall day in Washington DC. In the course of an unexpected leisure afternoon before a full weekend of workshops, my host most kindly offered to take me to an open-air craft show. It was a lovely day for a walk, so we set off with spring in our step.

The coat of my dreams and the Lollipop scarf it inspired.

Contrary to our expectations, it was a show of extraordinary calibre, surprising me with truly beautiful designer pieces everywhere. We were just cruising by yet another booth when a striking floral appliqued coat caught my eye and lured me into the booth. I absent-mindedly flicked through the nearby rack. There it was: The Coat. The colours were to die for. Wow! I stealthily glanced at the price tag; luckily it was so far beyond my Casual Spending Budget that it certainly would not be an issue if were to try The Coat on. What harm could it do? I slipped my arms into a perfectly tailored soft wool coat. I began to feel ill! One glance in the mirror and I was lost, lost, lost.
We escaped the booth for air and to wander around and seek distraction. I had negotiated an hour of grace for myself. Please note: I don't do formal, height-of-fashion, fancy-go-to-meeting clothes. Would I even wear IT? Surely it would be churlish of me not to show my appreciation of this designer's work? And so the self-talk went. Then I recalled a piece of sage advice from my father:"It is not my extravagances I regret, but my economies." Within the hour, there I was, proffering a limp-looking piece of plastic. Be still, my trembling hand.

It took several weeks for the shock of my purchase to abate, and I determined to wear The Coat frequently (and do); perhaps I will be buried in it. It is a wonderful coat. I will now thank my co-conspirators who helped me over the initial trauma. The moral of the story, if a moral there is : If you shouldn't afford the sticker price - don't try on the coat! (According to my son, apparently the same thing happens when you sit on a very old tractor; fortunately I'm immune to their charms.)

The coordinating Lollipop scarf and Polo mittens are now in progress. The first 10,000 pattern sales should pay for the coat!

Wishing you all contented stitches,

New Products and Patterns

Lucy Neatby: A Knitter's Companion Series of DVDs

Make friends with your stitches....on this series of DVDs Lucy shares a wide range of knitting techniques that she considers to be fundamental to all types of knitting. The commentary includes even the minute details that knitters observe subconsciously whilst knitting. These points give confirmation to the knitter that all is going well, and will lead to an ability to read the knitted fabric easily.

The filming and production is professional whilst the commentary is informal, lighthearted and easy on the ear (but also professional!). The techniques are presented in the inimitable Lucy-style which has made her workshops so popular. The Knitter's Companion series covers the skills that Lucy feels 'no knitter should leave home without'. Each disc contains unique information and the series of discs build one on the another.

Knitter's Companion DVD series Special Introductory pre-release Offer

for Spun Yarn Subscribers!

Pre-paid DVD orders are now being accepted (until April 30th) for any, or all, of the 4 titles listed below:

A Knitter's Companion Series:

Knitting Essentials 1 (2+ hours)
Knitting Essentials 2 (2+ hours)
Sock Knitting Techniques 1 (2.5+ hours)
Sock Knitting Techniques 2 (2.5+ hours)
Socks 1 and 2 cover the techniques described in Lucy’s book Cool Socks Warm Feet.
As soon as our webmistress can make it appear there, the full table of contents for each DVD may be found on our DVD pages

Special Introductory Offer: $27 Cdn (for Canadian customers)/ $27 US (for U.S. customers) per DVD, this price includes shipping and taxes (where applicable).

Pre-paid orders will be shipped the week the DVDs become available (anticipated April/May).

A new pattern from Lucy........

Lollipop Scarf Lollipop Scarf (#469)
Bet you can't lick this scarf! A simple, entertaining, reversible scarf with many possible variations. (But you’ll need The Coat to go with it!)
Size: Width - 5 ", adjustable. Length, entirely up to you and your yarn.

Yarn: Fingering or heavier.
: Yarn-overs at the edge, knitting-up stitches through fabric, selvage stitches.
Pattern: $6 Cdn.

Other New Stuff

The great Moose bag

The Moose is loose... A new arrival to our bag collection is the truly spectacular deep chocolate brown Moose bag with shoulder strap. With his authentic rugged moose look and come-hither eyes, he has a quite magnetic charm.
Zipper length: 12".
Compartment depth: 9".
Muzzle to tail: 19".
Height: 16".
Price: $110 Cdn.

Pewter sheep lapel pin.

Farm Sheep Lapel Pin

For those who prefer to send out subliminal sheep vibes, this stud is perfect.
Price: $6 Cdn.

Knitting Tip

For the virtuous knitter who diligently washes their swatches, or for the precision felter who likes to record before and after info, label your swatches with waterproof labels.

I make mine from the indestructible Tyvek envelopes. I cut the envelope into 2" squares (or size to suit) with a hole for a fastening point and then mark them with an indelible marker. The swatches and pieces can then be washed tags and all. This saves you the tedious eeny, meeny, miny, moe process of re-tagging after the swatches are dry.

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