Lucy Neatby - Tradewind Knitwear Designs - Spun Yarn 14
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SPUN YARN #14

Autumn, 2006

Greetings Knitfriends!


STOP THE PRESSES :
Whoopee!!! The sock DVDs are now in the manufacturing process and should be available for shipping this month! It has been a loooooong interesting cycle of work-like-mad and wait. And wait. And wait a little more.
The latest:The good news is that the edited discs went to the manufacturers on Friday, but just as we were about to crack the champagne: The latest slight hiccup arose on Friday afternoon: the powers in charge are now debating about the best and most reliable format to produce them ( because these discs are nearly 3 hours apiece --- way too long!) and, ever optimistic, we are hoping that they will be out within two weeks. The shipping envelopes are addressed and waiting; the covers printed.......
The very latest (Tuesday afternoon): all systems go!! Yes, they're coming.

Sock Techniques 1 and 2 DVDs: free shipping offer.........
That being said, we are taking pre-orders for Sock Techniques 1 & 2 and offering free shipping:
Get both discs for only $58 Cdn. We can accept Visa (and soon Mastercard) , or PayPal at info@tradewindknits.com,or call our toll-free Order Line 1 (866) 272-7796.
(Our thanks to all of you who have been so patient and who have sent such nice emails!)

Knitting season is back .....

It's that season in the northern hemisphere again: the nights are drawing in, encouraging longer evenings hunkered down with a warm drink and our favourite projects. I am hoping for a little more time for coherent thought, especially since I suddenly seem to have an almost empty nest around here. There is this little worry, though: the two remaining family members are serious neat freaks and now they have me outnumbered. Should you hear reports of my sudden disappearance, just look in a cupboard: I'll have been tidied up!


SHORT TRAVELOGUE

I am just recently safely returned from my all too brief three-week sojourn in the north. What a trip! The short description would be: WOW. For those not interested in my travelogue, feel free to skip the next section, where I allow myself to be carried away by my reminiscences!


icebergs from the Lowell Glacier
Icebergs from the Lowell Glacier

LONG TRAVELOGUE

For those who would like a little more detail than "WOW", I'll allow myself to ramble on a bit. Things were so hectic here prior to departure (chasing the Essentials DVDs to completion and then shipping them, and hounding those who were working, excessively slowly, on the index of Socks 1 and 2), that I couldn't quite get my head around the full details of the trip or how it all hung together.

All I knew was, that in preparation, I was making a significant contribution to the bottom line of MEC, investing in quantities of quick-dry underwear (in case of rain, lest you were thinking of any other form of damp), a titanium spork (for lightness), merino shirts and leggings (because a bit of wool is ALWAYS good.....)... etc etc. During every available spare moment I hefted my rucksack and dashed off to hike the local trails, whilst entertaining my mind with the logistics of just the right quantities of dry food for four folks for five days of hiking. Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, mangoes were evaporating their juices and making superb fruit leather.

Soon the day dawned when we could no longer prevaricate: our flight to Edmonton would cheerfully leave without us if we didn't get our act together. A monstrous pile of luggage and backpacks was herded into the airport, and off we went. From Nova Scotia we were a party of four: Holly, Karen, John and yours truly.
We flew to Edmonton and picked up our hire car (which at this time was blue), then sallied Northward Ho to connect with Mile Zero of the Alaska Highway. As we drove north, the size and frequency of the communities rapidly diminished, cell phone service became extinct, traffic lights became a thing of the past; traffic, in fact, vanished. Navigation was now easy ... look for the next turning on the left in about 1000 kms! (Thus leaving me free to enjoy my knitting!)

As we cleared the burbs of Edmonton, the scenery began to impress and continued to increase in magnificence with every passing hour. Once on the Alaska Highway, we started sighting wildlife: eagles, Dall sheep (sadly naturally bald), moth-eaten caribou, herds of wandering bison, and one woolly black bear browsing along the highway edge.

We were headed for Whitehorse, the territorial capital of the Yukon, to rendevous with friends Lynne and Laurie and our soon-to-be new friends for our trip down the Alsec river. We spent a luxurious night or two at The Inn on the Lake (a beautiful place with heavenly sheets), our base camp just outside Whitehorse. Last-minute adjustments to luggage and food were made there; then we set off in convoy to Haines Junction and the entry point to Kluane National Park.
Mug-up at Serpentine Creek rafting crew setting up camp
Mug up at Serpentine Creek Raft, raft, raft your boat... Setting up camp

Here we abandoned our mud-coloured vehicles various in favour of tough trucks, and were shuttled into Serpentine Creek: a most interesting drive across washouts, stream beds, gullies and creeks. Shaken not stirred, we arrived at our first campsite: the banks of the ice-cold, milky Dezadeash River. The weather was bleak, grey and rather cool, and the ground impressively imprinted with bear tracks!
As our shuttle drivers pulled away with the trucks, we felt distinctly abandoned, but then the busyness of making camp took over: siting tents in the lee of bushes for shelter but not too close (for concern about big furry things a-creeping-up on one), and preparing hot drinks.

Morning dawned (painfully early) and we made ready to load our two rafts for the first leg of the river journey. This was to be genuine wilderness camping: we had make our next camp between certain points on the river, as determined by Parks Canada to best reduce the risk of human/bear conflict. It was brisk paddling, with a strong headwind. Rafts are windage and drag, with not a lot in the water to catch the slight assistance of the favourable current; it was fortunate that we had to work hard: but even so, we never really got warm.
We pulled out for a snack/lunch stop, and tried to reunite the dead body parts with some form of circulation. Hot discussions were held on the subject of tropical beach holidays. The scenery, however, was wonderful: nothing but mountains and rivers, no cell-towers or signs of human presence. Life became easier as our river joined forces with the Kaskawulsh; it was like boarding an express train, as suddenly the banks that we had been inching past previously were now flying by. A lesser degree of exertion was required, more for steering and playing in the eddies than for motivation.

We found a spot for making camp and commenced the daily routine of setting up. Thus began our happy existence for the next few days. Our first wilderness bear sighting occurred on day two on the river: in the far distance we could make out a shape crossing the river ahead. It crossed the strong currents between sandbanks with remarkable ease and speed. As our craft drew closer, we spotted a very large grizzly (definitely bigger than a breadbox) smooching along the river plateau a fair distance away from the water. He still looked huge and was blissfully unconcerned by us.

The campsites all had modern bear-print decor, so we were very cautious not to leave the camp unattended, spill food or leave any trace of same. All our barrels and coolers were stored in the beached rafts overnight: apparently the bears will not touch the rafts. I had thought that I would find falling asleep in bear country a challenge, but my down sleeping bag worked its magic even though it was still broad daylight at 11pm! Zzzzzz.... Zzzzzz.....

Lowell Glacier Lowell Icebergs
Lowell Glacier Lowell Lake icebergs:
view from camp

There followed a series of delightful days on the river, culminating with a little white-water fun as we entered Lowell Lake opposite the Lowell Glacier. I had never seen a real live glacier in the flesh before: it was breathtaking! Although strangely (given my excellent track record for housework avoidance), I was seized by the desire to clean it up: the debris that falls from the mountainsides and gives the distinctive stripes tends to make the whole thing look rather grubby in comparison to the bewitching blue ice areas.
The lake was cluttered with bergs that had previously calved from the leading edge of the glacier. Our campsite (which used once upon a very long time ago to be covered with ice) was like a lunar landscape of jumbled rock. This, with the back-drop of the glacier and its frequent grumbling and banging (rather like a slightly distant thunder storm), was one of the most dramatic locations I've ever camped in. The depressing aspect of this scene was the dramatic evidence of the rapid shrinkage of the glacier: even in recent photographs one can see how far the ice face has retreated. Every creak, groan and capsizing iceberg was yet another insidious warning of global climate change. Excuse me, I'm going to turn off some lights...


At this point, we were just a short distance from Turnback Canyon (cheerfully described as: a 16 km-long run of "big water", to be avoided at all costs). Since we are brave but not quite crazy, we did avoid that attraction, and awaited our scheduled helicopter pick-up. After days alone, it seemed hard to imagine a chopper just dropping by to air-lift us out, but, just as we were wondering if we had been forgotten, our helicopter pilot made a dramatic, barnstorming-style entrance and began the first of four trips to collect people and gear. It was an exotic (although fuel-hungry) way to leave the wilderness, and we were able to spot yet more wildlife and to appreciate the river from another perspective.

>From Haines Junction we loaded up into vehicles and headed south to Alaska and Haines: yet more fabulous scenery and the first of four border crossings. Here, sadly, for Haines is a neat little village, we had but one night before heading out to catch the ferry to Skagway, and hot showers were top priority!
Skagway was quite another place: here we camped in the rain a day or two, awaiting our official start date for the Chilcoot Trail. (The promotional hype and build-up had left me quite nervous, as I have never claimed to be a serious hiker.)
Cargo Chopper The Chilcoot Neatbys Chilcoot Pass
Cargo Helicopter The Chilcoot Neatbys Chilcoot Pass:
a lovely view!

The great day dawned and we set off, following the route of the pioneering gold hunters. We then, over the course of the next few days, hiked through boreal forest (seeing only one grizzly bear) and gradually up into the clouds until we reached the famed Golden Staircase. In essence this is a 45 degree boulder field, to be climbed with hands and feet, but its impact was rather diminished by the mere 30 foot visibility! Towards the top, we reached the permanent snow fields and blindly followed the markers leading to the Chilcoot Pass from the US to Canada: this must be the border crossing with least red-tape left in N America; in fact, we couldn't really tell where the dotted line was.
We then trudged down through alpine meadows, much rain, and flowing waters to Happy Camp: a rather tongue-in-cheek name if ever there was one! The last two days took us out of the clouds and through beautiful vistas and eventually to Bennett Lake where the real pioneers would have built a boat and proceeded north by water to Dawson City. We, on the other hand, caught the 'hiker-special' of the Yukon and White Pass Railroad back into the US once again! Back in Skagway we were greeted by a most humorous border agent, who determined that we were genuine hikers largely on the strength of our aroma!
We found our vehicles, grabbed some fresh food and headed back to Canada again! The answer to the question "How long have you been in the US?" needed to be given serious thought.

This brought our northern sojourn to a close; now we had to gradually return to reality as we headed reluctantly south, back along the Alaska highway. We took a slightly different route as we were headed towards Calgary, which allowed us to take in the dramatic snow-covered peaks of the Jasper and Banff National Parks. We lingered a night or two outside of Jasper, indulging in car-camping with fresh food and pit toilets: most luxurious.

To add a cherry to the top of a fabulous trip, the Calgary Knitting Guild had arranged a rendevous with me at a wonderful new store ( Make One Yarn Studio), where I enjoyed a lovely evening of social knitting with good friends.


DVD REVIEWS and SOCK DVD NEWS

On my return, the Socks 1 and 2 discs were STILL not quite ready. Aaargh, how slowly can these guys work? Don't they realise the importance of knitting??

The Knitting Essentials 1 and 2 discs have made a running start, greatly aided by a series of generous reviews from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (scroll down for her comments) in Knitty magazine, and Knitter's Review's Clara Parks. Real people buyer reviews will soon be up on our website.
Also, we appear in Very New Very Vogue (Holiday 2006), in the Made in Canada section (p.20).

We have been kept pretty busy filling orders and we are now enthusiastically having more DVDs manufactured!



U.K. WORKSHOP TOUR

I am about to make make my first-ever teaching trip to the UK this October! My first stop will be at the magnificent Blicking Hall in Norfolk: this will surely rank as the most beautiful builing in which I have given a workshop! (Contact Meg for details).

If any of you will be attending the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace, drop by and say "hello": I'll be based at the Get Knitted booth. (They are also a great place to look for my patterns, yarns, books and DVDs in the UK.)

Other gigs include TAJ Crafts in Iver, Bucks and the UNRAVEL event at South Hill Park: www.ukhandknitting.com

OUR HOLIDAY SHINDIG, TRA... LA... LA...

For those in the Halifax area on Sat Dec 9th, 2006, between the hours of 1300 - 1700: we are making our first public invitation to our EIGHTH annual Holiday Open-House. Come and join Lucy, Corrie, Kathleen and Susan (and probably Mr. Cuddles) for fun, yarn, sale specials, Corrie's mouth-watering array of cookies and hot mulled cider. We are hoping that this time the only significant snow fall of the winter won't occur 12 hours beforehand; we did have a good time last year, but so many of you had to miss the party becuase you were without power or at the end of a long unplowed road!


ADVENTURE KNITTING CAMP 2007

Mark your calendars for the West Coast Adventure Knitting Camp 30 September to 6 October 2007. Judy has spent the summer scouting out just the right place for a West Coast adventure, and we will have the details soon. The theme for this camp will be Socks: ancient and modern... more details later. If you would like trip details as they jell, contact Judy and see photos of our 2005 camp in Nova Scotia at the Lloyds Travel site.

sea lettuce scarf

REGIONAL OUTBREAKS of SEA LETTUCE

I am sure that many you are aware of the problems created by imported plants and animals such as the zebra mussels in the Great Lakes and Japanese Knotweed, to mention but a few, and now I have to report a series of new outbreaks across the continent, outbreaks of Sea Lettuce!

However, in our opinion this is an excellent thing: Sea Lettuce is a funky little scarf with short-rows and frilly edges, and it seems to be taking many regions by storm. The flurries of Sea Lettuce seem to be occurring around particular yarn stores, guilds and groups. Once one person starts knitting one, it seems to be contagious, and the scarf does look sensational in almost any colourful yarn or weight thereof. If you are looking for entertaining, carry-around size seasonal knitting, you might consider this project. It won't be long before the Sea Lettuce leaves the Fiesta Feet cooling their heels as the top-selling pattern!

Sea Lettuce Scarf (#468)

A spiraling, frilly, short-row extravaganza, suited to hand-painted and printed yarns. Perfect non-boring-but-easy travel knitting. As it is knit width-wise, you can keep on knitting until you run out of yarn.

Size: Width of 20 or 32 sts. Length, entirely up to you and your yarn.
Yarn: Any weight.
Techniques: Picots, unwrapped garter stitch short rows. Minimal finishing.
Level: Beginner/Intermediate
Pattern: $6.00 Cdn

sea lettuce scarf

JUST-RELEASED NEW PATTERNS FROM LUCY

Mini and Maxi Bags

Mini-Maxi Bags (#871)

This entertaining bag has almost limitless sizing possibilities and minimal finishing. Such a very satisfying project, that you may decide that every family member needs one! (Ideal for using up small quantities of yarn, just in case you REALLY need to reduce your stash....)

Size: Depth 5" x 3.5", widely adjustable up to a full-size shoulder-bag.
Yarn: Sport or heavier.
Techniques : Over-the-needle Provisional Crochet CO, Focused Decreases, Three-needle BO
Level: Determined Beginner/Intermediate
Pattern: $6.00 Cdn

More bag pictures .
Abracadabra beaded scarf

The Abracadabra Scarf (#472)

A simple, yet most magical, arrangement of beads distinguishes this scarf: vertical bead stripes on one side and horizontal stripes on the other.
Suits any smooth fingering weight yarn, best with solid or mottled solid colours.

Size: Width 3.5" upwards, length to suit available yarn.
Yarn: Fingering. Allow approximately 1000 beads, size #6.
Techniques: Beading between stitches, yarn-overs at beginning of rows, spliced yarn joins.
Level: Determined Beginner/Intermediate
Pattern: $6 Cdn
Abracadabra scarf

Knitting Thought...

This follows on our topic from the last newsletter:
When we remove the cast-on or lower edge of a piece of knit fabric, where do the 'stitches' magically come from? (This may be a temporary or provisional edge designed for easy removal, but doesn't have to be.)
Your basic happy stitch in a knit fabric looks like this: a very contented stitch
Take a series of these little chaps and you get an undulating row of yarn: the crests of the hills form the regular direction stitches.
Every layer/row is the same, it is only the direction of the projection of the stitch heads that may differ according to whether they were knitted or purled.
a line of stitches

Now, if we were to turn the hill stitches upside down: what is in between them? The 'valleys' in between the original hills now become potential stitches! Magic.
The important things to notice are that: The new 'valley' stitch loops are in between the original 'hills', half a column out of alignment.
In flat knitting there will be an apparent evaporation of one stitch, because you have to have two hills to frame a valley*. In round knitting there will be no stitch loss as there are no sides.
a line of stitches
A cast-on edge (long-tail shown here because it is easy to draw!) is just a device for securing the valley parts of the first row of stitches. If the securing strand or row is removed the valleys would be released. Envisage the diagram without the tail yarn, and the valleys would appear. a line of stitches with a cast-on edge
*When yarn is worked in flat knitting there is a point at which it connects the first row with the second: this loop of yarn, although not truly a valley stitch, can be used as an additional stitch to compensate for the one-stitch loss! two lines of stitches



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