Lucy Neatby - Tradewind Knitwear Designs - Spun Yarn 20
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February 2008

A walk at dusk in the Norfolk fields

Dear Friends,

The twins have hatched!

Well, it's triplets really. I was expecting two new DVDs but have ended up with three new titles. Excuse me for babbling on about the process, but it's that unquenchable parental thing: nothing is quite so wonderful as one's own offspring. During the latter period of gestation and labour, everything else knitting-related was escorted into the waiting room (until I get a Round-To-It).
It's been a winter of snow-shoveling, skiing and film-making!
In early December I made my annual pilgrimage to north Norfolk (UK), to visit my mother (and sisters two) . It's usually a bit soggy and damp at this time of year (see photo above), but I enjoy the wonderful countryside and the heart-meltingly old architecture of the tiny towns and villages. North Norfolk is on the way to nowhere and so has remained quite unspoiled by large-scale development.

Aylsham is a particularly delightful little market town that I love to visit (to purchase sherbet lemons and Twiglets for the family back in Canada). I found it amazing (being a thoroughly spoiled North American resident) that there was no wireless internet to be found anywhere in town. Out of curiosity I went asking about internet access: neither the library or computer shop had wireless or any knowledge of where it could be found!
I visited a wonderful new eco-friendly bird watching center at Cley (rhymes with spy) where even the less sure-footed can sit and watch birds all day in comfort. The fresh-water ponds behind the coastal sand dunes create a unique habitat for many birds, however, in the preceding week the dunes had been overwhelmed and severely damaged by a very high storm tide, leaving the future of this habitat in question.
Photo: My mother at Cley (wearing the Rainbow Hat).
Mama at Cley (wearing the Rainbow Hat)

Home again, home again ...

On my return from the UK, I was thrilled to find Nova Scotia in the grip of winter, real winter!
I know this is a contentious subject, but there are those of us who relish a proper winter. For those that don't, there is all sorts of wonderful yarn awaiting, and a reason to knit it (should you need one).
The time had come to start fine-tuning my DVD plans. The preparation for filming involves huge mental turmoil (I can't possibly get all this done in four short weeks!!) and frantic list-making. The advent of spreadsheets has revolutionized the process, but even so, it still involves a lot of mental gymnastics.

Over the course of the year, I gather ideas that I feel would be worthy to film, based very often on comments overheard in my workshops. I then attempt to sort these ideas into coherent and sequential families (believe me, this can be crazy-making).

Swatches one, two, three ...

Now I have to decide what sort of knitted swatches and colours would be most effective to demonstrate what I have in mind. At the start, the task is just plain overwhelming: I tackle the easier-to-envisage ones first, and very gradually I cross off the topics for which we now have swatches. This leaves the more thought-intensive ones remaining, but they are then easier to tackle,the multitude of ideas having been refined and tamed. I built a blocking board this year and pinned out the swatches, rather than filing them in sandwich bags as in the past: this way I could check and identify them, and, when we finished filming, the board was empty. Very reassuring!

Owing to the better than usual winter this year, I knit a lot of the swatches as I was being driven to and from skiing. Thus, to avoid lost time, I established (as would any rabid knitter) a knitting station in the car: my Denise needle set, scissors and a multitude of yarns all ready at all times! This quantity of stuff does make quick pit stops something of a challenge: be very sure you are not entangled before exiting the vehicle!

The swatches are all gone ...

Filming has now been completed and editing is proceeding well. This being our third movie shoot, our crew are well seasoned. Our camera guy, Dean Brousseau, has excelled himself: he practically became a stitch!
99 swatches of wool on the board ...
99 swatches of wool on the wall ...
Dean Brousseau, happy as a stitch
Two happy stitches

The grand purpose:

My objective this year has been to continue the Finesse series, exploring some of the finer points of finishing for the discerning (madly curious) knitter: shoulders, set-in sleeves and double bands.

Also, as I am foolishly drawn to challenges, I thought to film a little something that would capture the oft-maligned intarsia-style knitting, detail by glorious detail. (Before you write to tell me how much you despise intarsia, watch the video and see how much fun it really is.) True, it is not as easy as plain garter stitch, but it is far from being "very difficult". I suspected that Intarsia, being a wide field, would make a pretty packed disc, but little did I imagine it would turn out to be twins!

Even after all that, I still have some of the more esoteric topics left over for a future disc! (One can only put so much digital information on a disc without compromising the quality.)

Questions, anyone?

Some knitters have asked, in a tone of bewilderment: " Is the Essentials 2 DVD the same as Essentials 1? I see some of the same things on both!!"
(By the way, the short answer is no.)

Why some things have been repeated, or said more than once: ...
It's always a dilemma as to what a reasonable amount of repetition amounts to when assembling a disc. If a fundamental technique, filmed on an earlier disc, is vital to a more advanced clip, we do sometimes re-use a little of the earlier footage to make the new topic complete.
However, the repeated section is usually shorter and more condensed than the original no-holds-barred version. For example, Crochet Provisional Cast-on is shown both on Essentials 2 and Socks 1. But we do keep this issue in mind, and for this reason buttonholes (although they might quite reasonably be considered a necessary part of a double band) have NOT been touched on in Finesse 2, as we had quite a job squeezing on the new footage without repeating the lengthy buttonhole clips which may be found on Gems 1 and Finesse 1.

The long promised reverse DVD index (items listed by subject) will be released shortly after the new discs. We'll hand it over to a professional to tidy it up!
A highlight of our winter has been the blissful cold weather; I again signed up my husband and me for ski lessons on both days of every weekend! (It's 1.5 hours of knitting time each way). It's quite a commitment of time and means early mornings, but it's well worth the effort. For someone engaged in the business of teaching seasoned knitters how to knit better yet, it is fun being a student skier and trying to tackle the finer points. The parallels in teaching methods for skiing and knitting are remarkable: our instructor frequently has us ski things wrongly to give a comparison of the feel of survivable and better. See: Dare to Compare in Spun Yarn 15.

Wishing you all warm and woolly thoughts, and prolonged rain for those of you in Australia,
Happy stitches until next time,


Yarn Sale

Those of you who are regular users of our Celestial Merino Dream might know that we have had to change from 50g skeins to 100g skeins of our mottled solid colours.

We have a limited number of colours and skeins remaining in the 50g size, so we are offering them at $9.00 Cdn (regular price: $12.50 Cdn).
sale yarn
Our remaining 50g skeins of CM Dream

I know many of you have been awaiting this announcement ...

DVD pre-release special offer!

Toll-free Order Line 1 (866) 272-7796. Paypal, Visa, Mastercard. (Pre-paid orders only, valid ONLY until the DVDs become available.)

Price: $27 Cdn per new disc title including shipping and taxes (if applicable)for North America. (Half price shipping to countries other than the US or Canada).

If you would like to add any of our ten currently available titles (see below) to your order they will be at the regular price $29 + applicable taxes (Canada only), but free shipping or half price shipping as noted above, will apply.
(All discs will be shipped together as soon as the new ones are manufactured.)

Knitting Essentials 1 and 2
Sock Techniques 1 and 2
Knitting Gems 1 to 4
Finesse Your Knitting 1
Double Knitting Delight

And here are the new ones:

Intarsia Untangled 1
= 978-0-9782898-3-6 K
Intarsia knitting, despite its (highly undeserved) poor reputation, can in fact be enjoyable and yield wonderful results.
On this disc: we look at preparation for serene knitting, tackling the first few rows, reading charts, tangle reduction and resolution. Learn also how to maximize the number of ends that may be knitted in and to make the best use of those tails which do require darning.
Also included are a number of cool rescue techniques.
Running Time 2 hours 27 mins.

Intarsia Untangled 2 = 978-0-9782898-5-0 L
Now that you enjoy intarsia, here are some sophisticated skills to help you tackle special situations: long horizontal colour jumps without breaking the yarn or having to think ahead, as well as a selection of slick tricks to make life easier.
Explore textured stitches within colour blocks, sculpted shapes and how to analyze patterns to see what lies ahead.
Running Time 2 hours 22 mins.

Finesse Your Knitting 2 = 978-0-9782898-4-3 M
Expert shoulder shapings and various joins, setting-in fitted sleeve heads with ease.
Experience the exquisite joys of double bands: knitting-up the stitches (right first time, every time), equalizing the two sides, adding shaping to the corners of the bands, and reversing for the inner layer, and how these principles may be applied to neck and armband situations.
Running Time 2 hours 17 mins.

Toll-free Order Line 1 (866) 272-7796. Paypal, Visa, Mastercard.

For Youtube fans:
In addition to the couple of clips which we already have up on Youtube, we will shortly be posting an informal behind the scenes, documentary style mini film on the making of the DVDs ! Search under Lucy Neatby if you are seeking these clips.

Knitting Hint
Sewing-up with knitting yarn

Knitting yarn has very limited outlook on life! There are certain high-points in its existence, the first of which is to bewitch a passing knitter with its qualities of colour, luster and feel. It having persuaded you that life apart from this particular skein of yarn would be an empty existence, you make the acquisition and take the treasured skein home. This is a great day.

Once home, the skein settles in, possibly with a few companions. Life is good.

Now the waiting game begins, restiveness amongst the yarn buddies begins to occur. Whose turn will it be next? A certain amount of surreptitious shuffling may occur under the cover of darkness to facilitate optimal positioning at the top of the pile. Patience is required.

The great day dawns: the skein of yarn is lifted from the pack and taken to the swift for winding into a center-pull ball. Hallelujah!!! All's well with the world. Or less fortunately, the skein is wound into a cannonball. The yarn feels a little stressed by this turn of events, but consoles itself that it will be knit soon.
Special Knitting proceeds and the yarn feels more on a individual stitch by stitch basis rather than collectively as a skein. The mid-row stitches are ecstatic! The end of row stitches rather less so, but it's better than being stuck in a cupboard.
As the project progresses, the remaining yarn begins to worry: is itndex not going to be required? Will it end up with a life sentence in a drawer, with slim parole options? Or, horror of horrors, will it be the bit that is used for sewing up?

No wonder it is anxious! Sewing with yarn spun for knitting can be painful for both the sewer and the yarn. Most knitting yarn is woolen spun (as opposed to worsted spun) which for the sake of brevity here, means it is much less suited to being dragged in and out of a hole. It has more fiber ends near the surface of the yarn and so can become draggly and weak quite quickly.
Another issue is the knitter's tendency to use huge, long lengths of yarn to sew with (in order to avoid a couple of additional yarn tails); the longer the yarn the more times it has to be hauled through the fabric before it is used, and the more the plies tend to untwist! >From the knitters perspective, it really takes just as long to haul through yards of yarn, to periodically re-twist the decomposing yarn, and every so often to undo a tangle or knot in the sewing yarn as to use two shorter (much happier) lengths of yarn.

Tips for sewing-up with yarn:

Use only modest lengths of yarn, up to 24" or thereabouts. (For interest, next time cut your usual length of yarn and measure it!)

Leave yarn tails unfastened and dangling outide the work until you are happy with your seam. If you don't like a section, it may be pulled out easily.

If the yarn becomes unplied as you sew, twist the needle periodically to remake the plies.

Use the working yarn for grafting and for visible seams, but consider using a finer, similar-colour yarn for mattress stitch seams. I'd suggest using a similar fiber type as the original yarn. If you have any supplies of crewel wool (it's worsted spun and available in a million shades) you can successfully use this for sewing up wool garments.

Remember that the most fulfilling experience for a piece of yarn is for a little loop of it to be gently drawn up through another little loop.
So knit!

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