Lucy Neatby - Tradewind Knitwear Designs - Spun Yarn 33
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SPUN YARN #33

May, 2010

Tamale Toes close-up
Tamale Toes on Tancook moss
Dear Knitters,

I'm back from my first teaching tour of the year, and I felt very fortunate that I was not in Europe. I feel very sorry for all the hundreds of thousands of travelers who were stranded by the volcanic ash cloud situation and the businesses for whom this has been a nasty financial shock. We are reminded again that Mother Nature rules, and that we had better remember this.
It's been encouragingly springlike weather everywhere on this trip, with birds singing, blossoms blooming, etc. See some of the photos on Flickr (the first three sets).
For me, though, it's quite a relief to get back to the cold and damp that is once again Nova Scotia (despite the brief Easter interlude of unseasonably beautiful weather). No leaves here yet, and my personal barometer, the daffodils, are just coming out. No distraction here to keep me from getting back to Serious Work!

The paper jungle ...
I am very anxious to get back into editing mode on the finishing book: it's getting so close to being finished (read as: there are only another hundred run-throughs to go!) I've been back 6 days now and I'm only just able to see my way clear to getting back to working on it. There is so much paperwork (even with Susan's invaluable help) in just maintaining a business: if I gave up designing, writing and running mail order I might just stay ahead of the all the government forms.

I have, thankfully, just had my US visa renewed, but, as I only received a 14 month visa, we now have to start immediately working on the supporting paperwork for the next one, since we have to allow six months for Them to process the paperwork!

Here to help ...
Would you like to complete your collection of Learn with Lucy DVDs? A customer suggested we institute a subscription service. Great idea! Simply let us know which discs you need to complete your collection, and at what interval you'd like your next installment, and we'll take care of the rest. Currently we offer several options: one or two DVDs a month or one DVD every two months. We can send a Paypal invoice or keep your credit card information on file, whichever you prefer. Print Print the DVD subsciption form and phone, fax or (e)mail in your preferences.
This is a new service under development; we will be launching a 'subscribers only' group on Ravelry and adding loyalty gifts along the way. Oh, and see our special offer for Canadians in the P.S. down below.

Super-Hero Hat

Heads up ...
We have a lovely new hat for you, the Super-Hero Hat. This hat is similar in essence to the Sizzling Hot Hat, but is designed in a slightly plainer pattern (which is also considerably easier to knit) and perhaps more appealing to the male of the species. There are all kinds of yarn variations possible, all guaranteed to give you a gorgeous warm hat for heads of any gender.

A picture in the bush ...
For those of you that visited Hillary's collection on Flickr to check out her wonderful new garment pictures last Spunyarn: check back again! We've completed many new photo sets with some sweet and quirky pictures. For example: a lace scarf suspended on a stick and blowing horizontally on the stiff breeze, with a backdrop of waves and islands on the horizon. Then there's a very intimate view inside a Pinstripe Sock (which feels a little entering a knitted vortex), shawls reflected in still water, the Sea Lettuce Scarf nestling on the beach, quite at home amongst the seaweed, shells and rocks, and on, and on.

I find it emotionally exhausting to cull the pictures down to a reasonable number (even though I still have them on a disc); some are great as garment shots, some are simply beautiful photographs, and others just make me wish I were on Tancook Island now. We have a need for both portrait and landscape shots according to where the pictures are to be used, so I allow myself to put quite a lot of shots in each album. It will be interesting as the spring and summer arrive to see the change in backdrops, as the beautiful icy cascades give way to embryonic spring leaves and then the real greenery on Tancook Island.

A subversive benefit of these new pictures is that they let me share so many of the beautiful vistas and secret spots of this amazing island with all of you. There is a small group of islanders currently working on making this island more inviting to summer visitors. Tourist trade is needed to help supplement island incomes and create on-island employment for the future. I lived here in Nova Scotia for 17 years before I came to the island for my first time. I had no idea what to expect once I stepped off the ferry. What can one do all day? Is there a washroom? Is there safe drinking water? What is there to do if it rains? Is there a beach? All were unknowns to me. I recently invited a few local knitting friends over for an afternoon and, of the fifteen on the ferry, only one had previously been to the island. If one mentions Tancook locally (and you know that I do this with monotonous regularity) the usual response is: "I've heard of it, but I've never been there. I've always meant to go." I love watching the faces of new arrivals as they leave the ferry and start to explore. (The outhouse directions read: 5 minutes walk to the end of the field. The right-hand side sign was once titled: Wife wanted!)

Where's the washroom?

Should you be curious, there is a delightful website about the island with a lot of information and old photographs that is well worth a look. The plan is to increase the options for on-island food and amenities and to offer guided nature and local history walks and rides. There is a charming museum, lending library, games room and social space being created and coordinated by the ever intrepid Hillary, in what used to be the old general store next to her photo gallery. She has the 'reuse and recycle' thing turned into an art. The interior decor is charming, yet everything but the new light fittings have been gleaned or donated. See our Tancook pictures on Flickr.

The silk road ...
More on the Pinstripe Sock pattern: our shipment of the indescribably scrumptious Curious Creek 50% wool/50% silk Omo yarn has arrived at last. This yarn and its colours partner exceptionally well with our Cat's Pajama's yarn to make the world's warmest and most decadent sock. Do try not to dribble as you knit!

As a sailor, I wonder how Kristine of Curious Creek is getting on with her South Pacific voyage! Kristine Brooks was offered the opportunity early this year to sail the South Seas, including calling in on the Galapagos, and to that end has taken a 3 month yarn-dying sabbatical. Good for her (and a little envy creeps in at the edges)!

Tasty confections ...
My prodigious outbreak of new and completed designs (as a result of staying at home for a couple of months) has seen the Mille Feuille Shawl and Scarf come into being. The shawl grows like a weed (for all you instant gratification junkies!) and is so much fun to knit. Every colour combination we've tried has been stunning. We've been using a solid colour Kauni yarn to act as the contrast to a variegated Kauni, with charming results. The scarf is an ideal way to use up odds and ends of this yarn. For pattern details see below.

Happy spring stitches,
Lucy

P.S. Tax alert for our Canadian customers: Taxes are going up on July 1st.
BC goes from 5% to 12%
ON goes from 5% to 13%
Check your wish list, buy now before the taxes go up. (Just to make you feel better: the Maritime provinces' tax has been between 13 - 15% for years and will be going up to 15% once again.)
Special consolation offer: If you wish to sign up for the subscription offer before July 1st, we'll pay the additional taxes for you until the completion of your subscription term!

Interesting fact: As a result of the taxes in Canada, it is often cheaper for an American customer to make a purchase and have it shipped to them, than for the same order going to a Canadian customer!!

P.P.S. Have you ever noticed that if you mis-spell 'yarn' it comes out as 'yearn'?


Product News

New Patterns from Lucy Neatby

Mille Feuille Shawl

Mille Feuille Shawl and Scarf (#490)


Customer quote: "The most breathtaking piece of knitting I have ever seen."
A dramatic shawl, yet quite straightforward and fun to knit. Grows like a weed, as the size is enhanced by the number of easy-to-make holes.
Options for all around borders and a straight scarf or stole pattern are included. The scarf is ideal for using up small amounts of yarn. Minimal finishing required.

Yarn: Light Sport - DK, 6 sts per inch, 200g each Solid and Variegated
Pictured in Kauni EE and RR7
Size: Tip to center back 44", width 14" (adjustable).
Needles: 3.75 - 4.5, (US #5 - 7) Addi Lace needles are recommended.
Skill Level: Intermediate
Techniques: Scallop holes, short-rows (optional).
Price: $9.00
Super-Hero Hat

The Super-Hero Hat (#185)


An exceptionally warm hat for the snow-shoveling* super hero in your life. An easy-to-work, double layer design with a subtly contrasting turn-up brim to give four layers of fabric to keep the ears cozy. An excellent introduction into shaped double-knitting.
* Insert outdoor chore of your choice here!

Yarn: Fingering
Size: Small (child), Medium and Large adult sizes.
Needles: 2.5, (US #1) 40 - 50 cm circular needles plus dpns for the crown. May be also be worked on one or more long circular needles.
Skill Level: Intermediate
Techniques: Two colour, two-layer stocking stitch with shapings.
Price: $6.00

The Detective Knitter: Challenge #1

Quiz #1
As part of my passion for stitches and their family life, and because puzzles are fun, I've decided to give you an occasional photo that will require you to read your stitches in order to get the right answers!
Here is your first test, brave knitter!
Long-tail or Continental cast-on was used for this swatch.
Row 1 is the first row after casting on.
On which row number was the decrease made?
What kind of decrease is it?
How many rows have been worked after the decrease row?
Good luck, enjoy. The answer will be posted on the Quiz page in a few days.

Knitting Tip


I'm running a campaign to promote the use of audio knitting patterns!

If we think about a situation where we have been struggling to interpret complex written directions whilst we knit, it probably wasn't our finest hour. As soon as we could read the knitting, remember the pattern, and how it related to the previous row, we were joyously free of the text.

It's not surprising, really, that interpreting a pattern and implementing the directions can be so challenging. For a start, reading is from left to right and from the top to the bottom of the page. Knitting is (for most of us) from right to left, from the bottom to the top of the piece. This is a little like rubbing your head and patting your stomach, or, trying to knit a two-colour design where the dark boxes represent the lighter coloured yarn. Neither is impossible, but both are far more difficult than one might first imagine.
Add into the equation, that, unless you have a very commodious lap, it hard to have both the knitting and the book at the same focal length: for those of us of a certain age, our eyes are less willing to perform the necessary ocular gymnastics required to focus first at one distance and then instantaneously at another one.

We also have to keep taking our eyes off one place and moving to the other, which makes keeping our place in the text very challenging. This is not so fiddly on the knitting, as our yarn and needles act as location indicators; but on the page, which one was the row that had that last ssk on it? It's very easy to skip or duplicate bits; I've yet to meet someone who hasn't done that. We can, of course, use rulers and sticky notes to keep track of our place, but then we have to take our hands off the knitting to move them along.

My suggestion is to employ a little technology to come to your aid. How about reading a repeat of the pattern out loud, at a modest pace (remember it takes longer to k24 than to ssk) and recording it on a voice recorder? I am still wrestling with the demise of the tape recorder, but there are many tiny handheld devices that will perform this function perfectly, including many mobile phones. In addition to this, many computers have a speech option. Your computer will convert selected text to speech for you. On a Mac, go the Apple symbol (top left), System Preferences, Speech. There you have the option to choose from a number of voices and reading speeds and all you need do is simply set up a keystroke command. Then highlight the desired text and press your command key and you will have your new knitting friend reading your pattern out loud to you. However, my Mac is convinced that st needs to be read as street, not stitch; obviously the software was written by a non-knitter!

I realize that many patterns are still in paper rather than digital format, and these would have to be read and recorded. Here we have yet another advantage of digital .pdf patterns.



DID YOU KNOW:

Most previous issues of Spun Yarn are archived on the website; type in the website address (http://www.lucyneatby.com/) followed by the edition you wish to read: i.e. SY14.html or SY30.html, etc. (The html label just tells the computer what kind of file it is.)



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