Lucy Neatby Designs Lucy Neatby Designs

Spun Yarn #43

February 2012 

Dear Knitters,

renovating the office Renovations...will they ever end?
I have just spent the most un-knitting and exhausting weekend! However, it was most educational. Just in case the skills are ever required, I can now find the main water shut-off valve within seconds, cut copper pipe, and have learned about slip-on plumbing fittings that magically seal.

hallway tiles Some of you might have been wondering about our home renovations. We started them last summer, having the office overhauled, then the kitchen and the family room. The simple finishing touch was to be the resurfacing of the hallway floor.
The office was slow, steady and finally done. Our new kitchen is amazing, thanks to the designer from Craftmade Kitchens in Bayers Lake, Halifax. This company was great to deal with and the fitter, beyond compare! The family room looks great, replete with a sumptuous carpet and colourful walls to match the kitchen.
The final stage in all this upheaval was to be the least unsettling. After all, how much trouble could it be to remove the old vinyl floor and put new flooring in the hall, bathroom and laundry areas? Settle down with your cup of tea; this is where my saga begins.

Back in October, John and I had emptied all the cupboards, lifted the old vinyl and tiles, and leveled the subfloor in preparation for the new tiles that were to be laid. They arrived, but not the ones we had ordered. We chose different ones. I left on a teaching trip, hoping the tiles might miraculously be installed before my return. Ha! Though it felt like I had been away for ages, half of the tiles were still on back-order. I was not a happy camper. In an attempt to hurry things along and be ready for my December Open House and Christmas, we decided to make a compromise and chose a tile of which they had plenty in stock. The flooring guys turned up in a matter of days. We were going to be done with all the mess and get back to normal!

After they had unloaded the tiles into the hall, the guys announced that the sub-floor which we had so carefully prepared was subpar. We could either remove a layer ourselves, or they could lay a new sheet on top (for a 'small' extra charge). Yes, you can see it unfolding: here comes compromise number two.

My husband and I debated our options: we had floor guys on site, tiles in the hall and time was ticking. With our own busy schedules, it could take us days before we could get this expensive, messy job done ourselves. We opted to have them put down the extra layer and accepted that we would have to shorten several doors and make different room transitions. Thus distracted, we never thought to raise the subject of the baseboards. The flooring guys never mentioned them either. The new sub-floor layer was fastened down with a million screws.

Next the floor guys asked about the direction of the tiles. Our original design specified that they should run athwartships (across) the main hall. They insisted that this wasn't suitable for THESE tiles (even though they would have to run that way in the other hall, the whole thing being an L shape). The downhill spiral continued: here was compromise number three. We let them lay the tiles their way.

My computer specialist happened to come by that same day and commented on how quickly the tiles were being put down and that they weren't being back-buttered. The compound was only being applied to the floor. I've never laid tile myself; I didn't know if this procedure is vital; they were the flooring pros, surely they should know!

removing tiles

Feeling like I was being held hostage in the kitchen and thereby unable to see in detail what was taking place, I was getting a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. The gaps along the sides were huge. We'd need much more than the 1/4" round baseboards to hide them! Even I could cut tiles closer than that!

The tiling was completed by the next day. I was already feeling pretty disheartened by the whole business when they told me that the colour grout we had chosen was far too dark. I caved and made our fourth and final compromise. I felt a complete failure. I had allowed myself to be pushed around, they were laying the floor they wanted and not the one we had chosen. Had they just put down the tiles the way we had asked, removed the baseboards and put the grout in of the colour we wished, I'd have been able to accept the floor and live with it.

John was not thrilled either, but we decided to leave things in abeyance for the holiday season. We reinstated the toilet, filled the cupboards and got on with our busy December. The floor loomed under us; it didn't get any prettier. We judiciously kept our eyes focussed straight ahead or upwards.

Into January, after the flooring company representatives had come and gone, with nothing but vague noises from that quarter, I asked John to make the decision as to whether to hide the mess with specially milled woodwork or to rip it all up. I could learn to ignore it, but if he wasn't happy I was never going to be either!

removing tiles

He reached a decision this past Saturday at 10am. We decided that NOW was the least inconvenient time to tackle it. The tiles were up by noon (after having started at 11:00!) Most of them came up in one piece, they were hardly even stuck down. Now I understand the value of back-buttering! Having seen how poorly these tiles were attached makes me much more determined to confront the flooring firm. The flooring guys fussed and pressured us about all sorts of inessential details, but not what was really important. A 10 minute site visit beforehand would have allowed us to have the floor properly ready and someone might have picked up on the baseboards. Maybe we wouldn't be in this mess.

We decided to remove all three layers of sub floor in order to be ready for whatever lies ahead. I'm not thrilled by the dust, dirt, work and descent back into chaos, but in the words of Mike Holmes, "It's going to be done right."

At this point, if you are not already sound asleep, you might well ask: how has this led me to my aforementioned plumbing lesson? It all happened during a moment of almost complete exhaustion, as we were trying to get the laundry equipment back into a usable condition before calling it a day. I was attempting to remove a lump of cement that had been used to fill a gap in the tiles around the laundry sink pipes. This chunk, unfortunately, turned out to be the most substantial piece of construction the flooring guys had laid. It was resistant to hammering and wouldn't chip or crack. I, in wisdom only granted to the terminally tired, decided to tackle it with a cold chisel from underneath. Never once did it cross my mind that it might slip and touch a pipe. One good "whack" and I found myself getting soaked by a geyser of water! Whoops. This could have meant no water/hot shower until the pipe is blanked, but thankfully, my well-prepared husband has the necessary equipment on hand for me to fix the leak. And this is when I got my plumbing lesson. Never done that before!

In Knitting News,
Meanwhile back in my working world, welcome to 2012, in which a Brave New Year of Knitting awaits. I have completed some new patterns for your entertainment: the Moonstone Scarf (another double-knit design) and the Spindrift Necklet and Wristlets, a most satisfying small project and very pretty to wear.
I continue to be enthralled with double-layer knitting and my newest project is a cozy double-knit baby bonnet: the pattern was released this week. It comes in 4 sizes from newborn to 9 months.

Plans for 2012...
I've had to simplify my teaching schedule this spring for family reasons, and will only be seen at Madrona Fiber Arts in Tacoma, WA in mid-February and not again until April, when I will be teaching at Midwest Masters in Wisconsin.

Sea Lettuce I'm hoping to use my extra time at home not to murder the convalescent, but to make progress on several new exciting projects including:
-A new tandem knitalong with your choice of Spindrift Necklet/Wristlets or the ever-popular Sea Lettuce Scarf. Hosted by our dear Susan, we will begin on February 29th. Watch Neatby Knitters on Ravelry for details and a special giveaway
-A phone app, we'll let you know more as soon as we do!
-A potential knitting-on-the-wild-side Tancook Island Knitting Camp in September; stay tuned if you are interested.
-A double-knitting club is also in the works, with new patterns and tech support.

We have started to resume filming our pattern support You Tube clips. Sorry for the long wait; our film studio has been filled with boxes and our cameraman has been busily ripping up floors.

Website updates ...
As always, Corrie is working on ameliorating the web site. The clearance section will be open again by the end of the month--we are stocking it with the last of our Shelridge Farm kits and much more!
We are ever closer to introducing the Kits section of the website. Corrie is working hard to make this as user-friendly as the rest of the site. Once it's up, you will have many choices for the items and garments you'd like to knit.

New for Smartphone and Tablet users!
You now have a link to my site that works nicely and looks pretty - bookmark!

Happy stitches and clement weather to you,


Product News

Moonstone Scarf

Moonstone Scarf (#4101) by Lucy Neatby

Inspired by the Wilkie Collins novel of the same name, this is a textured, quilted beauty of a scarf: the two layers with their negative/positive patterning bring out the unique qualities of a variegated yarn. The colour changes are created by drawing the far-layer stitches through the near-layer ones, which also adds dimension to the surface of the fabric..

Yarn:Fingering-weight to Aran
Size: variable, depending on yarn weight
Skill Level:Intermediate
Techniques: Two-layer stocking stitch double-knitting with quilting.
Price: $7.00

Spindrift Wristlet

Spindrift Necklet and Wristlets (#4102) by Lucy Neatby

This decorative sideways-knit neck or wrist-warmer with short row shapings is a lovely companion to the Spindrift series. The shapings are enhanced by the use of scallop holes of different sizes. Minimal finishing is required. The final garment can be fastened with buttons or joined in the round.

Yarn:100 grams handpainted Fingering-weight yarn such as Cat's Pajamas or Celestial Merino for either project
Size: variable
Skill Level: Intermediate
Techniques: scallop holes, picot borders, short rows
Price: $7.00

Snowflake Baby Bonnet

Snowflake DK Baby Bonnet (#1108) by Lucy Neatby

A cozy bonnet for a special baby. This double-knit hat is totally reversible; knit in Cat's Pajamas, it will keep your baby's head warm. From the I-cord straps to the heart-emblazoned crown, this sweet little hat is knitted entirely in one piece. It is, of course, perfectly reversible.

Yarn:Cat's Pajamas Mottled Solids or any other Fingering weight yarn
Size: 4 sizes: 0, 3, 6 and 9 months
Skill Level:Advanced
Techniques: Double-knitting(flat and in the round), Tubular cast-on (optional), I-cord, DK decreases
Price: $9.00

Extreme Double Knitting

Extreme Double Knitting by Alasdair Post-Quinn

This fantastic book is one of my new favourites! Alasdair's patterns are gorgeous, his double-knitting technique is great and he covers instructions from the most basic to extreme double-knitting!

ISBN 978-0-7603-4064-6
Price: $34.95

Knitting Tip

The Power of Swatching

Very interestingly, the Snowflake Baby Bonnet test knitters all made the same comment: "I don't normally make a swatch but this one is worthwhile." It tends to be true that experienced knitters go light on the swatching stage, either due to familiarity with the yarn, the stitch, or the fact that their knitting normally comes out spot on.
However, I have started writing a different kind of swatch (particularly in my double-knit designs) which has a two-fold function; firstly, it gives a guide to the stitch size and hence the finished project size if worked in the recommended yarn/needles. But, and as importantly, it is also a miniature technique practice piece. After completing this kind of swatch, the knitter will be able to embark on the project with confidence, knowing that s/he has tried all the necessary techniques. It may also be worked in a heavier practice yarn if desired. Though this won't give any gauge information, the results of the newly-learned techniques will be more visible! These types of swatches also make great in-store material if a class is being taught based on one of these patterns.
Swatch away and knit happy!

A Special Valentine Offer

Faroese Flower Shawl

Faroese Flower Shawl

I have a special fondness for the Faroese Flower Shawl, a pattern which I designed many years ago. This graceful, shoulder-hugging Faroese-style shawl is knit in one piece from the neck down. It features floral lace stitches and an unusual petal trim at the bottom. Though I designed it with a solid colour yarn in mind, this pattern lends itself beautifully to Kauni colourways, too!
For the next seven days only, we are offering you the .pdf pattern of the Faroese Flower Shawl at half-price($6.00 instead of its regular price of $12.00). You can find it, and many more patterns on the website. Hurry, this offer is only good until Valentine's Day!

All images and text Copyright ©2000 - 2012; Lucy Neatby, Tradewind Knitwear Designs