Lucy Neatby - Tradewind Knitwear Designs - Spun Yarn 8
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SPUN YARN #8

Autumn, 2004

Batten down the hatches, it's hurricane season again! There is a noticeable increase in hurricane awareness around here this year and heartfelt sympathy for those who have already taken a pounding. We had our 100 year storm last September, but there is a notable degree of nervousness as we watch the forecasts!

Welcome to our eighth edition of Spun Yarn: We hope that by the introduction of our new list-serve method of distribution more of our subscribers will reliably receive future editions. The subscriber list will, of course, not be shared or sold: you will only receive our customary announcement of the URL (web link) where we have posted the latest edition of Spun Yarn. New subscribers will receive a rather anonymous notification from Majordomo that they have been successfully subscribed to the Spun Yarn list - please don't panic, it's only us!

Summer was very late arriving here, but it has been great fun, filled with outdoor activities and some in-transit, in-car knitting. Our first major adventure was a spur-of-the-moment trip to a canoe school in Ontario. I have been hatching plans for a two-week river trip next summer in the Yukon Territory. (It so bewitched me this spring that I have to go back!) As a result of this, my DH decided that we should get a bit of training in running white-water in an open canoe. (Perhaps not a bad idea before we reach bear country!) Serendipity had let us find a brochure for the Madawaska Kanu Center (MKC), so off we went; we had two days of driving (and knitting) to look forward to.

Driving across Quebec was an eye-opener for me: the linguistic divide is astonishing, especially as no visible borders were crossed. My French was appallingly rusty, but with practice, words began to come back to me: I am now more or less fluent in the complex French necessary to order a Tim Horton's coffee and doughnut. I obviously need to stay longer.

Once we reached our destination we nervously watched a bunch of head-encased kayakers and canoeists propelling themselves down-river, elegantly negotiating a rock-strewn raging torrent, above which some idiot had suspended sticks so that even if they missed all the rocks they could be periodically whacked on the head by a stick. We watched in awe and assured ourselves that such a level of torture must be reserved for the nut-cases! We didn't reach that bit until the second day...

The whole camp experience was a delight. The first day, as every morning, a great breakfast was laid on; then it was off to class. We were kitted up with helmets, lifejackets and our canoe for the week (which featured comfortingly large air bags and ominous-looking straps to fasten one permanently into the canoe - uhmm, is it possible to escape from these bonds in case of a spill?)

We were run through the basic paddling skills at quite a pace in quiet water, after which it was time to play in the waves. "Tilt, initiate, turn" was our first injunction: paddle upstream into the fast flowing water and let the bow catch in the current and then, if you tilt in the correct direction (downstream) and dig your bow paddle in at an appropriate angle, you whizz elegantly downstream, turning on a sixpence!
If however, you tilt just ever so slightly upstream, and dig in your bow paddle both inexpertly and a little late, you rapidly find yourself swimming, having wrenched your legs free of the thigh straps with gazelle-like grace, with only magnificent bruises left to show for it. It was now time for us to learn the canoe-over-canoe rescue technique (in which we became quite polished!)

And so we proceeded from challenge to challenge, working our way down the river. We were fed and warmed periodically throughout and by end of the day we reached our awaiting canoe-rack-equipped bus and headed back to camp to compare injuries and consume more vittles. By the end of the canoe day, a Muskoka chair, a good book and a little light knitting were all I wished for.

With each passing day we tried new challenges and bigger rapids. The day the "Staircase" rapid was to be our challenge, we walked the bank, we studied it, we watched our brilliant instructor Steve show us how easy it was, and then it was show time: We aced it! It was terrifying, thrilling and fun. We thought we'd do it again... right,you guessed it...about one-third of the way down, we completely blew it: we were swimming again. Swimming in a rapid is not a benign experience: defensive swimming is imperative - on your back, feet up and pointing downstream (so they hit the rocks first), bum up (to avoid abrasions) and try to breathe whenever above the water. This was all easier said than done. With every ledge you are overwhelmed by standing water and my life-jacket had never seemed so precious.

I eventually washed up in an eddy well downstream and then began looking for my canoe partner. He was on the bank further up looking a little the worse for wear, sporting attractively bloody grazed legs. Apparently this experience is termed as "doing a Maytag": you come out with a stonewashed look!

We survived and enjoyed the rest of our week; it was quite a thrill. The canoe school was excellent. I'd love to do more, however, I think I'll be a little more conservative in the real wilderness when the water is cold and my sleeping bag and supplies are in the canoe!(Canoe School)

Regular visitors to the mighty Tradewind web-vessel will notice that it has been dry-docked and refitted lately: we are happy to unveil our new streamlined home-page for the web site (freshly anti-fouled to ward off marine growth). As we loaded cargo over the years, our decks became a little cluttered and tricky to navigate: some ship-cleaning was in order and we hope you can find everything you need with greater ease now. In fact, there may be new cargo-lockers and some that you had previously overlooked.

We are also delighted to announce that we have finally set ourselves up as a PayPal merchant. I don't know why we dithered for so long (we thought it would be far more complex); the blindingly obvious sometimes takes a while to see. So, to place an online order with us: email us your wish-list and mailing info; we'll clarify any yarn, colour or size details with you and let you know the total charge with or without taxes (as appropriate) that should be deposited with PayPal for our account. Once we receive the notification from PayPal, we'll be off to the Post Office lickety-split!

If you haven't tried PayPal for on-line shopping before: it is a secure and quite straightforward way to set up an account to send money. I am notoriously intolerant of sites that bamboozle, frustrate and confuse, but PayPal has made a masterful job of their site. Always find the PayPal homepage by Googling directly, for maximum security. Paypal solves currency conversion issues and is not subject to minimum order limits for small purchases, as credit cards frequently are.

We have also spent quite a deal of time this summer sorting out our new lines of CELESTIAL YARNS, adding new colours and weights. In addition to the original hand-dyed mottled solids and multi-coloured fingering-weight Merinos, we now offer Aran and DK weights in rare Blue-Faced Leicester wool yarn; Blue-faced Leicester wool has wonderful drape and natural luster.
Solid and handpainted colours are available in all three yarns. In order to keep on top of all this, we have signed on a new crew member: Kathleen, who is working very hard on preparing, winding, labelling and organizing all this new yarn; we are delighted to welcome her aboard.

In our log of ship's happenings we also have to report the presence of a stowaway. This unsavoury character has been spotted with ever-increasing frequency pacing the deck outside, and trying to sneak aboard. He has persuaded some of the crew (including yours truly) to let him slip inside on several occasions now, using his soulful eyes and plaintive meow to devastating effect. Once inside, he makes himself at home, spread-eagled on his back on any soft surface, soliciting strokes and tickles. Due to his totally affectionate nature he has become known by the alias of "Mr. Cuddles". Apparently (according to our neighbour) his real name is Willy, and Willy is a fearless hunter, who hunts both by day and night, but we know his secret! Mr Cuddles has joined us on several photo shoots lately as he hates to be left out of any activity.

Our Adventure Knitting trip to Nova Scotia (oct '05) has scarcely any berths left: if you were delaying, bag your hammock now!

Bidding you great knitting, fair winds and safe passages...

Lucy


Note: Since the Canada-U.S. exchange rate seems to be anything but stable, we have reluctantly decided that for our own sanity we will give prices in Canadian currency only. Paypal and Visa will convert the currency for you, or we will be happy to give you assistance with the U.S. price of your order, based on current exchange rate, by phone(toll-free) or email.

New Pattern and Special Needle Offer

"A Little of What You Fancy" Scarf!

A simple, sideways-knit, slip-stitch scarf, perfect for making a little fanciful yarn go a long way. It features two elegant but different sides, one with a horizontal woven appearance, the other with vertical columns of colour. Only one yarn is used at a time, and details for the optional beaded fringes are given.

Size: Adjustable
Yarn: Worsted weight in two colours; one plain, one fancy.
Techniques: Slip-stitches and beaded fringes.
Skill level: Easy. Pattern price: $6 Cdn.

Special Offer (while supplies last) on Inox Express circular needles for Spun Yarn Crew only!

In order to save space, we are reducing our inventory of Inox needles. While supplies last, we are offering a 30% saving on the regular price of $10 Cdn.: only $7 Cdn per needle.
We have the following sizes / lengths in stock...it's first come/first served!

2mm: 80cm, 100cm

2.5mm: 40cm, 100cm

3.0mm: 40cm, 60cm, 80cm, 100cm

3.5mm: 40cm, 60cm, 80cm, 100cm

3.75mm: 60cm, 80cm, 100cm

4.0mm: 40cm, 60cm, 80cm, 100cm

4.5mm: 40cm, 60cm, 80cm, 100cm

5.0mm: 60cm, 80cm, 100cm

5.5mm: 60cm, 80cm, 100cm

6.0mm: 60cm, 100cm

In regular Inox ($7 Cdn), we have the following hard-to-find sizes:

2.25mm: 40cm

2.5mm: 80cm

2.75mm: 40cm, 60cm, 80cm

3.25: 40cm, 60cm, 80cm


Knitting Hint

Our knitting thought for this issue is the evergreen subject of slipping stitches!

What is the difference between slipping a stitch 'as if to knit' (also called 'knitwise' or kw) or 'as if to purl' (also called 'purlwise' or pw)?
First of all, take a good look at a few of your stitches on a needle: observe carefully which leg of the stitch is in front of the needle. For most knitters, the right leg (or side) of the stitch will be in front of the needle.

To slip a stitch pw: hold the two needles tip-to-tip and allow the stitch to slither from one needle to the other. Nothing changes, other than which needle holds the stitch. The leg of the stitch in front of the needle remains unchanged.

Stitches being slipped for your own convenience, such as in mosaic stitches, slip-stitch patterns(such as in the "A Little of What You Fancy" Scarf!), stitches behind beads, special edge treatments or in double-knitting are slipped purlwise unless otherwise specified. The working yarn is usually held at the private side of the stitch being slipped unless it is to display a bead or form a decorative feature in your pattern (as in some slip-stitch patterns).

To slip a stitch kw: The needles approach one another at approximately 90 degrees and the needle enters the stitch just as if it were about to be knitted (to the left of the right stitch leg), and then the stitch is transferred to the new needle; this results in the stitch straddling the new needle with the left leg in front.
Slipping stitches kw makes a difference!

Stitches are slipped kw (almost always) when they are going to form part of a decrease sequence, however, the abbreviation given for a decrease will usually omit any reference to this fact (such as ssk); if in any doubt, consult the full definition for the full scoop!

For example, my full definition of an SSK reads:
Slip the next two sts, knitwise, one at a time, to the RHN. Insert the LHN purlwise (needle-tip to needle-tip) into both sts and knit them together. (This feels similar to working the sts through the back of loops). This produces a one-stitch, left-slanting decrease known as a 'slip, slip, knit'.

In addition, pay attention to whether the stitches should be slipped singly or as a unit: this adjusts the sequence of the stitches.

The purpose of re-orienting and / or re-ordering the stitches is to ensure that once the full decrease manoeuver is made, the desired stitch falls on top of the stacked stitches that form the decrease, with an appropriate direction of slope and usually without a visible twist at the base of the decreased stitch.

Decrease directions are customarily written with the assumption that you knit in 'the standard manner '; alternative knitters who may throw their yarn in the opposite direction or from their right needle to the left (or many other possible variations) will have to adapt the manoeuvrers required to achieve the desired result.

K2t (or k2tog) = a one-stitch right-slanting decrease.

Ssk ( or s1-k1-psso) = a one-stitch left-slanting decrease.

Remember, it doesn't matter how you get there, it is the outcome that is important.


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