Lucy Neatby - Tradewind Knitwear Designs - Spun Yarn 27
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July 2009

sea lions welcome us to the Galapagos
Sea lions relaxing on the Galapagos Islands
Dear friends,
Does anyone out there need 2,000 decorative coasters with a knitting theme? Read on**.

I'm going to build an ark! The leaves are out, my annuals are planted, summer is technically here but we haven't seen the sun in the last fourteen days. The forecast looks like a break-the-bank fruit-machine jackpot of black clouds. This too will pass; the sun will shine again one day I'm sure, but will it do so before we are all covered in a fine gray slime of mildew? Meanwhile, I shall carry on removing the rotting flower heads from my plants.

I've reached the end of my intense spring travel schedule and sent my suitcases off for an overhaul. I have Swiss Army brand suitcases, which I'm very happy with. They are light yet strong, and have survived many years of super hard usage, both in frequency and handling methods, and they have hung together well. I do like to get them checked over at the end of the season (I know one zipper needs replacing) and I will have to find some paint and re-paint my 'happy stitches' on each side. I fear losing a suitcase or having it taken from the luggage carousel by someone else, so I make sure they are pretty distinctively marked. I fact, I had an amusing thought when trying to describe my suitcase recently: I truly do have matching luggage, it matches my tattoo!

The Tradewinds crew is back up to strength, with our return from the Galapagos. We had hoped that stacks of DVDs would be lining the hallway on our return, but no. They are at the manufacturers right now, but the two longer discs had to return to Halifax for another layer of post-production processing as they 'virtually disintegrated' due to their length. When will I learn to stick to the essentials? Peter Gaskin has worked his magic and all should be just fine very soon. I hope to be able to give an expected mailing date for the pre-ordered discs at the end of this letter. We have not forgotten about you all, and we greatly appreciate your patience and support.

**STOP THE PRESSES (ok, the text editor software)
The discs all arrived yesterday. Woo hoo, at last!
Susan and I swung eagerly into 'let's get shipping' mode, but while awaiting her arrival here, I decided to take a look at the new discs and put them through their paces one more time. I am SO glad that I did.
The two longer titles (The Brand New Knitter and Knitting Venus 2) did not work properly. I am sure that you can imagine the hollow, sick sensation that I was (and still am) experiencing. The discs will play from start to finish, but very few of the oh-so-convenient and expensive-to-install chapter and topic links work.
So, once again, our apologies for the delay.
We are now dealing with the manufacturer, returns, and paperwork: we expect at least another two week delay in shipping. I am mightily relieved that we have not shipped out a bunch of defective DVDs to you all: that truly would have been a nightmare.
This disappointment, in the global scheme of things, is just a blip, and you will have fully functioning discs as soon as we can get them to you. Now, anyone for beer coasters?
The Galapagos Adventure Knitting trip was amazing; nothing can really prepare you for such an experience.
Mainland Ecuador was delightful, too. Here follows a very brief outline of our adventures (for a full, no-holds-barred version with many additional pictures, check out my blog at ).
We sixteen knitters began our tour from Quito, the capital city of Ecuador high up in the Andes at 9500 feet. We were expecting cool weather but we found it warmer than home. (Is that any surprise?) Quito seemed bustling, yet gentle. We were staying in the historic district and found walking around, looking at the sights, very absorbing; all of life here goes on on the street. On Sunday the city was rather shut up: plenty of people but no business being transacted. Monday,however, the shutters went up and thousands of hole-in-the-wall shops sprang to life.

The vehicular traffic, whilst busy, was civilised: very little horn blowing. The town plazas were abundantly filled with locals meeting and chatting and they really didn't seem bothered by or take much notice of us tourists. There were a few street vendors and a multitude of tiny shoeshine children (maybe Grade 1 size and bigger), but they were not overly persistent. There was a very visible police presence around town (apparently there used to be a considerable crime problem). We tried to behave as sensible travelers (no flashy jewelry, use small bills etc) and had no issues.
Preparing the weaving yarn Weaver's stall What I came home with!

From Quito we took a couple of side trips, including to the Otavalo region to the famous craft market. Here we visited the studios of several weavers and helped to fuel the economy by showing our appreciation of their work (see revealing picture above!). I'd love to know how they became so influenced by tessellating designs: before or after M.C. Escher's work?
Fresh produce
Most of the young Ecuadorians dress in Western style (especially in Quito), but we came across many delightful traditionally dressed women and men in our perambulations. It felt invasive to go front-on and take photos of them, so those I have are shot from a distance or obliquely. However, I did think it was funny when a small girl asked to take my photo in Otavalo.
Family by the roadside

After a wild action-packed week ashore, we headed to Baltra Island in the Galapagos. We hit the airport at a time of considerable Swine Flu anxiety, and it was slightly unnerving seeing all the staff wearing masks and gloves (not to mention the three men-in-white-coats who removed a passenger from the plane in Guayaquil ...). However, we made it to the islands. Upon landing we were sprayed and checked for animal or vegetable matter: we and our carry-on luggage by humans, and our checked luggage by dogs. They are really trying hard to protect the islands from new invasive species.

We were greeted by our guide, Rod, then popped on a bus and taken 5 minutes away to the dock to board the pangas (rigid inflatable boats) to take us out to the Beluga, our new home for the next week.
As soon as we disembarked the bus we started seeing wildlife: an iguana curled up on the sidewalk, the air teeming with circling birds, the rocks covered with red-orange crabs and a pair of sea lions lounging on a bench intended for the tourists!
red crabs sea turtle

Be warned, though: visiting the Galapagos spoils you for anywhere else. There was so much wildlife we had to be careful not to tread on it. All are up-close-and-personal and not in the least concerned by your presence. (After two days in Newfoundland recently, all I had seen was one seal and a couple of sea birds, all very distant at that! And I could hardly see the icebergs through the rain/fog.)
Large Iguana Blue footed booby

Each day our trusty vessel would take us to one or two new sites: there would be two hikes and a snorkeling session on most days. Each island had visibly different wildlife (I cannot honestly distinguish the number of types of Galapagos finches). The Blue Footed Boobies were on many of the islands and these were a delight to watch on the nest, in the air or diving. Life aboard the boat was very pleasant: we were well fed, well entertained and well cared for! And lovely weather to boot. It was very comfortable on deck and warm on the islands (the black lava rocks do suck up the heat). Supposedly this was the start of the cool season. OK, so I come from a northern clime!

Going to the Galapagos is the trip of a lifetime. The islands are well cared for and the National Park organization makes an excellent job of keeping 99% of the people in 1% of the islands. (Not really sure of actual figures.) You cannot even step foot on the islands without a naturalist guide, and the area in which you are allowed to roam is very tightly controlled, although you do not feel constrained, as the path markings are unobtrusive. There are no more visitor licenses being granted, so the number of berths available will not increase in the future. Without doubt there are issues being faced, such as the growth of the human population on Santa Cruz island, but without tourist $$$ there would be no research or care of the islands, the goats (now eradicated) would have eaten all the foliage, and the tortoises and other endemic species would have died out already.

For closer-to-home Adventure Knitters we are now busy planning the final details of our White Point Beach stay in October 2009: all the fun of Ecuador and the Galapagos (though less wildlife, but the rabbits are adorable), lots of knitting and no inoculations required. We'll be working through all the many weird and wonderful techniques used in the Venus Rising Cardigan in a baby-sized version of it in three days of classes at White Point (on the South Shore of NS, you'll be able to see and hear the crashing Atlantic surf). We'll be trying some hooking on our touring day, and our hiking and the outdoor adventure will be a field trip to Tancook Island (famous for its sauerkraut ... yes, really), there is a non-hiking option (i.e. stay on the verandah and knit) on the island, too! I'm busy ripping up the old carpets of my little cottage in preparation for your visit.
Happy stitches everyone,

PS: The latest news on the DVDs is an estimated shipping date of mid-July. Please watch the home page of our web site for the latest information. We will send out a message to notify you of when to check your mailboxes.

Knitting Tip

There are stitch counts and then there are stitch counts!

Ah, counting issues!
We all get frustrated when working a pattern where, for some reason, the stitch count doesn't work out. How could this happen??
Let's look at possible suspects:

When making Left or Right slanting increases (also known as raised increases, see my definitions below) be very careful with the stitch count.
Unlike a 'knit into the front and back' or 'knit and purl into a stitch' type of increase, which uses up a stitch from the previous row and makes it into two stitches, raised increases simply create a stitch without necessarily using one up.
For example, on a row with 5 stitches, the increase row could be written as either (K2, kf&b, k2) OR (K2, RSI, k3) : both are correct and would result in a total of 6 sts!

It may be necessary to re-read the definition of the increase carefully to determine the designer's intentions. Here is how I use the terms in my patterns:

RSI : Right-slanting increase. Using your RHN pick up, and knit into the stitch below the next one waiting to be knitted on the LHN. Allow the new stitch a little extra yarn as it emanates from the row below. After the increase has been made the next stitch may be worked as usual, but this counts as a regular stitch in the pattern.

LSI : Left-slanting increase. Using the LHN pick up, and knit into the side of the stitch below the one that has just been knitted. Allow the new stitch a little extra yarn as it emanates from the row below.

Be careful, too, with the term 'increase 1' (inc 1) . It could go either way: Inc 1 usually leaves it to the discretion of the knitter what kind of increase to use.
For instance, if the directions read (K8, inc 1) repeat : If you use the two-stitches-into-one method you may end up having to [K8, kf&b, (k7, kf&b) repeat.] to make the stitch count work; if you choose to use an RSI instead, you would work [(K8, RSI) repeat.] but then you'd come come unstuck at the end of the row because you cannot make an RSI if there are no more stitches on the left-hand needle.
Solution: I would either move the increase a little sooner, or finish with an LSI instead, or, even more likely, I would re-write the row as follows: [(K4, inc1, k4) repeat.] , to avoid the issue arising in the first place!

Isn't knitting fun?


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