Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Tips on Casting on

When casting on use a needle two sizes larger than the needle you intend to use for the rest of your knitting. This ensures that the first row will not be too tight. It is sometimes hard to knit those first couple of stitches due to the cast on stitches being too tight on the needle.

You may recall that I entered a Reader's Digest contest. I submitted my writing and waited patiently to be "discovered". The contest is now over. So, I'm going to wait one more day for them to "discover" me. And then I will share my submission with you. It's great to have a blog. Thank you for reading.

Monday, February 27, 2006

I can close my own blinds, thank you

One summer, when I was a new bride, Hubby and I visited his Aunt and Uncle at their cabin. I use "cabin" very loosely it was more like a house by the lake. Although, they thought of and used it as a cabin.
Anyway...so there we were. My hubby and "Aunt" had gone off to do or get something leaving me alone with "Uncle": "Uncle" was a paraplegic - I had had very few dealings with wheelchairs.
"Uncle" said, "It is rather bright in here?"
I thought I really should close the blinds surely he was solisticing my help. Before the thought was finished processing he had, by way of a useful device, closed the blinds. You see my assumptions were wrong I thought he was solisticing help when really he was only stating a fact.

Okay so what brought this memory to mind? The closing ceremonies of the Olympic games. Sam Sullivan, Mayor of Vancouver, is a paraplegic. Once again I found myself wondering: How is he going to hold the Olypmic flag? Surely he will need help? Once again I was pleasantly surprised.

I take these treasures and hold them in my heart. They help me overcome my own disabilities. Who among us does not need to overcome?

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Knitting for the Olympics

Through the trials and tribulations, it was on the whole a lot of fun. I would like to publicly thank the Yarn Harlot (www.yarnharlot.ca/blog) and Team Canada. They made this experience possible for me.
So to recap. Inspired by my friend Cedar's (www.mayneisland.com/cedarchristie/) beautiful painting I designed and knit a sweater.

Well, I liked the concept but I felt the finished result had much room for improvement. I shelved the sweater intending one day to take it on. Well, one day came when the Yarn Harlot invited us to knit for the Olympics. So I went to work.

Drum roll please...

This is the front. I love the pockets. I will definitely be using this concept again. I also love the closure. Although you can't really see it in this picture I created French cuffs..something else I love. ...but do you want to know a secret... I am not wild about the collar.
The back. You can kind of make out the French cuffs. My intarsia technique has improved. ...but what about the top half of the window. ...I didn't account for the upper part of the back being larger than the lower part. Who knew? To be honest, it did effect the design. ..and so I grow. How do I adapt the pattern to account for this? Any ideas are greatly appreciated.
Here is a better look at the back.

So what do you think? Did I improve on the first sweater? I look forward to hearing your feedback.

Oh, yes and I have recently received many emails regarding the Double Knit Cast on Method. I will be posting a blog concerning this method. Look for it around the middle of March.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Hey I'm not Cindy Klassen

Big surprise!
I know my way around a pair of knitting needles. I have had, "You knit so fast!" showered upon me.
...but I'm not Cindy Klassen.
...she burned around the ice.
...she has won five medals in these olympic games. Five!
...she is an example for the world.
...she is a Canadian hero.
Unfortunately, I will be surprised if I reach my goal.
15 days ago I set out to improve my intrasia technique, design a sweater and knit it in 16 days. Well tomorrow my time is up...
Hubby, the sage, foresaw the future. When I shared my plans his response was "Why?" He had heard me recite my long list of obligations. Frankly, I think he thought I was "touched" simply to be considering it.
I am still knitting towards my goal. Tomorrow's dusk will see if my best intentions are made of puff or matter. Either way I will broadcast the news by posting a picture on this blog. Stay logged on it could be scary.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Would you like to play a game?

A Yarn Game

Material: a ball of yarn
Group size: more than 2 less than 20

This is a fun introduction game. I am unsure of its origin. I hesitate to say I invented it.
First step, ask the group to form a circle. This game may be played while sitting or standing.
You, being the leader, begin. While holding the yarn ball, you say, "Hi my name is Leanne and I like lopi wool." Now pass or toss the yarn ball to the next player. Ensure that you are still holding the end of the yarn ball. The next player must say your name and yarn choice as well as introduce themselves and supply their yarn choice. They continue to hold a strained of the yarn while tossing or passing the yarn ball. On it goes until everyone has participated, the list of names and yarn choices has grown very long, and you have created a yarn web linking everyone together.

Variations: Instead of asking for your favourite yarn you could ask for your favourite: yarn colour, stitch pattern, needle size, type of needle (circular, double pointed, straight), type of project, and the list goes on.
If you have an active group you may also encourage players to pass/toss the yarn ball in a variety of ways. Some examples are: with your chin or through your legs.

Who said play was only for children?

PS When I played this game with my knitting group they looked at me like I was rather odd. However, after awhile they all got into it and we all had tons of fun.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

It's about time

My relationships with time can be described as adversely and competitive. Overtime, I have come to learn that occasionally time can work in my favour. If I learn to spend it wisely.
A friend once explained to me that you can't waste time. You can spend it badly but you are always using it.
One of the best uses of my time is on myself. After reading this sentence, you may judge me as a selfish person. Surely I am robbing something or someone of my valuable time in order to waste it on myself.
I would argue that it is only because I choose to invest time in myself that enables me to have it available to give.
Knitting makes this time legitimate. I have something beautiful or useful to show for my investment. I am armed to deal with all questions of wasted time - from myself or others. "No, I wasn't wasting time I was knitting this."
At the end of my day, I can review my time with pleasure seeing my accomplishments.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Balking at change

Knitters have been categorized in many ways. Here is yet another.

Some knitters are eager to gain process in the craft. They sail along from aran to intrasia to gosh knows what all. I do not fit in this category. My category is more the "I'm happy where I am why change."

I balk at both difficult situations and difficult knitting. I find my comfort zone and snuggle myself in. I don't like it when the alarm goes off and I must rouse myself to face something new. I would rather snore on. So why am I freaking out about the fact that there are only five days remaining until the end of the olypmics? Why did I sign up for the knitting olympics?

It's all her fault: www.yarnharlot.ca/blog
and their fault: http://teamcanada2006.blogspot.com/
They made it seem like so much fun. And really its not that bad. I have learned that when you grow...when you push yourself to attain a new level...you attain a new...comfort zone. One with nicer curtains and warmer blankets.

My progress: I have cast off the back. I have five inches left on the front. I haven't started the sleeves.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Knitting a scarf

My first knitting project was a scarf. No surprise there. Ask five knitters what their first project was and I'm guessing three of them will say "a scarf". Even though I was living in Manitoba were scarves are handy pieces of apparel knitting a scarf was last on my list. When I cast off the scarf measured 30" in length - one of the shortest scarves in history. It barely went around my neck once. Frankly, I was eager to cast off when the scarf measured 15". I continued the next 15" under protest. So why did I choose it as my first project? Simply put, knitting a scarf was a requirement of my 4-H knitting leader. Really it wasn't her fault either. Knitting a scarf is a right of passage for most new knitters. The theory is if you introduce knitting by knitting a scarf the new knitter will be buoyed up by their success. However, the powers that be did not factor in boredom. This is why I have chosen it as my personal mandate to design exciting scarves. Witness my latest attempt:The "side pocket" scarf.
Do you see were the scarf is looped through well there is another loop on the other end as well. I intend to sew one side of these loops closed thus creating a pocket. Pretty cool, eh?
This scarf or one like it will be entered in North by North West's scarf exchange: http://www.cbc.ca/nxnw

Thank you for helping me to feed my blog. I will answer each and every email as soon as I can.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

3 posts for a $1

Thursday night:
I recently became the wife of a fire tamer. A couple of months ago hubby became one of the newest members of the volunteer fire department. These brave, dedicated men and women (we have two women in our fire department) run towards trouble. They keep Mayne Island safe. Tonight hubby was called out twice. The trouble was caused by yet another wind storm. There is no way for him... for me ...for anyone to know what type of crisis they will face. At home, I tend to worry. It is at these times that I am most thankful for designer deadlines. Like breathing, I knit in love 1-2-3 and knit out worry 4-5-6. It helps when I keep my hands busy.

Mother Nature in her wisdom decided to declare Friday, Feb. 17th a cross-island holiday. Though cold the day was full of sun. So we stocked our wood stoves and enjoyed ourselves. Of course, a rare few like the hydro guys and I could and did continue to work. Hubby was called out one last time to don his fire fighter hat. The lights flashed three times at 6:15 pm but then finally we were ushered back into the 21st century.

Eager to post an entry I rushed to my computer. My intentions though noble were thwarted. I had to wait patiently as Mayne Island was re-connected to the world. Luckily, I had "stuff" to do. Today was the "appreciation luncheon" for the library volunteers. The library board members feed us well. So I went, I saw, I ate, and I rolled home.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

What not to wear: when you are knitting

"What not to wear" I love that show. However, when hubby ordered our satellite package he made sure that we got ALL the sports channels and most of the movie channels. ...but HGTV. ...what exactly is HGTV? ...and why do you want it? So I live my life pining for HGTV. Group sob. Moving on...

What not to wear: when you are knitting
- avoid velcro or zippers: unless they are below your knee or two inches from your chin. Why? They both grab yarn and sometimes won't let go. ...an ugly, ugly scene that should happen to no knitter.
-when working with yarn that sheds don't wear black. This also works in the reverse. A yarn container helps. (Do you remember our yarn container. Please read "How to keep your yarn clean while you work)
-when working with small needles don't wear a chunky knit sweater. I have this bad habit of shoving my needle against my stomach to move the stitches to the end of the needle. If you don't do this than you can wear said sweater.
-avoid large sleeves. Needle ends get caught in the sleeves. You can wear these sleeves if you roll them up.

Next post: Golly, I'm not sure. I guess it will be a surprise to both of us. : )

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

What's in the mail

Everything you would ever want to ...or need to... know about the sunny isle of Mayne. For example, I read that initially posting a letter on Mayne Island required a row boat. Luckily the old owners left one behind for us. Don't worry we don't need to use it. In fact, also from the above book, the first post office was established in 1881. So that means our P.O. is 125 years. Celebrate... you betcha...people dressed in vintage attire, food, prizes, and balloons. Hey, we know how to party. And yes even in these times of the internet I am grateful for our postal workers. Why? Duh, you can't send yarn electronically.
I am so flick, yesterday this came...

beautiful pink yarn. ...so while I play "Cedar's Window" waits for my return.
What's up for tomorrow. How about what not to wear when you knit. See ya

Monday, February 13, 2006

Smelly Yarn

Smelly yarn,
Oh smelly yarn,
What shall we,
do with you?

I know...I know...I should have been a songwriter. ...or not. Anyway, moving on.

Two scenarios:
-You are carrying your knitting in your knitting bag. It is a beautiful spring day. Last night's rain has left the world smelling fresh but it has also left mud puddles. As you are crossing one a yarn ball takes a dive.

-The nice older lady, who lives down the way, has just given you her stash. Opening the plastic container releases the smell.

Normally, the rule regarding smelly yarn is to run quickly and quietly away. However, sometimes life happens and due to unforeseen circumstances you are faced with washing yarn. If it is acrylic I would advice airing it out. Knit your item and then simply sticking it in the wash. On the other hand, if it is wool the key word is "gently". Here is an excellent web site: http://www.neauveau.com/washwool.html

Now it is time for your Knitting Olympic update. I am going for gold, ladies and gentlemen. The "Cedar's window" sweater back now measures 11". When I have finished the back I will post a picture. Do you think I can knit the entire sweater in 16 days? I do have other committments? Like finishing the updates so I can submit them to my web designer. ...what to do? ...what to do?

Tomorrow: Happy Valentine's Day
Really its Valentine's day? Oh, no, what ever will I do for hubby? Faded to black.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

A new hand knitting pattern: Summer Sunset Cardigan

Good news!
I have received several emails requesting a light summer cardigan. Something that you can simply throw over your shoulders on a cool summer eve. Now I have the answer: the "Summer Sunset" Cardigan. It will be available in sizes ranging from Small to XXL. You will love the easy knit unique construction. More on that when it appears on the web. It features 3/4 length sleeves.

Bad news!
You know that 6" on the "Cedar's window" sweater I was so proud. Well, unfortunately, the sweater remains at six inches. I am ashamed to say that I did not work on the sweater yesterday. I had every intention of working on it. ...and yet, sad to say, I did not. ...but I will. ...I promise.

Next post: Okay, enough of this how about some of that. We will return to the knitting resource. A recent email gave me a good idea: addressing the issue of smelly yarn. I am very grateful for this input. Please share any problems, concerns or solutions. I am most grateful for them. They help to feed the blog.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Introduction of a new pattern: Muffin

I enjoy knitting baby sweaters. I spent over ten years caring for infants in a day care centre. Knitting these sweaters brings back happy memories of baby giggles, baby smells, and cozy snuggling with babies.
So it was a sure delight designing and knitting "Muffin". "Your little muffin will look cute as a button in this hooded pullover." Following the popularity of Honey Bunny and Puddin' Pie Muffin also features a front pocket. I have included instructions for the special friend who peeks out of the pocket.
Muffin measures 11 1/2" long and fits a 22" to 26" inch chest.

I made some head way in "Cedar's window". I have worked 6". I have discovered that it is key to ensure that you wrap the yarn the right way. This way you can hide the colour transfer and make sure the yarn is available when you reach it.

Next post: Introduction of a new pattern: "Summer's Sunset" Cardigan

Friday, February 10, 2006

Knitting Olympics

At 11:00 am western standard time I will be casting on.
Why?: http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/olympics2006.htm
My goal: to re-design this sweater

and to improve my intarsia technique.
My objective: to finish the back.
You have seen the old version stay logged on to see my improvements. "Did I really improve it?" You be the judge.
May we all remember to keep knitting fun!

Next post: A new pattern: an introduction.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A story of a cardigan

Living in a small community is challenging. You can't simply have a good idea. You also have to execute it. If you don't your idea dies.

Those who continue to generate good ideas are brave indeed. One of these brave souls is my friend Tina. She conceived and delivered "1st Thursdays at the library". Her goal: to showcase Mayne Island artists as well as our branch of the Trincomali Community Arts Council (http://mayne.gulfislands.com/trincoarts)

Determine to support her I set about to organize an exhibition of my work. ...but was I an artist? ...was knitting art?

Certainly knitwear designers such as: Lucy Neatby of Tradewind Knitwear Designs (www.tradewindknits.com) and Brenda Zuk of Needle Beetle (www.needlebeetle.com) are artists.

...but I'm not Lucy or Brenda.
...I like my designs.
...I am proud of my designs.
...but are they art?
...am I an artist?
I decided to attack these questions face on...
Here's a small sample of what I included in my exhibition:
A golden ray kisses
The cheek of an angel

An angel whispers to a morning dove
"Awake my child and sing"

A morning dove's song
Awakens a fare maiden.

A fare maiden employees
Her skein and needles to knit

A day begins on Avalon.

Olafur's saga is whispered by the north wind. Over the waters, over the sky, over the eons it flies to your ear. The saga tells of a Viking long boat that set sail from Islandia headed for the new world - Vineland. Aboard this boat was "Olafur the bloodthirsty". The world feared his savage taste for blood. The fear was justified for his axe did not hesitate. It could not hesitate.

A warrior needed to stay focused. He needed to stay alert. He needed a quick means of relaxation. Olafur always carried his axe and sticks. At the end of a hard day he liked nothing more than a mug of mead, his sticks and wool. His hands flew over the stitches. He wove stitches. He wove cloth. He wove garments. He was a master of wool.

As you have noticed I decided to include both my knitting and writing. Even if my knitting wasn't art surely my writing was.

Still I wasn't happy. I needed an eye-popper. Then I hit on an idea. Here, this note that included in the exhibition, explains everything:

For years I avoided working with colour. Oh sure, I would throw in the occasional stripe...but that was it. I deemed colour work to be not my bag. Truth was I was scared. ...but then I paid a visit to Cedar's studio. I couldn't help but become inspired. I was surrounded by inspiration. But what to do? It was colour! Then I heard myself telling everyone: "I'm going to make a sweater inspired by one of Cedar's paintings." If that wasn't bad enough, I decided to enter it in my show - before I had even knitted it! "Please attend my show. It features a sweater that was inspired by a painting of Cedar's." So before I began work on this sweater did I read up on the technique? Did I seek help from those who know? NO. In my blissful ignorance I went full steam ahead. So here it is boys and girls, my first attempt at colour work! Please be kind.

Here is Cedar's painting. View more of Cedar's beautiful work by logging on to her web site: www.mayneisland.com/cedarchristie
Here are Cedar and I at the exhibition.
The back: I was impressed by my ability to capture the image.
The front: however, I was disappointed in my ability to demonstrate the technique of intarsia. I also need to polish the sweater. Make it shine. I hide it in my studio's closet saying..."someday". Well, that day is tomorrow. Why? Please read tomorrow's post.

Copyright by Leanne Dyck on Feb. 9, 2006

Reproduction of this article in whole or in part is strictly prohibited. Web site linking to this page is encouraged.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Knitting's next of kin

Happy Waitangi day!

Traditionally, this day divided pakeha from maori. Today Hon Parekura Horomia the Minister of Maori Affairs writes: "I hope everyone in Aotearoa-New Zealand is able to celebrate the uniqueness of our nation and the wealth and talent of our people."

To read about the history of the treaty of waitangi:
To read Hon Parekura Hormomia's entire speech:

There remains much speculation as to how old knitting is. However, from a search I did this morning this is what I discovered:

"It is quite possible that knitting grew out of a process called nailbinding." http://www.buckden-village.co.uk/knitting-uk/knitting-history.htm
What is nailbinding: http://www.dilettante.info/nalbindingmain.htm

Nalbinding seems to date back to Viking times.
Hand knitting to medieval Europe.
Machine knitting was invented in 1589

"In 1589, William Lee, a clergyman invented the first knitting machine in England" http://www.geocities.com/invtex/knitwear/history.htm
Hand and Machine Knitting: the Differences and Similarities

The development of crochet followed knitting: 1800s.
"there is no decisive evidence of the craft being performed before its popularity in Europe during the 1800s." http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/crochet

I was unable to find a date for the development of finger or loom knitting. However, if I was to guess I would say that finger knitting predates hand knitting and that loom knitting predates machine knitting. This is simply speculation.

What is finger knitting and how do I do it?
How to loom knit

Next post: A spark

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Defining knitting

Well, here on the tiny isle of Mayne life is grand. The sun is shining and things in the blog world seem to be running smoothly (knock on wood).

So what exactly is hand knitting?
Merriam Webster's definitions:
Knitting: to form a fabric by interlacing yarn or thread in connected loops with needles.
Loops: a fold or doubling of a line leaving an aperture between the parts through which another line can be passed.
These loops were made by finger knitting (http://www.kidscanmakeit.com/AC0023.htm)
which should not be confused with hand knitting. More on the different methods of knitting in future posts.

Stitch: one of the series of loops formed by or over a needle.

Making the loops in one "direction" will create a knit stitch. This is what the knit stitch looks like when worked in a Stockinette stitch pattern (knit on one side, purl on the other)

Making the loops in the other "direction" will create a purl stitch. This is what the purl stitch looks like when worked in a Stockinette stitch pattern (knit stitch on one, purl on the other).
The Crafts Association of British Columbia's web site (http://www.cabc.net/mem-sect/fibre.html) offers the following definition of knitting: knitted cloth is made from continuous thread, looped around itself. It can be made either by hand using knitting needles, or by machine. A wide range of fibres can be knitted for different effects.
Remain continually looped: knit. : )

Next post: Hand knitting's next of kin.

Friday, February 03, 2006

How to keep yarn clean while working

Thoughts while watching Survivor:
-What's up with this transportation. Survivors should not travel in the lap of luxury - by their own sweat only.
-Cool "idol" treatment. Looking forward to see how that plays out.
-Until the last challenge my money was on the older men. After the challenge I was questioning my bet.

I began my day care career with the knowledge that I would not be racking in the dough. This was not the issue for me. What was was service: filling a need in the lives of families.

Having grown up in a small community, I knew the special needs of rural families. So despite my desire to kick over the traces and enjoy urban life, I heeded the call to begin my career in a rural day care.

Living accommodations where few. Thankfully, an elderly couple had a spare bedroom to rent. I moved in.

Margaret was of English ancestry. Ingie from Icelandic. Mirroring my parents. I felt at home. They were warm, generous people. Quickly Margaret and I discovered that we shared a passion: knitting. In fact, it was Margaret who passed on the secret I will share with you today.

To generalize, people who were born during the 30s are frugal. They make do: using their creativity to create what they require from what they have instead of buying new.

So Margaret taught me to create a yarn container from what I had on hand. The container sheilds my yarn keeping it clean and preventing it from rolling away.
The first step is to select a suitable container. Frozen yogurt, yogurt, icecream containers work as well. The key is to find a container that has a plastic lid.
Second cut a triangular shape in the lid.
If you are working with colours you can cut more triangles in the lid.

The last step is to place your yarn ball in the container. Draw the yarn through the hole.

Don't have a suitable container. The next method I discovered myself. Don't get too excited I am sure I am not the first to use it.
A yarn ball in a zip lock bag.

Tomorrow: Defining knitting.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Exile Island

Regardless of what our little friend predicts it will eventually be spring. It is an undeniable force.

Okay, time for yet another dirty little secret. I must confess: I am a survivor fan. I wait with eager anticipation tonight's premiere of 'Survivor: Exile Island'.

Though I must admit I found last year's premiere lam. It had a huge set-up but just as big a let down. Tonight I hope for something better.

I like the fact that they have returned to islands. IMHO, Survivor should be nay must be set on an island. Further, I am intrigued by the Exile Island concept. I wonder if they will allow them to bring personal belongings to isolation? If so, in my fantasies, it would be heavenly. I, of course, would bring my knitting. Imagine long uninterrupted hour upon hour of knitting. "Wouldn't it be love-ly." As Eliza Doolittle would say.

When nay if I become bored with my knitting...right like that could happen...there are countless games I could play with some yarn and sticks.

Yes, there is a practical side. When I was hunger I could spear fish with my knitting needles. Yes, I am a vegetarian. Unfortunately, though, tofu does not grow wild on tropical islands. With yarn and needles, I could whip up a darn nice trap for shelter. Oh, yes, ... is there any airport security officials reading?...none...good...and I could protect myself against hostiles with my trusty 4.50mm/US 7s.

Yes, I would enjoy Exile Island. Here's hoping that Survivor does not disappoint. Who's making the popcorn?

Tomorrow: Keeping yarn clean while you work

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Reader's Digest version

January decided to go out the way it came in. 90 kilometre winds cancelled ferry service and shut off the lights. Now the rage has subsided and we have sunny breaks.

I trashed Canadiana... Okay, allow me to explain.

My Mom did not hide her distain for the mess that lurked in our basement: "We are going to die under this pile of junk. Why do we have to have boxes and boxes of garbag. Oh, that man and his unending mess."

So one day when Mom and Dad where away I decided to find a solution. My plan was to ruthlessly attack each box. I found boxes and boxes of dated Reader's Digests. Who needs them? Yet my goal was not to throw away anything of value. So I tore out pages and pages of interesting articles. I was surprised to see that some of the magazines dated as far back as 1927 and yet looked new. Still I tore. I had worked my way through the enitre collection before Mom and Dad came home. Looking back now, over twenty odd years, I am amazed at how calm my Dad was. No screaming. No blaming. Only peaceful, calm acceptance.

I still find interesting articles in Reader's Digest. A quick glisp at the February 2006's issue revealed two. The first has helped me to accept my body fat. Most of us have "trouble" areas. Mine are my thighs. According to Reader's Digest leg fat protects against heart disease. Bring on the peanut butter cookies.

The second article is a contest for Canadian woman to submit articles or photos to a new magazine. Check it out: www.rd.ca/canadianwoman I encourage you to enter. I have.

Tomorrow: Exile Island