Saturday, March 31, 2007

Book: Novelty Yarn - reviewed

My book Novelty Yarn was recently reviewed by the West Coast Knitters Guild.

A little biographical, a little fantastic. A little history lesson, a little knitting lesson. These words sum up my impressions of the audio book Novelty Yarn, written and read by Leanne Dyck of
There is a story on this CD for every taste. Leanne Dyck presents an eclectic mix ranging through historical romance, humour, informative, thought-provoking and quirky pieces. I like that she reads her own work, as I find an author sometimes chooses to emphasize different words than I would as reader. She makes good use of her expressive abilities.
There are 24 individual pieces on the CD, separated by short musical interludes. They give you time to consider what you have just heard before moving on to the next story.
For some reason, I was expecting a technique book (perhaps because that’s the sort of knitting books I often read) and I was surprised when I realized that this was a collection of stories that include knitting. However, there are bits of knitting instruction interspersed in these stories, with plenty of encouragement for new knitters and shared experiences for those who have been knitting longer.
I tend to disagree with the author’s speculations on knitting in ancient or “caveman” times where she suggests that picking up two needles to knit was simpler than creating a needle with a hole. I think that is because we are looking backwards from newer technological states. But I was very interested in her information on historical knitting guilds and knitting in Canada.
I particularly enjoyed the pieces entitled “Voices”, “The Way of It”, “Inches”, and “Without” but the one called “A Spark” stayed with me a long time after I read it. Is “Rebellion” a commentary on the new generation of knitting books appearing on the shelves? You’ll have to read it yourself to decide.
This was a great book to listen to on a rainy bus commute. I think it would be just as good to curl up on the sofa with a cup of tea, your knitting and this CD.

To read more about Novelty Yarn please visit:

To order Novelty Yarn please log on to:

Friday, March 30, 2007

name change

I am pleased to report that my latest version of "Islandia" has been knit and awaits sewing. I have temporarily abandoned it to attack the "Muffin" I need to finish. As soon as I am done both I will post a pic. It may even be this week-end.
Yes, that's right there will be no Leanneism this week-end because this close to a show who has a personal life? Not moi.
Anyway, the point of this post:
My newest design I christened "Promise"

Then I realized that I had a "September's Promise". Two designs so similarly named is not cool.

And so "Promise" has become "Pledge".

If you have a better name please share. Your input is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


I was beginning to feel sorry for myself. Deadlines...deadlines...everywhere I looked are deadlines.
First in nine (NINE) short days there is the Art & Craft Guild sale at the Ag hall. Of course everything has to be ready in eight days for set-up.
Second and third there is Mayne Island's Farmer's Market and Salt Spring Island's Artcraft both in May. Clip, clip just like that. Leaving me one short month (April) to plow through as much yarn as my poor aching wrists will allow.
Then, thankfully, yesterday I heard from Artcraft. It seems opening has been pushed back this year to June 15th. ah...set those needles down gently...relax those wrists...breathe: one, two, three...okay, now back at it.
I'm almost done my latest version of Islandia. I will be happy to show it to you when I'm done.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Here's what I am thinking right now

I want to provide baby sweater kits for sizes ranging from 3 months to 24 months. The trouble is that the Muffin pattern was originally worked from Astra. Now I want to offer it in Canadiana. I know it is possible because this sweater is worked in Canadiana.

Why the change?
Well simply because this way you will be able to choose from all three colours.
Both Honey Bunny and Puddin' Pie were worked in Canadiana so Muffin with it's hood is the only ?. So as soon as I finish the Islandia I am currently working on I will be casting on Muffin. If only I had taken careful notes when I was working that purple sweater.

Lesson learnt: ALWAYS take careful notes.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A quick peek

More info tomorrow...

Children's sweater kits

Yesterday I received a phone call from the local Post Office. It seems that I have a large parcel to pick up.
I am exciting because I think this means that I have just received a large supply of yarn. Every knitters dream. This yarn will become my children's sweater kits. I will take my three most popular children sweater patterns and transform them into kits.
So the kits will include...
Honey Bunny


Puddin' Pie

Please look for the kits on 's "for Children" page.

Please stay logged on to this blog to read late breaking news regarding colour and yarn used. Thank you.

Monday, March 26, 2007

While you knit - memory clues

I may shock you today. It is not my intent.
I am not a very organized person. There I said it. I hope it didn't come as too big a shock.
Knowing your short-comings is helpful. It prompts you to develop techniques to compensate.
I have this habit of working on a multitude of projects at once. In the past what this has lead to is losing important items like for example yarn labels.
Yarn labels are important and should not be lost.
I have developed a technique to ensure that they are not lost.
What I do is this...

I punch a hole in the label.

Then I secure these labels to the appropriate project's yarn tail.
You can add a label each time you add a new ball. This way you will know exactly how many balls of yarn the project required.
Next post: Big Plans: oknitting's children's sweater kits.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


There are those among us who are self described fibre snobs. They only use the natural, only the luxurious, only the expensive. I am not one of them. Perhaps it is my prairie roots but I have always valued the particle and predictable. I have and will continue to enjoy acrylic for years. My introduce to natural yarns has been slow. It has been mostly positive. My needles have lept through a small collection of natural yarns: wool, llama, alpaca, camel, mohair, angora, cotton, hemp, linen.
...but bamboo.
Well, bamboo...
Born and raised in Manitoba I did not encounter bamboo until Hubby and I moved into our first BC house. Then I found it lurking in my garden. Sticks growing out of the earth.
I reported these unusual encounters to my co-workers, "I ripped these sticks out of the earth and then before I turn around there they are again. Sticks growing out of the earth. No flowers. One or two leaves. But mostly sticks."
"Leanne," they said, "meet bamboo."
I was amazed. I thought bamboo only grew in Japanese movies. Clearly they had successfully immigrated to Canada - - happily growing in my garden -- I'm sure they are still there.
So in my mind bamboo was a weed.
That's why I was surprised to read -- in West Coast Knitter's News -- that bamboo was the latest craze in the knitting community. Paulette Lane wrote that
"Nothing else is added, it is 100% bamboo fibre."
"doesn't irate the skin"
"With...unparalleled micro-structure, bamboo fibre apparel can absorb and evaporate humans sweat in a split second."
Hubby and I exchanged a laugh. Knitting sticks with sticks? What would be next?
Then two Fridays ago I walked into one of my favourite independent yarn shops and found...

It called to me, "Leanne touch me."
So I did.
Then, "Leanne buy me."
So I did.
Then, "Leanne design with me."
So I am.
I will show you the results.

Bamboo yarn related sites:

Next Designer's Note post: Tip Monday
This week-end: please read Leanneism (this blog is accessible from oknitting's link page)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

a peek at...tanked

Today I will take you where few have gone before...a peek at my cutting room floor.
The day of the photo shot I was very happy with my new creation. I love the yarn. I liked the combination of stitch patterns.

Last night I faced cold hard facts and realized that I was not overly thrilled with the design. Frankly I think I can do better. So there you go. I failed. Please don't judge me too harshly.
Tomorrow: bamboo

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Oh! Behave!

I would like to apologize for the lack of post yesterday. Powers beyond my control prevented me from accessing the Internet. All day long I tried to no avail. Frustrating? Yup!
So a day late I present: "Oh! Behave!"
One of the sweaters currently on my needles combines these two yarns...
a mohair/wool blend and a wool.
Combining yarns is tricky and caution should be used.
Well, simply because when combined there is no way of knowing how they will behave.
Unless of course you do this...
work two sample swatches. Then wash one swatch (the way you intend to wash the sweater: hand wash) and measured the results against the unwashed swatch. From this we learn that the washed sweater will shrink a half an inch. It is wise to keep this fact in mind when calculating the number of stitches required to work the sweater.

Good news on the alpaca front. Searching my stash revealed a alpaca/acrylic blend. I am planning to combine the blend with the alpaca in hopes that it will be "Behave" better. I will work a sample swatch to make sure.

Next post: A quick peek at a new design

Next tip post: while you knit - memory clues

Tip posts usually appear every Monday on the Designer Notes blog. If you would like to be notified when a new post is added please email

Thursday, March 15, 2007

hand knits for sale

I have created "something" and receive complements each and every time I wear it.

It adds a finishing touch to any outfit.
One success leads to others and now I have a rainbow of these "something"s.
They, however, really need a name.
What about "Wool-lays"?

...they are much like Hawaiian lies, afterall. ( )

The "Wool-lays" will be ready for....

Mayne Island Arts and Crafts Guild
(almost) Annual

Arts & Crafts Sale

Soothing Bath Products, Designer Knitwear, Artist Cards
Goodies, Books by Mayne Island Authors, Beautiful Pottery

Easter weekend:
Saturday, April 7th
from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at the
Agricultural Hall

This weekend: Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Log on to Leanneism (accessible from the link page) and we will celebrate.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I'm in love again

I'm not sure how to break it to Hubby or for that matter my three cats but I have fallen horribly, terribly in love. How could I not? cute are they?
Mom looks so content.
My sister-in-law reports that the litter is five strong: four females and one male. The male already has a home waiting for his arrival: my niece's home.
I would love to welcome one to my home. All I have to do is sneak it past four sets of prying eyes. A small obstacle for true love. The really challenge is flying to Manitoba, driving to Eriksdale, and then smuggling the puppy home to Mayne Island, BC. Wish me luck. I am tempted. Oh, so, tempted. Who won't be?

Tomorrow: hand knits for sale

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


You may recall that I applied to enter a Craft Show in April. Well, I didn't hear a peep until yesterday. So I wasn't sure if I was allowed to participate. Of course I could have made one phone call and have found the answer. ...but, no, I waited. The organizer phoned and said, "Of course you are part of the show." Good news! Ever since I have been frantically knitting inventory for the show. The show will be held during the Easter weekend. If you are on the island during Easter I hope you will stop by. I will post further details (time, location) in future emails.
Bye for now. Gotta go knit.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Let's neck

There is more than one way to peel an onion.
Sweater necks are usually worked by picking up stitches.
However, I pride myself on designing patterns that appeal to a variety of knitters and that can be completed by all from those with beginner skills to the seasoned knitter. In brief, I design patterns that combine stylish design with basic knitting techniques. I define "basic" as little shaping and no picking up stitches. Yet I do have sweater patterns with necks. So how does this paradox exist. How am I able to create sweaters with necks without picking stitches?
These are the instructions I use to work the neck:
Note for those intending to follow these instructions: What is your knitting comfort level? If you are new to sweater knitting I would advise you to cast off the shoulder stitches and use one pair of knitting needles. If you have experience knitting sweaters than please feel free to use whatever method makes sense to you: use two stitch holders or two sets of straight knitting needles.
1. work right shoulder stitches and place on stitch holder (or extra knitting needle). Moreover, you may also cast off these shoulder stitches to use the easiest method.
2. work neck stitches (with the knitting needles you used to work the body of the sweater).
3. work left shoulder stitches and place on stitch holder (or extra knitting needle). Moreover, you may also cast off these shoulder stitches to use the easiest method.
Now that you only have the neck stitches remaining on your needles you may proceed to work the neck to the desired length.

Next Monday: Oh Behave!
Tomorrow: ?

Friday, March 09, 2007

Spring ahead

This Sunday we spring ahead an hour. And here's what I am hoping....
This guy,

Sammy, has decided that I should wake up at least a half an hour before my alarm. So I am hoping that the spring ahead will result in waking up to the gentle ring of my alarm clock and not Sammy's bellows. Here's hoping it works.

Next blog: We will continue our knitting lessons with the post Let's Neck

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Dear Mr. David Demchuk

I read your article in the spring issue of Knitty:
All I have to say is, "Right on!"
...but of course I will say more.

I remember my own garter stitch scarf. It was one of the shortest scarves in knitting history. Talk about "B-o-r-i-n-g!!!" Given a choice I think I would have knit anything else. But that is one of the points you made in your article: there is no choice. Knitting something mind numbingly boring is the novice knitter's trial by fire.

We, knitters, believe we swing the door wide open to welcome any and all would-bes. The truth is we don't. Would-bes must pass this test.


Simply because the selection of first projects is severely limited. Yet it doesn't have to be. I have taken action to stop this madness. I am in the process of compiling a learn to knit pattern book that will not only teach the basics

-stitches: knit, purl
-techniques: casting on and off, decreasing, making fringe, I-cording
-finishing: weaving in ends and mattress stitch

but also offer sixteen must-knit patterns. All of these patterns are worked using the same type of yarn (worsted weight) and the same size needle (4.50 mm/ US 7). They were designed to appeal to a variety of tastes.

Novice knitters are not cookie-cutter. First projects shouldn't be either. The trial by fire must end and it will.

And leave it to me not to look at the calender.
Happy International Woman's Day to all.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Yesterday I had two very interesting meetings.

The first was with the artist who is working on Yarn Therapy's (learn to knit pattern book) layout. It goes well. ...but there still is a lot more work to do. And May looms even larger.

The second was with a director who has worked with professional and amateur actors. She is preparing me for the reading I will give at the Victoria Fibrefest and Knit out (Learn more by logging on to:

It is surprising how much expertise abounds on Mayne Island.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Hey, stretch

Want to know what really irks me?
People who refuse to look at the cold hard facts and waste resources because of it. People like...well...people like me.
Today's post was going reveal the beauty that is "Pulse" worked in an alpaca. I finished it last night. I was so proud of the finished product. I tried it on once.
"Hmm," I said, "It's a little long."
I tried it on again, "Still growing."
Well, I don't know if it will ever stop growing. When I am strong enough to face the alpaca again I will blend it with a stabilizer: another wool - perhaps.
Until then I just call it stretch as I fight back the tears.
Trouble is all of this could have been so easily avoided. You see I have worked a hat (toque) out of the stuff.
Did the hat stretch?
You see what I mean. People who could avoid a terrible fate but don't simply because they failed to take caution. In this case failing to work a sample square in the beginning and then failing to learn from previous errors.
I was blinded by the beauty of the alpaca. I really do love to work with the wool. And my stash does not abound with it.
I wasted two more skeins. Wasted. Alpaca.
Can you feel my pain?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Reading your knitting

If it was possible for me to knit the double moss stitch section in one session my life would be so much easier. Unfortunately this goal is unattainable. I must lay down my knitting. It is an unavoidable necessity. As I return to my knitting I am greeted by one unavoidable question, "Where was I?"
The double moss stitch pattern is...
Row 1 & 2: *knit 2, purl 2 - continue from * to end of row.
Row 3 & 4: *purl 2, knit 2 - continue from * to end of row.
Repeat rows for pattern.
Am I on row one? or two? or three? or four?
Am I about to purl? or knit?

The wise may say, "Write a reminder on a sticky note and stick the note on your knitting."
Or they may advise, "End at the same point of the stitch pattern each time. Say for example, after completing the fourth row."
Good advise. My failure to take it has helped develop a new skill. I can now read my knitting. Although, not as entertaining or revealing as reading tea leaves nevertheless useful. So how is it done?
Bend thy ear (or eye), my friend and I will reveal all.

As I hope you can see from this picture, my knitting is littered with a series of mountains and valleys. The mountains are knots of purl stitches. The valleys are groupings of knit stitches.
Reading knitting requires one to be observant and to proceed with caution. You need to be able to identify the stitches and to count them carefully. It is possible to make a mistake but soon your error will be apparent.
It is easier to follow the sage advise of the wise. However, failing that reading your knitting is an option.
Happy knitting

Friday, March 02, 2007

This weekend

I will share with you a new work of fiction on Leanneism. To access the Leanneism blog, follow the links from the 's link page.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Happy First Day of March Update

Today I updated my web site. So I thought why not make "updating" the topic of today's blog.
And so...
Do you remember this promise of spring?

Well, in a cruel game of Rock-Paper-Scissors (snow covers flower), Mother Nature dumped a pile of this on them last night. The news is that Vancouver and Victoria are in store for more tonight. I'm not sure if this includes Mayne Island.

You may recall that I was knitting some of these for craft fairs that I will be participating in this spring.

Well, this is the makes of the first one: I'm almost done.

And, as you can see, I have made some head way on the double moss stitch.

An update to my update: It seems that I forgot that I was designing a sweater with set-in sleeves. And so this lead to more frogging: five inches. Will this knitting ever lead to a finished sweater? One can only hope. Good thoughts are welcome.