Monday, June 30, 2008

my writing

This month on Author's Den, the piece of my writing that you read more than all others was my tourist account of my trip to Iceland. I include it here...

Knitting in Iceland
by Leanne Dyck

My Icelandic-Canadian Grandma taught me to knit. The craft has been handed down in my family for generations. Traveling to Iceland is very expensive so my ancestors left never expecting to return. Most Icelandic emigrates left with few belongs as space on the ship was severely limited. I imagine one of the things my great grandmother brought with her were her knitting needles. It has taken my family 150 years to return but on September 4th, 2007 I did. Now that I am back home in Canada I would like to share my experiences with you.

Iceland has had a significant influence on knitting. Lopi yarn and the Icelandic sweater are fine examples of this influence. This is impressive, indeed, when you realize that these adaptations have come from such a tiny island: Iceland’s population is only 306,000.

Icelanders were introduced to knitting in the 16th century. Traditionally, both girls and boys were instructed in the craft. Their needles soared through many projects. Two examples I saw in the Textile Museum in Blonduos ( were a woollen undershirt and fisherman’s leggings. These leggings encased the pant leg from toe to upper thigh. The scratchy undershirt was worn next to the skin. My husband thought the itching would drive him crazy but had to agree it would keep him warm.

I saw an example of traditional Icelandic mitts while at the Icelandic Emigration Centre at Hofsos ( Traditional Icelandic mitts had two thumbs, one on either side of the fingers.


The design adaptation prolonged the life of the mitt. Icelanders knew that the first part of a mitt to wear out was the thumb. By knitting a second thumb, fishermen could go on working simply by turning the mitt around. Now that’s Icelandic ingenuity.

Upon a visit to the National Museum (, I was surprised to discover that traditional Icelandic sweaters did not arrive on the fashion scene until the 1940s. A recent adaptation of the Icelandic sweater features detachable sleeves.

I spent most of my time visiting with relatives in Hofsos. Hofsos is a small town with a population of 170. This meant sacrificing big town charm for an opportunity to be with family. For most of our stay we had no car and the buses only run three times a week from Hofos. Not for me the opportunity to roam through yarn shop after yarn shop. Which would you choose: family or wool?

One day our host, my husband and I walked into Hofsos’ convenience store. There among the brown bread and hardfish I saw it six shelves of yarn. Our host and my husband left me to engage my senses. The information on the yarn bands appeared in Icelandic so I had to speculate as to the fiber content. I could tell by touch that the majority of the skeins were wool: “Lopi” and the like. Also present were acrylic and cotton blends. The experience left me intoxicated.

Eventually, we did visit larger towns, which meant more yarn and even knitting magazines, but unfortunately still no yarn shops. Although I am told they do exist in Iceland. In a Blonduos department store our host pointed out the book section. There among shelves upon shelves of magazines I saw them: knitting magazines. There were knitting magazines from Sweden, Britain and one from Iceland. I bought the Icelandic knitting magazine. Flipping through its’ pages I noticed large and small projects – much eye candy. The magazine is organized similar to a North American knitting magazine: glossy pictures in the front with black and white instructions in the back. I was surprised to see no schematics.

While in Hofsos, I had an interesting conversation with a graduate of the Icelandic school system, Rosa Tryvadottir. She informed me that the equivalent of the North American grade school only goes to grade ten in Iceland. Upon reaching this level of education students have the opportunity to enroll in the studies of their choice. Rosa elected to enroll in a school that offered needlecraft classes. She took quilting, embroidery and knitwear design. After two years of study she had the opportunity to choose one of these needlecrafts and further her study in university. She said that some of her friends had chosen knitwear design. Upon university graduation her friends had banded together to form an association that sold their knitwear designs – much like the Handknitting Association of Iceland (

While in Iceland I heard about Snorri Plus ( Snorri Plus is a unique program offered to Vestur Islendingur . (“Vestur islendingur" is an expression used by Icelanders to describe Icelandic-Canadians and Icelandic-Americans. It means "Western Icelanders".) This program is much like the original Snorri program. However, were as Snorri participants are from 18 to 28 years old Snorri Plus attracts participants who are over the age of thirty. Snorri Plus participants spend fifteen days living and working (or hobbying) with their Icelandic relatives while they tour Iceland. What an opportunity for a knitwear designer or knitter!

I snapped this picture of my husband when we were at Hofsos. The pattern “Byron’s sweater” is available from my web site:

Friday, June 27, 2008

Counting my stitches

It's Friday and for me this means time to be accountable. Just what have I accomplished? Well, I have worked on the front.

You may have noticed the rectangular of reverse stockinette stitch. You may noticed it and shook your head.
"Why is it there?" You may have asked.
Well, this is all part of my plan. You see I have an uneven eye. Because of this uneven eye I have trouble making things square: things like pockets. So I thought if I knit this rectangular patch and sew my pocket over it my pocket would be plump. Makes sense? No? We will see. If it works I will patent the idea and you will have pay millions to learn how to do it. If it doesn't I'll give you the idea for free.

There is only so long that one project can capture my imagination. Its only a matter of time until my eye begins to roam. I have such beautiful yarn in my stash. Its really not my fault. I can't help myself. So as you can see I have begun working on something else.

...and Ticky likes it too.

Have a wonderful weekend. If you're on Mayne Island go to the farmer's market tomorrow and buy Celia Leaman's new book: Writing Creatively I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

tutorial added to

I have added a tutorial to Please visit my sample pattern ( page to learn how to make I-cord and tassels. Happy knitting

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How my cardigan grows

Well, I finished the back.
I've started on the front.
...and then I found these...

So, I'm thinking maybe they could make the front pockets?
I tried weaving them into the front: yellow, green, brown, purple and the variegated trim...but it felt too much like work. I'm actually a very lazy knitter. The combination didn't work. That plan was scrapped. Instead, the front will be purple with variegated trim. The two front pockets will be the three colours I just found in my stash. Keep your fingers crossed that this will look okay. I will show you when I'm done.
What about the sleeves? Any good ideas appreciated. Email me with your thought:
Happy knitting

PS After months and months of absence I once again have pretended to be a photographer. Catch the results on "Photos by Leanne"

Friday, June 20, 2008


What a wonderful day. It is summer solstice eve and I couldn't be happier. Tomorrow the sun will last longer than any other day of the year. I hope the grey fog evaporates and allows the sun to shine in its full splendor. Tomorrow is an eventful day on Mayne Island. Our local health food store is holding a information day. Our local tennis club is having the grand opening of the tennis courts: clowns and even sky divers. I may even attend some or all of these events. It depends on my stomach. If my stomach says no I will hide out and knit. I am almost finished the back. It is beautiful and I will post a picture so please watch for it.
Happy sun day!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I love this time of year

Especially this week when the sun is lighting more and more hours of our day and it is warm but not hot. Yes, this time of year is perfect for a creature such as I. I purr like a contented cat. As a result of this bliss I am able to create. I have been writing. I am working on two novels: one for adults and one for teens. The writing has come easily this week. Good ideas bounce from my brain to my pen to the page. I have also been knitting. A few posts ago (or was it last post) I told you about a blue yarn that I planned to transform into a .... Well, that blue yarn has been abandoned in favour of...
Now if you had told me last year or even last month that I would knit myself a variegated cardigan I would have said, "Are you crazy. I would never. Variegated yarn for a baby sweater - okay but for myself are you nuts."
However, clearly I have changed my mind. I am capable of doing this. I love this combination. I bought the variegated and light purple when off island. The beige I had in my stash. The light purple and variegated are a acrylic/wool blend (Paton's Decor). Get this the light purple was on sale for $2 a skein. So I urge you to go yarn shopping. It is the time.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Knitting Publicly

Just what did I accomplish this week?
Well, I took this ferry...
across the sea to Salt Spring Island. My destination was...

ArtCraft gallery in Mahon Hall. Mahon Hall (seen in the above picture) is located on 114 Rainbow Road in Ganges. Visit: to learn more about the gallery. While there I delivered my inventory and helped set up. It was fun. The place was a hive of activity. Each year, I marvel at the professional displays that are assembled in this historic hall. It really is worth taking a peek. You may find the perfect earrings, painting, or even knitting kit.
Tomorrow...just what will I be doing tomorrow? Well, tomorrow is knit in public day. So I plan to knit in public. In order to accomplish this feat, I will take a ferry once again across the sea. This time my destination will be Vancouver Island. I want to find a partner for this lovely yarn.

It is a mohair and acrylic blend. I want to find an acrylic yarn to make the knitting a little easier. I am aware that acrylic yarn has and is falling out of favour with most knitters. My (once) favourite yarn shop supply of said yarn is now greatly reduced. So I will be forced to shop at a big box store. I really hope that they still carry my favourites. I love Patons Decor but if I can't find that I will settle for another of Patons yarns.
Why do I like Patons?
Knitablity, easy care, and quality of the yarn.
No, Patons hasn't paid me to advertise.
I do enjoy knitting with wool, mohair, bamboo, and the like but I am very attached to acrylic. I hope it doesn't become an endangered species.

Monday, June 09, 2008


Well, I am in the middle of everything right now. I am packing to cross the sea to Salt Spring Island (the big sister of my beautiful Mayne Island). As you may recall, I was scrambling to collect my inventory for ArtCraft (a gallery on Salt Spring Island). I am packing framed photos, sweater kits, books (Maynely True), CDs (Novelty Yarn), children's sweaters, and baby sweaters. I am proud of what I was able to accomplish. However, unfortunately, I have fallen short of my goal of 14 baby sweaters. I only have 10 but that will have to do. I, of course, don't like falling short but I can only do what I can do. Watch for me on the ferry. I will be the one with the enormous navy blue suitcase. Have a happy week.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Ignoring my muse

This is the children's sweater I finished last night. I am now finished knitting the sweaters. However...

I am lead by a fictional character. When my muse whispers in my ear, I yield to her will. I do whatever she asks of me without question. Currently, she has demanded that I write. She has insisted that I grip my pen firmly. When I politely pointed out that ArtCraft’s inventory delivery date is looming large, her response was…
“Well, I need to have all the sweaters ready by June 10th.”
She assured me that I would. She said that, that would be a piece of cake.
Well, she was wrong. It is now June 6th and I still have tons of sweaters left to finish. Yesterday, I refused to listen as she screamed at me. I refused to listen and yet I still only got four sweaters done. Four. That leaves ten. Ten.I am headed into a full weekend. Believe me I have a need for speed. Your kind support is appreciated. Please send all your positive thoughts my way. Thank you.

Ticky, my Hawaiian kitty. Doesn't he look cute? (Yes, I am one of those knitters.) He was roaming through some broom and a flower was caught on his ear.