Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New knitting pattern from oknitting.com

Have you got a name?
...because I have a new pattern.

Pictured here, you can see my business partner checking out the photo shot.
He suggested that I unfold the arms.
Not wanting a dispute, I complied.
And ...

____ is born.
I really do need a name for this design.
It will be the latest addition to a collection of fun, easy to knit baby sweaters. All have a pocket to carry a special friend. The instructions for knitting the finger puppet are included with the pattern for the sweater. The other patterns in the series are Honey Bunny, Puddin' Pie, Muffin and Pumpkin. Check them out, they're on this page: http://www.oknitting.com/patterns_children.htm

___ is the easiest pattern to work in the series. ___ is worked entirely in garter stitch. It features a square neck line, which is so easy to knit your needles will work it themselves.

This blog would be so much easier to write if I just had a name for my design...

Your help finding a suitable name is greatly appreciated.
My needles call,

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Today I'm going to try to minimize my use of electricity. I will turn everything off for an hour but I want to do more. So, today I will engage in activities that don't require electricity. I'm writing this post on my EPC which is batteries powered. Occasionally it needs to be plugged in...but it won't be plugged in today.
It does require a change of mind set to conserve electricity. For example, I was just about to put a CD on my personal sound system and then I thought...wait...I can't.
What can I do: write, read, knit, hike, chat...and the list goes on...
All the best,

Friday, March 27, 2009

Leanne Dyck on Author's Den

At the end of each month, I am eager to see which of my writing you have chosen.
What you do is log on to my Author's Den web site:
You read a poem, an article or a story that intrigues you.
What the site does is keep a record of these visits.
What I do is read these statistics. These statistics inform me of which piece of my writing received the most visits. Then I post that piece of writing here. This month that piece of writing is my article on my trip to Iceland. It is advantageous that you should choose that piece of writing because it gives me an opportunity to announce an event that I'm looking forward to participating in.

As you may be aware, Donna Drucunas has published another book...
In the book she discusses Icelandic knitting. Donna is planning a blog tour for the book. I'm excited to announce that I will participating in this blog. My date is April 14th. Please mark your calendars.

And without further ado, I present Knitting in Iceland

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 (www.simnet.is/textile) 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 (http://www.hofsos.is) 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 (http://www.natmus.is/english), 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 (www.handknit.is)

While in Iceland I heard about Snorri Plus (
http://www.snorri.is/snorri-plus.htm). 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!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I have been toying with the idea of selling my hand knitting over the web. I have been toying with this idea for a while now.
A couple of weeks, my hubby was on the ferry. No surprise there - it's not a rare occurance.
A Mayner (someone from Mayne Island) made this comment to him, "Why isn't Leanne on Etsy?"
He asked, "What's Etsy?"
The explaination left me here: http://olavia.etsy.com
It's a humble beginning to what I hope will be a successful future. Please check it out.
All the best,

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I say worsted weight - you say double knitting

I was asked recently, what type of yarn I recommend for my baby sweaters. http://www.oknitting.com/patterns_children.htm
Well, all of my baby sweaters require worsted weight yarn.
Now, if you live outside North America my saying that isn't really that helpful.
However, thanks to Jo (remember Jo of yesterday's post). You can go to this site http://www.knitting.stuff.freeuk.com/ConversionTables2.html
and things will be clearer.

Happy knitting,

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Meet Jo of Gracie's

In my last blog entry I introduced you to Gracie's -- a beautiful knitting web site ( http://jolovesmick.web.officelive.com/default.aspx). Today, I would like to introduce you to Jo the proud owner of said site.

Me: How old were you when you learnt to knit?

Jo: I was about 8 years old and just knitted squares I think

Me: Who taught you knit?

Jo: My mum taught me to knit, she used to do school jumpers for us all and when she knitted I used to sit on the floor with little needles doing it.

Me: What was your first project?

Jo: My first project I remember was a little white lamb, it didn't come out exactly as the picture or as it was intended but I was proud of it!

Me: What was the most challenging project that you have tackled?

Jo: Most challenging project I have tackled was a jumper for my dad a few years ago, he is not a little guy, so one row used to take me ages.

Me: What was your favourite project?

Jo: My favourite project, I have 3 really and they were all the first cardigan I knitted each of my girls when they were born.

Me: Please tell us about Gracie's

Jo: Gracie's is named after my little girl Grace who has just turned a year old (that's her on the front page logo), I am not having anymore children so it seemed a good name. I sell patterns and things that I have made, its not mainly for profit but for the love of knitting, I suffer from depression and sometimes it helps to relax me and keep me sane just knitting in the evening when my girls have gone to bed, there is also a gallery of pictures of anything I make. I want Gracie's to grow as big as it can, if I don't make much money that's fine I just want it to be something with a part of me in it, something I can call my own, something I have made myself, something I can be proud of.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I'm very pleased to announce that Olavia's hand knitting patterns (www.oknitting.com) are now available for sale on the Gracie web site ( http://jolovesmick.web.officelive.com/default.aspx). It's a beautiful site, please go have a look.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Rest Q fund raiser

The following article appeared in the Island Independent newspaper on March 6th. Sadly, the pictures did not. Much thanks to Robert Sabo Sipos for taking them.

Where were you the evening of February 14th?
If you weren't at the Ag hall on Mayne Island then you really missed out. All who attended had a grand time.
Ty Binfet, director of "Rest - Q Animal Sanctuary," kicked off the evening by thanking the audience for attending and the volunteers for participating. Then he spoke to us about the animals he cared for: the three-legged dogs and the 13 cats, to name but a few. "Rest - Q" provides a home for animals from near and far - for animals who come from neighbouring islands, provinces, and countries.

At the conclusion of his brief speech, Ty was given a cheque for $1, 200; the organizer of the fundraiser Nan Johnston presented it to him.

Weeks before Nan had privately confided to me that she hoped to raise $1,000. I thought she was dreaming - what do I know?
Then to thunderous applause, Bob Connolly joined Nan on stage. The singing group "Nan and Bob" is very popular on Mayne Island.
The duet wrapped the room in a warm blanket of nostalgia. They sang favourites from the 40s, 50s and 60s. Who could resist singing along...not me.

Carol Barker joined them on stage to tinkle the ivories on her keyboard.

Later during intermission, she played the harp while we munched delicious deserts. I tell you you, Mayne Island is one classy place.

Sam Israel played his classical guitar during the intermission as well.

Then I must admit I could no longer control myself. Nan drove me to song. I tried to entertain the audience with my rendition of "Hello, Dolly". Thankfully, Nan was there to stop me.

So, I stopped singing and read instead. I read two poems: one by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and one penned by yours truly.

You didn't know I was a poet? Well, neither did I.

Then Nan and Bob once again graced the stage with their melodious tunes.

Their hard work earned them a standing ovation.

So, I ask you, where will you be next year?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I'm sick

I woke up today with a very sore throat. So I decided to stay in bed. I hate sleeping in late. Seldom do I engage in this activity. It is just so very boring and I get nothing done. It is such a beautiful sunny day (although the snow still covers the ground), I would love to be outside. However, when I left my bed, I realized that I may have a sore throat but my really problem is that I have an ear infection. And I have no one to blame but me. Last week was so busy that I left the house with wet hair. Wet hair = ear infection. Is this just an old fish wife's story? Or is it true? Tell me, tell me do.

All of this just to say, "I'm sorry for not reporting about the Rest - Q fund raiser."

That post is coming.
All the best,

Monday, March 09, 2009

Please stand by

Well, I am finding it very hard to even contemplate leaving the comfort of my home to walk the ten or so feet to my studio. What I would like to do is go back to bed and sleep until this is all over (actually, relief is at hand, this afternoon they are forecasting sun).
What I will do is this
1) take some photos of the snow
2)work on my novel (or novella...or whatever...)
3)do some knitting (I'm working on a baby sweater)
4)make some soup

Okay, about the weather

Today, white stuff is falling from the sky. And I was so sure it was spring. Just a few days ago I was walking around without a jacket. Just a few days ago I bought some flowers. Flowers that I was planning to plant outside. Saturday I went to the local Home Hardware to find a suitable planter. I couldn't find one I wanted (I didn't know that I was that picky). As it turned out this was a good thing. All the pretty flowers are inside were they are nice and warm and still alive. Instead of outside were they would (could) die from exposure. Yesterday the sky was a beautiful shade of blue. Yesterday the sun shone. Today what I can see of the sky through the white flecks (which are growing bigger every minute) is gray. Today no sun shines.

Okay, I do know that I have no right to complain. I do know that I am very lucky to live in one of the only places in Canada were snow is a rare occurrence. I do know. Somehow knowing all this doesn't silence my rant.

Yesterday, I found the Independent Islander newspaper in my mailbox. Soon I will post my article (regarding the Rest-Q fund raiser) here. It will appear with tons of pictures.

Keep warm,

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Celebrating woman's day

Where did I go?
What did I do?

I spent a half day at: http://www.awomanbehindwomen.ca/lacasa.htm
You can too (if you're a woman: ) ).
Check it out.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Tomorrow is International Woman's Day.
And here on Mayne Island we are celebrating. Oh, yes, sister, we are.
1 -3 pm on Luff Road
There will be singers singing, there will be writers reading.
What will you be doing? How will you celebrate?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

I say, "cardigan"

Fate says, "Nay"
This blog entry was to showcase my brilliance. Sadly, we all know what happens when we get too cocky. That's when fate steps in.
Here is my sad tale...
Meet mohair the star of this post.

It is lovely stuff. It knits up soft and warm. However, if you are a knitter capable of error -- like yours truly. It also knitters up frustratingly.
Notice, if you will, the hairs. Once knit they glue together and make it impossible to tink or unknit or frog or tear back. I have been known to become so angry that I have attacked knit mohair with scissors. ...not something I'm proud of...but I'm only human.
So, aiming for an easier more enjoyable knit I sought a solution.
I found one.
I knit a strand of mohair and a strand of acrylic.
Yes, that's right I said it. I said, "acrylic".
In these days of environmental enlightenment acrylic has become an ugly word.
Well, to most but not to me. I still knit with acrylic.
Well, because I know and value it. I know that I can throw an acrylic sweater into the wash and rest easy. I know that an acrylic sweater will not shrink.
Yes, this is the biggest concern for me.
Yes, I am too lazy to wash a sweater by hand.
No, there is no laundromat on Mayne Island.
I do knit with acrylic. I have knit with acrylic blends.
I have knit with natural fibres. I have knit scarves, hats and vests. Things that don't require weakly trips to the washer.
Okay, for those who are still with me, let's continue with this tale.
So, there I am with one strand of mohair (actually, to be truthful, a mohair blend) and one strand of acrylic.
It was an enjoyable, fast knit.
I knit without a pattern. I knit without setting pen to paper. I simply knit.
The result....

Please notice, that the width of the sleeve is much smaller than the width of the armhole. Did you notice it?
Oh, I know you did. I can hear you laughing.
I can hear you laughing and I agree it is funny. Now I can agree. Then I couldn't.
Lesson learned -- I hope -- I will now take some notes.
I will record the number of stitches to the inch. I will record the width of my armhole.
I will.

Moving on...
How do I sew seams?
I begin my anchoring the seam on both ends.

I continue sewing an invisible seam.

The result...

After the seams, I now weave in ends.

I found it easier to weave in the acrylic yarn and the mohair separately.
Now, you may ask, "What happened? Do you have a cardigan?"
Well, sadly, the answer is, "No!"
You see, I didn't have sufficient yarn.
So, my cardigan became...
a vest.
I will wear my vest to the World Day of Prayer service. The service will be held on March 6th. On Mayne Island the service will be held at Saint Mary Magdalene Parish Church. The service will start at 2 pm. This year, the service was written by the woman of Pupua New Guinea

The post I promised is on its way

I apologize. This morning I didn't stick to my plan. Instead I did some research for the novel (novella) I'm working on. Interesting stuff.

I found a poem that I remember first encountering as a teenager. It shaped my young mind.

First They Came for the Jews by Pastor Niemoller

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew

Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for me and
there was no one left to
speak out.

I found the poem after doing some research on the Patriot Act. In that light, the poem spoke loudly to me.

Love and acceptance will always finally win out ...this I believe.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Happy ending

My concerns about the weather yesterday were all for not. The wind blew without creating chaos. No problems with the electricity, phone or Internet. Hubby said that it was a little hard to read on the ferry due to the turbulence but other than that the weather caused no problems.

This morning it is pouring rain. The birds are singing happily. They welcome the rain. The radio has just informed me that the afternoon will be clear.

I have just finished another sweater. I found some mohair in my stash. However, knitting the mohair by its self was causing me problems. The fine hairs made tearing back very hard.

Once the weather clears I am planning to take a series of pictures of my new cardigan. I will show you how I solved the above problem as well as how I assemble a cardigan. I will post these pictures as soon as I can. Please stay logged on.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Weather report

Well, its a new month. On Mayne Island, March means wind and that spring has finally found us. Although, we could still get a few flakes of snow. The wind means that ferry travel becomes even more complicated. The ferry is the only means off Mayne Island - unless of course you have your own boat or you can afford to travel by plane.
Today, as I walked with hubby to the ferry (for exercise - I stay on Mayne), I saw two long lines of cars wait to take their chances on the rocking and rolling sea. I stopped to talk with a friend and apparently the wind had been predicted. However, it was early. The wind was to start at 8 am. I spoke with her shortly before 7:30 am.
Wind, big deal, eh?
Well, on a small island it can be a big deal. It can mean that our fragile tie to the world is severed. We could kiss our electricity, our phone and our Internet good-bye. It can also mean that the ferry refuses to run. Please keep your fingers crossed for me. I would like to have Hubby home tonight.
Other than that, things are grand. No complaints.
Until later, all the best,