There and back again, twice (not a hobbit’s tale).

I’ve learned some things about stitching and food that I’d like to share with you, especially if you’re the type to try new foods and easy patterns. In the last 4 weeks, I’ve taken 2 trips of decent lengths for different purposes…one…all about yarn and stitching, the other all about family, but I still worked some stitching into different legs of the journey.

In mid-August I was wrapping up my summer term as adjunct professor of ESL at Niagara College, and preparing to teach a class of a completely different nature. 4 days after saying good-bye to 20 students from 8 different countries, I was on a plane myself, headed for Denver, CO. Those of you that work in the yarn industry know that Denver, and the surrounding buroughs and cities, is a hub of yarn activity. There are many yarn stores, and thousands of knitters and crocheters!  Interweave Press with magazines about spinning, weaving, knitting and crochet, as well as about other handcrafts, has its offices there, and next year, it will be hosting Yarn Fest, a learning experience about crafts that will be extraordinary! Alas, that’s not the folks I was hanging out with this visit. Perhaps in the future!

This visit was all about and the most amazing opportunity I had (or more like “am having”) with regards to a perfect trip…the merging of two of my passions, teaching and yarn crafts.

craftsy studio door

When I got to Denver, I was met by my producer and my editor and got a tour of the studio. Here you can see the clapper sign on the studio door with my name on it.



dressing room at craftsyI got my own dressing room, too. With my own “Star”…they sure make their instructors feel like stars!

Then they took me out to dinner at this amazing restaurant called Panzano’s…It’s Italian fusion…most of the chef’s were hispanic, and the food was 30% gluten free friendly!  Amazing!  And there was this appetizer with Brussel Sprouts that was so amazing, that the next night, when I went out to eat again by myself, I went right back and ordered the same dish. When I got home, my producer sent me a link to the recipe, but more on that later. studioSo recording all the lessons for the class took about 2.5 days. This is day one, and the crew were setting up all the lights, mics and cameras. This is Brandon, cameraman #1.

Do you see that taupe cowl on the mannequin? That’s the project that class participants will end up making…but this class wasn’t really about the cowl..that’s a bonus.  This class will be about reading crochet symbol diagrams and will be launched some time in the fall. Stay tuned for dates and other information! Crocheting while my hands were being filmed was tricky because of the angle I needed to hold the work and the distance away from my body.  I’m completely used to crocheting while standing as I do that a lot anyway. The device on the table is called a Cintiq, and it’s a large tablet and screen all in one. I use it in these lessons to draw symbols and highlight different aspects of diagrams.

Craftsy Team

And this is the team that made it all possible… Lorie has been my producer and coach for months leading up to the filming…and she is part of the post-production, too. Max is called a “switcher”. He does the execution of the producer’s vision with all the technology, but even more than that…he keeps track of everything…whether I had a hook in my hand and was looking at camera B when I lost my train of thought and we had to pick it up from there…and he would remember where I was looking, the angle of my hand and hook etc. Amazing!  Laffrey was my second cameraman…can’t wait to see his workmanship..amazing swivelling powers with that camera gear!

My second trip was to Ottawa, Canada. My eldest son starts his first year of university now and so we took him up to get him settled in residence, but we spent a few days together first like a mini-holiday.

Pam was knitting a blanket (all summer in the heat!) for Zach’s roommate who loves the one she knit for Zach…and she wasn’t quite done, so I helped out by knitting while Zach drove. 240 sts with two strands of worsted held together on a 10mm circular. We cast-off in the hotel 2 days later and wove in all the ends and it was all ready to go on the dorm bed!  It’s big enough for a queen-size mattress, but doubled up works great on a twin size.

Ottawa, CanadaWhile in Ottawa, we went to the Parliament buildings..where I knit on a top secret project on the lawn while we took in the sunset.

We did a lot of other fun things while in Ottawa, but they were too involved to take stitching along, so that’s about all the knitting I did. Each evening, in the hotel room, I did hem up Zach’s suit pants as he , has to have a suit for his intern position in the Confederation Building, which is just west (to the left, out of frame) of the Parliament building.

IMG_20140830_144157Now there are just 3 of us at home. It’s a bit of an adjustment, but we are happy for all the opportunities Zach is having in Ottawa at Carleton University. And the dining hall food is actually good!  When Ottawa’s current mayor was at Carleton, he started a protest/petition regarding the pathetic food that was served, and as a result, the current food service is considered the top in Canada.  There is a 14 hour buffet with all different kinds of food, and much of it made to order hot. There are vegan and vegetarian options, and best of all, a completed dedicated gluten free station.

I’m back to teaching at the college and tech-editing for some publications.  I’m VERY busy drawing crochet symbol diagrams for some cool books that will come out next year.

And Lorie, my producer, found the recipe for the brussel sprouts dish and sent it to me, and I made them last night for some friends! Truly awesome! The ingredients are pictured on the left and the finished dish on the right.

IMG_20140906_223555 IMG_20140906_185820







So, while it felt like a whirlwind, it sure has been a blast! And I’ve learned so much about filming, cintiqs, cooking brussel sprouts, Ottawa, and going the first stage of becoming an empty nester.

Hope you learned something, too.

Stitching by the water

Next summer, Welland will welcome the rowers and canoers participating in the Panamerican games (Toronto, 2015). Toronto proper doesn’t have a venue quite like this one. I’m looking forward to knitting and crocheting while I watch a race or two. More about the project in the photo, below.

Here you can see I’m crocheting a summer top for my wife. There’s only about 6 inches done on it so far, bottom-up, more details on it later, when I have more done.

I’m crocheting with Bernat’s Handicrafter #5 Thread.  It’s not really a “thread” per se in my mind as I’m crocheting with a 3.5mm hook and not the recommended 2.75mm hook (which still isn’t really a thread hook, imho).


The lighting for this swatch photo is a bit off, but nonetheless, you can see that this yarn has a nice sheen to it. It’s 100% acrylic and it looks like it’s two ply with what I would call a medium twist.

I haven’t blocked this swatch, and as it’s acrylic, I’m not thinking that blocking will do it much good…but I really like the bounce and stretch in this yarn, so I don’t think I’ll steam it or heat it to make the blocking stick.  Instead, I’ve designed Pam’s top with some negative ease so it’ll hug her curves which will in turn make the lace open up. Another advantage to this yarn is that it is light and not warm, at least not in this stitch pattern.

This yarn does get a slight halo as it is worked. I’m hoping that it doesn’t pill under the arms or any other friction spots, but I don’t the soft fuzzy look it has so far. I should have washed the swatch before starting the garment, but I was under the spell of startitis.

By the way, Duncan, our English cocker spaniel is 7 years old, but still young at heart. He’s even on the podium taking the gold.

A couple of questions for you:

Where is your favourite place to knit or crochet outside your home?

Do you knit or crochet with acrylic? Why not? Why so? When?

Stitching on the water.

While chatting with my wife the other afternoon, mostly about knitting and crochet and my design career, etc, I said I needed to get my blog going again. She came up with the idea to take pictures of me knitting or crocheting in different places and then to do a write-up about those places, and whatever is on my mind at the time and connect it to knitting and crocheting in some way. “Brilliant!” is what I said, or something along that vein. So for the most part, that’s what this blog will entail for the next little while: “Great Places to Stitch”

Today we went on a canoe ride south along the Welland canal which flows through our city. It’s a short 2-block portage from our back yard. Our 7-year old English Cocker Spaniel, Duncan, came along for the ride…he likes to watch the ducks.

crochet cotton canal wellandThe Welland Canal connects Lakes Erie and Ontario. This branch of the canal is now closed to the lakers that now cross through our city at it’s east-most boundary (ever since 1973).

The lift-bridge in the backgroud is covered in scaffolding and tenting as it’s being sandblasted and painted. It’s an historical structure and is no longer a functional lift bridge.

Crocheting in a canoe is quite nice…when the wind picks up you get tossed lightly around and I had to stop stitching a few times to keep the canoe in the centre of the waterway. I’m holding up a washcloth made out of crochet cotton. It’s either Lion Brand’s Kitchen cotton in Kiwi or it’s Lily Sugar n’ Cream in Hot Green. Lost the band months ago.

I’ve been trying to develop a very open crochet stitch so that the dishcloth can dry quickly. I think I’ve come up with a “new” stitch and I’m calling it a hitched double crochet (or hitched treble for UK stitchers). Once I practice the stitch and test drive the washcloths I’ll get a pattern written up.