Friday, December 31, 2010

Avalon (a poem)

A golden ray kisses
The cheek of an angel

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

A morning dove's song
Awakens a fair maiden

A fair maiden employed
Her skein and needles to knit

A day begins on Avalon

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bloody Words by Lou Allin

Bloody Words is Canad's oldest and largest mystery conference. This year for the first time it will be held in British Columbia's capital city of Victoria on June 3-5 though the Arthur Ellis Awards for Canada's best crime writing will be presented n the 2nd at the same venue. Guests of honour include BC's own
William Deverell (,
Michael Slade (,
and international bestseller Tess Gerritsen (
The Hotel Grand Pacific, on the scenic Inner Harbour, has been named Canada's finest hotel by Conde Nast. Agents will be on hand for interviews, there will be a short story contest, and applicants may submit thirty pages of their work for critiques. In addition to a reception and award presentation to Deverell, Michael Salde will pesent his celebrated Shock Theatre, followed by a ghost walk in search of old Victoria's spectres such as the elusive Amor de Cosmos. Founds of panels (literary, publishing and forensic) will capt the programs, and a banquet Saturday night is included in the cost of the registration at $190. Our website is or come and leave a comment on our Facebook.
June is the City of Gardens' most spectacular time of year. With its colonial, low-rise downtown, many fine Victoria reminiscent of many European cities. Visit North America's oldest China Town, have tea on the veranda at the Empress Hotel overlooking the harbor where high tea has been served for over 100 years, see the fabulous First Nations exhibits at the Royal BC Museum, or stroll through the gardens and beaches of Beacon Hill Park, all within easy walking distance of our hotel. Or take a day trip to nearby, world-famous Butchart Gardens, Glendale Gardens, or Abkhazi Garden. Downtown is a shopping mecca, but Johnson St. is where you'll find Victoria's home grown boutique industry and of course there are restaurants too numerous to mention serving local fare from our coastal waters. Saving the best for last, whales abound in the waters around the capital and you have a good chance of seeing greys or even orcas on the trips that leave many times daily from the inner harbour. Only in Victoria do new whale calves make the front page.
Come and see for yourself.
(You can have a preview at

A pictorical tour of Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria, BC

If you're like me and love museums, you'll enjoy today's post. I've had the good fortunate to visit Castle Loma in Toronto and Dundurn Castle in Hamilton, Ontario. I was young and impressionable when I tour those castles and the visit seeded in me a passion for the past. So, you can understand, my delight in discovering Craigdarroch Castle.
I invite you to explore it with me.
As we enter the main floor hall, we see this stunning mantle piece--dressed for the season.

In the library, we read by candlelight.

We climb the stairs to the second level.

Climbing the stairs to the next level, we look up and see...

The upper level houses the ballroom.

My husband admires the instruments.

The bathroom with side-by-side tub and toilet.
Servant quarters.
A model of the castle.
Besides being a castle and a museum, it has also been a school of music and a hospital.
I hope I get to visit this magnificent again very soon.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Spark (short story)

I revised this short story on January 15, 2020 (10:52 AM)

A Spark

It was Mom who lit the fire. She kindled the flames. She kept it lit.

When I was seven--or maybe eight or...--I spent hours knotting string. I produced knotted rope after knotted rope. That year I found a knitting kit under the Christmas tree. The kit contained a large round neon green plastic knitting loom, bright acrylic yarn and a short wooden needle. I learned quickly how to coil the yarn around a peg and use the needle to make a stitch.

I began knitting on Christmas day and didn't stop until a peg broke maybe a week or two later. In that brief period of time, I knit several tube scarves.  However, in that short period of time I knit many tube scarves. My favourite was green with green and white pom-poms on each end. I wore it with pride.

When the peg broke, I thought my knitting fun was over but Mom knew it had just begun. 

"I think you're ready to learn how to knit with straight needles," she told me and, because of our sometimes-abrasive relationship, she added, "I know Grandma will enjoy teaching you."

My grandma was a skilled artisan, having won many fair ribbons for her crafts. She was an experienced instructor, having successfully taught all four of her daughters to knit. She'd even taught Aunty Lil--who is left handed.

My respect for my grandma meant that I would have to control myself. No matter how frustrating knitting became I couldn't throw the needles. I knew my grandma wanted me to persevere, how could I disappoint her?

Once I had a grasp of the basics, Mom who guided me into a knitting class. The class was given through the local 4-H. My 4-H leader introduced me to my favourite stitch pattern--seed stitch.

During our first class, I was proud to show my leader all I knew about knitting. She couldn't stop watching my needles. I thought she was impressed, but then she said, "I've never seen anyone knit like that."

Embarrassed, I said, "My grandma taught me, but I can learn your way."

"Your grandma...?" We lived in a small community, maybe she knew my grandma. She definitely knew of her successes at the fair. "No, I think you should continue knitting like that. It's part of your family's culture. We'll address any problems when we come to them."

I'm grateful for flexible attitude and I know my grandma was as well.

When I grew too old for 4-H, my mom was still there to lend a hand. Fortunately, our tension was so similar that we could easily work on the same project.

"Who's knitting that anyway?" My brothers teased.

"Leanne is," Mom was quick to say, "I'm just helping her with a tricky bite."

No knitting challenge was too difficult, no pattern too tricky, no yarn 'unknittable'. She was my knitting guru.

Years passed and I moved away. Alone, my knitting was not nearly as smooth. My needles wavered. Yarn twisted, tangled, and was tossed. My eyes burned as I peered at patterns.

Life as knitting became difficult when word came that Mom was losing her battle with cancer. I hurried from British Columbia to Manitoba to be by her side.

I have never experienced anything more difficult than watching cancer eat away at Mom. Piece by piece it devoured her. There in her palliative care room I turned to an old friend for comfort--knitting. I selected a skein of yarn and began to make a yarn ball.

"You still enjoy knitting?" Mom asked and we exchanged a smile.

Our bond of love and yarn was and would continue to be unbreakable. Even after... 

She struggled to push herself into a sitting position and I helped her. She reached for the yarn and I gave it to her. One wrap, two wraps and...  

"You'll have to go it on your own, honey." She passed the yarn to me.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A surprise for me and you

The surprise for you is this post. I usually don't post on Sunday, and I don't plan to start. However, I had to make an exception today.
Well, I'll explain.
I started this blog on October 10th. I posted sparatically for about a month, until in November, I began to post daily (with a day off on Sunday). I had a great time interviewing people, facilitating a discussion and sharing my writing and patterns.
I was so engaged in the process, in fact, that wasn't aware that a miracle was occuring. I wasn't aware that thanks to your generous support the number of page views is drawing close to 2, 000. I'm blowen away. I didn't know what to do, but I knew I had to do something. I knew I had to say thank you.
To say thank you, I'd like to share this creative non-fiction story...
When I was growing up, Christmas was a joyous time of family gatherings, traditions, good cheer and food. Delicious smells poured forth from Mom's kitchen. This was her opportunity to showcase mouthwatering talent.
Two desserts were at the centre of these festivities: English Pud to clebrate my dad's heritage and my mom's recipe for Icelandic Vinaterta. Not surprisingly, Mom had been given the roots of her recipe from her mom, Grandma Olafson.
Grandma's recipe loudly proclaimed its Icelandic heritage with its strong ethnic taste. Mom slightly toned down the recipe to make it more palatable for her husband. I, too, far preferred Mom's recipe.
Years passed and I fell in love. Christmas was the test for my Mennonite boyfriend. How would he react to my large extended family? To Vinaterta? To my delight, he seemed at home in the company of my family.
Next, he was served a piece of Vinaterta. The first bite was foreign to him. He turned the tastes around in his mouth. Would he finish it?
"It's okay if you don't finish it. It's a unique taste," my mom offered.
"Oh, no, I like it." He took the last forkful, savouring it. "May I have another piece, please?"
Later that year we were married. Vinaterta was our wedding cake.
This story was published in Flavours of Vancouver along with my mom's recipe for Vinaterta.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Reporting from the Yule Log

Thank you for dropping by my blogging this rainy Christmas eve.
Please have a sit in a comfy chair by the fire while I make my yearly report from the Yule Log.
Each Christmas arrives with a message.
That message this year was...
I'm surrounded by abundance. My mission to share it--whether that be a smile, a helping hand, or from a donation of time.
Tonight is a special time on Mayne Island. We gather around the communal Christmas tree with others to spread good cheer. The apple cider is free and the carols flow. So don't be shy belt out Jingle Bells--no one minds. In fact, we encourage it.

Next Post: A Spark (creative non-fiction)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Fiancee's Sweater

My fiancee knew I only knit scarves. And yet, when I asked, "What do you want for Christmas?"
He replied, "A curling sweater hand knit by you."
I'll show him I thought. I'll knit that sweater--with Mom's help.
As Christmas quickly approached, the sweater reached completion. Then we discovered our shortage of yarn. No problem, I thought. I'll buy more.
I bought more yarn and brought it home.
"Did you match the dye lot?" Mom asked.
"Match the what?"
"The dye lot. It's a number listed on the yarn band. You match the numbers to ensure no unwanted colour stripes. Here bring me the bands and I'll show you the number."
"I don't have them."
"What do you mean? Where are they?"
"I threw them out."
"Oh, Leanne." She said disappointedly, then quickly added. "No trouble. I think these skeins match closely enough."
Sadly, Mom was wrong.
It's a beautifully knit sweater--love in every stitch. My husband still wears it. (Well, actually, I've stolen the sweater. I wear it on cold days when I need a hug from Mom and my husband.) However, he has been given clear instructions. NOT OUTSIDE THE HOUSE.
Lesson learned: match the dye lot number

Twenty years later, a rare photo of my husband and the sweater.
Poor guy, early this morning, I sprung on him saying, "Here, put this on. I want to take a picture." Then I blinded him with the flash. He's definately on Santa's nice list. : )

Today on Daily Dose of Decadence ( LaVerne Thompson writing as Ursula Sinclair shares her Holiday Traditions
Today on 30 Days of Decadence ( Wendy Burke shares memories of a childhood visit with Santa. A common occurance, but its how she shares this memory that will astound you--it did me.

Rachel Firasek interviews Renee Rearden (

Next Post: Report from the Yule Log
This is a blog tradition that I began on my Designer's Note blog. On Christmas Eve, I carry my camera with me and then at the end of the day I report back to you. We'll have a nice chat while drink some eggnog and mulled wine. I look forward to your visit.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Periodically, I like to pretend I'm a photographer. This is one of those times.

You know you're living somewhere specially when you can walk out your front door and see such beauty.

Knitting for Charities

Knitting for charities is a tradition dating back to the Spanish American war (1898). During this time, knitters knit for mariners who were away at sea during Christmas-- reports the Seaman's church organization (
Although, I wouldn't be surprised if knitting for charities is a even older than this reference. Speaking generally, knitters are a generous by nature.
I 'googled' knitting for charities and found 2, 530, 000 listed sites.
Here's what I found:
Knit a Square
...and make an AIDS orphan warm
Knitting Circle Canada
This site shared helpful tips on how to form your knitting circle as well as a list of charities that would benefit from your stitches.
Interweave Knits--knitting charities for a Better World
On October, 2010 Interweave Knits compiled a list of charities, please view it here:
When selecting knitting charities, don't forget to look in your own backyard. Ask yourself (and others), what groups or individuals would benefit from my stitches?
Others to ask:
your friends, coworkers, family members
public health nurses
your local governmental officials
Ask those working at:
local hospitals, doctor offices
local nursing homes, day care centres
police stations, victim assistnace programs
places of worship, food distribution centres
It has been my experience that once word spreads that you are knitting for charities inexpensive or free yarn becomes easily accessible.
If you are having trouble locating yarn, recruit your local yarn shop, thrift shop or post an advertisement in your local paper.
When selecting yarn for charity knitting, it is important to bear in mind durability and ease of care.
This year I was able to find two groups who were looking for knitted items. I gave toques and wristers to a group who was distributing knitting to the homeless. I gave baby hats, sweaters, baby blankets, finger puppets as well as a large bag of yarn to a group who was knitting for a children's hospital. Next year I hope to continue this tradition. It's fun and it makes me feel so good.

Question: Do you knit for charities? Which ones? Included a link.
Today on 30 Days of Decadence ( Kelly Yeakle shares a recipe for Mulled Wine, courtesy of Wiccan Together
I just visited Wiccan Together ( and found a wealth of information. I'll be back.
Today on Daily Dose of Decadence ( Kimber An shares her uplifting, thought provoking article--All I Want For Christmas
Next Post: a short story: My Fiancee's Sweater

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Join Us (short story) by Leanne Dyck

Concealed by the dark night thirteen women left the comfort of their beds, the security of their homes to venture into the storm. They walked unaided by light.

The wind wrapped an invisible arm around each waist--encouraging progress. He showered each of his partners with handfuls of leaves--transforming their nightgowns into party dresses. Other invincible hands pushed back branches; flattened grass--clearing the path. The women walked on.

Their footfalls were quick and sure through a world alive with the sound of a million pipers and the swaying, spinning and leaping of a million dancers.

Wordlessly they walked on until they reached a natural clearing in the woods. Here they instinctively formed a circle. They stood--arms out stretched, palms facing but not touching.

Though the storm continued to rage around them, those in the circle were untouched. No hair was tousled, no gown rippled. They were still.

"Oh, Mother Gaia, we feel your power," someone cried. Those who recognized the voice weren't surprised that it belonged to Holly McIntosh--owner of the Croaking Frog Clothing Boutique. Intelligent, gregarious, charismatic--she was a natural leader.

"Mother Gaia, we feel your power," a younger voice chirped in imitation. That voice belonged to Rome--Holly's niece.

Other voices joined in the chant and the volume rose from a merely audible whisper to a roar that overtook the storm.

Mother Gaia heard and responded. A white lightning bolt leapt from palm to palm. The women fell back but not down--Mother Gaia held them. She picked them up and held them in a 45-degree angle in mid air. The women closed their eyes and rested in their Mother's hand. As they rested they dreamed--of creation, of transformation, of harmony, of peace, of beauty, of love.

Mother Gaia whispered in each woman's ear, "Tell me, my child, of what do you dream?"

And the women shared their dreams.

Mother, May I
Mother Mary
Mother Goddess
Mother may you

Create me, hold me, transform me
From virgin to mother to crone

Blessed Mother
Mother Creator
Mother may I

Create, hold, transform
From virgin to mother to crone

The divine love
The power of three

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Knitting: a one act operetta

It took place in the Agricultural Society hall on Mayne Island, a few years ago.

In the front row were knitters. I knew they were knitters because of what they were wearing--knitted garments--and by what they were doing--knitting.
I stood on a small wooden box, facing them, as I read...


Time was we were safe. Sure there was an underground movement...but they were unorganized and weak. The movement attracted only the socially undesirable. We could sleep at night knowing that our loved ones were safe. Those days are gone. Listen do you hear it? They are becoming stronger. They are becoming organized Young--old, male--female, no one is safe. How can we stop this madness We must boycott certain stores We must protest certain meetings We must burn certain publications We must ban certain websites We must scorn those associated with the movement. It is the only way. Guard your loved ones Keep them safe We must be aware We must be alert
Don't let the knitters win!

The knitters stood up en mass and charged toward me. I retreated as they sang.

The weather outside is delightful
But, my dear, you're rather frightful
As long as we love it so
Let us knit, let us knit, let us knit

The operetta was short, but oh so sweet. It's one of my favourite knitting group memories.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How A Lifetime Is Measured

Today's post, a tribute to Kathleen Ann's mother-in-law and all the women like her--who with their gentle generosity cast a lasting spell.

How A Lifetime Is Measured
Her pace is slow
She shuffles across the floor
Hand-knit slippers dust the boards with every slide
Snug in her armchair she savours yesteryear as she would homemade cherry pie

Sit a spell, witness her transformation
Her aged hands reach for her wands
Two metal sticks to conjure
Yarn dances merrily: it is under her spell
Shape shifting to your amazement

She knits away the years
Memories loop together revealing a young mother cherishing her wee babe.
A layette knit in baby blue
Now she knits in khaki green as her Johnnie straight and tall marches off to war
Tears combine with prayers to bring her beloved home
Watch closely, as years drop as stitches, returning youth
her novice hands become clumsy
We are witnessing the sorcerer apprenticing her craft
Stitches executed under the watchful eye of her guide--her own grandmother
"Spin me a yarn," the once young girl begs and secrets are shared

Stitches, rows, skeins--her life is measured in these

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Favourite Sweater short story by Kathleen Ann Gallagher

Kathleen Ann Gallagher writes: I have always loved sweaters. I don't particularly like winter, but I do like the warmth and comfort a sweater brings. I needed to find a Christmas gift for my mother in-law Mary, who was always cold, and sat daily in her recliner crocheting slipper socks. She handed them out to the entire neighborhood and anyone else she met. She kept a box of multi colored hand made socks by her door. When visitors left she would advice them to take a new pair. She never took no for an answer, so I have a set in every color.

I decided to try a specialty shop in town that carries vintage items along with antiques, candle, Christmas ornaments, and hand-crafted assorted gifts. You can spend an afternoon sifting through the eclectic mix of goodies. I spotted a gorgeous pink sweater that had tiny specks of white weaved into a lovely detailed pattern. It had a pretty pin with purple stones in front to hold it closed. It felt soft and cuddly and I thought it would suit her perfectly.

On Christmas Eve she opened the box and held the sweater up to her face. I don't want this story to sound sad in any way, but I knew this might be her last Christmas. She was in her late eighties and in failing health. She continued to crochet the slipper socks wearing the pink sweater through the winter. My mother in-law peacefully passed away in April.

The day came to clean out her house, which is never easy. We spent an entire day filled with memories some sad, most joyous. I found the sweater lying across the back of her chair. I smiled when I saw it. I took the sweater home with me and I feel a warm embrace whenever I wear it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

How-to form a knitting (writing) group

My friends and fellow critique group members
Amber Harvey and Susan Snider 
in the Agricultural Society Hall on Mayne Island
during the Christmas Craft Fair

I am the co-rejuvenating partner of the Mayne Island writers' group. Starting that group was so easy.

I was at a house party and made a casual comment to a friend. I said, "I'd like to start a writers' group." Well, one thing led to another a few short weeks later the Mayne Island writers' group was formed.

I'm the founding member of the Knit Witts of Mayne Island. Starting that group was more challenging.


Well, I was new to the island and the knitting group was the first group I formed.

Taking the initiative to establish the group was a good experience for me, I learned a lot and would like to share some tips with you.

Group Dynamics

While planning the first meeting, consider what type of members you like to attract. If you wish to attract retirees schedule your meetings for the daytime. If you want the 9-5ers, schedule your meeting in the evening.


-The venue should reflect the tone of the group. If you want to party all night long, why not meet in a bar. If you're a little tamer, meet in a cafe, library, or yarn shop.
-Ensure that your location is easily accessible by public transportation.
-Consult with the owner of the venue before choosing it. Make sure that they are happy to have your group meet in their facility.
-At least initially, I would advise meeting in a public location.


I posted a note in my local newspaper. You may also wish to make posters and distribute handbills.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Within a Curse by Terrill Welch

Terrill Welch and I are members of the Mayne Island writer's group. She was one of the first people to read The Sweater Curse. Her skilled eye and thoughtful words helped me shape my thriller. I am grateful for her constant support.
Note: The photo and photography featured in this post were created by Terrill Welch.

Terrill writes: Leanne Dyck's soon-to-be published thriller The Sweater Curse twists and turns as it knits a fine yarn for an artist's creativity. Her new work has me asking a few questions. What is an artist's community? How do we know if we are part of one? What is a curse? What might be a blessing within a curse? Where do we find our choice, our point of action be it a curse or a blessing?

I was blessed and cursed with a large amount of creative energy. This has influenced my life in all its aspects but particularly as an artist and photographer. Both these creative endeavours are often solitary. Yet, inspiration comes from community and from discussion with peers. This is what I call my artists community. Sometimes it has been a physical community. These days it is most often an online virtual community of facebook, twitter and blogging colleagues. These are the neighborhoods where my work is first introduced to the public. These are places where my work is supported, gently critiqued and lovely admired.

I know I am part of an artists community because other creative beings come by, visit and engage in meaningful conversations about creativity. I know I am part of an artists community when I am shown the work of other artists and asked for my thoughts. These are rich places for me. Places I grow and thrive.

To be cursed with an artists vision is to know that much remain unresolved, unfinished and in need of expression. The desire to express, to create is a must. The blessings come when we can create in a manner that fulfills that desire. A painting where I can capture the inner spirit of the scene or a photographer where I find something new in the ordinary. These are blessings because for a short while I am at peace. At least unitl the next moment presents itself for expression.

Too often a blessing or a curse feels like something we have no control over, something that happens to us rather than because of us. The Sweater Curse takes this situation to the very edge, where we lose our sense of personal power and ability to decide our behaviour. I won't tell you anymore. A thriller is too easy to spoil in the telling. As an artist I must create and express my feelings, ideas and thoughts--to not would be to be only half living. The action and choice on how I create is my point of personal power and insight. May you create with the abundance of your full creative power and be blessed with an artist community of your own.

Leanne, thank you for inviting me into your creative community. I am honoured. May your readers be inspired to buy your soon-to-be published thriller The Sweater Curse.
Thank you, Terrill, for sharing your words and your art.
Please visit to participate in Terrill's creative community.
Please visit to view and purchase Terrill's beautiful photography and paintings.

QUESTIONS: Please leave a comment, Terrill will be by to reply.

Today on 30 Days of Decadence ( Leslie Soule writes about The Most Awesome Gift Ever!
On Rita Hestand is participating in Just the Facts Friday.
I will be participating in Six Sentences Sunday ( You don't have to go any where, do anything--except log on here.

Monday's post: How I created my creative community, and tips on how you can create your own.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Meet an Mayne Island artist--Terrill Welch

I met Terrill Welch at an event she organized to celebrate International Women's Day. After our short chat, I had a feeling that I had met a dynamic woman, who is living in a life of abundance.

I'm pleased to introduce Terrill.

Where did you live before coming to Mayne Island?

Naming the string of places I have called home would make a fairy ring around Mayne Island. We most recently lived in Pedder Bay on the far side of the district of Metchosin outside of Victoria. I was born in the farming community of Vanderhoof, British Columbia in the year 1958.

Why did you come to Mayne Island?

My partner and I could live anywhere in the world. David is retired and my business is flexible and international in scope. We quickly decided that we wanted to stay in Canada. Prince Edward Island was a strong contender on our list of choices. Fortunately, we found our home first before deciding on any particular geographic location and it just happened to be on Mayne Island. We moved to Mayne Island in May 2007. We now live in a beautiful eco-friendly strawbale timberframe home that was built by Tracy Calvert. To the relief of our collection of eight grown children, we have settled on the south west coast instead of across the country!

Why do you stay?

We are comfortable with the semi-rural life-style and feel like a valued part of the small community here on the island.

What do you do for fun on the island?

My most favourite island activity is to hike around exploring cliffs and seashores with a heavy digital cannon camera slung over my shoulder. My second most favourite thing is to have friends and family over to visit.
What are you employed at?

I am a full-time creative being between impressionist nature paintings, photography and writing. I have an active blog at Creative Potager
and an online storefront at redbubble
I love community and both of these venues allow me to be connected to a global creative community that feeds my artist juices while living on a small island off the southwest coast of Canada.

What do you like best about living and working here?

...that I can!

What do you like the least?

Long-term what is least controllable about living on an island is reliable and affordable ferry service.

Why would you leave?

We are staying.

Please share parting words of advice, comments, concerns, hints or tips

A vision not lived remains only a dream--may you be living your vision!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

On art, on craft

The Salt Spring Arts Council produces an informative newsletter. Flipping through an old issue, I found this article penned by Gary Cherneff.

Craft is about skill and technology and as such we judge it rather objectively because standards are often codified and do not contain those tricky artsy terms such as meaning or symbolism etc. which is why it is easier to understand. Art is about knowing what you want to say and being successful at saying it. We judge it subjectively. It is harder to understand because we have to think for ourselves about meaning etc. and have to spend time learning the language of art. Both art and craft extraordinary commitment to do well.

In 2006 I wrote
If you create or find your own fibre, pattern, needles and, or use them in an unconventional way you are clearly an artist. Their is no question in my mind.
Another way to determine if something is art or craft is to ask the question why? Why are you knitting this item? Is it to serve a purpose? Say for example, you are cold so you knit a sweater--then you are a crafter. On the other hand, if you are making a profound statement by knitting the item then clearly you are an artist.
Hmmm, my words are fuel for a mighty fire.

A search engine yielded this website:
Interesting, if only for the pictures.
If you're interested in reading more art related articles, I just found a treasure chest. Log on to:
Search the topic that interests you.
You'll be lost for hours.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Art? Craft? What do you think?

How do you define these words? How do I? What prejudice do I carry?

Craft: I grew up in rural Manitoba. There, crafters surrounded me. In my grandma's home braided rugs lay at the front door and a crocheted afghan covered the sofa. My aunts sewed their children's clothes. My mom knit mittens, scarves and sweaters. When I was old enough I joined 4-H and was schooled in handicrafts.

Art: As a child, I never saw adults painting pictures or modeling with clay. These were activities for children in kindergarten.
In 1999 I moved to an island off Canada's west coast. Here, visual artists, musicians and wordsmiths fill my life. In the beginning I revered them. Now I'm among the artists' rank. I eat, I breathe, I write.

Still, I continue to wrestle with art, with craft.

Writing The Sweater Curse allowed me to explore my relationship with these two words. For main character Gwen Bjarnson crafts, namely knitting, brings her comfort in a tremulous world.

When Gwen was young, her mother said, "Crafts are for the common folk. Art is far more worthy of your time and energies."

I'm interested in what you think.

-How do you define art?
-How do you define craft?
-In your eyes, does one have more value than the other?
-How does society view art?
-How does society view craft?
-Is there art in craft, craft in art? If not, why not? Please explain.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Today's Knitting Groups

Knitting groups are important not only because they ensure the survival of our craft and give much to our communities, but also because of what they give to individual members. Groups help members through life crisis, celebrate life rewards, and help to develop hidden talents.

Knitting guilds
To become a guild member you must complete a registration form and pay a registration fee. Once membership is acquired dues become payable annually. In the guild, formal meetings are held regularly and presided over by a president.

Guilds usually have an educational component. During this education your knitting skills are judged and you must perform to a set level of competency. Upon successful completion of this education you gain the status of Master Knitter. Participation in these educational programs is voluntary.

Guilds exist mainly in urban areas. Rural knitters may become affiliate members. Active participation in a guild for most rural knitters is sadly impossible.

A brief history
In the seventeenth century, knitting guilds were the mainly male domain of professional knitters. To join, you had to embark in seven years of study the collimation of which was a demonstrated prowess in the craft. Work was subject to strict regulations as a form of quality control. As a member of the guild, you belonged to a family who would care for you when you were in need and discipline you when you stepped out of line.

Knitting circles
Knitting circle is a term coined to describe any knitting group that is not a guild. Membership is free or not necessary. Socializing, not educating, is the focus. The environment in which participants meet is created and maintained by the facilitator. Any knitter anywhere can form a knitting circle. Simply find a place to meet and ask your knitting friends to join you there.

What are the origins of the meeting circle?
King Arthur and his knights of the round table are legendary. The round table was chosen to ensure that all knights were equal--all voices heard.

Historians speculate that the round table was adopted from the biblical last supper. During the last supper Jesus and his apostles feasted from a round table. Yet, the meeting circle is even older than this biblical reference. It dates back to the nature spiritualists.

Nature spiritualists revered females as the giver of life. Mother Goddess was the creator of all. They didn't dominate but sought to live in harmony with Mother Goddess' creations. From the harvesting of plants, they learned of the never-ending circle of life. They formed a sacred circle to celebrate Mother Goddess and to pass on knowledge of her.

Shared Passion
It is the time of the owl. The sun has long since set--a black blanket envelops the earth. All is quiet...and still I am drawn by a wordless call. I am careful to wake no one as I leave my slumber. I wrap my shawl around my night-gowned shoulders; grab my purse and slip into the night. I leave the familiar and travel deep into the forest. I do not tarry. My footfalls are quick and sure.
I come to a natural clearing in the woods. Here they wait. Their skin tones range from milk to butter to cinnamon. Some faces have been touched by the graceful brush of age. Other faces, time has yet to alter. All are my sisters. I join the circle.
Our craft is ancient. Our magic strong. We draw from our purses that which unites us. We begin to chant faintly at first and then louder and louder, until our words echo from the treetops.
I pledge my knitting for social action,
My yarn for greater warmth,
I knit for the neglected, abandoned and abused
I knit for those with no voice, no home, no one.
I knit for those with greatest need
Suddenly a streak of light flashes across the sky! It flits from sister to sister briefly touching each knitting needle. Enlivened by the light, our needles dance. Sweaters, gloves, scarves, toques, blankets fall from our needles. As quickly as they are knit they vanish. We know to where and we know to whom although not a word is spoken. Then, all to quickly, that which drew us together bids us part. My sisters and I exchange a smile then I slip from the circle back to my bed. The sanctity of the circle stays with me, always, deep within my heart.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Free pattern using 3-needle bind off

Yesterday, I promised you a free pattern that uses the three-needle bind off technique. Well, it's amazing what I can find in my collection of patterns.
Guna is, basically, a rectangle seemed using the three-needle bind off technique. Then an I-cord is attached.

Toques will give you hat head--Guna won't.
Want to knit it?

Here's the pattern:

Yarn: one skein of worsted weight yarn
Needles: one set 4.50 mm (US 7, UK 7)
two double-point needles
Stitch pattern
seed stitch (over an even number of stitches)
Row 1: knit one, purl one--to end of row.
Row 2: purl one, knit one--to end of row.
Repeat rows 1 and 2 for pattern.

Stockinette stitch
Row 1: knit
Row 2: purl
Repeat rows 1 and 2 for pattern.

Cast on 90 stitches
Establish pattern as follows: work in Stockinette stitch for 10 stitches, seed stitch for 70 stitches, Stockinette stitch for 10 stitches for a total of 90 stitches.
Work in established pattern for 10.5 inches (26.5 cm)
Cast off using the three-needle bind off technique, weave in ends.
Make two I-cords
Using two double-pointed, cast on 8 stitches and work for 10 inches (25.5 cm) or desired length. Use a darning needle to collect stitches and secure. Attach I-cord to hood.
Every attempt has been made to ensure that the instructions are clear and correct. Please notify me of any errors so I may correct the pattern immediately. ldyck(c)2/8/2008