Thursday, July 28, 2011

Music on Mayne Island (UHF)

Mayne Island Music society welcomed a lively large crowd (200+) to the Agricultural Society grounds. Board member Bob Irving was M.C. (Yes, once again my husband was volunteer sound man--all agreed he did a fine job. )

Open mic featured performers from here

and far (This couple was from southern United States).

Nanette Johnston, a local favourite, warmed the stage.

My brother-in-law T.D. Christopher entertained with an original song and his rendition of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah and then...

UHF took the stage.

Quoting from The MayneLiner Magazine (the community voice of Mayne Island)

The enigmatically named acoustic/vocal trio, UHF, are Shari Ulrich, Bill Henderson and Roy Forbes, as brilliant a teaming of three disparate talents as a Canadian West Coast accident could ever be.

When they first joined forces in 1989 for what was planned as a one off performance at Vancouver's Winter Roots Festival, Vancouver born Henderson was best known as the long time lead singer and songwriter for the successful Collectors and Chilliwack bands. Ulrich, an ex-Californian, had been a key member of British Columbia's Pied Pumpkin, The Hometown Band and a respected solo singer/songwriter while Forbes, from Dawson Creek and known for years as Bim, was a long time formidable staple on the North American folkroots circuit.

Ulrich, Henderson and Forbes are all seasoned and prolific songwriters -- indeed, each continues a solo recording and performance career -- but it took a special focus to come up with tunes that suited the trio and led to the critical success of two albums: UHF and UHF II. "It's a wonderful balance," Henderson has said of the group. "I find some neat mysteries in it. One of them is how we get the vocal blend we do. I would never have expected that to work. But it just did, an amazing surprise."

(written by Carol Munro)

Speaking as a Mayne Islander, I was thrilled that such a well known group performed on my island home. Much thanks to this amazing group.


Next post: Please meet author Valerie Mann

Saturday: Kill Me Tomorrow by Diane Alberts

Monday, July 25, 2011

Free Summer Top hand knitting pattern designed by Leanne Dyck

The "Too Cool" summer top is designed to be knit by beginner knitters. It can be worn alone or over a cami. I'd recommend you use a summer weight yarn such as bamboo, silk, cotton, hemp blend, or linen blend.

Skill level: beginner

sts stitches
k knit
p purl
k2tog knit 2 together
RS right side

Finished Sweater measurements
Bust: S-32"/M-36"/L-40"
Length: 20"
Tension: 1" = 5 sts over Stockinette stitch on 6 mm (US 10) knitting needles
Needles: One pair of straight needles in the size needed to obtain tension. One pair of double pointed needles for I-cord.
Yarn: worsted weight 360 yards
Instructions for Small are given first with changes for Medium and Large in brackets.

seed stitch (over an even number of sts)
Row 1: k1, p1--to end of row
Row 2: p1, k1--to end of row
Repeat rows 1 and 2 for pattern

rib stitch (over an even number of sts)
Row 1: k1, p1--to end of row
Repeat row 1 for pattern

Back is worked in two panels, worked at the same time from two balls of yarn.
From 1st ball of yarn (right back)...cast on 36 (42/46) sts
From 2nd ball of yarn (left back)...cast on 36 (42/46) sts
Left Back: Work 30 (36/40) sts in rib, then 6 sts in seed stitch
Right Back: Work 6 sts in seed stitch, then 30 (36/40) sts in rib
Continue working in established pattern until work measures 11 1/2 "
Shape Armhole: Continuing with rib pattern, k2tog at the outside edge of every row
When work measures 13 1/2", continue armhole shaping, and work in seed stitch across both panels with one ball of yarn for 1 1/2". Break yarn on other panel. Back now measures 15". Cast off.

Cast on 72 (84/92) sts
Work in rib stitch until work measures 11 1/2"
Shape Armhole: Continuing with rib pattern, k2tog at beginning and end of each row. Continue shaping armhole until front measures 13 1/2".
Continuing armhole shaping as given, work in seed stitch for 1 1/2".
Front now measures 15". Cast off.

I-cord (make two)
Work cord until it measures 24".

Sew side seams.
Sew on I-cord: Begin sewing one end of the cord from the side seam up the back armhole shaping to the cast off edge of the back. Place the other end of the cord at the seam, and sew up the front armhole shaping to the cast off edge of the front. Repeat for other side.
Weave in ends.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

#book-clubs' Discussion Questions

In the print version of The Sweater Curse I was able to add a few features such as an additional hand knitting pattern (Islandia), a glossary of Icelandic words and a series of discussion questions. These questions are ideal to use by a individual reader or by a book club.
Here they are...

1)Who, in this story, would you label a villain? Why? Do they have redeeming qualities? What are they?
2)Who, in this story, would you label a hero/heroine? Why? Do they have flaws? What are they?
3)Why do you think Hannah allowed Oli to teach Gwen to knit?
4) Is Gwen justified in blaming Hannah for Kris' death? If not, who is to blame? Who/what could have saved his life?
5) In what ways does Gwen reveal her hatred for her mother? Who/what is to blame for Gwen's failed relationship with her mother?
6)Why do you think there are no pictures of Gwen or Kris in Hannah's office or house? Do you believe that Hannah grieved the deaths of her spouse and daughter? Why do you think Hannah attended Gwen's funeral?
7) What do you think Gwen's life would have been like if she'd continued to live on the farm?
8) Why do you think Jaron is self-confident?
9) Why do you think Jaron was interested in viewing Gwen's designs?
10) Is Gwen and Jaron's relationship a positive one? If not, who is to blame for the flaws? What, in your opinion, could have been done to strengthen this relationship?
11) Do you believe Heather Newsfeld stole Gwen's design? If so, what action--if any--should be taken and by whom?
12) Knitting brings Gwen comfort and inspires her to create. Yet, Hannah tells her, "Crafts are for the common folk. Art is far more worthy of your time and energies." Explore your own bias and believes concerning art and craft.

Next post: randomly blogging Thursday

Monday, July 18, 2011

What am I knitting?

I have been knitting. Oh, yes I have. I just haven't been finishing.
I started knitting with this lovely yarn.

It's a blend of acrylic and linen.

It will eventually be this...

only with a few changes which I look forward to sharing with you.

I'm knitting this to wear to an island wedding this August.

When the weather grew colder I rethought my outfit and started knitting with this beautiful yarn...

I love this shade of red and it will become...

(Do you recognize this top?) However, I'm altering the pattern as I want a cardigan. I had to stop working on this project when I received a phone call.

I sent 8 baby sweater sets (sweater, hat and finger puppet) to ArtCraft (a seasonal gallery on a sister island). Last Friday they phoned with good news. "We've sold all but two of the sets. Do you have more?"

My response, "No, I don't but I will have."

I've been speed knitting ever since. This morning I finished this...

When this post is live, I'll cast on stitches for another sweater. I'm hoping to finish three sweater sets by the end of July. Please wish me clear sailing. : )


While I'm busy...
Here's a
link to tons of craft resource sites.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Guest Post: author Steve Piacente

How/why did you start to write?
I started writing very early; pretty much the day I found out I couldn't do the math but was good at describing the people who could do the math. Though private as a child, I went on to make a career out of telling stories--the first as a daily newspaper reporter, then as a government speechwriter, and now as director of a federal agency's website, where we use tools in addition to words--such as videos and photo galleries--to tell our stories to the public.

How did you become an author?
I became dissatisfied with the amount of storytelling I could do in a daily newspaper story, and so decided to return to school for a Masters in Fiction at Johns Hopkins University in the late 1990s. Rigorous fiction workshops forced me to re-think the way I had been writing for years. For instance, I had to learn how to expand a significant moment, to build anticipation and draw it out, as opposed to blasting all the key information into the first paragraph, as print journalists typically do in newspaper stories. This set me on the path to write several short stories, and then a novel.

What was your first published piece/Where was it published/ How long ago?
These three questions are all tied together. My first published fiction was a short story called Four Hands, which I wrote during the Hopkins program in the late 1990s. I was working on another piece in our family room downstairs, while upstairs my two daughters, then 14 and 12, were practicing a piano piece for an upcoming recital. Their teacher had given them a duet that required four hands, two for the high notes, and two for the lower. There were more fighting than playing, and I was about to lay down the law when I realized that a better story than the one I was writing was sitting right in front of me on the piano bench. I used the practice sessions to reveal the girls' characters, made the dad a renowned conductor worried more about his reputation than his children, and the recital, when all goes horribly wrong, as his moment of enlightenment. Four Hands not only got me an A, a small literary magazine called Potomac Review also published it--my first published fiction. Coincidentally, I recently received a note from the magazine saying that Four Hands was one of the editors' favorite 50 stories, and asking for permission to reprint it in an upcoming anniversary issue. I look forward to seeing it in print again.

What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?
I began writing pretty much the day after college graduation and have never stopped. My first job was as a high school sportswriter at the Naples Daily News In Naples, FL. After two years, I moved to the Lakeland Ledger, a New York Times-owned paper in Central Florida. There I switched from sports to news. My work caught the attention of editors at the Tampa Tribune, who invited me to apply for a position there. I became the Tribune's Washington correspondent in 1985, and switched to a similar position for the Charleston (SC) Post-Courier several years later. Reporting definitely positioned me well for writing fiction. I had crusty editors who did not believe in writer's block and who weren't shy about telling me how to improve stories. I had bristly readers who helped me develop a thick skin. My press pass took me into hundreds of places I wouldn't have gone to otherwise, every place from the White House to backstage at the circus. During those years, I learned how to write quickly and clearly, to listen and learn what made people's voices distinctive, and to hone my ability to separate fact from fiction.
What inspires you?
-Great writing by authors like Annie Proulx, John Steinbeck and Philip Roth.
-My children, wife and mother.
-Ordinary people who do extraordinary things.

-And my students at American University
Please share one your successful marketing techniques?

Build a map
Find readers from as many states as possible. Get them to read your first 50 pages, and then send back their name, city, state, headshot, and one positive line about your book. Use Google maps to create a free map of U.S. on your site, and plant pushpins to display the groundswell of support already underway. 

Hitch up a trailer
People like videos, so take your story, reduce it to half a dozen plot points, and find yourself a good videographer. Work together on a script and storyboard, and then get out of the way. The payoff can be substantial. 

Parting words
I believe that even with all the amazing technology around us, including new media tools that have rewritten the rules that once governed publishing, we're still driven by very primitive instincts, things like passion, hunger, jealousy and ambition. Good storytellers must recognize this, and weave tales that explore and shed insight on the impulses that drive our behavior. As a reporter for many years, I'm a strong believer in the "guess what" test. If I say, "Guess what?" and you answer, "What?" I have one chance to capture your attention. If I fail, I know you're moving on to another storyteller. I sum up Bella in these three lines that I hope meets the "guess what" test. Isabel Moss knew she could lose her huband when he went off to war. When the call came, she was almost ready. What stopped her cold was the second call...

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Isabel Moss knew she could lose her husband when he went off to war. When the call came, she was almost ready. What stopped her cold was the second call...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Last Saturday on Mayne Island (church fair and music)

First I have to brag. Hubby and I got a top score on Rock Band for drumming and singing C.C.R.'s Proud Mary. Here's proof...

Now come with me to the St. Mary Magdalene church fair...
First stop for me is the book tent...

I bought 10 books for six dollars--among them: The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman, David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger (I read this in junior high but wanted to re-read it and couldn't find Hubby's copy), The Pelican Brief by John Grisham, Too Close to the Falls by Catherine Gildiner, A Son of the Circus by John Irving, Look at Me Now and Here I Am: Writings and Lectures 1909 - 45 by Gertrude Stein.
Two of these authors have dyslexia. Can you guess who?

More fun activities, wonderful treasures and delicious food under tents.

For example the craft tent--knitting, crochet, quilting, and sewing.

New this year the make-a-castle-out-of-recycled-material

It's rather amazing when you think children under twelve made all of the above.
(I apologize my camera ate one of these pictures.)

Inside the church music played. Can you hear Carol's elegant harp?

Then we have to pay a visit to the horse and donkey.

So much to do that sometimes you just have to take a break and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us.

Later that night Hubby and I went to an outside concert on the grounds of the Agricultural Society Hall.

Hubby was sound man.

Compassionate Guerrilla played.
It was fun music to dance to. I cut the : )

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

On writing

I keep many journals some I encounter daily. Others, full, lie forgotten. I unearthed one of these yesterday, flipped through it and read...

How to begin? The first word is key. "If"--no, that's no good. "When"--no. "There"--no. "The"--no. "I" perfect. It loudly declares not only the voice but also the subject. Immediately it tells the reader this story is about me. I like that.

Next word "don't"--a nice strong word.

Then what? I don't drive--no. I don't swim--no. I don't speak--no. How about... Yes, that's perfect--write.

Now, my reader is wondering, what does she mean she doesn't write--she can, she has.

The last word is critical. It completes and clarifies. That word--well.

Read the entire sentence, "I don't write well."

Should I end with a question mark? No, a period will suffice.

Next sentence...

I need to come with a better system so gems like this don't get lost. Any suggestions?

Monday, July 4, 2011

String Bikini Gloves (free knitting pattern) by Leanne Dyck

Fun and quick to knit for a beginner knitter.

The String Bikini Gloves

Knitting needles: one pair of straight needles 4.50 mm/ 7 US/ 7 UK two double-pointed needles Or size to obtain tension 

Yarn: light worsted weight cotton/acrylic blend one 50-gram ball will make two pairs of gloves (size large) 

Gauge: 5 stitches x 8 rows = one inch over Stockinette stitch 

4 x 4 rib (over even number of stitches) row 1: knit 4, purl 4--continue to end of row Repeat row for pattern 

1 x 1 rib (over even number of stitches) row 1: knit 1, purl 1--continue to end of row Repeat row for pattern

Wrist (make two) Cast on 40 stitches Work in 4 x 4 rib for two inches Cast off

Fingers (make two) Cast on 14 stitches Work in 1 x 1 rib for one inch Cast off

I-cord (make six) 

YouTube Video:  How to make I-cord

Note: Small to large sizes are provided. Instructions for medium and large sizes appear in the brackets. 

Make four I-cord two inches long Make two I-cords two (two and a half, three) inches long 

Finishing Sew wrist and finger seams Sew long I-cord from middle finger to wrist. Sew one small I-cord from ring finger to wrist. Sew one small I-cord from middle finger to wrist. Weave in ends. ldyck(c)06/06 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Guest Post: knitwear designer Sarah Barbour

Who taught you to knit? 

A very nice woman named Jill Baer. She was one of those people who you'd definitely want with you if you were stranded on a desert island; she could knit, spin, shear a sheep, grow her own food--that sort of thing. She was a great person to learn from as she respected patterns but also understood how to "own" your knitting. She recommended Elizabeth Zimmerman's books and of course they've been great resources as I've learned how to create my own patterns. 

What knitting method do you use? Continental? English? 

I'm an English knitter. I've taught myself Continental and use it for colorwork sometimes but I've never gotten used to using it for regular knitting.

What is your favourite stitch pattern? 

Just one? That's sort of like asking me which of my children I like best. Well, since I have three children, mind if I give you three stitches? (No, please do. : ) ) I think I'd go with moss stitch, which is easy, looks plush and cozy, and doesn't roll; fir cone lace, which gives you a very elegant looking fabric for relatively little effort; and though I love most cable patterns, nothing beats a Saxon Braid for making you feel like you've accomplished something. 

What is your favourite yarn? 

But there are so many! I'm finishing up a project in Valley Yarns Sheffield which is very nice, I made my Argentina shawl with Himalaya Yarns Duke, a single-ply, worsted weight silk probably the most elegant yarn I've worked with. I've loved most of the Blue Sky Alpaca yarns I've worked with. I could go on, but that might give you a sense of what I like.

Is there a needle size that you prefer to work with? Bamboo, plastic or steel needles? 

I tend to work most with #5, #6, and #7s. (US sizes) I tend to prefer sport-to-worsted yarns so those work well. No real preferences on the material--it really depends on what's going to work well with the yarn. 

What is your favourite item to knit? 

Sweaters. Which is too bad because they take forever. I keep telling myself I'm going to focus on scarves or hats 'anything quick' but the sweaters and the cardigans keep calling me back.

What are you currently working on? 

I have several patterns in various stages of almost finished: a cardigan that's being test knit; a hat with a matching wrap that I need to write out the charts for; and a crocheted shawl that I'm doing for a yarn company. And I just submitted my first book proposal to a publisher--wish me luck! (Absolutely! : ) 
I'm sure all knitters who pours over your beautiful will join with me in wishing you luck.)

Why did you become a knitwear designer? 

I began tweaking other people's patterns to suit me. And sometimes I'd buy yarn just because I liked it and then start playing around with it to see what it wanted to become. Eventually I was making things up from scratch. 

Tell me about your first pattern? 

My first published pattern was the Seafoam Shawl, though it was called the Sweet Ruffled Shawl when it was published. It's a very easy pattern, a simple 2-row repeat with a stockinette stitch border. 

Where did it appear on your website or in a magazine or ezine? 

It was published by Knit Picks. I think they sold it as a pdf file originally. A couple of years later, when the rights reverted to me, I made it available as a free pattern on my site.

Do you attend fibre festivals? 

The only reason I've never attended one is because to date, the ones that have been held within a reasonable drive of where I've lived have not worked well with my schedule for various reasons. I hope to rectify that soon. 

Have you taught knitting classes? Where? When? 

I love teaching knitting (and crochet). I've been teaching for about five years, mostly at a local yarn store and through our community college. Most of my students have been adults. I've met a really interesting mix of people from a wide variety of backgrounds and ages, but I've never had a single male student.

What is the most rewarding aspect about being a knitwear designer?

I think designing something is a little like having a child conceiving the idea is really fun, turning the idea into an actual object can be exhausting, writing the pattern (for me) is rather painful, but when I'm all done I can look at it and say, I did it and I love it to pieces! 


Personally, I find marketing my work quite challenging. I'm not great at putting myself out there and mastering things like advertising and Twitter and Facebook, etc. I'd much rather curl up and knit. But I'm slowly getting better at it.