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Saturday, July 31, 2010

England in a Nutshell

The beautiful Cotswolds...words cannot describe the beauty of this part of England. From the lush rolling hills to the grazing sheep in the meadows, to the pristine little villages and country cottages built of honey-colored stone, the Cotswolds are your quintessential England. Today was a visit to Anne Hathaway's cottage, a beautifully kept 15th century cottage with gardens beyond compare. There I succumbed to a counted-cross stitch picture of the cottage. Thankfully, it is very small, so it's possible I will finish it in my lifetime. Last night we saw a production of Julius Caesar by the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. Again, no words for this. It was a highlight of the trip. Here are few pictures of Anne's cottage:

A few days ago we did a 10 mile hike from Bourton-on-the-Water through the Upper and Lower Slaughters; through hill and dale, meadows of sheep and cows, to a well deserved pub lunch 1/2 way through. Could I walk the next day? Barely. Was it worth it? Yes.

We have walked through the little villages of Broadway and Chipping Camden. In Burford I scored big time, finding a needlework and yarn shop all rolled in together. I bought Elizabeth Bradley needlepoint, and some counted cross stitch. The yarn was upstairs, and passed this time, but in the next yarn shop I bought some Rowan. The shopkeeper, Pat, was more than happy to listen to me prattle on about my new book, and even said she was going to order some for the shop.

Ducking into 15th century buildings for a spot of tea and a sweet treat, or just strolling the side streets and marveling over the beauty of the old houses, this has been a trip filled with a million gorgeous sights.

We are now at our last B and B. The view from our bedroom is that of a rolling meadow with grazing sheep. Ditto for the view from the john in the bathroom.

Today I fulfilled my dream of sitting in an English country garden sipping tea and working on my English needlepoint. Why does tea taste so much better when served to you in a garden filled with roses? Why do the English have such gorgeous gardens, and all I can grow is stones? The, never too hot, and apparently just the right amount of rain. True, it does rain almost every day, but so far, we have not encountered torrential downpours...just light drizzle or showers. The sky can clear as fast as it can cloud up and rain.

Tomorrow we are visiting Hidcote gardens, maybe another beautiful little village, maybe we will have a grand tea in the afternoon...who knows. On Monday we drive back to Southampton where we will catch the QM2 to steam home, having the much deserved rest from too much sight-seeing!!
Cheers to all!!
Candace’s Log, July 26, 2010-07-26

We are waiting to disembark from the Queen Mary 2 after 6 days at sea. Yesterday, the last day, was the only day we saw the sun. The rest of the trip was shrouded in fog and 95% humidity. Nevertheless, it was great fun. This was our schedule, give or take a few particulars.

9:00 AM: Wake up, go down for breakfast and be served in the grandest style possible. Order anything you want. I went for the fresh fruit and yogurt, Ken ate everything!

10:30 AM: Go to gym and workout for 1 hour on the exercise bike, do yoga, stretching and weight lifting for ½ an hour, walk around the promenade deck for one hour.
Back to the room to shower, then down to the buffet for lunch. Platters and platters of all kinds of fresh fruit, salads, cheeses, 3 or 4 hot buffets, lots and lots of desserts. Each day was a different specialty, set up in the middle. One day was sushi, one day was a chocolate buffet, etc.
After lunch there could be a movie in the planetarium, or a concert by the string quartet, or deck sitting and knitting. Deck sitting can easily turn into a nap.

3:30 PM: Tea in the Queen’s room. You sit down at a little table covered with white linen and beautifully set with fine china. Waiters come around with little sandwiches, scones and pastries, and tea or coffee. They even had gluten free cakes and scones for me.

4:30 PM: Back to the deck to sit, knit/read.

6:00 PM: Go for a swim and then sit in the hot tub.

7:30 PM Dress for dinner

8:30 PM: Dinner in the dining room. There were 4 formal nights, so Ken was in his tuxedo, and I was in my long dress. Three days into the voyage the long dress got too tight to wear. It was abandoned for a looser style. We had a table by a window in the dining room, so we were able to watch the ocean as we ate, and the last night we saw a glorious sunset over the water.

10:30 PM: Dancing in the Queen’s Room or in the disco. While I hated the music in the disco, it felt fabulous to be able to move around fast to displace all the food from dinner!!

12:00 or later, as we had to turn the clocks ahead 1 hour each day, sleep.

The ship is beautiful, the food is wonderful and abundant, and the relaxation that comes with all of this is well worth the price. For a few days one can forget about world strife and all the problems of everyday life. There is a library on board, and last summer I checked out Wally Lamb’s novel, The Hour I First Believed. I got to chapter 16. This time I checked it out, read considerably further, and hope to check it out on the return trip and finally finish it. Did I knit? YOU BET…in between the naps on the deck. I had started a cotton lace top before we left, and just finished it this morning before breakfast. I am now working on a second linen skirt; also have some socks going.

There even was a meeting every day at 2 PM for people who do needlework. I went once, and saw what everyone was working on. One woman was doing bobbin lace, which was totally incredible; another was doing counted cross stitch, another doing needlepoint. There was a few sock knitters, a sweet teenage girl doing knitting, and assorted other knitters. Who woulda thunk….

Once we disembark we are getting the rental car and heading up into the Cotswalds. Do I miss home? A little bit. More later when I can finally connect to the internet. The prices onboard the ship to connect are ridiculous.

One last thing…I was in a shop onboard and saw the most beautiful crocheted bolero. I bought it. But of course intend to make one exactly like it when I get home.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Oh no!!

It's inevitable; we found the first errata in Strick-ly Socks. Here it is:

Strick-ly Socks, page 54, Happy Feet Basketweave SocksBasketweave pattern for round 14 should read: (P1,K1)3x, p1, P7 ( instead of K7 as written), (p1, k1)3x, p1.

I think it is pretty minor, and the person who drew it to my attention was able to see exactly what was wrong and do it the correct way. There are blocks of ridges in between blocks of ribbing. To make the ridges when working in the round, every other round needs to be purled.

Now that I know I am going away on vacation, I somehow have gotten a whole new burst of creativity. This is lethal; I want to bring all my new projects along to work on, but I know that I won't have room in the luggage, and that I probably won't be able to spend as much time on them as I want. There will be sightseeing to do, driving on the wrong side of the road (I have to sit shotgun while Ken drives, reminding him every few miles to keep left!). Yes, we are going to England; Cotswalds, to be specific. I will try to post pictures from our B and B's, and write about what we are doing. The almost best part of the trip will be taking the Queen Mary 2 transatlantic both ways. Deck 7 is the Promenade deck, and I love to sit on a deck chair and knit, but mostly I get lured away from it by watching the ocean. It's constantly changing colors, and it never ceases to amaze me. Spending 6 days on this ship is like stepping off of the real world. For a few glorious days, all the troubles of earthly life disappear. It's just me, Ken, the ocean, and doing whatever we want whenever we want.

So what about my burst of creativity? I finished my linen skirt and absolutely love it--want to start another one; have started a cotton lace top to wear over a tank top, have several new shawls in my head that I want to start (next book is Strick-ly Shawls), and of course socks.England is filled with beautiful needlepoint, so I have no doubts that I will come home with some.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The new Video at YouTube

It's finally here-- our new video at YouTube showing how to do the Strick-ly Socks provisional cast-on. Here's the link
Let me know what you think of my Hollywood debut!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

TKGA in Manchester, New Hampshire

I'm here teaching at the TKGA (The Knitting Guild of America) annual conference. Yesterday I taught my class entitled 2 by 2 to a lovely group of women. It is all about how to use 2 colors to jazz up your knitting. Today I teach Austrian Traveling Twisted Stitches for 6 hours, and tomorrow I will be teaching my new class called Vivaldi's Concerto. Musicians like to make fun of Vivaldi because they say he wrote one concerto 400 times. The class is all about how to make a sweater from the top down, and all the variations you can do with this construction.

Last night I signed books at the Elegant Ewe booth, but had a chance for a quick run through the market. My most favorite "needle people" were there, Tom and Linda Diak, with their gorgeous hand-crafted needles. They are from Grafton, Vermont. Tom makes the needles and Linda makes gorgeous batts of blended roving. Both products lure me in every single time.

Here's a picture of the smooth and fabulous needles, size 0, of course, for socks.
Here's a link to their website

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Judy Pascale doesn't knit socks, but..........

Below is what my dear friend Judy Pascale has to say about Strick-ly Socks. She was unable to post it in the comments part of the blog for some reason. I promised her I would put it somewhere on the blog.

Candace’s newest book Strick-ly Socks utilizes an unconventional technique that makes me (not usually a sock knitter) eager to try knitting some. As her frequent teaching and traveling companion, I have had the opportunity to watch her develop each fascinating step to her technique---from toe to heel so to speak.
The great thing about socks is they come in pairs so you’re sure to have double the fun.

Judy Pascale

Judy and I did a knitting cruise to Bermuda in May, 2009. It was great fun. Here's a picture of Judy sampling different flavors of rum cake!. She liked them all!!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The perks of my job

I have to admit it, I have a great job. I get no health insurance, no sick days, no retirement, no nothing...but I get YARN. And in the long run, that's all that really matters, right?

I was in Columbus teaching at Knitter's Connection, where there was a lovely market. I was walking through looking for potential yarns for my new book on shawls. Buffalo Gold!! There it was, the yarn that everyone has been talking about. Expensive, soft, beautiful shades of colors as well as natural colors and blends. I introduced myself, and the gracious owners offered me any yarn in the booth. Since I did not want to take yarn that might be a potential sale right then and there, I had them send me the skeins I requested. It came today. Here is a picture of it. It is called "Lux" and is a blend of 45% American bison down/20% cashmere/ 20% silk, and 15% Tencel, all in a sofly shaded color called Mountain Berry. You can see other beautiful yarns at their website

Another beautiful yarn I received was from Kimber Baldwin of Fiber Optic Yarns. She said to me, "Take anything you would like from the booth." Now isn't this just the height of generosity? I chose a very bright, citrus colored skein, and even started knitting the shawl.

You can see the other beautiful yarns at her website

She is a chemist, and really knows how to dye!!

One more thing...I met a woman who makes incredible knitting bags, and her name is Barb Parsons. I asked her if she could make a bag specifically for sock knitters who use double pointed needles. Now this is SPECIFIC! I always am loosing my point protectors, and if I don't use them, the next time I pull the sock out of the bag, parts of the stitches are always off the needles. She came up with an brilliant velcro tab system inside the bag. You insert your needle ends into the space, press the tabs down, and your needles stay put. Here is a picture of the beautiful bag she sent me. These bags are only $40, and the workmanship is incredible. You can contact her at

I know I said before "one more thing", but there is one more thing. I have 1/2 ton of yarn (literally) in my basement, which is for my business Merging Colors. This does not stop me from buying yarn. At Columbus I scored 3 skeins of 100% cashmere for a mere $18 per skein. I love yarn; I love to buy it, I love to touch it, I love to knit with it!!

Let me know if you are interested in other unique yarns that I come across in my travels. I really do like to promote the small, sole owner companies, using their yarn in my books and patterns. They work so hard to make all this gorgeous yarn for us.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Strick-ly Shawls

Now that Strick-ly Socks is out, it is time to turn my attentions to Strick-ly Shawls. I have almost all of the shawls knit at this time, but have to sit down and work on all the charts, and basically write the book. My wonderful test knitters have volunteered to knit some of the shawls.
I have gotten side-tracked a bit because of the call for class proposals. I came up with a few new classes that I am very excited about. One is called 3-D Scrappy Chic. It's fun, easy, and totally liberating. There are NO rules. And you can use up all kinds of leftover yarn. There are a few other classes that I came up with, but am still working out the details.
I just went to Facebook and decided to join. I got sort of tired doing it, then thought about the task of having to go there everyday and checking my mail, responding, etc. Then I got more tired thinking about it and closed the tabs. I know, I know...everyone says I HAVE to get on Facebook. Maybe another day when I am more awake!!
Thanks for reading, and thanks for the lovely comments about the sock book.