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On the Water at LYC – Sailfest 2013

We are a family of sailboat racers, and when we are in Nova Scotia we spend a lot of time on the water.

Lunenburg Yacht Club (LYC) is a small sailing club located on Herman’s Island, halfway between Mahone Bay and Lunenburg.  They have a very active Junior Sailing program, from ages 5 (Wet Feet) to 18.  As well as lots of sailing everyday, something is always going on there: ‘Instructor Pie-In-The-Face Day’, ‘Halloween in July’, or ‘Love Boat’ , to name just a few of the theme days the kids participate in.  All together – the location, the sailing program, the friends – make for a magical summer experience.

View towards Lunenburg Yacht Club with competitors leaving the 'beach' and setting out for a day of racing.

View towards Lunenburg Yacht Club with competitors leaving the ‘beach’ and setting out for a day of racing during Sailfest 2013.

Several times a summer there are sailing regattas in the area, and last week was LYC’s turn to host the neighboring clubs for “Lunenburg Sailfest 2013”.  Over seventy kids participated.  I was thrilled to help out on the Race Committee.

This lovely little red Cape Islander was my home for the day.  Common to Atlantic Canada, the Cape Islander is a fishing boat that is said to have been invented on Cape Sable Island in the early 1900s.  Its single ‘keeled’ flat bottom design makes it sturdy and very comfortable.  This one even has a small ‘head’ – very important if one spends the day on the water!

The Race Committee headquarters for LYC Sailfest 2013.

The Race Committee headquarters for LYC Sailfest 2013.

Race Committee work involves setting the race course, initiating start and finish time sequences, and, most importantly, accurately recording the competitors’ finishes.

In ‘one design’ regattas, all sailboats that are alike race against each other.  The theory is that if the equipment is the same, then the performance resides with the skipper and crew.  This is the most effective and fun way to race –  the Olympic races are all structured around this simple premise.  At LYC Sailfest this year there were three classes of boats invited to race:  Laser Radial, Club 420, and Optimist Dinghy.

Laser Radials lining up for a start at LYC Sailfest 2013.

Laser Radials lining up for a start at LYC Sailfest 2013.

To keep this explanation simple,  the Laser Radial is a single handed boat with a smaller rig and sailplan than the Laser (the men’s Olympic boat).  It is the designated single-handed women’s equipment for Olympic competition, and is a popular boat for teenage boys and girls alike when they are developing their sailing skills.

My daughter and her crew racing a Club 420.

My daughter and her crew racing a Club 420 in 2011.

The Club 420 is a double handed dinghy (sailed with skipper and 1 crew) and it is the best introduction to sailing with a spinnaker  that kids have today.  From this boat they learn skills that can be translated to most sailboats they might sail in their lifetime.  We  had 21 show up from local clubs in the area for Sailfest.

A photo depicting my son crossing the finish line in an Optimist Dinghy (some years ago).

A photo depicting my son crossing the finish line in first  in an Optimist Dinghy in 2008.

The Optimist Dinghy was designed in 1947 –  a sturdy, single handed boat for kids to learn in.  In recent years its popularity has grown, and it  is actively raced worldwide by kids from age 7 – 15.  The Opti is usually the first boat kids race, and they learn all about wind strength, wind shifts, boat handling, and starting positions from sailing this boat in the numerous regattas available.  A major North American regatta  might easily see 300 Optimist dinghys show up! Unfortunately I don’t have any pics of the 18  Optis racing in Sailfest 2013 – their course was shorter and closer to the clubhouse where they were protected from open water.

"Follow us"

“Follow us” – The Race Committee boat leads the fleet out into the ocean in search of steady wind.

The first day of Sailfest 2013 witnessed very shifty winds starting out of the NW and ending up in the SE by the end of the day.  The oscillations were large enough to make setting an accurate race course difficult and lots of mark changes were required.

Mark Boats waiting for wind.

Mark Boats waiting for wind.

We finally managed to get racing started.  This image below shows the Club 420s, spinnakers flying, coming into the leeward or downwind mark.  They will round that mark, douse their spinnakers and go upwind and downwind once more before sailing for the finish line.

Sailfest 2

The second day of racing saw a steady and more typical sea breeze set in and we were able to set the course early and get racing started.

Two Club 420s reaching for the finish line.  Sometimes, depending on the wind shift, it is just faster to douse your spinnaker and use your jib only as this boat in the foreground is demonstrating.

Two Club 420s reaching for the finish line.  The aft boat is struggling to maintain its spinnaker in the shifting light breeze.

The two days of racing were a tremendous success, the weather was stunning, and everyone had a great time at LYC.

Optis on the beach at LYC.

Optis on the beach at LYC.

Lunenburg Yacht Club is located on Herman’s Island, down the South Shore of Nova Scotia about an hour’s drive from Halifax.  Lunch and Dinner are served most days with bar service.  Call  902-634-3745  or go to http://www.lyc.ns.ca  for more information and directions.

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Knitter’s Frolic in Toronto

Yesterday was the  Knitter’s Frolic in Toronto, an annual yarn marketplace and class extravaganza hosted by the Downtown Knit Collective.

A view of the entrance to The Canadian Japanese Cultural Centre which has been the home to the Knitter's Frolic for many years.

A view of the entrance to The Canadian Japanese Cultural Centre which has been the home to the Knitter’s Frolic for many years.

This event is now so popular that it is not only a place for the tried and true vendors in and around the city to show their  wares (I counted 57 booths) , but a great venue for indie yarn dyers from all over the country to meet and greet.  I usually try to get to the market right when the doors open at 9, but this year I wasn’t able to make it until after lunch.  Although I probably missed some of the choicest offerings,   it was nice to be able to wander (and take some pics) without being crushed in the enthusiastic crowd of well meaning knitters trying to get to the display tables.  I did hear that the morning crowd was overwhelming this year.

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A shopper perusing the offerings at one of the booths. How to decide?

A few vendors really stood out to me this year.

1.  I loved the neon brights from Rain City Knits of Vancouver.  Created by Krista Steel-Varsakis,  the fabulous colours of these yarns were irresistable and were the stand out winner of the day.  Krista sources her yarns from a fair trade collective in Uruguay and  uses only food grade quality (non-toxic) dyes to achieve her outstanding and intense colours – truly ‘happy yarn’!

Rain City Knits of Vancouver.

Rain City Knits of Vancouver.  Great ‘mod’ booth presentation!

I’m pretty sure, based on the number of vendors I saw chatting with Krista, that her yarn will soon appear in local shops, but in the meantime you can check out this yarn at  www.raincityknits.com.

2.  Sweet Fiber, created by Melissa Thomson (also of Vancouver) wins without close competition  in the luxury yarn hand-dyed category.    This product is simply beautiful – and I could hardly keep my hands off.

Sweet Fiber Cashmerino Sock - a blend of merino and cashmere.  The colours were stunning.

Sweet Fiber Cashmerino Sock – a blend of merino and cashmere. The colours were stunning.

Melissa started her business while still an undergraduate at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and her training in colour theory stands out in her yarn.  I think there were at least five variations of grey colourways, her self proclaimed specialty, but the blues and greens were pretty incredible too.   Until she gets a little more representation in the shops here in Ontario, you can order her yarn at http://www.sweetfiberyarns.com.  Her blog has lots of detailed images of her colourways and it is worth a visit.

Melissa Thomson at the table with her beautiful yarns.

Lovely Melissa Thomson at the table displaying her beautiful yarns.

3.  The Needle Emporium, of Ancaster Ontario,   filled their booth with Madelinetosh and Zen Garden – for me this was undoubtedly yarn heaven.    Need I say more?  I went back twice.

View into the Needle Emporium Booth at the Frolic.

View into the Needle Emporium booth at the Frolic.

4.  Finally, Sheeps Ahoy, owned by Debbie Wilson, focused on fair isle, my knitting weakness.  I couldn’t help but be drawn into her booth by the stunning knitting samples she had on display.

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Can you see the ‘Rams and Yowes’ lap blanket and matching ‘Sheep Heid’ designed by Edinburgh’s Kate Davies on the right?

Debbie, who works out of her home in Ottawa, carries a number of Shetland yarns suitable for fair isle, including both Jamieson’s,  and Jamieson and Smith (the latter is the current fiber darling of Kate Davies).  She also carries a large number of Meg Swanson leaflets.  All designs were ‘kitted up’ and ready to go, a real treat for knitters at a show like this.  You can contact Debbie at http://www.sheepsahoy.com.

The fair isle samples at Sheep's Ahoy. I particularly like the Redbird Vest hanging on the left.

The fair isle samples at Sheep’s Ahoy. I particularly liked the Redbud Vest hanging on the left.

As we all know only too well, all good things come to an end – and so it is with the Knitter’s Frolic for another year.  The good news is that it is Sunday – the perfect day to play with some yarn!

Happy Knitting!!!

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Happy Easter!

Easter

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March 31, 2013 · 5:04 pm

What’s happening at the LYS?

On the weekend I decided to drop into Passionknit, my local yarn shop,  just to see what was on the needles there.

First, I went to my new favourite coffee spot ” I Deal Coffee”  located at 3336 Yonge Street.  As I’ve mentioned before, their Maple Syrup Latte is a must try, but the regular coffee drinks are all superior.

ideal

People were still digging out from the big storm the day before, so traffic in Passionknit was light to start, but it got very busy in the afternoon.

people

I was only there for a short time – enough to get some ideas for my next projects.

Patti is making “Pop Spots”, a shawl designed by Juju Vail of Loop, London.

Patti using

Patti using Malabrigo Baby Silkpaca Lace, a luxurious blend of 70% alpaca and 30% silk.  The colours are kettle dyed in Peru and are simply gorgeous.

Morgan is making these adorable Luvbots by Anna Hrachovec of Mochimochi Land.

Isn't he adorable?  I think they will be in the shop in time for Valentine's Day.

Isn’t he adorable? I think they will be in the shop in time for Valentine’s Day.

Meanwhile I spent some time surveying the Grignasco Loden wall….pondering the potential of using several of these colours together in one of Brooklyn Tweed’s new fair isle sweater patterns (see the Winter 2013 Collection).

The tweedy softness and the colours make this worsted weight yarn amazing.  The garment hanging below is awaiting finishing - can't wait to try it on.

The tweedy softness and the stunning colours make this worsted weight yarn amazing. The garment hanging below is awaiting finishing – can’t wait to try it on after it is blocked.

I left with seven colours of Baby Cashmerino – my inspiration for a new nautical themed fair isle cowl I’m working on.

nautical cowl 3

Passionknit is located at 3355 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario M4N 2N6  (416)322-0688   passionknit.ca

All patterns mentioned are available for purchase on Ravelry.com 

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Glorious Day

red

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February 9, 2013 · 7:55 pm

Still Winter….

Morning coffee.  Sunny, no wind. Cold.

coffee

 

 

I have lots of projects on the go….more later today.

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Love Marimekko

Yesterday it was incredibly warm in Toronto –  14 degrees C – therefore,  in spite of the rain, I decided to go down to the Textile Museum of Canada to view their new exhibit “Marimekko, with Love” curated by Shauna McCabe.

The Textile Museum of Canada

The Textile Museum of Canada

Marimekko Oy of Finland has a large place in my own history: in my late teens/early twenties I worked for a Finnish Design Company here in Toronto that imported and retailed Marimekko textiles, clothing, and homewares.    I  absorbed the Marimekko design aesthetic – geometric pattern, bold and bright colours, and spontaneous expression.    I’ve noticed recently that Marimekko is trending once again – hopefully this will continue.

Marimekko Fabrics, screen printed cotton.  The first two from the left were designed by Maija Isola, on of the company's chief designers, in the early 1960s.

Marimekko Fabrics, screen printed cotton. The first two from the left were designed in the early 1960s by Maija Isola, one of the company’s chief designers.

A largely agrarian nation historically, Finland was a latecomer to industrialization.  The Finns had more than their share of unwelcome visitors over the centuries as well: first the Swedish, then the Soviets followed closely by the Nazi Germans.    By 1945,   their economy was in dire straits.  The 1950s witnessed a period of rapid industrialization and today Finland is one of the wealthiest per capita of the developed nations.   Marimekko Oy was founded by Armi and Viljo Ratia in 1951.

An image of Armi Ratia in 1975 from the exhibition.

An image of Marimekko founder Armi Ratia in 1975 –  from the exhibition.  She is wearing a “Jokopoika” (every boy) shirt designed by Vuokko Nurmesniemi in the early 1950s.  These  distinctive colourful shirts are still made today and are commonly referred to as the ‘architect’s shirt’.

The collection on display at the Textile Museum draws largely from that of Janis and Helga Kravis, the founders of  Karelia Studio ( est.1959) –  the first Canadian importer  and retailer of Marimekko products.   There are several vitrines throughout the exhibition that display early fabric samples, marketing brochures, and magazine articles, as well as   Christmas cards, photographs, and personal letters.  The latter are a testament to the friendship that developed between the two companies.

vitrine

The paper archive arranged in these vitrines  is fascinating and well worth studying.

vitrine 1

The clothing Marimekko manufactured was designed to be worked in – sturdy cotton fabrication with a loose and comfortable fit.   The big innovation was that this ‘uniform’ was not grey and ‘institutional’  but bright and bold and invigorating.

Samples of clothing beginning with the Juolukko (bilberry) dress on the left (1962) and ending with a dress in the 'Oasis' pattern from 1967 by Annika Rimala.  The jokopoika shirt is second from the left.

Samples of clothing manufactured by Marimekko beginning with the Juolukko (bilberry) dress on the left (1962) and ending with a dress in the ‘Oasis’ pattern from 1967 by Annika Rimala. The jokopoika shirt is second from the left.

I love this “Shoemaker’s Apron” from c. 1978 made from several different scraps of Marimekko fabric.

'Suutarin Essu'  or Shoemaker's Apron, designer unknown, screen printed cotton. Helsinki, Finland.

‘Suutarin Essu’ or Shoemaker’s Apron, designer unknown, screen printed cotton. Helsinki, Finland.

I can think of many dark and dreary days when wearing this pink ‘bog bilberry’ dress would just make the day that much brighter.

dress

Without doubt it is  the Marimekko textiles that are the real stars of this show.  I’ve noticed many Canadian design magazines recommending that an effective way to add a professional  flair to your room is to mount a big piece of bright fabric on the wall.  Well, in the the modern era, it was Marimekko Oy who  re- invented this concept.

Helsinki pattern 1952/2012 - originally designed by Per-Olaf Nystrom in 1952, this fabric was brought back into production in 2012 to commemorate  the designation of Helsinki as a World Design Capital.

Helsinki pattern 1952/2012 – originally designed by Per-Olaf Nystrom in 1952, this fabric was brought back into production in 2012 to commemorate the designation of Helsinki as a World Design Capital. (Collection Marimekko)

Pippurikera pattern, 1963, designed by Annika Rimala, screen printed cotton.

Resla pattern,1972 , designed by Maija Isola, screen printed cotton. (Collection of Gunter Kravis)

Fabric swatches (on walls) and bolts of various Marimekko Oy fabrics.

Fabric swatches (on walls) and bolts of various Marimekko Oy fabrics.

Possibly my favourite image from the exhibit is this promotional brochure photo from the early 1970s.  In the foreground is a comforter made of ‘Pepe’ fabric designed by Maija Isola in 1972.  It captures the essence of Marimekko – a fearless dedication to mixing the traditional (familiar) with the unconventional (bold)  in the belief that their design complement will force us to re-value and treasure both anew.

Promotional photograph showing 'Pepe' comforter in the foreground.

Promotional photograph showing ‘Pepe’ comforter in the foreground.

Here is the original fabric, from my own collection of Marimekko fabrics.

"Pepe" by Maija Isola for Marimekko Oy, 1972 (my own collection)

“Pepe” by Maija Isola for Marimekko Oy, 1972 (my personal collection)

The title of the show, “Marimekko, with love” comes from Armi Ratia herself.  This is how she ended much of her business correspondence.   She was a fiercely patriotic visionary who believed in the global community.   The success of Marimekko Oy is due in part to  the expressive freedom she gave to her designers – something she believed was her greatest legacy.  In so doing, she invigorated and united the design community of Finland, and paved the way for its current success.

The exhibit “Marimekko, with Love”  is on until April 21st, 2013, and  I  strongly encourage you to take a couple of hours and visit it.  If you are currently enduring the Canadian winter, you could definitely benefit from this wonderful injection of ‘colour’ and design passion.  Shauna McCabe has sensitively curated this restropective, effectively capturing the spirit of  Marimekko Oy and its early connection to Canada.

The Textile Museum of Canada is located at 55 Centre Avenue, Toronto (at University and Dundas/the St. Patrick subway station).  Visit their website http://www.textilemuseum.ca for more details as well as the related upcoming programs and events associated with this show.

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