Medomak Fiber Arts Retreat

IMG_3317

I went back to camp last week.

When I was thirteen, my parents sent me to Medokawanda Camp for Girls. It was a wonderful experience and I loved every minute. I learned a lot about who I was at summer camp, away from the control of my parents. I learned to smoke cigarettes behind our cabin (not necessarily a good thing) and I learned that I loved singing and theater and being outside in the woods and on the lakes. I loved waterskiing, too. It was a special place and remains so today. So when I found out that there was a Fiber Arts Retreat at my old camp, I jumped at the opportunity.

Who knew that forty-two years later that the place would be just as special and that the women I met would be as welcoming and wonderful. I’m pretty sure that some will be lifelong friends.

IMG_3319

On Sunday afternoon, we all checked in to our cabins. I was in a “dormitory” cabin with three other campers; two that I knew (alumnae from earlier years, one a counselor of mine) and one that I didn’t. The cabins are simple but comfortable. Linens, towels, blankets and pillows are supplied by the camp and we were very comfortable. Most importantly for women of a certain age, there is a full bathroom and shower in each cabin. (I did get an extra blanket after the first night because I wasn’t warm enough. I also brought a box fan which was a good suggestion from a multi-year camper!)

Sunday night, dinner was the first official event and the food was amazing. The kitchen staff is incredibly accommodating to those who are gluten-free or vegan or vegetarian or who have allergies to food. The food is fresh and fantastic, healthy and mostly local. And it was amazing. Fresh bread, fresh vegetables, wonderful desserts and even a lobster dinner the final night. We ate well!

There was a great diversity of choices for classes, too. Weaving, writing, knitting, dying, wet felting, spinning, needle felting, and more. I took a 4-class series of knitting classes with the indomitable Bristol Ivy. Knitting being my first real love, I HAD to take this class and it was absolutely packed full of useful information that will make me a better knitter and a better knitting teacher. I learned some new skills, too.

I learned about cleaning, carding and combing raw fiber from Rachel Bingham Kessler. This was a fabulous class, especially after having learned about all sorts of different yarn types, particularly worsted spun and woolen spun yarns. I learned that carding and combing fibers changes the way the fiber “organizes itself” and that’s how roving is made. I truly believe that I will be able to recognize the difference in the fiber I see and sell in the future.

IMG_3350I learned to use a drop-spindle and spin yarn! Casey Ryder from Portfiber in Portland, Maine was the spinning teacher and she made this experience so much fun. We were provided with a borrowed spindle and some fiber (two combed and two carded) and it was really fun to see how the fiber is manipulated into something you can knit or weave with! (I bought the spindle. I want to keep doing this!)

IMG_3363

I went to a yoga class at 7:30 in the morning, before coffee! I was so glad I did. It made me feel energized and ready to face a very hot day.

IMG_3329

The View

IMG_3331

The Studio

IMG_3345

The icon – with Bristol, an icon in the making

We went on two field trips. The first was to the studio of Katharine Cobey in Cushing, Maine. Katharine is a gem. A successful poet, Katharine chose to make knitting her career. Her husband built her a beautiful studio above a finger of the ocean. She has become an icon of knitting and knitting as art. She has studied the process of knitting and is perhaps one of the most wise and wonderful knitters that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Katharine held a mini-class describing the ONE stitch that there is in knitting – the knit stitch. The purl stitch is just a knit stitch viewed from the back. We swatched an i-cord that was knitted and a garter stitch i-cord. And we learned Portuguese Knitting at her feet. I fell in love that day with an 80-year-old woman. I’d like to study at her feet. She is my new knitting idol.

The second field trip was to a fiber farm and mill in Waldoboro. Only minutes from camp, New Aim Farm is a working mill. Nancy and her husband are raising pigs for meat (they’ll keep one and sell the others) and some sheep for fiber. Nancy runs the mill and takes fiber from other farms and she’s very busy! It was a fascinating time spent learning about the milling process (and buying some very pretty yarn!) Nancy also is the current president of the Maine Fiber Frolic, the only fiber fair in Maine and the first of the New England season.

IMG_3352One evening I learned to needle felt. It was a loonapalooza! Once again, Casey organized a wonderful class and we had some really good belly laughs. I laughed until I cried … mostly because my loon had a very large beak. But everyone succeeded in creating a loon and we all had fun. Emily named them Zebra, LooLoo and Kandoo.

This is a beautiful place, close to nature. At the top of the hill was our cabin, the yurt, a field full of wild Maine blueberries, free for the picking. The dining hall, the Lodge, the barn and the lawn were all places for classes. Surrounded by perennials and Morning Glories, bird song and pine trees. It’s still a very special place. A place that I have visited throughout my adult life, a place that has tugged at my heart since I was thirteen.

Some of the classes that I wasn’t able to take were weaving on a rigid hettle loom, weaving an amulet and a doll as part of the Weaving a Life program. I didn’t take the slow sewing class or the wet felting class or the lichen, safflower or indigo dying classes … all of which looked like lots of fun, too. Next year, I’ll try more classes and I can’t wait to go back to camp.

I’m so grateful to have been able to return as a camper, surrounded by creative women, wise and knowledgeable teachers, and a beautiful spot. It was the best vacation that I’ve taken since moving to Maine and I look forward to returning next year!

IMG_3377

I’m a happy camper!

PS- I haven’t written about everything here. I’d have written for days. So, suffice it to say that it was an amazing week … a life changing week … a life challenging week. I know I’ll be working on so many pieces of my life, enhancing and creating. Check out the details at the website for Medomak Retreat Center.

 

 

More Photos of my Nuno Scarf … All Done!


Finished Product - I love it!

Felted and Fringed ... had to try both!

 

A Cluster or two of Flowers

 

My Wavy Little Bee

 

Around my Neck!

Finished! Yay!

This summer I’m going to take supplies up to our house in Maine and make a few more of these lovelies … maybe with my girls or my sisters-in-law … only time will tell. But I know I have found a new “addiction”! (Thanks, Terri!)

Gone knitting!

Nuno Felting Class

I spent the day as a fill-in yesterday at the Orlando home of Terri Pike, Queen of Nuno Felting and all things felted. A pair of ladies had signed up to take the class and one needed to cancel, leaving a spot open … and I “nabbed”! Boy, am I glad I did! What a blast!

I’ve admired Terri’s creations over the months that we’ve been knitting together and listened to her felting stories.

We started the day with picking our silks and then choosing roving and other yarns, beads, etc. to use as decoration for the scarves in process! Decorating both sides of the scarves to make a reversible or two-sided garment/art piece.

Side one … my inspiration started out to be a Monet painting. More the idea of one than one in particular. Like a huge flower garden when you’re standing ten feet back and squinting (thank you Leslie for your theatrical perspective!) Anyway … you layer sheets of silk and wool roving and trips to make your design and then you carefully (with plastic wrap and long (I mean long!) pieces of insulation boards) flip it over.

Side two! This is the side that the fringe is on (if you want a fringe!) I decided to try it because I wanted to try just about everything possible to see how it’s done. And, you know, if I were a betting woman, I’d bet just about anybody with a pair of strong hands and a supplies list could do this successfully … IF (and that’s a big if) they were smart enough to use Terri’s videos!

So, here are some more photos of my scarf and Jane’s. It’s really fun to see how two people with the same teacher and the same supplies can make something totally different … and they’re both so pretty! Enjoy!

Jane’s beautiful scarf was on a rose colored silk with blues and pinks. More abstract than mine but I love the white “bobbles”  in the trip and on the other side she used a “sparkly” fun fur yarn as a trim.

 

 

 

On top of bubble wrap and under plastic wrap … getting ready to roll … and roll, and roll, and roll (switch) and roll, and roll ….

 

 

 

My scarf had to have a bee, of course! (There’s actually one on either side of the scarf!)

 

 

 

 

My scarf has been rolled (for nearly an hour and a half!) All the plastic wrap has been removed and it’s time to get it wet. The design is covered with a bit of netting while we get it wet!

After wetting and rolling and rolling, we shocked the piece with really REALLY HOT water and rubbed it by hand (more like wet felting). Then it was time to rinse!

What a great day!

Terri can bee (ha! Freudian?) found on Facebook and on the internet. Watch her videos, buy her e-book. Check out her website!

Gone to trim my fringe!

Felted Bag with Annie Modesitt

Bee-fore (LOL!)

This is the bag that I made in one of my knitting classes with Annie Modesitt a couple of weekends ago. I finally got around to felting it and getting it photographed. (Because we all know how busy the Queen Bee is these days?!) Anyway … you can see the stitches and the lovely orange diamond knit by Annie herself!

Orange diamond by Annie

And now, the final, finished, felted piece.

Finished and Felted

The stitch definition is all but gone! The natural wool (aka ivory yarn) was from California, straight from the farm and felted a bit differently than the other yarns, but that’s OK! I am very pleased with the way it turned out and would like to make the larger version. This one is too small to fold over and add handles to … not sure it’ll be particularly useful, but it sure it cute!

Gone knitting.

Big Feet … Big ?

Slippers socks! Duh!

Before ... ginormous!

I had a pattern ages ago for knitted and felted slippers. I’d made myself and N. each a pair – and I think N. may have gotten more than one pair. I made a pair for N’s youngest one year for Christmas. They’re great! Natural fiber (wool) wicks away sweat but keep feet really warm, too.

After ... drying!

I had a couple of pairs that I had not given to anybody because I had some extra wool sitting around and it’s an easy thing to make and since my pattern uses doubled worsted-weight wool and it’s on pretty big needles so they knit up really quickly. When I opened my Etsy shop, I put the felted slippers (sized to fit me … and, as it turns out, the most popular women’s size) up for sale on my shop. I learned a lesson, too!

I listed two pairs (one blue, one pink) in the same listing but as two items for sale (two pairs of felted slippers). And, miracle of miracles, they’ve both sold … but not without a “problem” … The first person to order bought the blue pair (with green toes) thus leaving the pink pair for the second buyer – who didn’t want pink! Fortunately, the second buyer was happy with a certificate that I printed up to give to her “giftee” and I’ve just knit a custom pair of felted slippers for her. I re-listed the pink slippers and, wonderful news, they’ve sold, too! I guess they’re priced right and they do, indeed, make a great gift!

Today I’m felting the ginormous socks and shaping them. They’ll take a day or two to dry completely so that I can package them and get them in the mail. Whoopee! Felting is always a bit of a science experiment and one that I don’t always enjoy but my head is in the right place and it’s going to be a good day for felting!

But for now, I have to sign off. We have a lunch date and I have errands to run …

Gone running (but not the jogging type! LOL!)

Bedlam in my Atelier

Bedlam!

Besides the two adorable pooches that I have to step over every time I move (God forbid they should sleep in the bed that I bought for them!) there is stuff everywhere in my Atelier and the bedlam there is making my head feel disorganized, too.

So, today I went to Costco to get some more sheet protectors for my patterns so I can put them away. I’m not sure what the best way to organize patterns is but I want to put them all in binders so they’re easily accessible and “orderly” (or at least I think they are!)

I’m making some stitch holders for gifts. I’ve seen them on Etsy and in magazines and I’ve had it on my “to do” list for ages. Finally bought the beads yesterday and today I’ve set them out all over my work table. Additionally, my work table has the gauntlets that I knitted as a gift and another pair as a give-away from my facebook page.

I finally hit over 100 “likes” on the Queen Bee Knits facebook page (If you are reading this and haven’t “liked” Queen Bee Knits and you’re on facebook, shame on you!) Yippee! I celebrated the special number by having a drawing … I closed my eyes and scrolled up and down the list of people who like QBK and it landed on Jackie Phillips Weatherly’s name. Now, I don’t know Jackie but I’ve sent her a message through her website (we “met” through a LinkedIn.com group that is helping artists get their sites “liked”) and I’m eager to send her the fingerless gauntlets. They’re really pretty!

Almost Ready to Finish!I’ve got the Noni bag in a ginormous laundry bag all set to get it felted. I bought everything I need to finish it yesterday: fabric for lining, feet and the plastic stuff that makes it stiff. I had the handles … and I can’t wait to see how it looks felted (and finished!) Hope I can get it done in the next week or so before we have to get on the road again.

Gone knitting … well, maybe after I clean up a bit!