Medomak Fiber Arts Retreat

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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.

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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!)

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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.

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The View

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The Studio

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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!

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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.

 

 

Regia Pairfect Tips & Tricks

IMG_3277.jpgI have never really worried about having socks (that I have knit) match. I have been working on a sock drawer full of handknitted socks for me and out of them all, only two or three match. Maybe only one. Anyway, Regia has a great new sock yarn that sets you up for success when you want to knit two socks that match! Regia Pairfect.

I’ve been looking at this sock yarn for quite a long time and I’ve had a lot of questions from our customers about how it works. The knitting instructions, if you can call them that, are inside the ball band so they’re difficult to read unless you buy the yarn. Even when you read them, they’re not very detailed and I did make a mistake when I was starting sock number two.

I used the Yankee Knitter Socks for the Family pattern as a basis for my Pairfect socks. I cast on 60 stitches on a US2 DPN. Because of the self-patterning yarn, it’s not necessary to do anything but knit the majority of the sock. The directions tell you to make a K1, P1 rib until the green yarn is used up and then start the leg, knitting until the blue yarn appears. I’ll suggest that you follow your favorite sock pattern, one that you know fits you.

So, here are a couple of tips and tricks that I discovered while I was knitting my matching socks with Pairfect yarn.

First, at the end of the yellow yarn, measure how far along the green yarn you start your cast on. Write it down so you remember it when you’re ready to start sock #2.

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My first short row heel!

Next, I’d suggest checking out the short row heel that Arne and Carlos use. This way they’ll look like the ones on the yarn label. There’s no surprise. Their short row heel is a quick and easy way to knit a heel. I think mine fits quite well. (Mine are going to be a gift for a friend who shares my size 9 foot size. I hope the socks fit her as well as they do me.)

Third, I misunderstood the directions on starting sock two. What you need to do (not what I originally did) is to finish the toe of the first sock and then start winding off the yarn beginning at the same place you just cut the yarn. Your yarn ball will be green and then yellow and THEN when you see the green again, you can start sock two.

I hope you took tip #1 and wrote down how many inches it was to where you started your cast on!

IMG_3278.jpgHere’s what my socks look like all finished. I hope you enjoy knitting a pair of matching socks (the easy way!)

Gone knitting!

 

Finished Objects, WIPs and taking flight

Today I had a day off and I wan’t feeling quite right. (If I don’t eat before noon, you know something’s “off”.) Despite feeling a little bit off, I had a wonderful day.

My Radiant Reflections quilt is finished! I actually finished it last night but it was too dark to take photos. I am really pleased with this quilt! I started it as a class a couple of years ago at the Cotton Cupboard in Bangor, Maine. We used templates on this project to cut all the pieces. It was a technique that I liked and it helped my corners match up really well. I think it’s the best quilt that I’ve made yet – maybe it’s because with more practice, you’re bound to improve your techniques. Regardless, I love the colors, I love the pattern, it was a challenge and I was successful in completing it on my own.

I also finished my “halloween” socks. I wish that I remembered where I bought this yarn because I really loved the feel of the yarn as I knit the socks. I also love the stripes! A friend reminded me that they are the colors of the Cincinnati Bengals and I like that idea, too. My son and I used to watch sports on television when he was younger and those were fun times. I’m not sure how he learned so much about sports because neither his father or I knew diddly about sports. Go figure! I’l be wearing these socks for any Bengals games and on Halloween, too!

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On the needles, and currently in rotation, are two shawls that I am really pleased with. I’m making progress on my Protest is Patriotic Shawlette by Craftiest Elizabeth Sovern. I know that my red yarn is a Malabrigo Sock in the Ravelry Red colorway. The white is a Cascade Heritage sock yarn and the blue is something that I have no clue what it is. It’s been in my stash and my stash has been moved, organized, packed, and moved again. I’ve lost a few labels. I bought the beads online because the only beads I could find locally were really too small. I am using 3/0 glass beads. I love the way they pop off the blue yarn! I’m hoping to have this done for the 4th of July week!

The other shawl is the Brambling Shawl by Bristol Ivy. This was one of the projects, perhaps one of the first projects in the Year of Techniques project. I really liked this “class” and I have enjoyed each project that I have attempted. I also bought the yarn kits for each season. I love the yarn. This yarn is fyberspates cumulus and it’s really soft and sticky … this is a “don’t make a mistake because thinking back is going to be difficult”! The colors aren’t necessarily ones that I would have chosen but I like them and I am happy mohave my boundaries challenged! I have not ever “studied” intarsia and this project has made me feel very confident with this technique.

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Perhaps the best thing that happened today was watching a family of barn swallows who were flying all over in front of our house. I noticed the swooping birds and went to look out the window of my atelier. There were two baby birds sitting on the roof … learning to fly! Later, I checked again and the parents were coming up to feed the babies … all FIVE of them! I spent the day watching them in complete fascination! Mother Nature is absolutely amazing and I loved this part of my day. Here is a pic of the babies! Mom and dad were way too speedy on the wing to catch in a photograph!

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It was a good day! Gone knitting.

 

 

Sweater Weather!

IMG_2703It’s April 15 today and it’s winter again. Today was not blue skies and sunny. We had snow flurries, a little sleet, a mixed bag of yuck! It’s truly sweater weather!

IMG_2706I’ve been drooling over some sock yarn by On the Round. On the Round is a Maine yarn and is hand-dyed in Owls Head, Maine. Rachel has been knitting since she was seven and she home schools her children … and dyes yarn in her “spare” time! Busy lady! Anyway, I finally decided to buy a hank of Silver Lining Tweed in Signature Sock and I am so glad I did. I haven’t knit socks in a little while and it felt like I was sitting with an old friend as I cast on and worked down the cuff of my sock. I always (almost always) use the Yankee Knitter pattern, Classic Socks for the Family and I am using it this time. I nearly know it by heart (always need help when I am turning the heel). I’m a happy camper …

IMG_2710I’m also working on my Malabrigo Rios sweater using the Knitting Pure and Simple Neck Down Cardigan for Women pattern. I didn’t get the right gauge of 16 stitches over four inches with this yarn. Probably because the Rios is more a light worsted. So, with my gauge of 17.5 stitches over four inches (4.375 stitches per inch), I’ve decided to make a size larger so that I have some positive ease. I love the colorway that I chose. It’s a blue and a grey at the same time. It’s tonal and I love it! I haven’t had an easy start with this sweater, though. I noticed, just as I was about to separate the sleeves, that I was a couple of stitches short on one side of the front. And I SAW that the reason why I was a couple of stitches short was because I hadn’t increased on one side of the marker. It was the one side that was front and center of course. I decided relatively quickly that I was not going to be happy with it and had to rip it back and fix it. It set me back a bit, but it was totally worth it. I am so excited to wear this sweater!

IMG_2709I have also cast on a shawl using my yarn from the sheep at Bedlam Farm. Mine is a sport weight from Susie and another sheep. It’s a lovely grayish brown. I had a customer at the shop who needed help with her shawl and it was pretty and simple. I like pretty and simple because it lets the yarn shine. So, I cast on the Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief and I pick it up now and then when I want to knit something simple. It’s going to be pretty! I think this shawl will be used to do some good. Stay tuned.

IMG_2688At home, we have begun the process of rebuilding our boat house. The original boat house was re-built around 1950 and then a “garage” with a dirt floor was added after that. The foundation of the building is in remarkably good shape so we are simply rebuilding the same building so that my husband can move his workshop into the garage part and we can turn the existing workshop (the white building at right), we hope, into a two-car garage in the future. This week we are hoping to see the roof joists and roof go up. It’s very exciting.

IMG_2601Our family thrives! All five kids are working hard and make us very proud. Youngest, Amy, made my blueberry muffins this weekend and they looked wonderful. A great first attempt.

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photo by Jenny Anderson

Oldest, Kate, opened in Mean Girls on Broadway last weekend. This is a big deal for her and she has worked so hard to get here. She’s a star and it seems that she’s stealing the show! We look forward to seeing the show in a few weeks and hope to see all the kids and their significant others here this summer.

Life is good!

Gone knitting.

(Find more information about my knitting projects on my Ravelry project page. My Ravelry name is lindar.)

Pure and Simple Start to April!

IMG_2638I’ve made it through the winter without any illnesses and as soon as spring pops onto the calendar, BOOM! For the last couple of days I’ve been pumping EmergenC and AirBorne and vitamins with my Wellness Formula. My sweet husband has taken good care of me, I drank a lot of tea, and I am feeling better today.

I’ve also been knitting.

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I started a little pullover, #214 Baby Pullover by Knitting Pure and Simple, for a new mom’s little baby girl. (I hope she doesn’t read my blog. I don’t think she does. I don’t want to give the surprise away.) I found the yarn on the shelf at the store when I was making room for some new yarns. (if you didn’t know that I work in a yarn shop, now you do … come visit at Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine!)

Sirdar has a chunky yarn called Imagination and it reminded me of a Monet Water Lilies painting. You all know what the Water Lilies paintings look like, right? If you don’t, Google it! They’re magnificent. This yarn is machine washable so easy for a new mom. I never machine dry my hand-knits. Some yarns are dry-able but I’d rather be certain and consistent so I hang/lay flat all my hand-knits. Sweaters I lay flat. Socks I hang over a hanger. This extends their lives and I never shrink any special hand-knits. (NOTE! Some yarn is not washable. If it isn’t super wash or acrylic or mostly acrylic, hand wash! You’ll never be sorry if you take that extra care!)

img_2640.jpgI immediately fell in love with the colors. I have whipped through the body of the sweater in a couple of days. It’s chunky so it knits up quickly. I’m making the 24 months size so that little Julianna can grow into it! Today I’ll get to the sleeves and maybe the collar, too. It’s soft, it’s washable, it’s so pretty! Did I mention that there are no seams?!

I’m also working on a Knitting Pure and Simple cardigan for myself.

IMG_2622I’ve had this beautiful blue/gray colorway of Malabrigo Rios forever. It’s been sitting on a shelf in my atelier for at least a year and maybe more like two. When I opened the bag of this yarn at the shop, I immediately put it aside for myself because I loved it so much. I’m making the 50″ size and my gauge is slightly off (the pattern calls for 4 stitches per inch and I am knitting at 4.375 stitches per inch). This will make my sweater just a bit smaller than the last sweater I made with this pattern. Which will be OK. I may decide to add a few additional increases to be sure it’s not too small. I’ll know when I have the sleeve stitches on a holder and I can try it on! I’ll have all the details on my Ravelry project page. I love, love, love the color and this yarn feels so amazing in your hands as you work with it. This will take me a couple more than a couple days to knit but it’ll knit up pretty quickly and it’s so pretty!!!

IMG_2614I finished the Ma Belle Amie cowl for my aunt and it’s wrapped and on it’s way to Lake Tahoe just in time for spring! I doubt that she’ll get to wear it too many times between now and next fall but what can one do?! I had to knit it and it had to be for her! I love the colors that I chose … they remind me of my aunt and her beautiful red hair (well, it was red when she was younger, it’s “bleached out” as she’s gone around the sun a few times! (Where’s the laughing until you cry emoji when you need it?!) This pattern is very versatile and can be knitted up in any yarn, really. I have one in solid colored wool that I love and this one has a variegated which I love, too. Choose a smaller needle for a tighter fabric or a finer yarn (or heavier yarn). The sky’s the limit!

I also knitted up a little rabbit on Tuesday when I was home sick. Baby Bunnies by Frankie Brown popped up in my Facebook feed one day and when I wasn’t feeling well, I grabbed a few scraps of yarn and knit up a baby bunny. He’s awfully cute! I think there will be an addition of some embroidery (eventually) but for now, I’m enjoying my sweaters so my bunny awaits!

I hope you had a happy Easter and Passover. I wish you peace.

Gone knitting!

Winter’s Refusal … getting stuck

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Snow! Snow! Snow!

It seems that Winter is not quite ready to concede to Spring. At least not yet. It’s really cold here again and we have been warned by the weather-people that we are likely to have more snow on Tuesday.

I’ve got some great knitting projects on my needles and have been plugging right along on Ma Belle Amie for my aunt. This is a remarkably simple cowl but I love the way that it gives the yarn permission to shine. I’ve made one in a discontinued Maine yarn, Apogee, for myself. You can see it on my Ravlery project page here. The yarn, conveniently, came in four colors. Just what the cowl required. It is a very wearable accessory! The current version is being knitted in three solid colors of Berroco’s Folio and a variegated Folio Color. This is a great project to work on when you’re having an adult beverage or sitting in a knitting group and want to chat instead of counting.

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I’ve also been working on Susan B. Anderson’s Split Back Snowflake Hat which I’m knitting in Berroco Yarn’s Ultra Alpaca worsted-weight yarn. I’ve chosen a medium gray and a white/cream. I love this hat because I love cables and color work. This hat has both … and it’s satisfying to knit hats because they don’t take forever to knit. Finishing projects makes me feel good about myself and makes me feel accomplished because I start and complete a project within a “reasonable” time frame!

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Last, but certainly not least, I’m working on a pair of Maine Woods and Rivers Mittens for a college friend. This is what made me think about writing this post today.

This project began upon my friend seeing this photograph on my Facebook page.

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Maine Woods and Rivers Mittens; top by Terri and bottom by Peggy

The two pairs of mittens above were knit by a talented student and a talented co-worker. A customer wore another pair of mittens into the shop one Friday and we all fell in love with the pattern. It’s free on Ravelry here. I can’t tell you that my attempts to knit these have been easy. I’ve knitted and frogged them multiple times.

Sometimes I think I have a mental block and am quite literally more challenged by some patterns/projects. I didn’t pay attention at the thumb gusset in one attempt and when I looked down, it was a mess. Back I ripped to before the gusset increases. The stream pattern didn’t have the right stitch count. Back I went to the top of the cuff. This is not a difficult pattern. I’ve knitted color work mittens before. So, why, for heaven’s sake, does this pattern present such a challenge for me? I wish I had the answer.

My mittens have one difference. I used an i-cord cast on so that the edge doesn’t roll. And I like the way the edge looks. (Another option would be to cast on the stitches and then purl one round.)

I remain a firm believer in patience in the process. I take a deep breath and frog whatever needs to be re-knit. …If I was knitting for myself, I might not be so particular and “make” it work a bit more “creatively,” but when I am knitting for someone else I am particular about doing it “right”. Knitting soothes my soul and helps me relax. My day isn’t complete when I don’t knit.

Gone knitting.

 

You can find more details about my projects on my Ravelry project page. My Ravelry name is lindar. Follow me on Facebook at Queen Bee Knits by LindaWarner.

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Snow Day!

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I’m so thankful to be here in Maine. Florida was a nice place to live but it never really felt like home. Maine is home. Many of my friends ask if we are sick of the snow yet or if we regret moving here, regret leaving the south. Nope. Not even one little, teeny tiny bit!

Yesterday was my regular day off and I was nursing a sore back. Today my back feels mostly better and my boss closed the yarn shop for the day. Snow Day!!! Most everything is closed; restaurants, town offices, schools, courts, etc. I’m up in my studio finishing projects and working on others. I love working in my studio.

Yesterday I was working on my Zick Zack Scarf. I have admired this scarf at the shop for a long time. I even loved the colors of our store sample so picking my colorways was easy. I love this scarf and may be able to get it finished today!

I was also working to finish my fingerless mitts kit from the Alpaca Yarn Company.

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The Forget Not Mitts are really pretty and I love the argyle pattern. The yarn is gorgeous and I love knitting with it. I wish there was more contrast between the two colors in the kit. I feel like the pattern doesn’t pop like it could. I’ve got two thumbs to complete as of this morning and then I’ll block them. These will be finished today.

I finished a shop sample last week. It’s a really cute hat! We used Juniper Moon Farm’s Moonshine in a deep red colorway.

img_2509.jpgThe pattern is the Gigi Hat and it’s a free pattern on Ravelry. I knit the hat exactly according to the pattern (because it’s a shop sample and it would be misleading to change a pattern and then show if off in the shop.) The only thing I did differently was to add an i-cord around the brim of the hat, tied in a little knot. I think it came out really well and the yarn is so … SO … super soft! I love it.

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Last, but certainly not least, is the 1898 Hat for my husband. I’ve made four of these hats now and this one is the last for now, but also the warmest. (I even blogged about it before. Here.) I gave N. one of these hats for Valentine’s day in a beautiful Malabrigo Rios to match his slip stitch scarf. He asked me if I could make the top of the hat doubled like the earflaps. He also asked for the two colors which I happened to have in my stash. When knitting the hat, I followed the directions on the hat and then picked up the stitches inside the brim and knit the top of the hat a second time. I knit two fewer rounds in order to compensate for a smaller space inside the first hat and then decreased exactly according to the hat pattern. I wove the ends inside the hat so they’re visible but still inside. He loves the hat and it sure will keep his head and ears warm.

Gone knitting!

 

All of these projects have more details on my Ravelry project page. I’m “lindar” on Ravelry. Find me on Facebook as Queen Bee Knits. I’m on Instagram, too!