This Will be Short

Yesterday we had a Nor’Easter. It was coming down like crazy and it was wet snow. Needless to say, much of the state is now without power. We are without power … but we have a generator so we are not totally in the dark.

But I wanted to write to share that I’ve finished my test knit, named for now, the Cashmere People Shawl because it’s knit with Cashmere People yarn. This shawl is designed by Lori Versaci of VERSACIKNITS. As with Lori’s other designs, it’s a classic design and a textural wonderland. Such a fun project to knit.

I started this shawl project just as I was going into self-isolation in mid-March. The shawl calls for three colors of cashgora yarn in sport weight. I really wanted to have my shawl look and feel like a comfy pair of jeans. Casey Rider at Portfiber in Portland, Maine picked the three colors for me and she did an excellent job! I love the way the colors work together and I can’t wait until it’s dry and I can wear it!

I had a tense few moments at the end because I was very afraid I’d run out of the natural color of yarn at the edge. I’m happy to report that I won the game of yarn chicken this time! Woo! Hoo!

This afternoon I wove in the ends and blocked my shawl and I’m so happy to have it done. When the pattern is released, I’ll let you know.

Gone knitting!

Progress

The sun came up again today!

Today is Wednesday Tuesday (Ha! Thanks for the help! I guess I had lost track of the days!) not that it really matters. The only difference between the days is the weather. Yesterday was a true beauty and today is a little cooler but the brilliant sunshine always makes me feel better. We are going for a ride today to buy lobsters for dinner. Change it up a little bit.

I’m making progress (finally!) on my test-knit shawl which is being called Cashmere People Shawl. The design is by Lori Versaci of VersaciKnits. What I really love about Lori’s designs is the classic style. This is my third test knit for Lori, the first was my Mainstay Pullover in 2015. Sadly, this sweater has gone to live elsewhere because the yarn, a Berroco product, wasn’t color fast and it discolored when I washed it. Boo. The design, however was wonderful and I’ll make it again when I am finished with all my WIPs. (Like that will ever happen!) The second test knit was Open Star which finished in late 2015/early 2016. This is a cardigan and I still love this sweater. You can check out my Ravelry project page for details on both sweaters.

Star section at the bottom of photo, stockinette in navy and the start of a beautiful brioche

I struggled with the star section of this shawl for whatever reasons. Maybe it’s a simple as the counting; an ability that I often lack. But once I decided to go with reading my knitting, I zipped right along. I’m now into the last section of the shawl which is a “ruffle” of brioche. I need a longer cable on my needles because there are nearly 400 stitches at this point and cramming stitches on the needle and brioche don’t go well together. I’m eager to get this OFF the needles so I can see it in all it’s glory!

I continue to be behind on the Arne and Carlos Quarantine KAL. But I get about one done each day so, again, progress. I continue to enjoy this KAL because it takes just enough concentration to keep my mind busy and it’s very comforting. I’m trying to avoid Facebook and the news because it’s not very pleasant and plays with my head/anxiety levels. No news is good news just as long as my kids are ok.

And last but not least, I have the correct number of stitches on my son’s birthday socks and I’m (not really) zipping down the foot of the first sock. They’ll be easy to finish because it’s sport weight wool – with a bit of cashmere – so they do knit up a little bit more quickly than fingering weight would. This yarn, KFI Luxury Collection’s Indulgence Cashmere, is so soft. I need to make myself a pair. Or not. In fairness, I have an entire sock drawer full of my hand-knitted socks.

So, that’s progress.

Gone Knitting!

Ahhhh! The perfect spot to relax!

A No Good Very Bad Day

It’s not often that I am immobilized by life. I’m typically a very happy, upbeat person. Today started off that way. Coffee with my sweet husband, the love of my life. We woke up to six or more inches of snow and when he was out snowblowing the driveway, I got a call from Atlanta; the office of the president of UPS (What can Brown do for you?).

I emailed him last night when I was furious because my package … the one that I had been waiting for, patiently, for over two weeks … was “confirmed” to be delivered at my front door and it wasn’t there. Nor was it a mile away at my mailbox. Last night I spent 47 minutes on hold with UPS 800 Customer Service. When rep answered, she sounded as if she had been woken up by my phone call. She wasn’t very customer-service-oriented and the experience put me over the top. I emailed the president of UPS to share my five-year-long challenge with the local arm of his business and the apparent mess that is the Waterville, Maine UPS shipping center.

Anyway, supposedly they’re working on getting to the bottom of the problem. The corporate office could see where the truck went yesterday but they couldn’t figure out where the driver left my package. I was told that a claim had been sent to Amazon to pay for them to reship the order to me … turns out miss-asleep-at-the-wheel emailed that to me. Another managerial problem, in my humble opinion. I also think that the drivers working in Maine should have vehicles that can drive in the snow on camp roads (here in Maine we have dirt roads otherwise known as camp roads).

After the phone call, I was feeling pleased with myself and (finally) heard. So, I went to the kitchen to make blueberry muffins for my husband as his “reward” for snowplowing. We had a second cup of coffee and a muffin together but they didn’t taste quite right … into the trash after I realized that I had added baking SODA not powder.

Sweet, toothless Lola.

My Lola, my 14-year-old Shitzu, isn’t eating well. Often won’t eat at all. Sometimes will eat if I hand feed her. But she’s not drinking water either which is maybe even more troublesome. Today is one of those days. She won’t eat and I’m very, very worried! I adore this dog and even thinking about a world without her in it makes me cry. (Those of you who know me know that I tend to have a problem with ocular incontinence even on good days and as you know, today wasn’t a good day.) I hope my brother the veterinarian will call me and have some suggestions.

We did leave campus briefly today and that did help. Husband ran errands while wife sat in the truck. At least I got some fresh air and a change of scenery. But I find that it’s now 5pm and I haven’t done diddly. Squat. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zillch. I was going to sew face masks.

For today I’m giving up and giving in. I’m going to turn on the television, stream my Arne and Carlos podcast for today (i’m already two days behind and it’s only Tuesday!) When it’s cocktail time, I’ll have a strong one and hope that UPS finds my package and it’s a better day tomorrow.

Thanks for listening.

Gone knitting.

Mary Jane Mucklestone!!!

The American Queen of Fair Isle Knitting, Mary Jane Mucklestone at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine. Mary Jane is holding my knitting and balancing on one leg because her class sample is on her raised right leg! She does it all!

YOU GUYS!!! I took a class with Mary Jane Mucklestone!!!

Late last week, my co-worker, Glenda, shared with me that she was going to take a class at the Farnsworth with Mary Jane Mucklestone. Needless to say, I was hoping that my calendar and husband would be supportive of me doing the same … and that there would still be space in the class when I signed up! The knitting gods were smiling in my favor so on Saturday afternoon, Glenda and I, driven by my handsome hubby, went to Rockland!

Mary Jane is a wonderful and knowledgable teacher. The class was inspired by my friend and knitting idol, Katharine Cobey, who has a one woman show at the Farnsworth through April 12, 2020. Go see the show. It’s magnificent. I blogged about it here. Katharine made famous diagonal knitting and the class was a Fair Isle design based on “diagonal” knitting but the Fair Isle way. Mary Jane was kind enough to bring one pattern for her Flying Geese Cowl about which she had intended to teach the class. She also was inspired to design another cowl pattern very shortly (days) before the class was to happen and we also got that cowl. It is, as yet, unnamed.

Choosing Colors

We learned a lot about choosing colors when knitting in the Fair Isle way. We were to come to class with an inch or so of ribbing in a dark, high-contrast color. I chose an Ella Rae Classic Wool in a dark charcoal gray. (Details on all my yarns are on my Ravelry project page. Find me on Ravelry, I’m “lindar”.) I brought a bunch of leftovers from my stash in various colors that I like which you can see above. Since you don’t need a whole lot of any one color, in this case, I brought bits and bobs. We needed three colors to really have some fun and I finally chose the creamy white Galway worsted and the one right next to it which is an ice blue colorway in a Paton’s Classic wool. All three are worsted weight and plain old wool.

While we were knitting, Mary Jane serenaded us with stories and tales about her travels to and knitting from Fair Isle. She is a wonderful story teller and full of knitting knowledge. I really enjoyed listening to her talk. She brought TONS of samples of Fair Isle motifs, talked about and demonstrated how some yarn colors, shades and tones, play well together – or don’t. It was a wonderful day.

Glenda, my co-worker, has finished knitting her Flying Geese cowl and she was blocking it when we last spoke. I must be knitting too slowly. I am planning to finish my cowl today because we have a snow day today so it’s an unexpected “free” day to sit in my atelier to knit. I don’t think I have to tell you that both cowls are fun to knit and a good way to learn to knit with two colors at a time (and you don’t have to catch the floats!)

I offered and Mary Jane has accepted me as a test knitter for this pattern and I am happy to oblige. Deadline is 2/13/2020 … so I had best stop “talking” and go knit!

Gone knitting!

Proof. Fan girl photo! Thanks for obliging me, Mary Jane!

2020 The Year of the Rat

Hello 2020!

Time sure does fly. I’ve told more than one friend and/or family member that I thought life would slow down and change after my kids were little and life was so busy-active. Once they grew up and had homes of their own, I imagined that time would slow and life would be less busy. Turns out that I was totally wrong. The time seems to only go by more quickly.

So, with that said, this is my first post of the new year and new decade. The year of the rat according to the Chinese calendar. I think it’s going to be another wonderful healthy year full of fun and lots of good knitting!

We have started 2020 with a Sock Challenge. Twelve pairs of socks, one each month. Two pairs can be little socks for children or “peds”, two need to be something you’ve never done before. I have finished two pairs of socks so far this year and am up to the heel on the first sock of the third pair.

January pair number one is for my granddaughter, Rose. Her name explains the color choice, n’est ce pas? Pattern is Yankee Knitter’s Classic Socks for the Whole Family. I did a 3 x 1 rib down the leg and on the top of the foot. Knitting for children, who grow too quickly, I like to build in a little bit of wiggle room. I measured their feet in May so I gave them an extra half-inch in foot length and made the large child size. This Cascade Heritage wool is nice and soft.

February pair number two is my DH’s Christmas socks. I’ve begun to give him a ball of yarn in his Christmas stocking (also hand-knit, not by me) because we all know that Christmas knitting leaves little time for selfish knitting and it’s the old cobbler’s children philosophy: no hand knit socks for my DH until after the paid knitting is finished. Anyway, this pair is also Yankee Knitter’s Classic Sock pattern and it’s a sport weight yarn by KFI with a touch of cashmere. They’re very soft and felt good on my knitting hands! That said, there are spots where it seemed like the dye hadn’t completely saturated the yarn but I hope that doesn’t reflect on the socks themselves. I have two more balls of this yarn because it feels so good. Another blue and a grey.

I’ve been wearing and loving wearing my Love Note sweater by Tin Can Knits. I love the yarn, the weight, the color and the fit. This may be my very most favorite sweater of the year and decade (so far!) I have a couple of other sweaters coming up on my queue and it’ll be interesting to see if I like them as well as I like my Love Note!

Today we had a visitor in our yard. I am so privileged to live on the edge of a lake in Central Maine. The Belgrade Lakes area is a well-known summer spot but it’s also a fun place to live in the winter. I know, many of you are wondering if my mental health is stable but I have to say, I love the snow and I love watching the different seasons and the way the lake and life changes. Today has been a relatively warm winter day for Maine and the lake was crawling with ice fishermen (and women), snow machines, and birds. I was thrilled when I returned from lunching with a girlfriend and saw a Bald Eagle on the lake about three quarters of a mile from our front porch. Later this afternoon, as I was sitting at my desk working, another (or maybe the same) eagle left the ice and flew straight toward our house and landed in our tree. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, “it doesn’t get old”! What a thrill watching these birds! I do have to watch the little dogs very carefully in the winter – an eagle or a big owl or hawk would love a shitzu feast.

Not a great photograph but he or she flew off just after I snapped this photo!

My philosophy for the next year is to be kind. Truthful and kind. Accepting and kind. Healthy and kind. Happy and kind. Loving and kind. Simply put I want to bee happy … and kind.

Gone knitting!

You can read more about my projects and yarns on my Ravelry project page. My Ravelry name is Lindar. You can also find Queen Bee Knits on Facebook and @QueenBeeKnits on Instagram.

Katharine Cobey, A Different Voice

I don’t think I wrote about the opening of Katharine Cobey’s one-woman show at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine. Ned and I were thrilled to attend the VIP (smaller) opening on the first night and Katharine’s talk on Saturday afternoon.

We had a few minutes in the gallery prior to the opening so that Ned could get film footage of Katharine’s works on display. Our plan is to make a short documentary about Katharine in hopes to help her find homes for her pieces, particularly the larger ones.

Birds of a Feather, 2003
wool
60 x 74 x 3 inches
Mime for the Gulf War Birds, 1991
Black plastic, wood, steel
72 x 36x 36 inches
How Katharine got it done

Katharine was quite practical about how to get the job done when creating the Gulf War Birds which was knitted out of black garbage bags. She used a swift to hold the plastic bags and cut them directly into a basket.

As anyone who is creative will understand, it’s not just the finished piece that matters. The process and means by which the artist gets there is creative and necessary. How does one cut up a bunch of black plastic garbage bags into useful strips so that they can then be formed into the ultimate piece? I loved that the Farnsworth used this as an example of the ingenuity and creativity of this fiber artist!

Portal (Pillars), 2003/2008
Wool
96 x 36 x 36 inches
Courtesy of the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, Gift of the Artist, 2019
Detail of Portal (Pillars)

Upon walking into the gallery, I was very moved. I may be said that my “ocular incontinence” kicked in a little bit. (Thanks, Bristol, for the term!) It is very emotional to see these pieces, most of which I had seen in Katharine’s studio, hanging in an art gallery. They’re masterful and thoughtful and quite beautiful. They’re also quite big. Portal, in particular. Katharine told us that at one of the museums where Portal was going to be on display, a staff member asked if there was a form around which the knitted “columns” should be placed in order to give them form. Nope. The columns are perfectly shaped by the knitted stitches. Knits and purls. You can see them in the detail of the piece. Brilliant.

Portrait of Alzheimer’s, 1992
Silk and wool, wood base
69 x 77 x 28 inches

Portrait of Alzheimer’s is probably my favorite piece in this collection. Probably because I have a personal experience with the disease and I can understand this piece better than any other. My mother died from Alzheimer’s Disease. So did Katharine’s mother.

Beginning from the left side, with one strand of yarn, a beautiful lace shawl is knitted together. And it is gorgeous. At about the half-way point of the shawl, the stitches start to be misshapen and become a bit odd, as if there is a mistake, something is happening that is incongruous with what has happened until this point. And then the knitting becomes less “regular” the pattern isn’t regular and can’t really be recognized as the pattern was at the start. And finally, it completely unravels. Unrecognizable as a shawl. Simple strands of yarn in no apparent pattern or shape, with threads hanging out at the edges. Just like the disease that took hold of my mother. And yet, in the middle remains the form of the person whose body supports the shawl.

I have purposely left out several of the pieces that are displayed in this show. I want everyone to go to see it. Fiber Arts in a much-respected museum! A Fiber Artist, a Maine gem, being recognized for her art. This show is at the Farnsworth Museum, Rockland, Maine through April 12, 2020. Go see it!

If you know of a museum that might be interested in any of Katharine’s art, please let me know. Katharine or one of us will be contacting museums. Thanks for your help in advance.

Success!?

What is our measure of success? People measure success by the cars they drive, the homes they own, the jobs they have, how much money they make and a lot of other things. It’s different for all of us. Right?

I’ve measured my success by looking at what others think of me for much of my life. It’s only after a ton of therapy and the grace of having had a lot of time on this planet, that I can say that I feel successful. I’m content. Content with the life that we’ve built here on the lake in Maine.

Members of my Friday Knitting Group loving each other … kindness is rampant in this group!

I feel successful at work. I have created a circle of customers and friends and students who I enjoy spending time with. I feel like I am making a difference by sitting on two boards of trustees go organizations that have meaning to me. My kids are grown and living full lives. I’m deeply in love with the person I married and he loves me despite my perfect imperfections. (*ha! ha! ha!)

I’m feeling confident as a knitter. I’m wearing my Sunset Highway sweater today for the first time. It fits and it’s really lovely. I am quite proud to be able to make garments that I can wear. I have been finishing some projects, too, projects that have been hanging around in my studio for a long (long!) time!

Last year I was going to knit Christmas stockings for my daughter and son-in-love. Because I got a pretty good case of tendonitis, I wasn’t able to knit the stiff fabric for the stockings. But I just got them finished … with a little help from my friend and co-worker, Peggy. She took the first stocking, which I had begun over a year ago, and whipped it into shape while I started and finished the second one. They’re all steamed and finished now and ready to be gifted to the wonderful couple. Their anniversary is next week but I think I’ll save them until Thanksgiving and give them as an early Christmas present!

The stockings are both kits from Accessories Unlimited. Kits #402, Toy Soldiers and #103, Christmas Tree Stocking. The yarn isn’t what I would choose to knit with. It’s very stiff and scratchy but because it won’t be worn, it’s ok. They will hold up well and the stitches are pretty well-defined. I am very pleased with them both.

I’ve also finished a scarf promised as a trade with my herbalist. I had wanted it to be done a year ago as well but for the same reasons that the stockings weren’t done, the scarf was shelved (quite literally). Yesterday I brought it over to Danielle and she loved it. I’m pleased. It was (is) gorgeous. This is the first project I actually blocked with blocking wires. Lace really requires it. The pattern was a free one, Sage Smudging Scarf, on Ravelry and I knit it with the most gorgeous shade of gold Alegria by Manos. All of the details are on my Ravelry projects page. Suffice it to say that this scarf will adorn a neck and feel soooooo good!

When I was at Medomak Fiber Arts Retreat (or as I call it, Fiber Camp) this summer, we designed a lace cowl in our Lace class with Bristol Ivy. I have finally finished and photographed my cowl. The pattern was created using a process called “encoding” which was first brought to knitting by Naomi Parkhurst. In the yarnovers, there is a secret message.

Encoded lace … “I love Ned” and “Embraced” are hidden in the yarnovers

I’ve finished a new sample, a baby sweater, for Yardgoods. It’s Knitting Pure and Simple pattern #214, Baby Pullover. We chose a Cascade yarn, Pacific Color Wave, to knit it up in and since it’s teeny-tiny, it takes only one ball of yarn and knits up in no time at all.

I still have several projects to finish and a few to start, but I’m feeling the success all around me and it feels really good.

Gone knitting!

You can find more details about these projects and others on my Ravelry projects page. I’m Lindar. Also, follow me on Facebook, Queen Bee Knits by Linda Warner, and on Instagram, @QueenBeeKnits.

Hat, Hat, Spring and the Big Decision

It seems that Spring has finally come to Maine!

I took a walk around the yarn this morning before I headed off to work and the flowers both wild and “domestic” (is that what you call them?) are starting to bloom! I love seeing my yard in full bloom! The rhododendrons were purchased years ago from a big box store and they were teeny tiny and nearly dead. We bought three plants to add some pretty between the guest cottage and the woodshed. One got stepped on during the construction of the new house and didn’t survive. The other two are starting to get bigger. Although they’re nowhere near enough to make a “statement”!

Trillium, Violets and (I think) forget-me-nots. I love seeing them! The Bleeding Heart and Creeping Phlox is just about to bloom, too. It’s simply gorgeous and it makes me very happy!

Happiness makes me think of yarn and knitting! (Duh!)

Winterberry Farm yarn

I’ve been working with my “lady farmer” at Winterberry Farm in Belgrade, Maine. Winterberry Farm is an organic farm and their sheep provide Mary with lovely fleeces that she has spun into yarn. I’m working with Mary to make up some knitting kits with her yarn and some simple yet fun patterns that will let her yarn shine. The first sample I knitted up for her is a hat from Tin Can Knits free patterns called “Barley Light.”

While my photograph isn’t the exact right color, it’s pretty close. I like this simple hat pattern because it lets the beautiful, lanolin-y yarn be the star of the show. A one-skein project. The “corrugation” adds just enough interest to make it interesting.

I’ve also knitted a rainbow-stripe hat for the Yardgoods Center. Joyce, who owns the shop, asked for a ribbed hat in a new yarn (to us). It’s a West Yorkshire Spinners “Colour Lab DK” yarn which is 100% British wool. I love working with this yarn. It’s stretchy and squishy soft. And the colors are fabulous! We have three or four colorways at the shop.

The pattern that I found is on Ravelry and it’s a free pattern by Chandi Agee at Expression Fiber Arts called “Boyfriend Beanie”. A 3×2 rib all the way up to the crown. when the decreases start, it becomes fully knitted. A quick knit and super fun! Since it’s ribbed, it’s stretchy and will fit any adult head.

And my big decision?

Oh, my Sunset Highway.

I’m not ok with the main body color. It’s too busy and it detracts from the beautiful colorwork. So, after discussing my options at knitting class on Friday and with the help of color expert, Marlene (Hi, Marlene!), I’ve decided to frog the body of the sweater and reknit it in a different yarn that isn’t so crazy busy. I’m not saying that I don’t love the MC. I do. But I don’t like it here on this sweater. I think the new yarn will be much better and will let the colorwork be the main attraction. So, that’s the big decision that I have made and tomorrow I will be doing the frogging and starting the body over.

I know I wasn’t settled with it and this is a good choice. I’d rather love the sweater and wear it than let it languish on a shelf in my closet. There are also the two different colorways. Strikes one and two and that’s all I need to inform my choice. I’m frogging the body.

Gone knitting!

Teaching This Old Dog a New Trick: Still Learning

Attic Heirlooms January 2019 Ornament

My wonderful co-worker provided me with a kit of wool and supplies for this month’s ornament pattern from Attic Heirlooms. I’d put it into the pile of projects that I am amassing and it seems that this morning was the morning to get it done!

As I stitched away, I realized that I was doing the blanket stitch all wrong. All wrong, all along. I pulled out the outside edge but decided to leave the stitching on the flower in the center just to remind myself that I can still learn. I grew up hearing “can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” I am here to tell you that I am calling BS on this one! I am proof that you can keep learning no matter how old or young you are!

You can see that I have left the “wrong” stitching around the pink part of the flower and continued in the “right” stitching around the red leaves. I pulled out the green around the mitten after a little bit of thought because I really do want to be proud of my work.

I had always wondered why my blanket stitches didn’t really stay square. Now I know. I was doing it the wrong way! That’s what happens when you teach yourself (sometimes!)

All done! All I need is a little string to hang the ornament with and it’s ready for our tree … in a few months, anyway!

Attic Heirlooms is on Main Street in beautiful Damariscotta, Maine. You can find the free patterns or reasonably priced kits on their website. There are some cute shops, good food and a lovely coastal feel to Damariscotta. You should visit!

Gone knitting!

You can find me on Facebook at Queen Bee Knits by Linda Warner and on Instagram as QueenBeeKnits. I’m on Ravelry @lindar. I hope you’ll join me there!

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.