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Because I just never shut up

Oh my Garters! June 22, 2015

Filed under: knitting — kathy @ 11:08 am
Tags: , , , , ,
Magnificent Oyster shawl by WeaverKnits in  Stonehedge Fiber's Crazy mill ends.

Magnificent Oyster shawl by WeaverKnits in
Stonehedge Fiber’s Crazy mill ends. The colors are really interesting and unusual. 

Recently, I find myself at work on two different shawls, both featuring the homey-looking garter stitch. For those readers who don’t dabble in fiber and string, garter stitch is when you knit every row back and forth on a piece of flat knitting, instead of stockinette, which is alternating knitting one row and purling the next. Overall it looks rather bumpy instead of smooth.

Garter stitch is fluid, relaxing. Some say boring, and though I partially agree with that, I also find garter stitch to be a bit like meditation practice. The chattering, annoying mind that won’t be still in meditation is to me similar to the nagging thought that garter stitch is tedious. Recognize it, but keep knitting. Once I accept that this repetitive stitch is so simple it can be uninspiring, it becomes a non-issue. Simply knit on.

I knit in the continental style which means I only need to make very small movements with my hands to produce a stitch. The yarn flows easily through my fingers. Knit, knit, knit, knit, knit…it becomes soothing, not really mindless, but rather, intuitive. Peaceful. It is a good break for my mind.

Many folks claim knitting is relaxing, however I must add that, in my opinion, the only time knitting is relaxing is when the project is working out the way you want it to.

To me, garter stitch is restful, and I’ve decided that if I’m wise, I’ll be certain to have some sort of garter stitch project on hand to work out the stresses of life (BTW, also it’s proven to be a good knitting choice for social knitting that includes wine, or for foreign film watching).

Shuffle shawl by Heather Claussen--Test knitting this clever design by a new Squam buddy.

Shuffle shawl by Heather Claussen–Test knitting this clever design by a new Squam buddy.

 

Was it all just a dream…? June 13, 2015

Filed under: life — kathy @ 1:04 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,
Upon arrival, the view from our back screen porch.

Upon arrival, the view from our back screen porch.

Squam Art Workshops, that is. (warning: picture-heavy post; not sure how the type will wrap, so, sorry in advance.)

The entire experience seemed to flow past me so very quickly that I was swept away in it all like a leaf in a stream, riding along, taking it all in until I was deposited at last on the shore.

Breathless. All of it.

I cried when I finally arrived, Elizabeth greeting every person with a hug (unless you were a hand-shaking sort of person); I cried a bit when I left.

I must be honest: I was rather scared of going to Squam alone. I wouldn’t know a soul there. Not face-to-face “know,” anyway. I’d have a roommate I’d never met before and stay in a cabin full of ten other women with one shower and 2 bathrooms. There would be nature. Like spiders and mosquitoes and mice. There would be designer/artist luminaries–people whose work I’d knitted or “queued,” or blogs I’ve read. But they’d be here…going through the dinner line with me.

The one and only, charming, delightful, and absolutely darling, Kerry Lemon. A wonderfully enthusiastic and encouraging teacher, who is a successful artist. Love!

The one and only, charming, delightful, and absolutely darling, Kerry Lemon. A wonderfully enthusiastic and encouraging teacher, who is a successful artist. Love!

But from the moment I got into the shuttle at Manchester Airport, and serendipitously met one of my teachers, Kerry Lemon, I felt welcomed.

So, Kerry…I felt I knew her a wee bit already as she was a “guest speaker” via a video she made for Elizabeth’s online class, The Magic of Myth. And she was even more delightful in person. I felt like we had an instant connection, full of “right, me too!” moments, the entire way on that ride in. I couldn’t wait to take her class, since I love her art, and the ride into Squam made me even more excited. And also in that connection, I felt a bit calmer about my decision to go.

And silly me to worry about the cabin situation…I felt welcomed in that amazing cabin as a stumbled through the creaky door and met my roomies. Elizabeth and Forrest–so wise, those two–set up this cabin with half of us newbies/first-timers, and the other half, women who’d been there before (one, seven times, if I recall correctly) and helped us find our way. I began calling them our Squam sages. They knew how to rearrange the furniture so that we could all sit around the fire at the same time. They knew to bring lots of wine. They were fun, and friendly, and patient, and generous–and knew how to have a really good time. Really good…

One view of our living room in Cliffside cabin

One view of our living room in Cliffside cabin

The back porch...

The back porch…

The shower thing worked itself out just fine.

And my roommate was sweet, considerate, and all-around delightful.

There was nothing to worry about at all.

And all of it was as wonderful, or surpassed my expectations (I know we were warned not to have any pre-conceived notions, but that is nearly impossible, you know?). I loved my classes: Drawn Together, with Kerry, and Found Poetry, with amazing poet Sarah Sousa. Lovedlovedloved. Both teachers put so much thought and preparation into their classes. Both classes challenged me and nurtured me, and I went away from each feeling a bit more confident, and more inquisitive and thoughtful regarding my drawing and writing. Really inspired. (Both of them have wonderful blogposts about their own experiences at Squam–and a little picture of one of the things I made is in Sarah’s blog. Go look.)

I found myself sitting down at tables to have lunch with complete strangers, and very comfortable about it I might say, too. In fact, the day I asked to sit down with a woman who was sitting by herself, we found ourselves spontaneously joined by several other women, including knitting designer Amy Herzog (her website is in my blogroll, BTW), and she asked to join us!

So you knitters who are on Ravelry will also likely know some of these other names: Clara Parkes, Ysolda Teague, Kate Atherley, Gudrun Johnson, Thea Colman, Bristol Ivy, Ravelry’s own Jess and Casey with their adorable baby son, along with artists like Kerry Lemon, Ann Wood, and Colleen Attara, to name just a few. Not all were teaching; some were speaking, and some were there just to be there. I wanted to snap photos of them, but it seemed weird. It was hard not to fan-girl, though, let me tell you.

A little opening night welcome from Elizabeth and two of her amazing coordinators

A little opening night welcome from Elizabeth and two of her amazing coordinators…plus a story about a skunk. ;)

And then there was the always welcoming “hostess,” Elizabeth Duvivier who floated through the dining hall sprinkling faery dust and sunshine and smiles on everyone.

Okay, at the risk “woo-woo”ing the whole experience, I just have to tell you what I told Elizabeth on the last day there…I felt all filled up inside. Like nurtured and recharged. She responded by telling me that it was because I found “my tribe.” She was right. No matter what our ages were, or where we’d travelled from to be there, we had a common link: we all were driven to explore and be creative, and most of all, encourage one another.

And now, even though the days spent at Squam seem rather like a dream now, I am even more focused on making every day creative.

I cannot wait to go back next year.

And now, a little of my photo album…

Check-in and everyone's in high spirits. It was wonderful to finally meet Forrest, especially after receiving the lovely certificate he made for me after winning the Totes contest.

Check-in, and everyone’s in high spirits. It was wonderful to finally meet Forrest, especially after receiving the lovely certificate he made for me after winning the Totes contest.

IMG_3088

IMG_3086

All the views were as spectacular as these...

All the views were as spectacular as these…

Kerry's class really pushed me (gently) out of my pen and ink comfort zone...

Kerry’s class really pushed me (gently) out of my pen and ink comfort zone…

We passed the journals through the class and everyone worked in everyone else’s journal for an interesting exercise in color and technique

An example of one of Kerry's own concertina journals from her trip to Iceland

An example of one of Kerry’s own concertina journals from her trip to Iceland

The woven heart welcomed us at the playhouse...

The woven heart welcomed us at the playhouse…

IMG_3098

And to the Art and Craft Fair

And to the Art and Craft Fair

My fav new bumper stickerMy fav new bumper sticker

 

Decisions, decisions. Again. May 22, 2015

Filed under: knitting — kathy @ 12:32 pm
Tags: , , , , ,
Quill Shawl using Rovings Polwarth Silk fingering, Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL fingering, and Madelinetosh Tosh merono light

Quill Shawl using Rovings Polwarth Silk fingering, Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL fingering, and Madelinetosh Tosh merino light

What to bring on a trip always gets me in a dither. Here’s one of the places in my life where being organized is key to not making my head explode. I admit it—I start a list of what to bring the moment I make the plane reservations. It’s a list that has a hallowed spot on the little table beside the “chair,” a pencil alwaysalways resting at the ready on top. Oh yes, and I check the weather at my destination twice daily using my Yahoo weather app. I love to be prepared.

You can’t imagine the cranial chaos that ensues for me when Captain Romance suggests a spur of the moment overnighter. I used to be spontaneous. I used to be able to throw a few things (usually all black), makeup, some not-sensible shoes, and some fabulous earrings into a weekender and flit out the door. I blame motherhood.

After Bug was born I learned that if I wasn’t prepared for all diapering/clothing/hunger/thirst/boredom/stuffed animal emergencies and had diapers & wipes/a complete second outfit/cheerios/water/crayons, paper, chunky picture books/blue puppy and “beanie baby of the day” in my backpack, I would pay, and pay dearly for my foolish forgetfulness. Even if you don’t have a kid, you’ve probably seen the parent in the restaurant/plane who didn’t prep for this and the sad consequences that occur. And unfortunately everyone in the vicinity has to suffer share in the experience. But I’ve gone off on a tangent, as usual. Sorry.

As a knitter, this crazy “what to bring” list takes on a whole new dimension. I will confess to having some 600+ items in my Ravelry queue. But in my own defense, my queue consists of what I’d love to knit, not necessarily what I will absolutely knit. I tend to “fave” lots of projects because they’re lovely or helpful, and if I put those pieces I’d really like to knit in that favorites list, I’d never remember which ones they were.

Anyway, since I’m headed off to Squam (!!!), I must decide what to bring. It must be the sort of thing that can be knitted during lots of conversation(no lace), something that can be started and stopped easily (again, no lace), but not something that requires I drag lots of yarn along, like all the cardigans currently in my WIPs (works in progress). This narrows the field considerably to the following items: plainish shawls, mitts, socks, scarves.

Well, let’s knock the scarves right off the list to begin with. Scarves—unless they’re knit from something bulkyish—just bore me out of my brains. Well, except for that “mini mania” scarf. That’s one I’m dying to make…but I think not for “in public knitting.” I’d screw it up!

Can't wait to play with this!

Can’t wait to play with this!

So after scrolling through the list and going through the prodigious stash, I’ve decided to do these two things: Quill, a lovely shawl that’s a huge chunk of garter in the center—practically perfect for knitting and chatting. But a wise knitter knows to bring a spare project, just in case: using this amazing knitting algorithm idea by Statnerd on Ravelry, and this lovely basic arm warmers/mitts pattern from Fairieisle on Ravelry, I’m gonna attempt (attempt, mind you) a planned pooling project with this gorgeous Miss Babs Yummy “Cleopatra.” I’ll have to play with a swatch, first, but it’ll be a fun experiment, and perhaps if I’m lucky, there will be some “planned pooling” experts at Squam.

 

It’s Glittery! April 30, 2015

Filed under: life — kathy @ 10:21 am
Tags: , , , , ,
This is going to live in a lovely frame!! I don't need to return it to redeem it!

This is going to live in a lovely frame!! I don’t need to return it to redeem it!

Wow! Would you look at the beautiful certificate I got in the mail yesterday from Elizabeth and Forrest?! I will treasure it forever!!

It’s so special!! Pictures just don’t do it justice—it’s hand painted and glittered, and look: my name is on it! Joy! and smiles! and so much gratitude. And peace. So much peace. The fact that I was able to communicate my feelings and have them understood brings me personally so much peace and joy.

I am so filled with gratitude right now for all of you, my dear friends. Thank you one and all for your kind words and encouragement. The little girl deep inside feels very nurtured right now. Thank you.

Edited to add: I just found out that this lovely piece of art was created by Forrest! He is so very talented—you should see some of his beautiful photography, too! Oh, I am so excited to soon be able to spend time with so many dear and creative people at Squam!

See the sweet card, too?! Even the packaging was soooo pretty!

See the sweet card, too?!
Even the packaging was soooo pretty!

 

Spinster April 15, 2015

The Kromski Sonata-it folds so I can travel with it if I want!

The Kromski Sonata-it folds so I can travel with it if I want!

Make that a happy spinster. ;)

For years I’ve been wanting to learn how to spin. I tried a drop spindle, but it was just too annoying tedious for me (I’m rather impatient, I’m afraid) and the drop spindle went to Bug (she, BTW, totally took to it and became wonderful at it, so there was no loss there.).

A few years ago after a reasonably successful Holiday Open House, I decided to buy myself a lovely, handmade single-treadle folding spinning wheel from an artisan on Etsy who had a shop called “Overland Handcraft.” It was a lovely wheel (which I’d never sat down to treadle/try before I bought–mistake number 1), and after I received it I realized I needed some help from an expert, so I took a private 2 hour lesson with the delightful and knowledgable Sandi Luck of Purlescence Yarn, came home, and immediately welcomed houseguests for the week. That meant I didn’t spin for at least a week after my class and so forgot nearly everything I’d learned (mistake number 2). Worse, the lovely Overland folding/travel wheel I bought had a funny little glitch that made it try to fold up on itself every time I tried to use it (mistake number 3).

My lovely--but not quite right for me--Overland wheel.

My lovely–but not quite right for me–Overland wheel.

Enter Captain Romance, and after one of the best Christmas gifts ever–a gift certificate for a new wheel, six–yes, six–learn to spin classes, again with Sandi, trying 3 (or 5 if you count the ones I treadled but didn’t actually use) different wheels during those classes, and 3 or 8 gin and tonics, I now am the proud owner of this gorgeous walnut Kromski Sonata. I named him Gabriel. I am so full of gratitude.

Okay, plied it looks pretty cool, but as a single...embarrassing!

Okay, plied it looks pretty cool, but as a single…embarrassing!

For whatever reason, it took me a couple of classes to really understand what I needed to do to spin the way I was supposed to. To be fair, a bit of my trouble was due to the strokes I had when Bug was born. But I have to say that there were classmates who sat down and were at once spinning stuff that looked like kitchen twine or embroidery floss. Mine looked like crap novelty yarn. I was devastated, and truthfully, embarrassed. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as a remedial spinning class, but wished I could’ve slunk away to find one. I mean the teachers were very nice about it, but it was frustrating. I’m usually great with my hands. Sigh. You know, they say that you should enjoy this early “lumpy bumpy thick thin yarn” because you’ll never be able to do after you learn the right way to spin. Ha. They didn’t know about me. I don’t think I’ll ever have trouble doing thick and think yarn again if I want to. But I digress.

Anyway, I refused to give up, and after changing the wheel I was using, and watching lots of YouTube videos for moral support, I was making kitchen twine, too! Yippity! This is so much fun that I spent nearly all day Sunday spinning, and could barely walk the next day because I’d overwhelmed my ankles. Well, they didn’t hurt while I was spinning.

It's a little hard to tell with this dark shot, but it's really pretty thin and even.

It’s a little hard to tell with this dark shot, but it’s really pretty thin and even.

Yup, you can call me spinster, now and I certainly won’t be offended. ;)

 

Here goes… April 2, 2015

My entry, "the epiphany box"

My entry, “the epiphany box”

So last time I was here I posted a snippet of a VIP (Very Important Project) I’d sunk my teeth into. I didn’t mean to be a tease or anything, I just didn’t want to reveal anything until it was finished and winging its way to the contest I was entering. And believe me, this project took up nearly every moment since I first showed you. Everything–well nearly everything–in my life got sidelined. It was exhilarating to be so immeshed in a thing so creative. It’s been ages since I felt that way. In a nutshell, the contest challenge was to take an old Squam Art Workshop tote and repurpose it into…well something else. The prize is a scholarship to any 2015 or 2016 session of Squam the winner chooses. How could I resist the challenge? And though the concept/idea of what I wanted to express was quite clear in my mind, for the better part of the last couple of months I’ve been experimenting with exactly how to turn it into art. The only thing I knew was that I’d be cutting apart and embroidering the tote for a cover of some sort. At first I thought I’d make a lovely handcrafted journal and fill it with writing and drawings. I set out at once to teach myself to make a book with an exposed coptic stitch spine. Ha. Easier said than done. Plus, I kept wanting to incorporate three dimensional items into the journal, and wasn’t able to figure out how to do that and make it work the way I wanted. The only answer was to toss my control freak self out the window and, as Elsa would say, “Let it go.What I came up with was this: the epiphany box. Here’s the idea: Everything you need is within you: the moment I read the sentiment on the tote, the idea for my entry was clear. I wanted to illustrate how, after taking Elizabeth Duvivier’s (the creator/founder of Squam and all around amazing goddess-woman) “The Magic of Myth” course last spring, I realized that the way I wanted to live my life was inside me all along. I wanted to show how my heart had opened I was inspired to listen and jump back onto my creative path. IMG_2675Holding that memory, I took a deep breath and began to reconstruct the lovely tote into a suitcase which would represent the beginning of that journey–the epiphany I had a year ago. To more deeply illustrate “Everything you need is within you,” I hand-embroidered and reverse appliqued the poppy so that it reveals itself from behind a “window” in the linen. It scatters its seeds (antique French glass beads), planting ideas and spreading its joy wherever its seeds land. I then applied the hand-embroidered piece to the case which I’d painted with scenes of poppy fields all around the sides and on the back. I sewed seven giant “poppy seeds” of black felt and placed them inside the bottom of the case; tucked within each felt seed I placed a little glass bottle to represent a gift or skill that I feel I possess or have reclaimed.

The little bottles that'll go inside the felt "poppy seeds."

The little bottles that’ll go inside the felt “poppy seeds.”

Examples of a few bottles--"Writer," "Fiber Addict," and  "Jeweler."

Examples of a few bottles–“Writer,” “Fiber Addict,” and “Jeweler.”

The "Lover" bottle next to a  filled "poppy seed."

The “Lover” bottle next to a filled “poppy seed.”

Beneath the poppy seeds in the bottom of the box I put a drawing of where my heart felt stuck before The Magic of Myth class. The drawing I made inside the top lid illustrates the release of creativity and love I felt bursting back into my world during the class, much like the poppy’s release of seeds.

The drawings...I'm so happy with them. Why has it been so long since I drew anything?

The drawings…I’m so happy with them. Why has it been so long since I drew anything?

Even though I love to write more than just about anything, the exercise of drawing again filled me with a mixture of thrill and terror. Could I still draw? Would I be able to draw what I saw in my mind’s eye? You be the judge if it’s effective, but I ended up happy with the result. What I found was that the process of drawing was so exhilarating that all I wanted to do for nearly a week was draw. Sigh.

Suitcase with seeds piled inside.

Suitcase with seeds piled inside.

The box is on its way to Rhode Island now for judging and I can’t wait to find out the verdict. But I feel, in my own heart, with the reconnection I’ve made with drawing and embroidery, I’ve already won something, you know? What do you think? I’d love to hear…

IMG_2671

 

Mea Culpa March 13, 2015

Filed under: life — kathy @ 1:38 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Darling friends!

Where does the time go? My last post was exactly 4 months ago. Exactly.

I love to visit on my blog, so why haven’t I done so in 4 long months? I guess the only reason I can point to is life–life in general. It’s been a tough winter for nearly every single dear personal friend and family member, so I know you understand. Illness, work, weather, it all sort of conspired to keep me from sitting and writing to let you all know what was up.

Lots of custom rosary work kept my hands busy, as well as nursing us through some awful mystery cold that we passed around. Heck, I think even the cats got sick. I made a record number of pots of chicken soup and many many little dumplings. It was the strangest cold, for if I’d overdo anything–tidying, cooking, errand-running–I’d feel like I’d gotten run over by a truck, and then would have to spend the next day in bed. Crazy. I barely had the energy to pick up any knitting. By the time we were all well, there was so much catching up to do I almost didn’t know where to start. I literally had to make a cup of Earl Grey and sit and make a list.

One of the things high on that list of “to do’s” was this…

To Be Explained...

To Be Explained…

It will be my entry for a “scholarship” to Squam Art Workshops–yes, I’m soooo excited I’m finally going to go to Squam this June! Are any of you going? I’d love to know if you were going. I will be explaining and showing you all more of what this little thing will be in my next post.

Until then, Happy Friday. Great to see you again.goingtosquam

 

 

 
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