twist and shout

Because I just never shut up

We all need a hug… November 13, 2015

Filed under: knitting,life — kathy @ 8:20 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

…Oh God. I’m watching the coverage of the terror attacks in Paris right now, and my heart is so very heavy. It’s like 9/11 all over again. I ask you, dear friends, to please pray for those poor innocent souls. God bless them and send their families comfort. My heart is aching for them.

I’m sorry to take my light-hearted knitting blog to this place, but I feel like I’m watching pure evil run loose in the world. And it’s not just in Paris. What about the Christians being slaughtered in the Middle East—and few are reporting about it because it’s not, well, politically correct. I feel like it’s only a matter of time before the terror comes here again. I’m not saying there aren’t problems in this country, but I am saying we need to stop dividing ourselves from one another and find reasons to unite. To love one another. Forget about opposing religious or political views. Some of my very best friends have different political views than I, and I love them dearly. They are unique and special to me in so many ways. We can all find reasons to unite if we open our eyes to them.

And hey, like Todd Rundgren says, “Love is the answer.”

There, that’s said.

And I do believe we all need a hug. A great big one. And if it’s a long distance hug you want to give, little is better than a shawl. And best of all is a shawl made with 3 skeins (or better would’ve been 3.5 skeins if I’d had them) of Malabrigo Worsted.

Soft billows of Malabrigo Worsted in colorway Lavanda

Soft billows of Malabrigo Worsted in colorway Lavanda

Recently, a dear, sweet friend of mine has been taking on more of life’s tough times than she can handle, and honestly, since she’s thousands of miles away, I felt that she needed a good long-distance hug. I pulled out one of my favorite patterns, Stephen West’s Glacial Sweep.

This is a much better representation of the color

This is a much better representation of the color

 

I started it last Saturday, and am just finishing the contrast I-cord bind off. I love this shawl for so many reasons, not the least of which is it features lots of garter stitch and clever short rows in those garter stitch sections. And even though I ran out of yarn halfway through the final section(I know, but I was using Stash, so, I’m not being hard on myself), it didn’t much matter. Not at all. This isn’t one of those lace shawls where stitch count isn’t critical. Plus, though the pattern is written for fingering weight or worsted/aran weight yarn, I am fairly certain that you could be successful with any weight yarn.

Another wonderful shawl I’ve made for sending long-distance love is also a Stephen West shawl (just love his inventive, architectural constructions), and also a terrific shawl for giving to men, and that is his Boneyard Shawl.

Yet another fun shawl to work up for a hug is one designed by my Squam cabin mate Heather Classen called “Shuffle.” It’s lots of fun to knit. You have to check it out.

All of these work up relatively quickly, and all are wonderful hugs to send to well-loved friends. Especially now.

Knit some love, friends.

 

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

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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…

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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!

 

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

 

 

Writer’s Block May 8, 2014

I always thought I wanted a "lap cat." Not so sure any more...

I always thought I wanted a “lap cat.” Not so sure any more…

I’m so excited! I’ve just finished an extraordinary online writing course called “The Magic of Myth” given by Elizabeth Duvivier founder of Squam Art Workshops. The course began with a three week analysis of the myth of Psyche and Eros, which is considered to be the genesis of all modern(ish) faery tales such as Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and the like. The second three weeks consisted of writing our own, original myth or faery tale, using different archetypes to craft the piece.

Wow. It was just what I needed to get my writer’s juices flowing again.

Over the past few years, I’ve been trying (and by that I mean, putting it on my calendar, but mostly ignoring it) to take a month to finish the last 2 chapters of my book, “Lore.” Ha. What’s been happening is that generally I try to get myself warmed up and in the flow by starting at the beginning of the novel, and editing the piece (all 562 pages so far) to where I last stopped, and try to finish from there. I think this is a mistake, however, I do it anyway.

One of the things I learned in Elizabeth’s class was that what I actually need to do to get the old brain box in gear is to move around, sing a little, dance a little in my private space here before I sit down to tackle the rest of that behemoth. And once I do, it’s amazing how when I start writing, time disappears. I know that even more than knitting, writing is my truest calling, because of that shift in time for me, that unconscious, effortless flow of heart to head to page…

That is, unless I have help. From someone fluffy, of course. He’s my personal “writer’s block.” Believe me, there’s no place for a laptop if he’s already on your lap.

Quick, he's in the chair, now! Write, write!

Quick, he’s in the chair, now! Write, write!

Anyway, even though it was part of the “class,” I was inspired to write  a really honest short story/faery tale that I feel like Elizabeth really found pleasing; and I was so happy with the piece, in fact, that I think I’m going to work on it a little more and submit it somewhere. You’d be surprised how many fairy tale pubs there are nowadays.

Darling Emma is so lovely!

Darling Emma is so lovely!

Sadly though, with a focus on writing, my knitting time has been pushed to after dinner. I’m slowly making progress with my “Darling Emma,” just doing a half dozen rows or so a night before I feel like I’m gonna pass out. It’s about 30% done now. Having to rip and restart 5 inches into the thing didn’t help, either. Oh well.

After this, I have a couple pairs of socks to finish, and then…I just don’t know. But I’ve got a feeling that the knitting might slow down even a little more, or shift entirely to sock mode since the weather gurus are predicting 5 days in a row of 90+ degree temps next week, and we have no AC. Sigh. What happened to spring?

Well, off to write some more on “Lore.” I see the light, it’s a pinpoint, but it’s there at the end of that tunnel.

 

The class inspired this new  Absinthe Yarn colorway called "Psyche and Eros!"

The class inspired this new Absinthe Yarn colorway called “Psyche and Eros!”

 

 

 

 
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