As if Knit Camp at the Coast, a virtual, two-day retreat with Marie Greene, hundreds of other Knit Camp campers, fun classes featuring nationally known instructors, and “get-to-known each other” break-out sessions, was not enough to fill my Friday and Saturday, there is a virtual yarn crawl this weekend and next. Through the wonder of technology (one of only a few benefits of pandemic living), 36 small shops, from distant corners of the continent, will be transformed into the viewer’s local yarn store – LYS. From California to Quebec, Oregon to Alabama with Minnesota well represented.
Using Zoom and Facebook, each fiber entrepreneur will share exciting new products, fun kits, bundles, and unique offerings. And, best of all: Prizes! Registration is free so sign up today and join me at the Have a Ball Fall Crawl.
Released early during our pandemic lockdown, Christina Campbell’s Metanoia Wrap artfully achieves its goal of blending simple garter stitches with classic lace to create a meditative experience while knitting. Ever the teacher, she offers a translation for the Greek title:
‘Meta’ means life and ‘Noia’ is change … A knitted journey during a tumultuous time as our way of life changes.
Calling for two contrasting skeins of yarn, each half of the scarf mirrors the other with rippling color. The repetitive lace segments appear different from each other but this is only an illusion since they match row-for-row. The Boca Chica colorways in rich blue Hurricane and subtle flecked aqua Seaglass artfully capture the vibrant hues of the Florida Keys for which these limited hand-dyed skeins are named.
It feels like every suspense novel ever read, every film noir ever screened, this waiting to learn of what will be and will not be in our ongoing Covid saga. This morning’s email made it official — the Rowan Tree Travel Fiber Adventure to Copenhagen and the Faroe Islands has been postponed – AGAIN.
The tour planners, Heather and Suzie, have carefully monitored EU travel requirements, health notices for specific stops along the way and they have even gone so far as to take a trip to Scotland to assess just how difficult international travel might be in these strange times. (Suzie’s blog offers her travel musings along the way with an array of photos such that the reader can almost feel the crisp highland air.) But in the end, with cases of the Delta variant on the rise in the US, the frequent testing points mandated while traveling, the uncertainty surrounding quarantine procedures in situ for anyone testing positive, and time delays required for laying low upon arrival, even when healthy, all became just too many variables to manage. The fun of adventure and exploration lost to the stress of pandemic travel. So I am no longer counting the days and will stay Minnesota bound.
Last summer while slogging through Covid quarantine days, Marie Greene and her amazing Olive Knits team organized, on short notice, a fun-filled virtual retreat that was so successful so as to necessitate a sequel. I count myself lucky to have landed a “seat” again this year for Knit Camp at the Coast. For three days, September 16-18, I will join 100s of knitting enthusiasts in 16 unique sessions where we will learn new techniques from a cadre of talented guest instructors. The class itinerary offers an old nemesis – socks, but also an exclusive pattern with a newly designed stitch and yoga breaks to ease muscles feeling the strain of feverish knitting. Plus, although well out of my comfort zone but intriguing will be the workshop offered by Heather Best from sew happy jane – Not Your Average Kool-Aid Dye Party. Who knew, all those decades ago when drinking that sugary summer staple (cherry was my favorite) or slurping ice cube popsicles, that the sweet food dye filling the glass would be perfect for “creating gorgeous custom colors for hand-dyed yarns.” Happy Knitting!
It has been years since I twirled sparklers in the warm dark of a summer night at the lakeshore but I almost wish I had some handy to celebrate the completion of my new Fireworks sweater.
With needles poised at the ready, hordes of knitters cast on as soon as Marie Greene’s latest 4-Day knit-along (KAL) pattern dropped on July 1. Working simultaneously on the same project with 1000s of others, mostly in the U.S. but also scattered worldwide, is a unique experience. And the new Knit Camp app enabled regular progress reports from fellow “Campers” as near as Zumbrota and as far away as Yokosuka, Japan.
Fireworks marked Marie’s fifth annual sweater marathon which she describes as “A celebration of life, friendship, and new beginnings. The unique firework stitches in this design cascade down the yoke like streams of light in the night’s sky.” While I never intended to race to completion in 96 hours, I am proud to report that cast on to bind off took just 33 days. My beautiful Fireworks is off the blocking squares, photographed, the subject of this blog post and now neatly folded away just waiting for our Minnesota weather to cool (which it definitely will!)
Two months from today*, I officially begin my Danish adventure in Copenhagen. As a small tour company, Rowan Tree Travel continues to satisfy. They have a great sense for just when I might be edging toward anxiety and need information. This morning, my in-box held a detailed, 20-page itinerary with a link to their customized travel app (after all “…there is an app for that…”) so I can keep the details on my new phone. The app also hosts a private messaging service to chat with my yet to meet fellow travelers and fiber-enthusiasts.
This international trip, originally scheduled for September 2020, will be a big first as I come out of our Covid quarantine. To date, my travels have included only small jaunts — two hours to Eau Claire to visit Mom and my recent two-day excursion up-northwith my retired friends, The Directors. Certainly nothing far away and nothing by plane since February 2020. And, while I am sure I will cope, it will be strange traveling solo which should make great blog fodder.
Bon voyage or, as they say in Danish: “hav en god tur.”
*Although technically my two month countdown for a Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Paris (CDG) to Copenhagen (CPH) flight began July 22.
As you can never have too many projects on your needles and I love the idea of joining knitters from around the world, whether brought together for a shared project or to celebrate a creative designer, I just cast on a new shawl for the first day of Sommer Camp with Martina Behm. And, yes, Sommer is spelled correctly as Martina is hosting this six-week event from Germany. In addition to podcasts and prizes, the bi-lingual discussions may also serve to re-draw a few of my long dormant neural pathways as some posts may be written only in German. My goal is to use Google translate as a last resort to verify my translation guesses.
While the rules of Sommer Camp allow for any pattern, I chose a two-toned shawl designed by Martina that she describes as looking a bit like Intarsia but without the worry. Since stash-diving is always a laudable goal, I can check that task off my list as the two contrasting yet complimentary skeins were purchased as souvenirs during pre-pandemic travels; perfect for the project I have dubbed Zwei Farben (two colors).
All the while, work continues on my Fireworks sweater as part of Marie Greene’s 4-Day knit-along (KAL). The top-down, yoked pullover features a new stitch which resembles bursts of light against the night sky on the 4th of July or bright celebrations when the home town baseball team wins a game. The yarn fireworks are anchored by a row of delicate bobbles; a capricious design element that has only now, in retirement, entered my wardrobe.
There is something oh so satisfying when a project is laid out on the blocking squares. And, I can claim double the fun (just like double mint gum) having finished Fiadh, my January-February sweater knit-along (KAL), and my friend’s Halley within just days of each other.
Fiadh is a dense Aran sweater with swirling Celtic cables and funky bobbles designed by Marie Greene and knit using Kelbourne Woolens Lucky Tweed in medium gray with white and black flecks for a very classy look. After some self-psychoanalysis to discover the why behind being stuck on sleeve island, I hunkered down and finished the cabled sleeves, picked up 338 stitches for the ribbed front band, shawl collar, and added the vibrant orange hidden pockets. All just in time for 100 degree days, a very unusual meteorological phenomenon for June in Minnesota.
Designed by Martina Behm, another of my go-to designers, Halley incorporates a lacy zigzag reminiscent of Halley’s Comet, as well as stars and meteorites crisscrossing the night sky. Knit using HiKoo Popcycle, an environmentally conscientious blend of 50% bamboo rayon and 50% polyester from recycled plastic bottles.
Knitting, reading and a bit of writing have been my primary activities during our pandemic lockdown. As we slowly emerge fully vaccinated from home into public spaces my COVID project inventory totals 35 between March 2020 to June 2021 with Halley and Fiadh being projects #34 and #35, respectively. Quite an assortment of productivity including three sweaters, seven hats, seven shawls, two pairs of socks, nine cowls, six pairs of mittens (fingerless included) and one cabled, reversible scarf. Swatching for Fireworks is complete but I am waiting for the pattern release on July 1 before beginning Marie Greene’s fifth annual 4-Day Sweater KAL. And so I find myself in an unusual state of affairs with nothing on my needles. Time for a quick delve into the project queue.
Having become un-Stuck on my January sweater knit-along (KAL) Fiadh, although still not quite finished, I am already gearing up for Marie Greene’s fifth annual 4-Day KAL with Fireworks. My swatches to test gauge are complete and all that is missing is the pattern – which will be released July 1 complete with a celebratory Virtual Cast On Party (with prizes) at 8 am PDT / 10 am CDT for me.
This commitment to a sweater, or any project, sight unseen is highly unusual for me. While my first mystery KAL (where portions of the directions were revealed week by week) actually resulted in a very wearable item, I usually wait days or weeks or even years before joining other KAL knitters just to make sure that the pattern is a good fit with my knitting style and preferences. With great faith in Marie’s classic designs, her well-tested patterns (sometimes by over a 100 test knitters plus technical editing to find every bug) and the cheerleader-like support from the Olive Knit staff and my fellow Knit Campers, I made the plunge and purchased seven skeins of luxurious DK weight, merino yarn hand-dyed by Heather Jane at sew happy jane before the pattern reveal.
While dubbed a 4-Day KAL, pacing can be my own after all, I am the boss of my sweater. There will be those who will slam through but I plan a more sedate summer project spent on the screened porch with ice cold libations close at hand while listening to our new solar fountain bubble. This will be 4-Day number three for me. Foxtrot (2019) took over two months but I greatly reduced my completion time to 22 days for Soundtrack during our COVID lockdown. Who knows what Fireworks will bring?
It is not often I admit to feeling “stuck” while knitting. My list of frogged projects is surprisingly small as only two have moved from my needles back into balls of yarn and into the realm of never more. Three colorwork projects have drifted lower on my queue awaiting more research on stranded knitting and five are hibernating with yarn purchased just needing time to start.
While cast on with great gusto in January, my Fiadhsweater is still mid-sleeve with front band and pockets yet to be started. I am oh so close but so not done. The only other time I remember feeling this stuck was my first (and to-date only) felted project. The pre-fulled mittens made it off my needles. As the pattern directed, the mitts were much larger than any hand (unless the hand belonged to an MMA fighter) but I was intimidated by the wet felting process, so they sat for seven years. But my sweater delays cannot be blamed on a lack of technique. I have the stitches covered.
I keep trying to analyze how my January enthusiasm for the interlocking cables and framed bobbles waned. At first, I attributed my glacial-like progress to the spring temps and the urge to get herbs into the backdoor pots. That my Fiadh sleeves were stuck mid-bicep, then at the elbow and now just before the cuff because I was gardening rather than knitting seemed a valid rationale. But not really. I was not gardening after dark and I was knitting every night and even during the day if there was a Cubs baseball game or Formula 1 free practice, qualifying, or race to watch. Just not working on this sweater.
I finally realized I deeply associate Fiadh with the many months of our social distanced, masked quarantine. Previously in awe of intricate Aran designs, the COVID lockdown gave me license to tackle something big and beautiful. My “stuck-ness“ may be a visual example of my own version of re-entry anxiety; that somehow the completion of this sweater and my re-entry are linked even though I know I control when and how I choose to re-engage.
The revised Re-Gathering Guidelines for church begin with this practical yet inspiring statement. And, when applied to my everyday life, these words remind me to treat myself kindly and help re-infuse my enthusiasm for Fiadh cables and bobbles.
With care for each other’s health – body, mind and spirit – we will move into new phases gradually while valuing inclusion, science, flexibility, and grace.