Step back to a May (nearly June) day one year ago, or two, or three, or four years and you would find me studying pattern release notes and making yarn and color choices for Marie Greene’s annual 4-day sweater knit-along (KAL) but not this summer. Instead, with July’s arrival, I will observe rather than participate in this summer’s KAL since I have a full task list as the co-lead of the church building team.
After spending several years in discernment, in what now feels like it was a leisurely drive on a blue-line road, it is like we are in the F1 pit lane prepping for 78 fast laps on the streets of Monaco. As May began, we purchased 40 wooded acres of urban wilderness, engaged the architects, performed soil borings and tested for Decorah Edge. In just weeks, we will begin listening sessions when we will dream of all this building might represent and then move into conceptual and schematic designs before breaking ground in September 2024 and dedicating a new building in September 2025.
With weekly planning meetings, frequent discussions with the architects, and writing regular eNews updates intended to keep member congregants and friends informed and engaged, the 4-day sweater KAL, just doesn’t gel with my mindset. But my needles will not be still as yarn for a summer silk shawl and two scarves are tucked in the rattan basket by my TV room chair.
Who doesn’t love a mystery? Whether on paper or film? Puzzle or yarn? As a reader, channeling one’s own powers of detection against the author’s controlled revelation of details which may or may not be clues leading to the discovery of whodunit. As a knitter, reveling in a new stitch and then trying to deduce where the design will go next.
Despite our Minnesota days feeling nothing like spring, it is nearly time for Marie Greene’s spring mystery knit-along (MKAL). Her new pattern will be revealed in four clues, over 10 days, April 3-13. The advance teaser alerted MKAL participants that this will be a triangular shawl in two contrasting colors, knit from top-center down, incorporate texture and special design elements, and the accompanying story will feature the adventures of one rambunctious sheep – hence the title of the MKAL and the shawl – A Sheep Story.
The March surprises in my Sew Happy Jane Hand Dyed Happy Yarn Club subscription could combine nicely for a lovely A Sheep Story mystery shawl. But, my April box arrives on Friday, so I will make my final decision with two new skeins in hand.
While I tracked my first hand-dyed installment from Idaho, I wondered if the new skeins would blend with the predominant hues already in my stash or provide challenges from the color wheel. Both of these thoughts proved true. The solid aqua skein was well within my color comfort zone. The variegated skein is one I definitely would never have selected with its repeating runs of un-dyed natural cream to yellow to coral to burnt orange.
I knew I needed to use this odd yellow skein right away or it would languish for years. A new shawl pattern from Marie Greene featuring lacy contrasting stripes was released at just the right moment for a February project inspiration.
In the spirit of new year de-cluttering, I joined Marie Greene’s Stash Challenge – a much abbreviated version of her Stash Sprint class. Within the text of five emails sent over five days, she offered “stashtastic inspiration” in manageable micro amounts. Then, I coupled my efforts and transformed a beautiful Merino-Silk blend into this Swiss Dot Shawl from her Stashbuster Series: B is for Bobble patterns.
Since my knitted contributions to this year’s church auction (the Mallory Shawl and the French Oak Scarf) were successful in raising funds and as Brezel, Marie Greene’s new design for her 2023 January Sweater Workshop, is waiting in the wings, I just completed several smaller projects. Using worsted weight tweed yarn in vibrant magenta, the matching beanie and scarf combo with reversible cables was a quick project. Plus, this set gives me a head start on next year’s auction donations.
And for a sneak peak at Brezel details — With a release date of December 30 for Knit Campers like me, Bretzel incorporates Bavarian twisted stitches and German short rows to create an overall design resembling a platter of carefully crafted pretzels. And, yes, the name of the sweater is the German translation of this symmetrically twisted, salty snack. In the weeks ahead, in addition to the knitting lessons shared during this sweater workshop, there is a promise of pretzel baking lessons. Yumm!
Even as my head is full of possibilities having just completed the 3-day, Knit Camp at the Coast, VIP retreat with Marie Greene, I am planning ahead for those frigid days when the garden is in its winter rest. As a means of continuing my knitting immersion, I registered for the 2022 Have a Ball Fall Crawl and several Fireside Chats. These virtual activities were created in 2020 as our world went into pandemic lockdown and local yarn stores (LYS) scrambled to stay afloat. Even as brick-n-mortar sales picked up, shop owners had discovered these online events were an engaging marketing technique. Through the wonder of Zoom, local and distant customers could be brought together with far-flung resources which generated sales and kept ledgers in the black.
The five-day Fall Crawl will feature 28 LYSs located in the U.S. and Canada including several that I frequent often – Yarnology in Winona and 3 Kittens in Mendota Heights (always a regular stop anytime I am on my way to St. Paul); several that I only know as online vendors like Knot Another Hat in Hood River, Oregon, as well as shops that are on my wish list of places to visit like Stash in Charlotte, NC (hopefully as part of November 2023 plans to attend Verse & Vino – that library’s major fundraiser). Each participating shop will have 45-minutes to showcase its specialties, share locally designed patterns, and offer discounted sales. Plus, there are will be prizes just for participating!
The Fall 2022 Fireside Chats will connect Zoom participants and designers from California to Denmark, Uruguay to Maine and beyond. The various creators will share the story of their unique fiber journeys, showcase favorite techniques, and describe their latest creative ventures. There will be time for Q&A, pattern discounts, and (yes) more prizes.
After several recent trips with destinations dependent upon multiple flights, I am ready to be a homebody and pleased that my next “excursion” will be virtual – thanks to the wonder of Zoom and WiFi on my screened porch.
Within hours of Knit Camp at the Coast registration going live in May, I was registered for Marie Greene’s third annual knitting retreat VIP package. The itinerary for this 3-Day event imbues a Pacific NW vibe with days full of new knitting skills taught by well-known practitioners. When you add in coastal drink recipes, small group breakout rooms, and retreat swag, it will be the best non-trip trip of the summer.
In prep for Marie’s Pop Knitting class, I am stash diving for contrasting fingering skeins. As advertised, her shared skills will take a simple beanie and embellish it with “bright twists, braids, and other bursts of colorful texture.”
As a fan of short rows, another session will cover the mechanics of different short row techniques, as well provide advice about when and where to use them. Short rows can be a practical devise (to add a smidge of length to the back of a sweater) or an artful design element.
My calendar is cleared; my homework is on the needles; and my excitement is mounting as I count the days to mid-September fun.
The color combos and at-gauge swatches knit in beautiful yarns as shared by my fellow Knit Campers proved too tempting. With today’s cast-on (after wavering earlier this month) I joined Marie Greene’s sixth annual 4-Day knit-along (KAL). Free patterns (always well designed and precisely written) and advance access prior to the actual pattern drop are among the many Knit Camp membership benefits. So while this KAL officially begins tomorrow, I already have Comfy worsted cotton in a lovely mix of silver sage and planetarium blue on my needles.
Sailaway is a top-down cardigan which takes its inspiration from the current popular Coastal Grandmother Aesthetic fashion style – classic, loose fitting designs, often in natural fibers, and perfect for a summer in the Hamptons. (Imagine Diane Keaton or other older women living in luxurious oceanfront properties.) Having just celebrated 70, with a swatch of purple contrasting against my more salty coiffure, I definitely fall into that demographic group sans the beach house.
I am vacillating as to whether or not to join Marie Greene’s six annual 4-Day sweater knit-a-long (KAL). While I do not aspire to knit a sweater in just four days, I can satisfactorily attest to the success of my previous 4-Day KAL participation. Each of my three projects, Foxtrot in 2019, Soundtrack during the summer months of our 2020 Covid quarantine and last summer’s Fireworks, resulted in sweaters that are worn regularly and (quite pleasantly) receive lots of compliments. All points in the pro column. Add to the positive list that this summer’s 4-Day pattern, Sailaway, was designed to accommodate different yarn weights and even different fibers. So while I don’t really need another wool sweater (lovely as they are), it is quite tempting to consider knitting one using a plant-based blended yarn. My previous cotton projects have been dishcloth gifts so definitely a more challenging endeavor.
While Marie’s summer designs always integrate a new stitch to hold KAL participants’ interest, the 4-Day pattern strives for simple lines should anyone actually feel the need for speed. This summer’s top-down, seamless cardigan fits that prerequisite. The knitter (that might be me) can opt for two contrasting colors on a slip-stitched yoke or a pattern with a little less fuss where the featured mini sails are revealed in just one complementary color. This version also sports a slightly taller collar and pinstripes.
Decisions, decisions – just like Hamlet, to KAL or not to KAL that is the question and then to decide, with or without buttons.
Just in time for FOF, a second Little Gansey designed by Marie Greene is off my needles. This version in a deep blue green is for a new great-great niece born in December. The color gives a blended nod to my favorite color – blue and the second time parents who both love the color green. Knit in size 2-4, to let the little one grow a bit before donning this cotton, silk, bamboo, blend.