It always seems like someone is hitting the fast-forward button when we get to the summer months! Between school ending (my oldest is heading to second grade in the fall) and my youngest letting her VAT (very active toddler) flag fly, there isn't as much time for knitting as I would like. However, my project bag laden with yarn and needles continues to be my constant companion, thrown in my bag each morning in case there's a few minutes to squeeze a couple of rows.
Much has happened since I wrote last and I'll be sure not to get too far behind again! In May I found myself a few towns away from where I grew up in Southeastern Massachusetts lecturing and teaching for the Greater Boston Knitting Guild. This prestigious guild met at Plimoth Plantation (yes, that is the accurate historical spelling), a fitting setting for my morning lecture on the History of Knitting and afternoon workshop. The Plantation is home to many folks roaming the grounds representing life in Colonial times and the Guild provides historically-accurate knitwear to them in the form of caps, socks, garters, shawls, etc. They teamed up with Harrisville to create a historically-accurate yarn color palette and updated the patterns into modern-day knitting instructions - a massive undertaking. As both a knitter and member of the Mayflower Society, I was swooning inside when they told me their story and showed me some of these knits.
I hadn't been to the Plantation in many, many years - probably since an elementary school field trip. History and knitting are both very important subjects to me and teaching for this well-established, educated guild on a historic property was quite memorable. My mother was invited to hear my lecture, and taking an extra day to see both her and my dad and crash on their couch was the cherry on top of a delightful weekend.
A big fan of local yarns and companies, I taught Fair Isle workshops at both Shalimar Yarns in Maryland, and Spirit Trail Fiberworks in Virginia. For these workshops, I was thrilled to design stranded color work cowls with Latvian braids, now available to all.
The Stereo Hearts Cowl is knit in my favorite Shalimar yarn, Paulie Worsted, and is available for download here. A stellar blend of wool, cashmere, camel, and silk, working every stitch is a joy. This buttery-soft yarn makes a drapey fabric that you absolutely want around your neck. Knit on US 7 needles with one hank of each color, it was interesting to see the different color combinations that each knitter chose. From neutrals to brights, and tone on tone pairings, each cowl was as unique as the knitter making it. Teaching on the Shalimar land meant there were horses and a donkey, all of whom befriended my son, much to his delight.
For my Spirit Trail project, the Dipladenia Cowl, I wanted to show how a super bright paired with a subtle variegated can make a large, bold pattern pop. I love their color ways and teaching in the dye workshop was a special treat. In the morning the students learned Fair Isle with me, and in the afternoon I turned them over to Jennifer who taught them speckle dyeing techniques to use for future Fair Isle projects. The cowl was inspired by the dipladenia flower and I love the ply and stitch definition provided by the Luna yarn. The pattern is available for download here.
Last weekend found me in Reno, Nevada teaching mosaic knitting at the Jimmy Beans Wool Retreat. I had never been to Reno and was delighted to see the Truckee River outside my hotel window and stunning mountains in the distance. Using the time change to my advantage, I took an early morning walk before it got hot, worked a few rows by the river, then it was off to teach. There's something special about retreats - people leave their everyday lives at home, find their people, learn some new techniques, and knit as much as they want. We talk about anything and everything as we all gather around our craft, continuing that chain of tradition of women and their handiwork. I always enjoy seeing students at dinner, in the street, or in the elevator, taking out their work to show me their progress.
Between classes, I skipped lunch in favor of making the short ride out to Jimmy Beans. YARN MECCA. The giant space is chockfull of amazing yarns and notions. The storefront is charming, bright, well-organized, overwhelming, and what I imagine a bit of heaven looks like. I found myself alternating between squealing with delight and cackling with glee, especially when I crossed into the warehouse. All too soon I had to get back to teach, but if you find yourself anywhere near Reno, I highly suggest making your way there.
Lastly, did you see my new free cowl in Knitty Early Fall 2018? Fenton's Arrow is a Fair Isle and corrugated ribbed cowl (shocking, I know), and the ombre yarns make this graphic cowl look much more complex than it is. Sit back and let the wonderful Freia Ombre Worsted do the work for you! I always look forward to Knitty Early Fall and am in good company this issue with many great designs.
I continue to teach at my LYS through these summer months, while working away on exciting new designs and projects to bring you for fall. I spend time chasing fireflies and beach balls around the backyard with my kids, make gallons of iced tea, take early morning walks with my friend, grill, pick up some sewing here and there, bake bread for the neighbors, and dream about what will fly across my knitting needles next. If you find me by the community pool with my iced tea and project bag, stop by and let's knit!