The holidays have a way of sneaking up behind you, catching you totally unaware like a little kid who jumps out of a doorway to scare the heck out of you. The transition between Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanuakah, Christmas, Kwanza, and New Years gets shorter each year. I know it’s coming, but that doesn’t seem to matter.
I was teaching at the Magical Fiber Fantasy Retreat last week in Disney World. We surprised our kids and brought them along for a family trip before I taught and kept it a secret until we were about to board the plane! Seeing the magic of the parks, the rides, and the characters through the eyes of a child was better than any ride I’ve ever been on! While our daughter won’t remember the trip, our son had a wonderful time and I was sad to see them go. The parks were in complete holiday mode with Christmas music in the air, wreaths and trees everywhere, and while it caught me off guard for a minute, I found myself humming along in no time.
This is the second year in a row I’ve taught at this wonderful retreat. Whether you’re a Disney fan or not, there’s something magic in the air (pixie dust, perhaps?), you feel a spring in your step, and you can’t help but embrace the whimsy. The retreat is on Disney property and I enjoyed seeing familiar faces and many new ones. There’s a well-curated marketplace with excellent yarn, notions, and other knitting treats, a banquet, excellent class options, impromptu knitting groups popping up, and it’s great to be with “my people.”
Using Elsa’s door in Frozen for inspiration (if you haven't seen Frozen, Anna spends a lot of time outside her sister Elsa’s door, begging her to come and play), the traditional Norwegian star motif appears in beaded form. I love beaded cuffs for many reasons, but I find them particularly useful for keeping that bit of skin warm between where your mittens begin and where your coat cuff ends that always gets hit with an icy blast. The beads are prestrung (I’m a big advocate for beading as you go with a crochet hook, but prestringing is unavoidable when working garter otherwise the beads get hidden in the ridges) in a fingering weight colorway designed exclusively from Emma’s Yarn called “Elsa’s Door.” The garter allows these to be one size fits all and they work up swiftly and would make a great gift for the holidays. The pattern is written with 2 options - start with a provisional cast on and kitchener together at the end, or long tail cast on and whip stitch the ends together. Either will work and kits are available here.
For my braids class, I wanted to design a project that had both Latvian and Estonian braids sharing the spotlight. The Heirloom Braid Cowl features Latvian braids going in both directions nestled right up to Estonian braids. The solid bands between the braided sections are simple knit and purl patterns to add texture and interest. The pattern is written for a shorter, squishier aran weight version in The Ross Farm Aran and a longer, slightly narrower worsted version in Neighborhood Fiber Co Studio Worsted. The Ross Farm puts on the Magical Fiber Fantasy Retreat and it was an honor to use their yarn for this cowl. They specialize in rare breeds and both Amy and Scott are good people. I also like to idea of a superwash, brightly colored version in the Studio Worsted. They look completely different and it’s nice to have both a neutral and a technicolor version!