Friday, August 30, 2013

when handknit gifts go right is a very. good. feeling.  But before we get into it:  it is only 1 week till Fiber College of Maine. Details at the bottom of this post. Whether you can  be there for 3 days, or just an afternoon, do it!
522_GZuckerFamVar_0813 Back in May I mentioned having my mom request a handknit shawl from me.  My mom is an ace knitter, and knits for everyone else, so this? A very special thing. Done in June,  delivered last weekend. Caliz, designed by Romi Hill
511_GZuckerFamVar_0813A fun knit, but even better? She loves it, proclaiming it exactly what she'd had in mind. Phew! I was guessing what to make, based on her wish for something crescent-y, not too old lady-ish (fussy) and a pink "that would go with everything". 528_GZuckerFamVar_0813She mostly wants it to cover her shoulders with dresses in the warmer weather, but said it'll go well worn frontwards, like this, in the winter.530_GZuckerFamVar_0813Also, we tested it:  a perfect shawl to go with snuggling a 19 month old Great Grand Daughter Zoe.
details: Caliz is a sweet knit, done in purl garter stitch. So, if you are someone who hates to purl my questions would be a) why? and b) can you transpose the whole pattern to knit garter? I have to admit I found the purl make 1's and yo's a little odd, but only for a few minutes and then it was totally enjoyable knitting.
541_GZuckerFamVar_0813Knit in Anzula Oasis. Really, really love this yarn-it is somehow both rustic and elegant at the same time. But that's Silk/camel for ya. This shade is named, not too aptly, Paprika. One skein, and I had enough to do an optional few rows extra on the border (included in the well written instructions). 

502_GZuckerFamVar_0813  Did you make it to the end? OK! Then read on and consider joining us at Fiber College! Mary Lou Egan and Kirsten Kapur/Through the Loops , my partners in crime and lobster, will be there, too, not to mention Ellen Mason and her mentored dye tent. Yeee-ha!

Fiber College of Maine deets:  I blabbed & raved about it here, here and here....and this year, I am looking forward to teaching Savvy Storytelling, an all day class on Friday with co-teacher, writer (and professor) (and knitter) Beverly Army Williams--and I am so offering One-on-One Photo Clinic sessions, on the weekend mornings. See you?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

cardi weather on the horizon

Let's whiplash this blog north, way north, to Maine. When I was up there helping/hindering the Nash Island sheep roundup & shearing, I was awed by the landscape.  There's a point where the flora & light change dramatically Down East. It's rougher, and rawer, and makes your jaw just drop.
Enroute to Starcroft Fiber Mill, we passed through acres of blueberry barrens. They were budding, it being June.  In the late afternoon golden sun, there was the intense vibration of blueish/purplish fields, contrasting with the light. I wanted to scream STOP the CAR! But I waited till we arrived, said our hellos and then quickly doubled back before the light was gone.
 It's so funny how we humans react to our environment. I NEEDED to make photos , and Ellen? Handstands! Isn't that the best  joyful pose?
Magically, she had her Mary Rebecca sweater along, was wearing the blue smock top, and obviously, although totally impromptu, we had a smashingly perfect photo shoot right then and there. Not coincidentally, I am overcome with the wish to knit cardigans. Is it just me? I keep seeing cardis that would be keys to my sweater happiness.
If you're not familiar with Ellen's designs, and style, you should check her out. She's Odacier (that's Oday-cee-yuh), her patterns are pretty wonderful--modern but with a fun vintage feel. I keep telling her she needs to be WAY MORE BRAGGITY about her work. She's been making a dress and cardi a month all year and damned if watching this come together isn't edging me close, so close, to cranking up the old sewing machine. Check her out on Pinterest, you maydevelop the same urge.
at Ellen's house
You'll find Ellen leading a class on dyeing, and running a mentored dye tent (drop in and dye) at Fiber College of Maine September 4-8th, very soon!--where I'll also be teaching. My offerings are an all day blog improvement class with writer Beverly Army Williams, and I'm offering one-on-one Photo Clinic for Fiber Folks: 30 minute private sessions to solve a photo challenge of your choosing--bring your knits, or bring your alpaca on the hoof,  and we'll figure out how to shoot'er just right. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

i'll be your dixie chicken

Tennessee visit, 3rd and final installment, in which we visit with Ann Shayne. Who, in the knit world, is aka  Ann of Kay & Ann,  the MasonDixon Knitting gals. Seeing as how we were at SSK , practically in her backyard, Ann had Amy Cristoffers, Susan Anderson and me over for one of the loveliest/chattiest/knittiest screen porch dinner evenings ever.
Nashville Author Lounges Incognito in Parking Lot..oh! look? what does that bumper sticker say?*
Then came the rest of my trip, Chez Ann. Starting in Nashville and then in Monteagle. Ann's a fabulous hostess. After staying up late surfing Ravelry, tsk tsking or applauding design trends (knit nerds! alert! ) , Ann knew  how to show this Yankee a good time.  She took me to lunch at Arnold's, a cafeteria downtown in Nashville. Meat and 3 sides. The real deal.
Lining up for lunch at Arnold's. I'd never have found it alone.
Though obviously it's no secret, the place was jumping inside. Love love love the photo wall decor.
You choose your protein, you choose three sides, you keep moving that tray along or you'll hold up the line!  Blink and you miss that sweet potato casserole. Not for the indecisive!

Fried chicken headed to a Shayne plate.
I fully intended to request the peach pie listed on the blackboard but the little meringue peaks turned my head.

My lunch: trout, mac n cheese, collard greens, cole slaw, corn cake, the pie, iced tea.
And, really nice people.
Impressive fact #1: Ann's 14 year old son was with us, and he couldn't finish his lunch. He was full. Have you spent any time eating with 14 year old boys?  Can we have a moment of silence and awe?
Even more impressive fact #2: Ann's a regular, they know her personally. (I would be too. Why don't we have cafeterias in New England? )

After that we waddled into the car and headed south, to Ann's summer community, Monteagle, where I'd been invited to give a talk. I'd been describing it as "like a Chautauqua" but it turns out, it actually IS a Chautauqua.   

Random view. It's a magical summer community, with victorian cottages, and lots of big trees and slow afternoons.

 Ann's porch.
You'd think she'd spend her summer lazing right there, knitting & reading, and sipping Southern Comfort. But no. She's involved in governance, and organizing speakers, and planning the future.....working!  While she toiled for the good of the community, I wandered around taking photos (um, duh?, what else would I do?) and swam in the First InGround Pool in Tennessee. I am considering making visits to first pools in every state as a lifetime project.

On the surface, Monteagle Assembly is the most genteel and gracious and..normal...of summer communities. But you don't have to look too far to see some quirk...I think there might beTwin Peaks potential.

detail of a mosaic-ed garden. It's Fat Ima!

and fairy gardens all over the place
Goldsworthy-esque art happening. Nature pinned to the wall outdoors. We never finished the conversation about this installation, it's larger and very cool looking.

I must really like this shot--not only did I shoot it two days in a row without realizing it, but I made the same photo (less rusty) when I was in Monteagle in 2007, shooting the book with Ann & Kay. Consistency! Gotta hand it to me. (I wanted to link to a post from then..but I'll be daaay-ummed if I can find one on either of our blogs, although I recall we all covered it).

Turns out Ann & I are very compatible in this environment.  We share deeply held belief in strong coffee to start the day, and equally strong conviction that drinking your weight in white wine, with some healthy-ish appetizers, makes an excellent dinner.  As long as there are no family members needing square meals in sight. We missed Kay though. A lot. We took her name in vain.

In 36 hours, we attended at least 3 cocktail parties (one sort of....flowed..into another).  The first was here, an official Porch Party. It was all so very relaxing, and fun, and funny.I have such good fortune to end up in a place like this as a guest speaker! One of these days I'll get caught out, surely.
Till then, I'm ready to go back. Any time. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
 * Bowling Avenue, Ann's novel, is now available in audio book form. She narrated it herself. That'll be some good listening ahead. I can personally testify that she uses handknits to soundproof her recording studio, so you can feel the stitches in her voice.

While you're at it, go pre-order this  Knitting Yarns, Writers on Knitting. I got to read Ann's entry in this collection and it is fabulous. She had to wrestle the book away from me I had to politely return the proof copy to her, but I am dying to get the whole volume, some of my other favorite authors are in there, too: Patchett, Kingsolver, Proulx.

ps I still knit all the time. One of these posts, I'll share. Although it seems I rip out almost as much as I create this summer.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

ssk, y'all part 2

It seems like I'm going to need a 3 parter to get through the whole Tennessee week, so much to show. This one's going to be sort of a postcard collection of views. So, we left me at the Scarritt Bennett Center, at SSK, the Super Summer Knitogether put on by The KnitGirlls in Nashville.
entering the dining hall at SSK

264_GZuckerSSKTN_0713Please, someone design a sweater that uses this motif from the dining room chairs as the colorwork on a yoke or a hat or..somewhere. It'll be a hit, I know it.232_GZuckerSSKTN_0713Designer Rebecca Danger taught last year, but was an attendee this time. So talented, so nice, such an impressive tattoo sleeve! She took one of my classes, when we did intros she said something like "oh, I knit toys..." Understate much? 273_GZuckerSSKTN_0713Goody bag yarn. The swag was lovely--now I own sockblockers. The bag itself was a keeper, sorta set the tone.  My favorite item inside:  a  skein in  special edition SSK 2013 colorway from another crafty girl. I need to knit something just right with this.(note to self: universe is telling you to knit have blockers for them now!)
 275_GZuckerSSKTN_0713View of my dorm from the patio in front.242_GZuckerSSKTN_0713 
View of who was on the patio,  having a Sistine Chapel moment...Amy Cristoffers of Savory Knitting, and Susan B. Anderson. 245_GZuckerSSKTN_0713 
I know you want to see what they were passing. Desert Vista Dyeworks in Tiki Bar, that Susan acquired in the market earlier. She recognized the beauty in the even self-striping socks, I was of course, oblivious (an ongoing issue, it seems). Later that evening, Susan was well on her way knitting the sock  - scroll down in that linked post, its there- I had instant non-buyer's remorse. If that's a thing.
32_GZuckerSSKTN_0713What a class looks like..I've never actually taken a class at a retreat, so I thought you might wonder, too, what goes on.416_GZuckerSSKTN_0713Susan in the same class-lest you worry it's all concentration and seriousness. 39_GZuckerSSKTN_0713Some of the fair isle combos her students were working with. Love the red & sky blue on the right.397_GZuckerSSKTN_0713In the tasting room, tables of yarns, needles, spinning wheels & spindles...this is Made in America yarn.390_GZuckerSSKTN_0713Deerfield spindles393_GZuckerSSKTN_0713 a trindle (I know nothing of such things, but they looked cool and seemed  popular)379_GZuckerSSKTN_0713 
knitters,knitters everywhere, day and night, inside, outside373_GZuckerSSKTN_0713and the pom poms. I feel a very big pom pom season coming on. _______________ next up, part 3: in which we move in on Ann Shayne, Nashville celebrity author and hostess extraordinaire

Saturday, August 03, 2013

SSK, y'all!

In my head I've been writing an epic, epic I tell you, post about my recent week in Tennessee.
One day I took a looong walk down Broadway to see Nashville's bright lights.

 Unlike the last post and this other one, I can share all.  Plenty of photos. AND ELVIS!  As it turns out I'm making my Tennessee adventure a  2-parter post, I am writing this from a job in VT but I left a  random half of the photos on a drive at home. grrrr. Still it's gonna be a long one, buckle in.
Laura of The Knitgirllls handing out shopping bags at the market. That's her & Leslie's attitude: welcome.
When I met  video podcasters The KnitGirllls Leslie and Lala last year, they told me about this retreat they put on in Nashville.  When I got a note inviting me to teach at it, I was pretty sure anything those two schemed up was a WIN, so I said yes.
Oh man was I right. Pom poms on the staircases and all.
 SSK is in  Nashville, Tennessee, at a peaceful urban retreat center, with gardens, gothic stone buildings and a labryinth. What a place to teach and stay for a few days.
Best classroom door signs, ever.
My class making use of an archway's beautiful light.
My students? SO FREAKIN' WONDERFUL! It was gazillion degrees out and steamy,  yet they went outside and played along with me.

Unintentional patchwork sidewalk.
OK, so we got a little heavy-handed and silly with the photo editing part of the class--this is Laura's sister Beck, who good-humoredly posed for us  (sorry I can't remember whose shawl she's modeling!)
This was the Before shot. Nice location for a photo shoot, right?

Classes were optional:  take up to 4 if you want. There were also self-generated breakout sessions all over the joint, and on every subject, from plying techniques to podcasting tricks to charity knitting patterns. And everywhere, all the time, knitters, knitting & spinning & chatting.

Amy teaching a tricky cast-on in her Finshing Sweaters class, that's Mel, from Hawaii, getting it. 
Mel blogs and video podcasts here. Go visit her, she is a sweetheart!
I was so lucky to have two of the other instructors be designers I've long admired and wanted to meet: Susan B. Anderson from Wisconsin, and Amy Cristoffers,aka Savory Knitting,  from Vermont.  We clicked instantly (Amy & I met when changing planes, so we chat chat chatted our way into Nashville-what? you say it wasn't a 10 minute flight?). They are delightful  company- both so crazy talented and at the same time, so UNself promotional. In fact they each could be just a bit braggier about what they do. Seriously. I mean look at their Ravelry Designs pages: Amy's , Susan's. Huh.
Amy at the board-you can tell how lovely the classrooms were from this.
 I asked if I could spy photograph in each of their classes a little. I'd recommend each of them, whatever they are teaching. In Susan's class, I found out there's a much much smarter way to carry along and trap a long strand than the idiotic way I've always done it. I'll a spare you the details.
Susan B. Anderson. So nice! Also, buffest knitwear designer I know, in her class.
 She's inspired me to do some stranded knitting and to do more miles.
The last morning, two of Susan's students ran up to her to show they'd finished their Fair Isle hats. Love!
The attendees were 150 happy knitters.  I was oblivious, beforehand,  to a few things about SSK.  First: hardly anyone was from the Northeast, and there was also no irony employed, at all. Coincidence? I think not. I met knitters from throughout the south, from Austria and Hawaii and Nebraska and small towns in southern Ohio, places where the knitting community gets spread pretty far apart, and The KnitGirlls have created a virtual living room for their fans.  Also filed in the Oblivious Dept: there are a whole posse of podcasters (video and aural) who are part of The Knitgirllls community.  I hadn't realized how many podcasters are out there. Note to self: listen to more podcasts. 
One more in the Oblivious category: highlight for many attendees was the market on Saturday. Laura & Leslie curated about 18 vendors, indie folks. Here's the thing though- people lined up hours early to get first crack--for many it's a rare chance to handle limited edition yarns and beautiful fiber , instead of ordering online and hoping for the best. It was quite a scene-and you can watch it on the first 4 minutes of  this video podcast, which was done in time lapse--but it kinda felt like that. At about 20 seconds you see me sort of sidle up and poke my camera in, then flap my hands about and talk to Amy & Susan as they exit ( we teachers got to shop earlier-oh yes we did--that'll have to be in my part 2).
Broadway, downtown Nashville.
I was delighted to find that Hillsboro Village was walking distance from us, and there we could buy Las Paletas, at Hot and Cold. I've been a little obsessed by natural popsicles this summer and I knew that Nashville is ground zero for them. Amy joined me for um, 6 pops in 3 days (5 visits) , and we got Susan along for at least a couple. My fave: lime and mint, although I had a chai tea one that was dreamy. Then we heard about the boot deal, above, and hoofed it to that. It was a good long walk to the honkier tonkier part of downtown.

Ernest Tubbs record store- vintage portraits of country music stars by sisters who used to work there. Loved the place.

I didn't have any luck with a pair of boots but had the satisfaction of seeing the other 3 in our party get shorn. As loud and crowded as it was with sidewalk music-star wannabees, rhinestone cowboys, country folk come to town, people there to drink their asses off, and vacationing families, I was glad we made time for it. I hate to be somewhere and not really visit the scene.

Nashville is a gracious city, really pretty--and it's a hoot that no matter who you're with , they'll point out a couple of the music stars' homes, right in the center of the city. Taylor Swift, Tammy Wynette....
And, we found Elvis.