Sunday, May 1, 2016

Vermont State of Mind

Vermont is one of those places that no matter where you come from always feels like home. It's the quintessential place to relax, enjoy the good things in life and explore the roots of our craft.  Part of what I enjoy and strive for in creating the K&YA retreats is to celebrate the arts, crafts, food and culture of the special places we visit. 

We began at the beautiful Quechee Inn at Marshland Farms by the cozy fire in the living room getting to know each other.

Over the course of the weekend we immersed ourselves in the culture of Vermont by visiting Grandview Farm in Washington. We hugged and cooed with abandon over the baby lambs recently born on Kim and Chuck Goodling's beautiful farm.   

The Goodling's herd of Gotland sheep descended from Sweden were an apropos pairing with the knitting designs of Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton.  Cornelia has spent a great deal of her life based in Sweden developing her design career, raising her family, her own sheep, and opening an LYS which she still maintains though living in the the US.



We dined at the impressive Cloudland Farm, a farm-to-table restaurant.  Cloudland sources all their ingredients locally and with beef from their own herd of cattle.  We learned from our server that two babies were delivered shortly before we arrived.

And celebrated the local artisans with a special gift from DSKI studios in Brandon.  Handmade Cabin Books will help us remember our time together.

And while a few are missing from our last photo of the weekend, we will always have the memories of our time together in Vermont.


Monday, March 28, 2016

Hej! Hej!
Greetings from Vermont!

Kim Goodling of Vermont Grand View Farm here as this month's K&YA Guest Blogger. 

Vermont Grand View Farm is home to Vermont’ first flock of Swedish Gotland sheep.   Join Lisa for the Knitting & Yoga Retreat this April, and you will have the added bonus of visiting our farm!  Cornelia Hamilton will feel right at home while here. 

We purchased a small flock of Gotlands a little more than a year ago, and traveled to Gotland island last September to learn from Swedish shepherds. You will be visiting our farm right in the middle of our lambing season, so come prepared to love on some little ones. 

If mother nature should have it so, you may even see a lamb being born! You can read all about my farm life adventures and fiber art creations on my blog, Living with Gotlands.

Our barn studio overflows with Gotland yarn and roving in varying shades of gray. Gotland wool is very lustrous and curly. 

When knit, the fabric has a lovely sheen and drape. It also seems to bloom when washed and forms a soft halo effect. You will have an opportunity to browse in the studio and purchase some of our yarn for your knitting pleasure. You can also find our yarn in our online shop, the Gotland Wool Company.

Creating with my hands has been a life-long passion. From our barn studio, I offer fiber art classes in felting, drop spindling, fiber preparation, and natural dyeing. Students of all ages have come to the farm for private lessons or mini-retreats to learn the heritage crafts. I have worked with professional knitwear designers, art teachers, professional 
milliners, homeschool families, bridal parties, and girlfriend reunions-all wanting to explore and create with their hands. Recently, I have enjoyed using my Gotland curls in making felted garments. I enjoy sharing my love of fiber art and passing it on to others.

When the nights are below freezing and the days above freezing, the sap runs crystal clear. It is hard to predict what the sugaring season will be like this year with the mild winter we have had thus far. As long as there is sap though, we will have our evaporator running and little jugs of sticky sweet goodness for you.

Bring along some mud boots and work gloves, and if the weather is cooperating, you can help farmer Chuck, my husband, with sugarin’ season. We tap about 50-75 maple trees the old fashioned way, by hanging sap buckets on each tree. Then, we collect the sap, and boil it in our little sugar house. 

Year round, we host overnight farmstay guests from around the world. We have a Farmhouse Suite that we rent to those wanting to experience rural Vermont farm life. Guests may tag along for chore time or may sit and relax on the porch. As an added bonus to your retreat, I offer a coupon for a discounted rate on an overnight stay to Lisa’s knitting group, so you can come again sometime and linger longer. Our suite is the perfect place for a romantic get-a-way, a girl friend’s retreat, or family gathering.

I promise to provide you with lots of opportunity to purchase our Gotland yarn, visit with the ewes that produce our yarn, cozy up to the woodstove with your knitting in hand, help with maple sugaring, and best of all, squeeze some adorable little lambs. Oh, and yes, there really is a grand view! 

Now that you know a little bit about me and my farm…I look forward to meeting all of you in April!


Monday, February 15, 2016

Hej på er allihopa!!

(The Swedish equivalent of Hi Y’all! :-))

Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton here and I am thrilled to be this month’s guest blogger, but not as thrilled as I am about being the featured knitting instructor for K&YA’s retreat in Quechee, VT this April!!

While knitting came into my life some 36 years ago (yikes!), and yoga only five, the combination of the two has been wonderful. At this point I cannot imagine my life without either one and when Lisa reached out with the opportunity to be part of one of the Knitting and Yoga retreats it was like a dream come true.

You’re going to be in for some fun knitting during this retreat! First off, I will be teaching my revolutionary DropStitch Openwork™ technique which allows you to create geometric openings in your knitting without having to break the yarn for making the columns.

Flat Shoals Scarf

I had been working with self-striping yarns for yarns and wanted to do something new. I had already pioneered large buttonhole openings in fabrics but now I wanted to see how the self-striping yarns would look with columns in between the openings. I knew I didn’t want to have to cut the yarn for every column and have all those ends to weave in later. Too much work. It took two years of somewhat grumpy pondering but one day I just sat down and the technique was born! 

The other workshop will be about Surface Stranding where you will learn how to capture a contrasting yarn on the front of your knitting allowing you to use a wide variety of thicker and hands-on yarns. Yarns that have a lot of ego, is how I like to put it. You’ll be able to put the technique to use working on my Alcott Laptop Cover

Alcott Laptop Cover

For the past few years I have been developing Heaven’s Hand, my own line of mostly silk yarns and I am proud to say that my latest addition, Sister Silk, is featured in the S/S issue of Creative Knitting Magazine! A milestone!! I thought it would be fun for you to get to sample the yarns and we will be doing just that in the form of a Yarn Tasting at the retreat. It will be a blind test allowing you to use all your senses to match the yarn with its description! Great fun!

Creative Knitting Garment

Late last fall I got back into yarn dyeing. I had done quite a bit of vegetable dyeing when my boys were small and I lived in the Swedish countryside, but that was a while back. I really enjoyed it and so I decided to develop my series Colors by Cornelia using my Heaven’s Hand silk yarns as a base. Inspired by the watery beauty of impressionist paintings, many of the colorways are subtle and tonal, some even romantic.

Colors by Cornelia

It is my great joy to develop new stitch patterns and techniques and share them with fellow knitters. New knitting techniques give you more possibilities and more confidence to experiment on your own and allowing you to personalize your knitting in ways you never thought of before! I’ll be bringing an assortment of yarn, books and patterns for perusal and/or purchase.

I am looking forward to seeing you all on the retreat!

Happy knitting in the meantime,

Cornelia Hamilton

Monday, January 18, 2016

Winter Knits & Retreat Dreams

Hi Y'all,
Well so far down in Texas we haven't had a whole lot of winter. But it's gotten chilly enough some days for me to do my famous routine of applying as many hand knits as I can get away with and parading around town, hoping people will ask my if I made this or that. Happily many folks indulge me in this. And Austin, despite the fact our summer is about ten months long, is full of knitters.

I did get some real winter in December when I scooted over to Portland, Oregon for a few days in December. My friends took me on a day trip to Hood River and, despite my vow to stop growing my stash (for a little while anyway) I couldn't resist popping into Knot Another Hat. I saw an irresistible pair of hand warmers and grabbed the pattern and some Rowan Finest yarn to make them. They're pretty long and, as you can see, very stripy, with stripes that start out in rounds of five, then four, three, two, one. The thumb gusset is super easy. I can tell this is a pattern I will use often.

As I was checking out, the cashier swore she knew me. I said I'd not been to Hood River before, but mentioned this blog. She thought maybe that was it and we got to talking and I told her about the Monhegan Island Retreat and she said a couple of her regulars had been to the island with Lisa. That's just another thing I love about the Knitting and Yoga Adventures-- folks come in from all over the place to partake.

In other news, I was picking up my mail the other day and I found a package slip for a mystery package from a return address I did not recognize. I tore it open and inside found a couple of amazing skeins of super chunky wool from Wales, sent by a woman in London. She knew me through my writing and decided to surprise me with a gift. I was blown away by the kindness. I told her her timing had been excellent-- I was feeling a bit down-- and also that her color choice was perfect. You can see all the pinks in that wool. As I told her, I'm not usually drawn to pinks EXCEPT times I'm feeling a need for a bit of growth. Which I am now. I'm whipping through this scarf which should be done in a day or two. A good reminder to not only keep a couple of projects going, but to really vary needle size. The hand warmers aren't at all hard, but they are on size 2.5, so they're taking awhile. The pink scarf is totally TV knitting.

I'm guessing y'all get surprise and mystery knit-related gifts, too. Would love to hear about those and any projects you're working on. Also would love to hear that you are coming along on Knitting and Yoga Adventure's  Monhegan Island Retreat in September  and/or our April and November Quechee Vermont Retreats. 

Hope you're warm and knitting away wherever you are!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

2016 Knitting Retreat Registration Opens January 1st!!

Hi Y'all,
Spike here. Today I'm sitting at the Rain or Shine Coffee Shop in Portland, Oregon. Just like I visit Monhegan Island annually, I also visit Portland, OR every year. But this year, my trip-- typically in August-- got pushed to December. On the downside, I really can't stand cold, wet weather. On the upside I sure get to wear a whole lot more of my hand knits than I typically am able to wear when I visit in summer.

Today I'm sporting some beautiful hand warmers my friend Pamela made for me-- they have a little bit of cable work up the center. And you can't see very well, but those are hand knit socks I'm wearing. I'm working on a super simple K2P2 scarf in Blue Sky Extra, which seems to have become my go to comfort yarn in 2015. A great wool/alpaca mix, it's so soft and it's pretty heavy so it knits up quick. I'm also still, ever so slowly, working on the NYX cowl designed by Norah Gaughan, which I started in the fall on Monhegan Island. I swear I will finish it soon. And I swear it will be the project that launches me to finally, no REALLY, start a cable sweater. I'm going to do one. And I'm going to do it right.

Speaking of setting goals-- it's time for New Year's Resolutions and might I suggest you resolve to join us on one or more of the Knitting and Yoga Adventures 2016 retreats? We're going to Vermont in the Spring and Fall and we're going to Monhegan Island in September. Registration opens on January 1, 2016. Visit our Knitting and Yoga Adventures home page to sign up.

Depending on when you attend you'll get to observe and participate in all sorts of fun activities including: lambing, maple tree tapping, birding, mill visits, farm-to-table meals, artist demonstrations, boat rides, yarn tastings, lobster bakes, island walks, incredible company and, of course, KNITTING KNITTING AND MORE KNITTING!!

Really hope to see you in the New Year.
Enjoy your winter knitting.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Knitting and Yoga Adventures Vermont 2015 Was Smashing

Hey Y'all!
Well I'm green with retroactive envy upon seeing the pictures from this year's Knitting and Yoga Adventure's retreat to Quechee, Vermont. This is the tenth anniversary year for KY&A, it's the 18th retreat Lisa has hosted, and this was the fifth trip to Vermont. 

Designer Rachel Kahn was on board for the long weekend. She got the gang going on knitting super fancy hats using Green Mountain Spinnery Mountain Mohair yarn. As ever the group stayed at the Quechee Inn where uninterrupted constant knitting was encouraged. Not that a roomful of dedicated knitters really needs to be encouraged to keep the needles clicking.

Look at these hats! 
Delicious snacks.
But of course even the most passionate knitter must stop and refuel. Toward that end there were snacks. Really really delicious snacks. There were also trips to Grandview Farm and Snowshoe Farm to visit the source of excellent fibers. To wit:

Now it's time to settle into a long winter's knit while visions of next year's retreats dance through your head. There's plenty to dream about. In 2016 there will be TWO trips to Vermont-- a long weekend in Spring and one in Fall. For the Spring Retreat (April 7 - 10) we've got designer Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton joining us. And for the Fall Retreat (November 3-6) Bristol Ivy will be on board. 

Soon we'll let you know more about the Monhegan Island 2016 Retreat. 

Registration for all three Knitting and Yoga Adventures opens on January 1st. So set an alert and make your first (and best) New Year Resolution to sign up for a retreat. Or three.

Here are a few more pictures of our excellent Vermont adventure.
Happy Knitting,

Monday, October 26, 2015

'Tis the Season to Bust Out the Serious Projects

Hi Y'all,
Well finally-- TRUE KNITTING SEASON is upon us. Maybe it arrived for those of you in the North last month. Down here in Austin we had a big storm roll in on the heels of Hurricane Patricia that brought tons of rain and dropped the temperature about thirty degrees lower than a week ago. I used that as an excuse to bust out some leftover Blue Sky Extra I had to start a scarf. That stuff is so soft (alpaca/merino) I kind of want to just wrap myself up in it. Maybe I can go as a hybrid yarn ball/mummy for Halloween.

As you can see above, I FINALLY finished my Color Affection Shawl. Actually, I finished it on Monhegan Island though I have yet to block it. Since I used fingering weight and tiny needles, it's more like a hoodie scarf, which is fine. The hoodie part was unintentional. If you've not made one of these before and are planning it, bear in mind that unless you add a yarn over at the beginning of every row, and then drop that on the return, you'll wind up with some major curvature. I was given that tip a few inches in, did all my yarn overs from that point on, and still had this problem. Although I am, as ever, going with convincing myself that any problem in a project is actually an "element of design." I wish I could remember who taught me that notion-- I owe them so much.

I have made some more progress in my Norah Gaughan NYX Cowl, which I (barely) started on Monhegan Island. I temporarily set it aside for good reason. Those of you on the Monhegan trip know I'd been hustling to acquire a ranch just outside of Austin. For those curious: I GOT IT! The big move begins this week, and so until I get that all sorted I will focus what little knitting time I can gather on the aforementioned 2-2 ribbed scarf, since it's simple enough to work on in the dark and/or in my sleep. But I really can't wait to get back to the cowl. 

I also knocked out yet another (my 10,000th it seems) Umbilical Cord Baby Hat from the original Stitch 'n Bitch book. While I do love picking up new patterns every year, I definitely have my standard go-to projects. This hat is so fun. Knits up in about ten seconds, always well received, and another opportunity to work with ridiculously soft yarn.

 To your right-- another spectacular view of the Color Affection Shawl, displayed by my favorite model, Rebound. She is quite often the beneficiary of my finished projects. You can see her appreciation written all over her little smooshed face.

I know some of you are fixing to head to Quechee, Vermont in a couple of weeks for the weekend knitting retreat with designer Rachel Kahn. I'm bummed I can't join you, but I'll be down here hammering out the details of my new Green Acres life. That trip is sold out but you can CLICK HERE to get on the waiting list.

And mark your calendars. Registration for both 2016 retreats opens on January 1, 2016. We'll post more details about those trip soon over at the Knitting and Yoga Adventures website.
Happy Knitting Y'all!