Thursday, June 18, 2009

An Interview with Lisa Evans: Our Lovely Hostess!

Hi Y’all,
It’s time for another interview. This time, I, Spike, resident blogger for Knitting and Yoga Adventures, tracked down our fabulous head hostess, Lisa Evans herself, to ask her all sorts of questions. About her knitting. About her designing. And, of course, about her fabulous retreats on Monhegan Island. Here’s what she had to say.

Spike: When did you first get into knitting?
Lisa: When I moved to Maine in the winter of 1992, one of my new neighbors asked if I knitted and when I said ‘no’, Lisa: she replied, ‘All the ladies here knit.’ So it wasn’t long before I asked my new Mother-in-Law to teach me how. My first dozen projects were straight needle mittens, the same pattern, over and over again. I don’t think I’ve knit a pair since. But that pattern had all the basics so I was able to branch out on my own very quickly. My first sweater was a safe wool raglan. But my second was a very slippery black chenille tunic with an intarsia pattern along the bottom! Needless to say, it was a knitting train wreck, but I wore it anyway.

Spike: Do you remember the first thing you designed? How did it turn out?
Lisa: I have learned I am unable to follow a pattern, even my own! I just can’t seem to make it through without changing it somehow. So perhaps I started designing from Day 1. I don’t recall the first specifically because I have so many ‘studies’ – little bits of things started and set aside. But I do recall it being a bit over the top with a very challenging color work chart and assembly instructions only an engineer could follow!

Spike: Are you known for a particular style/specialty?
Lisa: Color work! I have worked almost exclusively with color knitting all these years and it has really become my forte. My particular style of design has really forced me to become extremely proficient in the technical side of color knitting.

Spike: What’s it like, preparing for a retreat?
Lisa: It’s the same as planning a big party. I’ve always been a hostess, perhaps its my Southern roots? Creating an event is another design medium. The elements are the activities, the treats in the rooms, the food, all the pieces from the moment they get on the van in Portland until they leave the island. The principles are the flow of the day, the experience you want your guests to have, the balance of activities… At times I feel like a mother hen because I want to make sure everyone is taken care of and every detail attended to.

Spike: What’s something that really stands out for you at the retreats?
Lisa: Holden’s amazing cookies. The first year KYA made this trip we spent Friday out on the rocks instead of in the ‘classroom.’ Everyone in the group had the same thought, ‘What about the cookies?’ A cookie relay emerged that afternoon that had elements of the Keystone Cops and a treasure hunt combined. The cookies were packed in a box and passed from one hiker to the next, who then got lost in the woods, a likely story… The cookies never made it to Squeaker Cove but when we returned home, disappointed, there they were waiting for us in the living room of the Monhegan House. So we ate them right before dinner!

Spike: What do you have planned for this fall on Monhegan?
Lisa: This year I am going to focus solely on Intarsia. While I haven’t decided which handbag or backpack we will work on, I think it will be a flat pattern so we can focus on this style of color knitting and not worry about shaping at the same time. Don’t worry, it won’t be too hard, it’ll be fun!

Spike: There were so many things I enjoyed about my time on the island. One big thing I loved—you started off the week telling us we didn’t have to clean our rooms. That cracked me up and put me at ease. What do you like the most about the trip?
Lisa: There are so many things that make this an awesome week! But the biggest part is the camaraderie, the laughter, and the break from the real world. Though this isn’t exclusive to women, it often is and spending time like this with other likeminded women is extremely therapeutic. Surprisingly, this week does not fly by if you let yourself chill. It takes a day or two to let go, but by Day 3, you are on island time!

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