Friday, July 31, 2009

Two Slots Left: No Time to Waffle, Folks

Hey Y'all,
Lisa emailed to let me know there are only TWO slots left for the Monhegan Island Knitting and Yoga Adventure retreat. It's happening September 20 - 26 and I am so excited I'm about to blow a gasket (in a good way) over here. Ran into some folks at a party last night who totally lit up when they heard I was heading to Monhegan-- they're world travelers and say it is one of their favorite places on the globe. I went and got a bunch of yarn today to knit up a sweater-coat I swear I'll have time to finish before the trip (hahaha) and, okay, to reward myself for being so close to finishing my yoga mat bag. (More pics soon.) I also picked up a sock pattern to make some fancy socks to wear hiking around the island-- fancy socks befit the trek up to the fairy houses in the woods.


Well, I am.

Anyway, take heed y'all-- if you know someone who wants to join us, let them know they need to email Lisa asap about holding a spot. That address is:

Can't wait to see y'all,

Monday, July 27, 2009


I knew I was making progress on the yoga mat bag, but I admit I was surprised to see just how much progress when I measured it today. Looks like I'm about one skein away from finishing the body. Then I need to figure out how to do straps and closure. I know Lisa is busy knitting away on her bag, too. She's doing lace, though, so we'll give her a few more days before posting pics of her progress.

I'd thought my bag was going to be a little big, but now I'm thinking it'll be just right. I remember at the retreat last year someone mentioning "light felting"-- a term I'd never heard. I know when I (unintentionally) felted the first sweater I ever made it was not at all a light felt. It was a heavy duty, shrink to the size of a Chihuahua felt. So while I've been toying with maybe trying out this "light felt" thing if the bag proves to be a little bigger than I want it, I have my reservations. I do not want to wind up with something that will be better used to hold a pair of needles, you know?

Hopefully I'll finish up by the weekend and have more pictures to post. And here's a hint for those of you feeling like you need a little inspiration to plow through this project. I bought the second season of Madmen and watched all fourteen episodes in about three days-- that was a ton of knitting time. (And it was highly entertaining.)

Happy knitting,

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Meet Our Head Sheep Dog: Patty Bright

Sixty-three days and counting! I think I’ll buy my plane ticket next week. I just got a new suitcase. And I’m already trying to decide which projects to finish before the trip (one more pair of socks, a big scarf/shawl, maybe a hat) and what to bring with me, even though I know there will be plenty of projects waiting.

I’m also really looking forward to more hikes around the island with our fearless Hike Genius, Patty Bright, who is tireless and endlessly enthusiastic when it comes to trekking. She also is excellent in her role at making things Even More Spectacular.
I asked Patty to tell me a bit about herself to share with y’all. Here’s what she had to say.

Spike: Tell me about life in Maine.
Patty: I have been married for 17 years to my wonderful hubby Cameron who let's me escape to Monhegan each fall. We have two great kids, Wesley and Acacia, and two great dogs, Buzzy and Jake. I've lived in Maine for about 22 years, not counting college. I met Lisa when her daughter and my son were in the same class at school.

Spike: What you do at the retreat?
Patty: I am the head sheep dog, herding all the Knitting Yogis from the airport to the ferry, making sure that all is well. I lead the hikes, again making sure no one strays from the path, sprains an ankle or falls behind. Also, I am the team photographer. While on the island I try to be available to all the Knitting Yogis for whatever they need - warm clothes, directions, laughter, moral support, glass of wine, band-aid or whatever else might come up.

Spike: Why you love Monhegan?
Patty: What's not to love? Beautiful scenery, lovely people, great food (thanks Holden), incredibly relaxing, waves crashing, salt smell in the air, a step back in time, no traffic. Just being on Monhegan you feel invigorated and relaxed at the same time.

Spike: What's your knitting story?
Patty: My Mom taught me to knit when I was probably about 8. I have knitted on and off since then. I have always been a color knitter and didn't do too much with pattern until I tried a fisherman cable knit for my brother, aka the "ten-year sweater.” It came out beautiful, so that got me going. I am currently working on a lacy scarf and hope to have it finished by September and a cardigan for me (which I lost the pattern, so may have to wing it to finish it).

Spike: What is your history with hiking, and outdoors, and in particular Maine?
Patty: I grew up north of Boston and went to the University of Maine at Orono for college. That got me hooked on Maine. It was really my college roommate who got me into hiking. While in college we hiked Mount Katahdin, the tallest mountain in Maine and the end point of the Appalachian Trail. Since then I do a few hikes a year usually in Maine or New Hampshire's White Mountains. I hope to hike Mount Washington this summer (the tallest mountain in New England).

Spike: You're big into sailing, right?
Patty: My husband is a big sailor, so I was pulled into sailing after we were married. I truly love it, but I am not a natural born sailor. My longest voyage was from Norfolk, Virginia to Bermuda on an 88 ft. traditionally-rigged schooner. That was fun. In the summers we sail on Buzzards Bay on Cape Cod and my son and I have to do Paper, Rock, Scissors to see who gets to race with my husband on Saturdays. Sailing down the Maine Coast and seeing all the islands is a most wonderful experience.

Spike: What was your favorite part about last year's retreat?
Patty: I loved the knitting-fests/laugh-ins we did every night. The people on the trip were so much fun and I have not laughed that hard in a very long time (and that says alot because I laugh all the time). I'm smiling right now thinking about all those hilarious stories and the howling laughter that ensued.

Spike: What are you looking forward to this year?
Patty: I'm looking forward to spending the week with a great group of people, knitting, hiking, eating (did I mention the homemade whoopie pies and smores?), stretching, laughing, telling stories. I can't wait!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Okay, so this picture doesn't totally convey the success I'm having, but let it be a little tease. I'll take some more pictures soon. Right now, I'm here to say that I have made a decent amount of progress on my yoga mat bag. As I mentioned, Lisa is doing a lace mesh pattern. I, on the other hand, am simply knitting in the round, deriving my stylistic elements courtesy of using some Noro Blossom yarn which, with it's multi-fiber blend (including a little nylon) is promising to be quite sturdy. The bag seems like it might be a tad too wide, though when you think about it, what is "too wide"? Do I really want a form fitting yoga mat sock that will entail a struggle every time to pull over the mat? I do not.

I'm curious to see what Lisa will come up with for straps-- i-cords? More lace? Drawstring? I'm kind of thinking about i-cords for mine. I have sort of a love/hate relationship with i-cords. I don't like getting them started and when I'm in the middle of them they seem to take forever BUT...on the plus side, they do look very cool, work very well, and in fact, have a terrific rhythm to them once I really get cranking.

If you're working on a yoga mat bag, please let us know. You can even send in pictures and I'll post them.

Monday, July 6, 2009

This is more like it!

Here we go! After frogging my yoga mat for the umpteenth time, I seem to have resolved my sizing issue and am ready to move forward. If you are following along with my 'on the fly' yoga mat pattern, I'll restate the pattern here and pick up where I left off on Friday.

Lisa's Yoga Mat Bag II

1 skein recycled rayon
1 skein single ply silk

#7US dpns

#7US 24" circular needles

Gauge: 4 sts = 1" or whatever seems right for your yarn and needle size.

I am using my rolled up mat as my guide in combination with the lace pattern I have chosen. If you are using a yarn and needle size that yields the same gauge as mine then these instructions will work for you as well. However, should you choose something different such as a bulky yarn, hemp, or any multitude of choices, you will need to adjust the row and stitch count accordingly. See the photo below as a guide for your sizing if this is the case.

Cast-on 12 stitches in recycled rayon. Divide evenly among 3 dpns (4 sts per needle). Join and work first round in Stockinette Stitch.
*Next round: K1, M1 across row (24 sts).
Work 3 rows in st st.*
Repeat * to* 3 times (96 sts).

Work 3 rounds.

Next round: Knit row decreasing 8 stitches evenly across row (88 sts).

Begin lace pattern. At this point I am switching to my contrasting silk.

As I mentioned in my last post I have chosen the Subtle Mesh pattern on page 160 from Barbara Walker's Third Treasury of Knitting Patterns. It's a pattern based upon a 12 stitch repeat plus 4 extra stitches for the beginning and end of the row. Out of respect for her copyright I am unable to show the chart here, but if you have her book you can reference it or find another that you like.

It may be that the pattern you select has a different stitch count in which case simply adjust your stitches after you complete the * to* repeats. I chose to decrease rather than increase for 1 less repeat of my lace pattern in order to a) shape a subtle 'corner' on my base, and b) have less knitting to do. Fearing a snug fit in pulling my bag on and off my rubber mat I overcompensated. Considering all that work I did on my false start this feels like the project will take no time at all!

Happy knitting and keep us posted on your own progress!


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Waxing Poetic While Knitting on the Fly

Note from Spike: Lisa and I were swapping emails last night. The yoga mat bag she's designing as-she-goes was turning out a little differently than she expected. I'll let her explain below. But for now, please know that the recipe for the bag that we originally posted will soon be replaced by another pattern. That said, as Lisa mentions, you can still get started on the bottom of the bag and, what with all the picnics and fireworks you also probably have planned for the weekend, that should be enough for now. We'll have more really, really soon.

Lisa's Poetic Waxing

There are many times in my adult life I have thought about pioneer women. They were spirited, strong, smart, and had an unbelieveable ability to take care of their families. From childbirth and defending their homes all the while feeding and clothing their families. Do you think they used knitting patterns? Doubtful. I think they knit on the fly and unsentimentally ripped out stitches when things didn't work the way they were supposed to.

You have probably sensed where I'm headed with this. So I'll take my cue from my heroines and just blurt it out. I've overcompensated the size on my yoga bag. It wasn't a matter of gauge, it was just too big. So here is a pictoral history of my last couple of days with a few notes. For those of you knitting along with me, don't panic. My plan to regroup will come shortly...

The mesh pattern I have selected is from Barbara Walker's Charted Knitting Designs, A Third Treasury of Knitting Patterns, page 160, 'Subtle Mesh'. This is a pattern I have admired for a long time now and I've finally found the right place to use it. So after a few false starts and no lifeline, I added stitch markers after every repeat.

BTW, the ceramic ball holder shown in the photo was a gift last week from my friend and fellow Knitting Yogi, Janet who will be with us on the island for the 3rd time this year. A friend of hers makes these wonderful pottery pieces. It has become quite the conversation piece sitting in my living room.

Late last night as I was working away on my bag I realized that I wasn't creating a Yoga Mat bag, I was making a Yoga Mat, Bolster, Blanket, Block, Water Bottle, Weekend Tote. In otherwords, it was too big. It's definitely pretty, the colors spectacular, but there is absolutely no way to fill it enough to show off the beautiful mesh pattern I have worked so hard on.

Here we are, just before I unsentimentally ripped it all out... I am figuratively and literally pulling back and rethinking the next few steps. If you are following along, I would suggest knitting the first portion for 3 repeats not 4 as written in the last post which will give you 96 stitches.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

The 'What Are You Doing To Get Ready?' Knit-a-long!

Hey Y'all,
Spike here. This week, Lisa's got something to say and so I'm stepping aside to let her tell you all about a cool project that I hope to get working on myself real soon here. Hope you will, too. Okay, here's Lisa:

It isn't often I think ahead about my knitting projects. I'm the kind of knitter who realizes in October that I'd love to knit something for everyone on my Christmas list. Needless to say, that list gets pared down to 1 lucky (I'm making a big assumption here...) recipient. But I am turning over a new leaf this summer and knitting ahead.

What I really want and need is a Yoga Mat Bag so I don't have to carry my bare rolled up mat around the Monhegan House looking like everyone else's. Plus, even if I never take the mat out of the bag, at least I'll look good carrying it. My to-knit-pre-trip list is already growing, too-- now I think I need some new slippers as well. So I'm hoping a few of you will join me in a knit-a-long. Let's call it the 'What Are You Doing To Get Ready?' Knit-a-long!

I'll post pics and notes about my progress on my project along with the instructions as I go and hopefully a few of you will join in, kibitz, share your ideas and pics of what you are working on as well.
For my project I have decided to destash a bit and use some leftover Recycled Rayon and silk. My choice is guided mostly by the color of my mats, one is purple, the other teal. Which ever looks best in the bag will be the lucky mat to go on my trip with me. As for my pattern, it has already gone through many renditions in my imagination but I have finally settled on a design.


1 skein recycled rayon
1 skein single ply silk
#7 US dpns
#7 US 24" circ needles

Gauge smauge, I'm winging it here with my mat as my guide but 4 sts = 1" seems right.

Cast-on 12 stitches. Divide evenly among 2 dpns (4 sts per needle). Join and work first round in Stockinette Stitch.

*Next round: K1, M1 across row (24 sts).

Work 3 rows in st st.*

Repeat * to* 3 more times (192 sts).

Next round: Knit row increasing 4 sts evenly across row (196 sts).

(So far so good)

The bottom of my bag fits nicely over the end of my rolled up mat and comes up the sides a little bit so I'm calling it done.

The hard part is next, chosing a color. I'm going with a Teal silk I have on hand, but if I run out of that I'll switch to an Acid Green, both of which will look really nice with my mats. Oh yea, the other challenge, starting the lacey mesh pattern. I did actually plan ahead a little and count my stitches.

In a few days I'll show you how I'm coming along with the lacey mesh portion of my bag. I know there will be a little trial and error getting the stitch pattern underway just as there is when setting up a new colorwork design. In the meantime, I'd love to hear what you are working on to get ready for September!